Ella started complaining on Sunday afternoon, while we were still at the lake, that her stomach hurt. Given that she's the only one in the house who hadn't yet had the stomach bug that's going around, I figured she was on her way to barfing her toes up like the rest of us did.
She woke up yesterday morning still complaining of a stomach ache; at times it was hurting her enough that she was rolled into a ball whimpering. She was also running a fever, which no one else did while sick. Ella slept on and off all day, crying when the pain got bad. I gave her motrin every four hours to control the fever and the pain.
By the evening, she was complaining that it mostly hurt on her right side. I, of course, got on Dr. Google and looked up appendicitis and read that symptoms include fever, stomach pain on the right side, and nausea.
I called the on-call pediatrician and described what was going on. He said the odds were that Ella had a stomach bug, but a different one than we all had. He also said that I wasn't telling him anything would allow him to definitively rule out appendicitis and told me to take her to Dell Children's Hospital.
Anyone who thinks our healthcare system works just fine has obviously never spent time in a public hospital emergency room. The ER waiting area was standing room only with two overflow rooms filled also. I would be willing to bet good money that half the patients there could have avoided the ER trip just with access to regular medical care - like the girl sitting next to us who was there for an abscessed tooth.
After two hours of sitting in the waiting area with Ella lying in my lap crying silently, we finally went back to a private room. The doctor poked around on her belly and decided that her appendix wasn't the problem. He said that given how long she'd been complaining of a stomach ache, he would expect her to be in a lot more pain if her appendix was going bad. They also screened her for a possible kidney or urinary tract infection, both of which came up negative.
Even though he ruled out appendicitis, the doctor couldn't give us a definite diagnosis, other than maybe it's a virus. When he told me to bring her back to the ER this morning for a follow-up check, I nearly sank through the floor. The idea of spending more hours sitting in that waiting room was just too much. Fortunately, he said that I could take her in to our regular doctor instead.
Ella's still in bed, still complaining that her stomach hurts and still running a fever. As soon as our doctor's office opens, I'll be calling to take her in. I hope he can tell us what's wrong instead of what's not.
And I hope it's a long time before I have to go back to an emergency room.