College Student Away at School with Appendicitis - What to Do?

Updated on November 15, 2018
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
12 answers

So I just heard from one of my sons that my step-daughter, who goes to school in Montreal, is in the hospital with appendicitis and having surgery tomorrow. I just texted her to ask her to call me when she's up for a phone call so that I can get the details. Because I'm not legally one of her parents, I'm not on an emergency call list and can't just get private information on her. Her dad (my ex) and I are on very minimal speaking terms and he tries hard to gatekeep this relationship, which is why he didn't tell me earlier today. My son reports that he can't get time off from work to go to her. I can. I was just up visiting her last month and we had a great time. I could totally get in the car or on a plane tomorrow morning and be there when she gets out of surgery.

I've never had this and have no idea how major the surgery is or what the recovery is like. I have a feeling she might demur on having help come because she doesn't want to inconvenience anyone and tends to minimize things. Have you or any of your kids had this surgery? What was the recovery like? Should she definitely have help? Would you go to your child if she or he was dealing with this at college?

Thanks for any input!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the responses so far, it's very helpful info. I was able to talk to her and thankfully, her roommate and boyfriend have been wonderful and are staying at the hospital with her. I'll have to send them a dinner gift card or something to thank them. She should have surgery within the next 12 hours and has been told that it's simple and that her recovery should be fast if all goes as planned. We left it that she'll call tomorrow with an update and to let me know then if she needs help depending on how the surgery goes.

Right after I typed the original question, my youngest son came home from hockey practice with concussion symptoms. Honest to God when it rains, it pours. Very grateful though to have the resources to deal with both issues and that neither is terribly serious in the grand scheme of things.

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answers from Boston on

A friend just had this and was up and about fine in a couple of days. I was amazed. Always nice to have someone there but where is her mother? If she’s neglectful and won’t help then you going makes sense. But otherwise it may be a bit intrusive for you to go.

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answers from Abilene on

My sister had an appendicitis Thanksgiving a few years ago. She thought it was the flu. Thankfully her hubby decided she was going to the ER. Her appendix ruptured and she was in the hospital a week. Her recovery lasted weeks. She was seriously ill.

I am hoping since she’s admitted in the hospital, they are watching her closely. I know if it’s not ruptured, it’s an easier recovery. Please let us know how she is. Prayers for your son that he doesn’t have a concussion. Prayers for wisdom for you.

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answers from Boston on

No advice just hugs. You are so sweet to remain involved in your step daughter's life and she's sweet to remember that marriage doesn't make you a family after the marriage ends. You are awesome

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answers from Norfolk on

I would go if my son had this situation while he was away at school - he is a 6 hour drive away - but I'd know he'd want me there.

One of my sons friends had his appendix out when he was in high school.
His was acute - they had to get the surgery done immediately - but recovery was pretty easy.
He had to take it easy for a week and slowly get back to his physical routine - so for him - no sparring at taekwondo for a few weeks but walking and other non strenuous activity was fine.
As long as they catch it before appendix bursts, recovery is typically easy peasy.

How does your step daughter usually respond to these sort of things?
Would a lot of visitors cheer her up or tick her off?
I'm the kind of person who likes to be left alone to recover so if people showed up for me, I'd be annoyed - I want to rest up and visiting/socializing is not my idea of resting.

I understand what you want to do but it might make more sense to save your time so you can visit more during Thanksgiving.
At college I'm sure her classes will cut her some slack due to the surgery but they are coming up on midterms and studying for finals.
She might want to spend her resting up time on studying.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My brother had this. They operate arthroscopically. He was in a good amount of pain before and after surgery although he managed to drive himself to the hospital initially. He was also able to call everyone in the family before the surgery.

I would think having a family memeber at the hospital would be great for her. However, she didn’t call you so I’m not sure I would rush out there.

Hope she feels better soon!

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answers from Miami on

How about going the day after her surgery? That gives you time with your son, and gives her time to sleep, which is what she will be doing mostly.

If her school friends can make sure someone shares notes from classes, that will help her. If you can get a note from the hospital stating her status, take it to the student health services and give them a copy. Ask them how to let the school and professors formally know. This way if she misses a test or quiz, or there are attendance issues, she won’t be dinged.

Shame on your ex. What a jerk. But then, you know how I feel about your ex...

Oh, and hope your son is okay!!! Yes, when it rains, it pours!

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answers from Boston on

On the grand scale of things, the surgery is pretty simple. It's done laparoscopically, so she'll be looking at a couple of very small incisions - much faster healing than the old style with a longer incision. However, it's still invasive and there can be soreness from the prior inflammation. If they're not operating immediately, it hasn't burst and it's not as much of an emergency. That's the good news. She'll need to take it easy but they'll have her up and moving pretty soon.

The thing is, she's at that age where she's an adult and probably wants to handle it herself - BUT she'd really like someone there. You know the 20-somethings. She's also probably not experienced in navigating the medical world, so an experienced adult can be helpful.

If you were just there and had a great time, you know you are welcome. If your ex isn't going and if her bio mom isn't around (I seem to remember she's not in the picture - is that right?), then I think I'd go. You have your ex to leave your younger boys with, so he can get them to school and so on. If you need an "excuse," say she'll need help dressing and showering/shampooing, and that's better for a woman to do. I know your ex is a jerk, but he might actually be relieved if someone went who knows what to do. If he's not, so what? She's an adult and he can't tell her who she's allowed to see. Meantime, you're teaching your boys what people should do when someone is sick or has surgery.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

As long as it doesn't rupture, it's a simple surgery. That said, if it was my kid, I'd be there. And thinking back to myself in college, if I was the kid, I'd tell my mom that it was fine and she didn't need to come, but I'd also be very glad when she showed up anyway.

I hope that your son is ok! Concussions can be tricky.

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answers from Portland on

I would stay with your youngest, to make sure he's ok.

I was at college when my mom came to see me for what in the end was not an emergency. Someone had called from my dorm and she rushed - and I felt terrible. You don't want that.

So if she is ok, then I would send a huge care basket, and let her know you're thinking of her.

Typically, you can return to work, etc. when you're up for it after the procedure.

If for some reason there are complications, change your plan.

You're a good mom/step mom :)

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answers from New York on

She will probably go home same day if done in morning. If later maybe stay overnight. Recovery is quick especially in someone young. If she had friends around for the first 24-48 hours she will be fine. Usually back to normal in 3-4 days.

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answers from Washington DC on

My son had appendicitis surgery 2 years ago. He was in the hospital less than 24 hours. He was out of school for 3 days. He was fine within 5 days. Kept his lifting to a minimum but overall good and easy.

My son's friend who had appendicitis? Totally different - his ruptured and he was in the hospital for 2 weeks and then BACK again for a second surgery 2 weeks after that and out of school for almost a month. They thought he had had the flu so the Dr didn't catch it when they went in at first - when it ruptured? It was bad.

Overall - if caught before rupture? It's an easy surgery and recovery.

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answers from Washington DC on

you are so close to her. i'd go.

take a day and make sure your son is okay, and if he is, go on up and plan to stay for a few days.

you're an awesome SM.

1 mom found this helpful
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