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My Appendix Burst in a Remote Logging Camp

Discussion in 'Safety Issues' started by DerelictTexture, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. DerelictTexture

    DerelictTexture Senior Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Trying tto figure out what to do when I grow up
    Vancouver BC
    So there I was minding my own business, working away in camp. One fine mid-morning a bit of abdominal distress takes me out of the game. Symptoms that feel like flu or perhaps "beaver fever" take me down for 3 1/2 days.

    Somewhat ill, but not concerned, we made plans for me to leave early. For a variety of reasons the connections needed for me to make an orderly retreat did not come together in a timely fashion.

    So, on Dec 19 at approx. 11am...full on and excruciating pain came on, and never let go.
    I was in the wash trailer and could barely move or get a breath. The cook was the only guy in camp ( everyone else was up the hill )
    My timing was bad as I realized that the cook was down for his post morning rush nap. I made my way to the cook-house that has the radio base station in it.

    I called the boss to tell him to push the panic button....I needed to get out...now!

    A bit of a bad break in that our own boat was in the shop for repairs. ( we are 1 hour by fast boat to Bella Bella.)
    The other setback was that we could not reach our usual water taxi guy.

    ( It comes in threes )

    Yes, thirdly...the weather was closing in. Low cloud and snow rolled in to prevent floatplanes and helicopters from getting to me.

    During the hunt for transport, I went into shock. Guys from the crew that had come down to help me, wrapped me in all the blankets they could find and parked me in front of the cook stove.

    I was still frozen to the core, shaking and panting in short shallow bursts.

    Finally after a bunch of sat phone wrangling someone got in touch with the Coast Guard and sent a cutter my way.

    The only reasonable body position I had was sitting and doubled over. During the long wait for the rescue boat, I was down to mono syllables, a heartbeat of 120, and no color left.

    The boat arrived later in the afternoon, although they had brought two paramedics, they could only try to make comfortable for transport. They could give me nothing for the pain given the circumstances.

    The guys carried me onto the boat, and all I could do was sit and try to think away the pain. The boat was way too slow for my taste, but at least I was moving in the right direction.

    Almost 2 hours later I arrived a the tiny hospital at Bella Bella. My guys phoned ahead to make sure that the one doctor on staff would meet me there.

    Dr Iglasias was a great guy....kind and sympathetic. An X-ray showed that something very bad had occurred in my abdomen...but exactly what...was not clear.

    The doc loaded me up with epic amounts of morphine and called for a medevac flight to come and get me.

    Due to the weather conditions, the King Air 350 that came to get me, barely got into the airport..and then had to wait for an opening to get back out.

    I can recall the cold snowflakes feeling good on my face when I got transferred from the ambulance to the plane. Normally I wouldn't get on a twin engine plane and fly into a snowstorm, but nobody was asking for my opinion on this one.

    The pilot made it his business to get above the clouds as quick as possible and apologized in advance for a rough ride. The doc gave the flight medics extra doses of morphine to pump into an IV along the way.

    We landed in Vancouver ( I remember touching down and not much else ) and I was transferred to another ground ambulance for the trip to Lion's Gate hospital.

    I recall nothing about that trip.

    The last thing I remember is arguing with the emergency doctor about the possible reasons for my distress. He wrongly assumed that I was from Bella Bella and therefore a drug abuser, alcoholic or HIV positive.

    I woke up full of IV drips, hoses in my nose and a catheter installed.

    Turns out that at 11 am that morning my appendix had burst. It was nearly seven hours until I arrived on the operating table. By this time the toxins had spread throughout the abdominal cavity.

    Luckily the surgeons did a brilliant clean up job, and then backed it up with high test antibiotics.

    The incision for the emergency operation goes from my lower ribcage down to the the pubic hair region.

    I was in the hospital for 9 days to receive the antibiotic treatment and get enough morphine to keep the edge off....plus managing the incision site.

    shelley image post surgery.jpg
    I stayed at a friends for a week, as I was unsteady on my feet and had no physical endurance whatsoever ( couldn't talk for more than about 3 minutes without getting exhausted )

    I made it home two days ago. I walk one block...twice a day. I toyed with a 7 lb dumbbell for a bit.

    All the fuss about core strength is interesting now that my ore has been dissected.

    Anyway...I'm on the long term mend. I'm on the right side of the dirt. The company I work for is taking good care of me.

    I would encourage you all to check out the signs of appendicitis and the rules for caring for such a patient before they are rushed to professional help.

    I would also encourage you to review any emergency evacuation plans you might have if you venture into a remote area for work or play...make sure that they will really work when the **** hits the proverbial fan.

    It's nice to still be here.

    Mike P
  2. qball

    qball Senior Member

    Dec 30, 2007
    local 150 operator
    That is an incredibly scary story and a huge eye-opener.
    Glad you are on the mend.
  3. DerelictTexture

    DerelictTexture Senior Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Trying tto figure out what to do when I grow up
    Vancouver BC
    Thanks, I'm grateful that it all worked out. It's amazing how many people were involved in getting me out, and then tending to me in the hospital. A small, dedicated army to say the least.
  4. Scrub Puller

    Scrub Puller Senior Member

    Mar 29, 2009
    Gladstone Queensland Australia
    Yair . . . DerelictTexture. Good to hear you are on the mend mate and I must say I appreciate your well written description of the whole experience.

    I write fiction and it just so happens one of my characters needs to have a medical emergency!!!

    Us folks who are working /have worked in remote and wilderness areas are well served and draw comfort from the presence of the dedicated crews who fly the emergency aircraft and choppers.

    All the best with your recovery.

  5. Andrew_D

    Andrew_D Senior Member

    Oct 20, 2012
    Newdale, Manitoba, Canada
    Local senior passed a couple of years ago and during the eulogy I learned that when he was being operated on in later years, doctors found a large benign growth in his abdomen. They removed it since they were in there anyways and sent it away for analysis. Nobody thought anything of it. When they got the report back, turns out this guy's appendix had ruptured at some point and his body had formed some type of seal encasing the appendix and the toxins. When questioned, he remembered being quite sick for a few days when he was 8-10 years old, but got better so nobody thought anything of it!

  6. 95zIV

    95zIV Senior Member

    Mar 12, 2006
    RR Contractor Super.
    Cincinnati, OH

    It's good to hear you made it through and are coming along with your recovery.

    Mine took 3 weeks and my scar is a WHOLE LOT smaller then yours is. I completely understand the doubled up in pain, 7 years old I stayed home from school with "stomach pains". Later that night, 9-10 pm, my mom decided it was time to take me to see the doctor, it was just getting worse. She got me to the hospital, they checked me out and WHAM! into surgery. I had gotten lucky, they figured another half an hour or so and I'd have had a burst appendix.

    Mine wasn't the experience that yours was, and I sure can say, that doesn't sound like something I'd have enjoyed.

    Here is a link to help you identify possible Appendicitis:


    Also, if you have problems in the side, but can not jump up and down, that's a sign it might be Appendicitis.
  7. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Retired Mechanic in Stone Quarry
    Central New York, USA
    Mike, Glad you are on the mend. I had an appendix burst myself several years ago. I was luck as I was only a twenty minute car ride from the hospital. I know the doubled over pain you felt but only had to live with it for an hour or so, can not imagine what you went through. One kind of funny thing with mine was the hospital I went to was right across the street from my inlaws house so after I went in the operating room my wife went over to tell her parents. The fist thing my mother-in-law said to my wife was: "He could die from that!" My wife explaine to her that was not the encouragement she needed at the time! One of the worst parts of the whole thing was this happened a couple days before Thanksgiving and we were to have dinner at the wife's parents house across the street but I was on IV only for a week. Made up for it as soon as I was out.

    Do all the PT they have you on and don't push too hard and it will come back soon.

    Best of luck,

  8. DerelictTexture

    DerelictTexture Senior Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Trying tto figure out what to do when I grow up
    Vancouver BC
    Thanks guys...

    Looking back at the first inkling of trouble...several days before I started hurling, I had two days of minor belly pain after eating breakfast. It was low in my abdomen, and at a very small and distinct point. Lunch and dinner didn't cause any issues for some reason.
    After the epic hurling episode, I really thought that the pain in my lower belly ( narrow band of moderate pain below my navel ) was a pulled muscle from hurling so intensely.

    In the ensuing 3 days, it made sense that I had a flu bug...because a guy in camp had it a week or so before ( smart guy...he left camp )

    I didn't eat for those days, just had tea and soup broth....hoping that the next day was going to be better.

    When the big pain hit...it was instant and unrelenting. Most of the pain was in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. ( my right ) it was in a very small area, although sometimes it went back to feeling like a long band across my lower belly.
    It fluctuated from "awful" to "holy crap I 'm going to die in a second".

    When I got morphine at the Bella Bella hospital, it ended taking something like 40mg to get the pain down to a dull roar. Apparently that's a huge amount. I recall being in the hospital later and getting 5mg doses.

    Anyways...thanks to a large group of helpers/rescuers/medical professionals and a certain amount of luck, it turned out to have a good ending.

    Mike P
  9. Buckethead

    Buckethead Senior Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Porkchop City
    :eek: Wow, that sounds painful! Glad you're still here to write this, Mike.
  10. Darksidelogger

    Darksidelogger Member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Bella Bella
    Close to nowhere, far from anywhere, but the closest thing to civilization when your in the jungles.
    I'm always excited to see it when I'm heading home from nowhere.
    Even simple things here can be life or death.
  11. Farlsincharge

    Farlsincharge Member

    Jan 31, 2014
    Sounds like you beat the odds for sure. That's a crazy story.
    Mine happened when I was 10 and no doctor would give it a second thought, just a kid being a baby. I wasn't though and my mom knew it. If I was asking for medical attention something was wrong. My parents took me into the city an hour away and I was in surgery an hour later.
    They got it before it burst and I consider myself lucky.
  12. wornout wrench

    wornout wrench Senior Member

    Feb 17, 2012
    Mine went on me in 1976.
    I was at Vocational school in Naniamo.
    Felt funny that night, went to bed and just did not feel right at all.
    Got up and just felt terrible, I knew something was wrong so into emergency and away I went.
    I think I was 5 days in the hospital, don't really remember much they had me drugged up pretty good. My parents had to come get me and take me home.

    The only good thing about it was the 8 weeks of convalescing time I had. I met the girl who later became my wife of 33 years.

    I have often thought about the same scenario having spent a lot of my life in camp.
    You don't feel well, but your in camp.
    You try to work through it.
    It gets worse so you stay in the bunkhouse for a day or two.
    Your thinking that it's just the flu or a cold and it will pass, your in camp.
    Finally after a few days, you know that its not going away, so now you try to get out.
    Does the bomber pass close, can you get on it, is there another camp close with a boat going out.
    There is always coast guard or the 442 squadron from Comox, but you never know what the weather will do.

    Glad to hear you made it.
    Take some well deserved time off and let yourself heal