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New Research Shows Your Appendix Is Good For Something After All (Is it too late to get mine back?)*

Posted Apr 10 2012 12:01am

I so need this shirt.

Tonsils. Appendix. A chunk of my uterus. Several weird tumor-cyst thingies that had teeth and hair (no joke). I don’t want to brag or anything but I pretty much have no expendable organs left. This makes me either super evolved (although I still have my pinky toes…) or the life-size version of the Operation game where I just lay on a table and everyone at the party gets to decide what piece of me to haphazardly remove. The only optional thing I haven’t gotten removed is my wisdom teeth – and that’s because I was born without any. (See! Super evolved! Or… not wise.)

I’m zombie diet food – tastes great, less filling! – is what I’m saying.

But it turns out I may not have needed all those operations. Well, the appendectomy at least. Let me set the scene: I had just lost my first daughter and one month after her death had gotten pregnant again. Clearly I was a neurotic mess throughout the new pregnancy – perhaps that is why son #1 is so chill now? – and was so conscientious about my new baby’s health that I freaked out when my husband painted the nursery with latex paint and refused to return to our condo until I couldn’t detect the slightest scent of paint. (And if you’ve been pregnant you’ll know that that was a very long time thanks to super sensitive pregnancy nose.)

So when I got an excruciating stomach ache about half way through the pregnancy and was rushed to the hospital, I was not pleased to find out that I was maybe possibly probably (depending on which medical professional we were talking to) in the throes of appendicitis. Wait and see for sure and possibly die due to a ruptured appendix? Or have surgery and possibly lose my baby? In the end after much agonizing (and pain), I had emergency surgery and had the offending organ removed. Fortunately my son sailed through it with no problems and all was well.

But now a n ew study out of England shows that after analyzing the data from 900 patients with appendicitis, “treatment with antibiotics meant nearly two-thirds of patients did not need surgery.” While it isn’t a perfect approach and not an option for patients in advanced stages of the disease, it helped so many people skip surgery that I was sad I didn’t have that option when I needed it. A simple course of antibiotics could have saved me from a horrifying experience. And also from a gnarly scar that I still sport thanks to having the surgery while my stomach was still expanding like a hot-air balloon. Although at least this way my son has an exciting birth story to share on his special Star Day every year.  (Caveat: Please note I am not a doctor, not giving you medical advice and not really even giving myself advice so if your stomach hurts listen to your doctor, m’kay?)

This is also interesting to me because while for a long time people thought the appendix was nothing but a little sac of nastiness, it turns out that it helps repopulate our intestines with the good bacteria we so desperately need for good health. And considering that I have long struggled with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBS is linked to our intestinal bacteria, this makes me wonder if my surgery did me more harm than good. Or, you know, it saved my life and my son’s life. Hard to say for sure with this one.

What organs – if any – are you missing? Are you the type of person who is willing to try other options first or do you like to go straight for the most effective option and not waste time messing around? Do you have any gnarly scars?

*Longest title ever. I’m sorry. I suck at titles. And I’m t-i-r-e-d!

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