Health and Wellness . . . Yes Please! (Attack of the Appendix)

Health and Wellness . . . Yes Please! (Attack of the Appendix)

So this happened, and now I can laugh about it. (#laughUofT) It started with a stomach-ache on Thanksgiving Monday. I must have eaten too much mashed-potatoes and apple-crisp. But the pain lasted overnight, concentrating on the lower right side of my abdomen, and by Tuesday afternoon it was even worse.

I just knew it—Appendicitis, my only weakness!

appendix doodle


After some thought, I decided to go see a doctor. The U of T Health Clinic is down at 214 College Street, and they prefer scheduled appointments. It was too far for me to walk (all hunched over and groaning), so I went to an Ontario Clinic on Bloor Street.

The thing about Walk-in-Clinics: Expect to wait. Bring a book, a magazine—your notes on how to solve world hunger—because it’s going to take a while.

Of course, I brought nothing. So for nearly two hours I did nothing by writhe in gut-wrenching agony (No, I’m just being dramatic). But seriously, it was gut-wrenching agony!

Oh, and don’t forget your Health Card.

At last I saw the doctor. She asked does this hurt and I said yes. Then she asked does THIS hurt and I said YES! So she wrote me an ultrasound referral for the hospital and sent me on my way.

It was twelve noon. I had tutorial at two o’clock. But Health and Wellness has to be #1!


So I went to Toronto Western Hospital. Before I could be treated, I had to get a University Health Network card, which required:

>  Health Card Number

> Driver’s licence or official I.D.

> Name of Family Doctor

> Medical Insurance plan

I had forgotten the name of my family doctor, so I had to call my mom. Calling your parents (especially my mom) from the hospital is a very delicate task. Do not, as I did, begin, “Mom, I’m at the hospital.” ‘Cause parents go like this:


With my blue UHN card, I went up to radiology for an ultrasound. Wrongo! Ultrasounds are customarily booked six weeks in advance. The nurse sent me down to the Emergency Ward. And, once again, I played the waiting game.


I was brought into Emerg a little after five o’clock. My girlfriend arrived, which made everything better, and eventually I had an ultrasound (skip to 2:10). Then the doctor came back with the results. I had Appendicitis. There were three options:

> Do nothing.

> Take antibiotics.

> Have surgery

All of a sudden I had to make a decision. I had been following the advice and recommendations of professionals all day, but now they fell silent. The doctor was waiting for me to tell him what to do.

I chose surgery.

Now I feel much better. I have three small scars, but the pain is gone. It’s strange. Having to decide whether I needed surgery has become the most striking aspect of the whole experience. It was like I had graduated.

I had to take responsibility for my own life! (Oh gosh, Steve, really?) Yes!

As a student, I find it easy to take my actions for granted, to assume everything will work out fine in the end. But being a student is not unlike having surgery. Both are choices. Both have risks and consequences. And although you may feel rushed into them, both have the final purpose of helping you. Tough decisions are with us at every turn. It’s our job to make them responsibly. I think I’ll remember that.


‘Til we meet again, U of T,

Photo Credit: Leah-Jade Emmerson
Photo Credit: Leah-Jade Emmerson

Stay diamond!


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