I’ve had a recent, personal interest in how long it takes to recover from an appendectomy and how much do these surgeries cost? What I’ve learned will surprise you and may have you making a routine doctor’s appointment – today.
Because I have a family history of colon cancer (my Mom is a 40-year survivor!) I started having colonoscopy screenings in my 40s. I’m happy to report at my last screening, about a week ago, there were no polyps found. Yeah!
But…when the doc was cruising around my colon, he noticed what appears to be a mucoidal mass attached to my appendix, right where the appendix opens into the colon. He recommended that I have my appendix removed so that I don’t have a sudden emergency problem. (Which is most likely to occur when I’m out of the country, if Murphy’s Law prevails.) Additionally, though it appears to be a benign mass, it’s always good to be sure given my family history.
That led to making an appointment with a surgeon and immediate doctor-Gale-by-the-internet searching for information. I have watched three YouTube videos of laparoscopic appendectomies. I can say some docs have much more finesse and skill than others. When watching one of the videos I was shouting at my computer, “Take it easy on those innards, will ya?! Geeze, no need to be so rough!”
What I found for typical recovery time is that it depends on your current health status and whether or not the surgery was an emergency situation or non-emergency. Know that a ruptured appendix is life-threatening. Yikes.
While there are no real standards for recovery time and all answers “depend,” I can tell you that a ruptured appendix that spreads infection internally requires a trip to the emergency room, days in the hospital and more time (and money) than a non-emergency situation.
What I found is some people that have had emergency surgeries and some complications can take some six to eight weeks to return to “normal” activity. Yikes again.
Athletes with a ruptured appendix, like Rockies player Drew Pomeranz, may be out for “the rest of the season.” Still other athletes, like former Rockies player Matt Holliday, come back to play just nine days after his non-emergency procedure.
And the costs? There is HUGE variation in costs for appendectomies. A study found costs for a California procedure ranged from as little as $1,529 to as much as $182,955. Some of the cost depends on where the surgery was done and I suspect some of it depends on complications. The study did look at procedures with less than four days in the hospital.
What does this mean for you?
Routine health screenings find small problems before they become big ones.
Problems caught when they are small require less downtime and less cost.
Have you been putting off a routine procedure? Maybe you should be making a call to schedule an appointment today.
Next blog – what my surgeon says about my personal recovery time.
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Q. I ran my first marathon last weekend. I’m thrilled that I finished and I had a decent time as well. I felt pretty good the day after the race, but two days later I’m exhausted. How long will it take before I’m back to normal? Should I be running now?
A. First, congratulations on your finish! For your questions, my preference is that athletes not run the first week after a marathon or an Ironman distance race. You can walk, swim or ride a bike. Give your body a chance to heal. You can pick up the running again after a week, but keep the runs short and easy. Running on soft surfaces such as dirt, grass or a treadmill might be easier on your body. Not knowing much about you, it’s tough for me to prescribe how much running you can do the second week. Your primary goal is to recover.
How long until you’re back to “normal?” I find it usually takes four weeks to recover and feel 100 percent after a marathon or an Ironman. You can find more information on recovery time in a column I wrote awhile back.
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