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15 May 2007

I think I have appendicitis. How can I know for sure? And what can I do about it? [More:]

I felt a slight pain—more of an ache, really—on my right side, a few inches over from my belly button. I felt around and it's pretty local to where I imagine my appendix would be. It's not bad, but I am worried because my health insurance won't kick in for another 45 days at my new job. I don't really think I can afford a doctor at this point, and I certainly can't afford surgery.

Maybe the pain will go away tomorrow (I can barely feel it now) and it'll be nothing, but I figure if there's anything I can do to nip this in the bud, I'm better off asking sooner. I've read appendicitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, and if I have it, I think I've caught it pretty early. So is there anything I can take for it, from an old home remedy to over-the-counter antibiotics (do they make those?)? If my appendix is going to have to come out, I want it to wait til July 1st, dammit. At the very least, I'd like to delay the inevitable.

Thanks for your help.
posted by Eideteker 15 May | 20:36
Bring your right leg up to your chest. Is the pain excruciating?
posted by amro 15 May | 21:05
I'm sorry I don't have any remedies for you to ward this off, but, do you have any rebound tenderness? Meaning, when you press on the affected part of the abdomen, is there more pain when that pressure is released? Appendicitis often presents with rebound tenderness, IIRC.
posted by viachicago 15 May | 21:22
ER room. This can kill you.
posted by arse_hat 15 May | 22:02
I am not a doctor, this is most definitely not medical advice...

If you have a good friend around to call 911, you can jump off a chair. I'm told that if you have what you think you have, the pain will be so excruciating that you'll pass out. Might also rupture your appendix.

Easier to just go to the doctor.
posted by bilabial 15 May | 22:12
When the doctors thought my daughter had appendicitis a couple weeks ago, they mentioned a few symptoms: fever, vomiting, not wanting to eat at all, certain types of abdominal pain, etc.

They also said that appendicitis can be the "great pretender" and can vary a lot.

Luckily, she didn't have it, but it's definitely nothing to mess around with. I also understand the lack of insurance dilemma. If you don't feel like dealing with the ER, perhaps a doc-in-a-box to just get it checked out by professionals?

Feel better soon!
posted by lilywing13 15 May | 22:22
bilabial: I'm not sure why I found your response so funny, but I did. lulz
posted by puke & cry 15 May | 22:57
Borderline appendicitis cases usually just get hydrated and plunked down in a hospital bed, as occurred when a friend of mine, a hospital intern like me at the time, started having pain at McBurney's point. She got an appendix CT scan, which was equivocal, so she just waited a couple days. The pain got better and went away and she went back to work with no operation.

Surgeons are taught that if at least 1 in 3 appendices they take out aren't normal - the "white worm" as opposed to the angry, red, inflamed appendix - they're not doing enough appendectomies and are risking missing a true case of appendicitis.
posted by ikkyu2 16 May | 01:08
Leave your ID cards at home and go to the ER, give them a fake name and address, and tell them that you are having pains where you're having pains. If you have appendicitis, they'll fix you up and the bill will be written off. If you don't, the bill will still be written off. It's the American Way,. But it might just be gas.
posted by cmonkey 16 May | 01:52
Go to the ER now! My grandmother's first child died when he was four because of peritonitis from a burst appendix.
posted by brujita 16 May | 07:39
Oh that scares me, brujita! When my daughter had it last summer, she started out with a blinding headache for a few days, then started puking constantly for a few days. The doctor thought she had an ear infection and prescribed antibiotics--which caused an allergic reaction that turned her purplish red. When I insisted on bringing her in for the third time, he shrugged and said, "Well, then take her to the ER." So I did. Just in time. It hadn't burst, but had started to leak a little.

Don't mess around with this, Eide. Seriously. Even if your insurance doesn't kick in yet, your case manager will find some way to help you pay for it. Better in debt than in the ground, you know?
posted by jrossi4r 16 May | 08:52
See a doctor so you can be sure.
posted by halonine 16 May | 12:10
This was in 1942/3, before modern antibiotics were used. I always wonder what it would have been like if he had lived--he was my grandmother's only child with brown eyes and she was horrible to her two other sons--also to my stepuncle, who did have them. She was pregnant with my mother at the time. Now she has alcoholic dementia and I want nothing to to with her; I say chupahija is my grandmother toned down.
posted by brujita 16 May | 12:35
I had a burst appendix and I can tell you this: if you had it you'd be vomiting so much and doubled in such pain that you'd pay almost anything to get rid of it.

Having said that, once you get peritonitis I would imagine you're looking at a longer stay in hospital and therefore more expense (eight days for me).

An overnight wait should be OK - if the pain gets worse then get thee to a doctor. Anyway, I think you'll know if it's the real deal.

And man, doesn't it suck you Americans have to worry about this shit. It's bad enough getting ill...
posted by dodgygeezer 16 May | 12:41
Bring your right leg up to your chest. Is the pain excruciating?
I thought we were going to have a ripping game of internet Simon Says.
Alas it wasn't to be.

posted by Mitheral 16 May | 16:22
So there's no such thing as OTC antibiotics, I take it?
posted by Eideteker 16 May | 20:25
Not for people in the US. I've heard of the desperate taking Tropical fish antibiotics.

If you're close to Mexico you can by Penicillin at least OTC.
posted by Mitheral 16 May | 21:03
My cabal provider just gave me an automated phone call || Exceptional grammar flame.