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? Appendicitis August ?! Part 1

Hello blogosphere,

Here we are again, you cruising over other peoples pages you may wish to look at and even read and here I am sitting in a Gloria Jeans coffee shop on a not so sunny day on the glorious Gold Coast preparing to write yet another invisible illness story. I have titled this post ? Appendicitis August ?  with the question marks and all because the month of August was such a whirlwind of a crazy month. This story starts only two months after being discharged from Robina Hospital with the unsure diagnosis of ‘Pelvic Inflammatory Disease’ (PID).  (Quick re cap: PID is inflammation of the female genital tract, accompanied by fever and lower abdominal pain.) I was prescribed two very strong antibiotics Flagyl and Doxycycline, and even though they gave me horrible side effects they had seemed to have cleared up the painful symptoms which seemed like the end of it.

Now lets fast forward to the month of August, my cousin Jacob had only just recently been in and had his appendix taken out. His family ended up opting for the private health care route as he was stuffed around for multiple hours at Robina hospital. I however am not as lucky to have the option of private health care as it is too expensive.

I was on a film set for a film myself and a few others had been shooting for a few months now to raise awareness about Invisible Illnesses and Mental Health such as depression etc. We had just eaten and I seemed fine and then out of the blue filming in the middle of beaudeseret and an abandoned train track I felt the most excruciating pain on the right side of my stomach that I had ever felt. It felt like someone had sucker punched me right in the gut, I crippled over in pain, at first I thought perhaps it was because I had eaten really unhealthy junk food (McDonald’s) and that my body wasn’t agreeing with it. Then I wondered perhaps whether it was my nerves playing up because the pain didn’t stay there the whole time. However I had some sort of feeling that this was not my typical nerve pain because I had only recently had my (RIF) T12 nerve ablation surgery done. (Radiofrequency ablation (or RFA) is a procedure used to reduce pain. An electrical current produced by a radio wave is used to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, thereby decreasing pain signals from that specific area. )

and even though my pain was in the same area on the right side it was a pain like any other, I had never ever felt something so excruciating in my life, and I was convinced that it was something different when the other crew members that I was with told me that “I looked pale” and that “I should sit down and drink water”. So that is exactly what I did, sat down and had a rest and then I soldered on and pushed through the rest of the day and to my surprise I thought the pain had gone away.


I got home and the pain came back worse than before it was so crippling that I couldn’t even move, it was so bad that the F Word left my lips a couple of times, no home pain killer seemed to help, the only thing that made a minuscule difference was a heat pack. I remember sitting up in my mothers bed, crying in pain, hoping that it would go away when I was overcome with a sudden feeling of nausea and literally watched my abdomen grow before my eyes, it looked so swollen like a scene out of a movie to the point of where if it kept growing I thought it might have exploded. I got up, I was bent over holding the heat pack over my abdomen and hobbled towards the toilet, and within seconds of reaching the toilet bowl I threw up everything bar the kitchen sink. Normally I have quite a strong stomach and sometimes have to help force myself to get rid of this feeling (Not a pretty sight, because of the constipation, the uneasy feeling usually just sits in my stomach unless I help it along) but this time no help was necessary, I opened my mouth and out it all came. I wasn’t sure if the vomiting and nausea was related to the pain or not because the week before my mum and my sisters suffered from a horrific 24 hour gastro bug, which started with pain, vomiting and then diarrhea.

This is what I looked like when the pain and the vomiting first started to take place:

For those who know me know that I am pale but never ever had I been this pale before. This all happened on the Sunday, I ended up having to take pain killers and sleeping pills just to get through the night and in hope that the pain might go away when I woke in the morning.



Monday morning the 15th of August, I organised an appointment to see my GP at the time Dr. Jason Lo Tam from Reedy Creek Medical Centre, I explained to him my symptoms of excruciating pain on the right side, the underlying constant pain and the coming and going of the spasm like pain. He asked me to hop onto the bed so that he could feel my abdomen, he hardly pressed down on the stomach area when I was practically crying out in pain from the slightest bit of touch or pressure. He told me that I could get back up off the bed and then proceeded to tell me that he thinks I should go to the hospital to have the proper care and get the right diagnosis. He said that he had hoped he could try and work it out so that hospital care wouldn’t be necessary but he believed it was the best option. So here I was left in pain and now crying for two different reasons,

1. Because I was so sore,

2. Because now I had to wait and face medical professionals who might not believe me about the pain.

In the meantime I had made an appointment to see a gynecologist to do a diagnostic laparoscopy which had been ordered by the doctors at Robina after I had been discharged in June.

Dr. Jason Lo Tam had written me an urgent referral to Robina Hospital, I took the letter went home, packed my hospital essentials (bag of clothes, phone charger, spare underwear) and mum drove me to the closest hospital which was Robina Hospital. A volunteer from the hospital wheeled out a wheelchair, helped me get out of the car  and into the wheelchair and wheeled me to the front desk where I was met with a triage nurse. She asked me all the usual questions, checked my BP and then with a smile simply said “Please take a seat and someone will be with you shortly.”  So that’s what we did, I was in too much pain to sit upright so I laid down next to a mother and her poor little girl, and between listening to the busy rush of nurses and the cries of a man who was covered by a blanket, I looked at the clock and had been sitting there for almost 2 hours now, with no pain relief at all.

I watched a family practically push their way in front of other people to talk to the triage nurse, we were cramped, there was hardly any space left in the waiting room, no beds in emergency and this family of 7 seemed fine but needed to be checked over because they had been a part of the train derailment that had happened in varsity lakes. I was starting to feel claustrophobic and still in an immense amount of pain , still without pain killer, I got up and moved to seats at the back of the waiting room and laid back down. However my pain was interrupted and I was distracted for a moment when I saw a girl who looked worse than me, she was red in the face from crying, tears still streaming down her face, she was crippled over in a wheelchair, clutching pretty tightly to a green whistle which didn’t seem to have helped her pain at all.

Another hour passed by and my mother realised this girl was by herself, asked how long she had been sitting there and if she had any pain relief, the girl replied “Since lunch time, and no, I haven’t had any pain relief.” So mum walked over to the nurses behind the glass and voiced her concern, but Robina hospital was waiting room was even more full now if that was even possible. So this poor girl who had been waiting in so much pain said she was going to go to the other hospital (Gold Coast), mum asked her how she was going to get there  and she replied “public transport” and within that moment mum and I had a sort of telepathic conversation and thought we are not letting this poor girl in so much pain catch public transport to get to the specialist hospital. (Especially since the trains had stopped and now only buses were running.) So we offered to drive her , I realised that if I had to be at a hospital too I may as well be at the place where all the specialist teams were. So mum helped her lay down in the back seat, I sat in the front and we drove another half an hour to get to Gold Coast Hospital.

When we arrived there were no parks in emergency, so mum dropped both of us off at the door and we hobbled through the Gold Coast emergency waiting room together, It was almost completely empty compared to Robina Hospitals waiting room, we stumbled to the front desk the other girl in front said “Hi we have both come from Robina Hospital and we are both in excruciating pain. ” The triage process was a lot quicker now, we spoke to the nurses explained our symptoms, moved on to admin and got told to wait. We didn’t wait more than an hour in the waiting room and I am glad we didn’t because as we both laid opposite each other , a man came out from behind the door we could tell that he was not quite right and he just happened to sit next to us. He too was in pain, we listened to him cry out over and over again saying “Here it goes again, Here it goes again” as he squinted his face right up till it turned a shade of red. He started to ask mum all sorts of weird questions about us girls and she was fine in answering them, it wasn’t until he went to touch the girl that was with us that mum had to step in and say no. Luckily not long after that a male nurse came and did some obs on the girl that was with me and pretty much took her straight through to a bed in ED. Mum was now helping this girl with her bags and I was left laying by myself with this man and in pain, it wasn’t until he started asking me weird questions that I started to feel uncomfortable so I got up and hobbled over to a different lot of seats. I was just about to lay down when my mother returned with the male nurse following closely behind ready to do my obs.

He hooked up the blood pressure machine, the heart rate monitor and took my temperature and for some reason in that exact moment when he was there my body entered a whole other level of pain, I thought what I had been feeling before was bad, this was 110 times worse. I was now screaming in agony, tears running down my flushed faced and the spasm lasted for a good 30 minutes. The nurse tried to come me down and said he would be right back with panadine fort, he was gone less than 10 minutes when this lovely Indian girl doctor came out and called my legal name Lauren Reich, the nurse ran over gave me the panadine fort. It didn’t even touch the surface, the doctor than asked if I could walk I nodded my head and said “Yes, but very slowly.” I walked to a different waiting room area down a narrow hallway, to a place that said minor emergencies, mum was worried about this, about the doctors not taking it seriously but this lovely doctor smiled and replied “It is just a more quiet and quicker way to get through to emergency. I got changed into a one of those lovely hospital nightgowns and was poked and prodded, finally the doctor came to a conclusion and set we need to get your pain under control, so they inserted a Cannula (a thin tube inserted into a vein or body cavity to administer medication, drain off fluid, or insert a surgical instrument.) into my arm, which is generally a painful experience for me as I have very thin, very deep and very bad veins, I was also very dehydrated from throwing up, and gave me morphine through a drip to help with the pain and a saline/ hydro lite drip to help with the dehydration and then I waited. I waited for the bloods to come back, I waited for my urine to be tested, and I was almost up to my maximum dose of morphine through the IV. I saw that girl again once or twice throughout the night, I waved one time and the other time I was fairly sure I was pretty dazed from the morphine so just kind of smiled.

After the bloods and urine came back normal, and my BP started to drop again, I was sent off for a pelvic  ultrasound, to rule out any ovary cysts or ovarian torsion, I had an external and internal ultrasound which was a fairly uncomfortable ordeal in general because of the pain, but more because my radiologist was a male (which meant for the internal he had to have a nurse sit in with him.

External pelvic ultrasound – In situations where an internal pelvic ultrasound is not appropriate, the examination will be performed by placing the ultrasoundtransducer on top of the lower abdomen (stomach area). To ensure that the inside of the pelvis area is seen clearly on the screen, a full bladder is required.


Transvaginal ultrasound is an examination of the female pelvis and urogenital tract (kidneys and bladder). It helps to see if there is any abnormality in your uterus (womb), cervix (the neck of the womb), endometrium (lining of the womb), fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and the pelvic cavity. It differs from an abdominal ultrasound as it looks at the pelvic organs from inside the vagina.


The test is requested by your doctor if you have symptoms of pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, to check for fibroids (muscle tumours of the uterus), polyps (areas of thickening of the lining of the uterus), ovarian cysts or tumours, infertility, or assessment of early pregnancy.


I was then sent for an X-ray, and when all these test came back inconclusive and with the only sign being massive constipation, they decided that I couldn’t stay in ED because I wasn’t emergency enough so they sent me to a ward called CDU or (Clinical Decisions Unit) this ward is where you go in order for doctors /  specialist to decide whether you are being sent up to an actual ward for further investigation or whether they send you to short stay just for pain relief. By the time I got to CDU it was 11pm at night and nobody was going to see me till the morning so I sent my mum home to bed.

In part 2 of this blog I will discuss the events that transpired over the next week. If you have a story that you would like to share please send to: thatsteelmedia@gmail.com

Lauren x


Not always a Happy Ending

Welcome back fellow readers, bloggers to the world of The Reality of Unseen Illnesses,

Sorry I haven’t written for a few months I have been confined to white tiled rooms we call hospitals, going through the same cycle and struggle of fighting with Medical Health Professionals.

Let’s back it up a bit my last story was the long journey I had taken to discover I had an Illness called Abdominal Cutaneous Nerve Entrapment Disorder (Here is a quick re cap on what that disease is :  (ACNES) is a condition that causes chronic pain of the abdominal wall. It occurs when terminal branches of the lower thoracicintercostal nerves (7-12) are ‘entrapped’ in abdominal muscles, causing a severe localized neuropathic pain that is usually experienced at ventral portions of the abdomen. It is frequently overlooked and unrecognized, although the incidence is estimated to be 1:2000 patients.[1] )

It was an amazing woman, a woman who looked beyond the norm and discovered that this was the main source of my chronic pain, a wonderful woman named Dr Heide Feberwee
Gold Coast Persistent Pain Management Service
Suite 3, Campus Alpha
2 Investigator Drive
Phone: (07) 5668 6825
Fax: (07) 5680 9539

and after having the  (RFA) ablation surgery I was pain free for quite awhile. However because I am only a young 22 year old my nerves grow back quite frequently and I usually have this operation done every 3-6 months.

So lets fast forward a few months to June 2016, I woke up the same as every morning and went through my usual routine and whist normal 22 year old’s morning’s usually consist of breakfast and coffee, this is what my morning consists of 100g of Thyroxine for my under active thyroid (Hypothyroidism) , 1 tablet of inner health plus (because of all the antibiotics I have to take), Movical and Iberogast (to help soften the bowel and help the digestive system whilst on many Opiate related medications. Which is not good. BTW. PLEASE ONLY TAKE MEDICATION AS PRESCRIBED BY GP OR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.)

So in June 2016 , I woke up and realised I had a very bad pain on my right side and at first it felt like that odd sensation before you need to urinate, when this appeared the pain became so unbearable that I remained in a crouched over position clutching my right pelvic side. So I went through the painful steps of organising a GP appointment, the GP sending me off to get a Pelvic Ultra Sound both Internal and External, and for a girl a first time Internal Pelvic Ultra sound is a bit uncomfortable. Transvaginal ultrasound is an examination of the female pelvis and urogenital tract (kidneys and bladder). It helps to see if there is any abnormality in your uterus (womb), cervix (the neck of the womb), endometrium (lining of the womb), fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and the pelvic cavity. It differs from an abdominal ultrasound as it looks at the pelvic organs from inside the vagina.

I had that done, got the results and was sent away with the normal anti inflammatory pain killers, but this didn’t do anything so hoped into mums car and drove to my second home ‘Robina Public Hospital.’  went through the usual cycle of explaining the same thing over and over again being pumped with pain killers, getting told there is nothing really wrong, organise another  round of ultrasounds and because of the pain killers the hospital pumps me with I end up having to have a catheter (“uretic catheter”:) draining urine from the urinary bladder as in urinary catheterization, e.g., the intermittent catheters or Foley catheter or even when the urethra is damaged as in suprapubic catheterisation. 

After a major 48 hours I finally ended up with a questionable diagnosis of Pelvic Inflamatory disease: (inflammation of the female genital tract, accompanied by fever and lower abdominal pain.) I was put on two types of antibiotics Flagyl

(Flagyl (metronidazole) is an antibiotic. It fights bacteria in your body.

Flagyl is used to treat bacterial infections of the vagina, stomach, skin, joints, and respiratory tract. This medication will not treat a vaginal yeast infection.)

and …

Doxycycline is an antibiotic that is used in the treatment of a number of types of infections caused by bacteria and protozoa. 

and whilst these medications for the two weeks in combination with strong pain killers did help this pain for a period of time. However because the side effects were so bad I almost considered just living through the unbearable pain. Some of these side effects from both antibiotics included:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Migraines
  •  Bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • and the constant feeling of not feeling 100%


So i guess where I am going with this story is that not everyone is happy ending, and I still have to fight to prove my illnesses are real only to end up with a MAYBE or Questionable diagnosis. The only good thing to come out of my stories is that I end up making wonderful friends at the hospital going through similar things to me so they are very understanding, so when you are feeling stressed, sick and alone please remember that you are not alone and that there are people out there just like you!

Lauren x

If you have a story about your invisible illness that you would like to share with me and the world please email : thatsteelmedia@gmail.com


The Process of my invisible illness; To the final diagnosis: ACNE Part 1

Hello fellow bloggers and word press lovers it’s me Lauren and this is the story of the process I had to go through to finally get a diagnosis 7 years later.

In my previous post I discussed how I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, at the age of fourteen, just a quick re-cap:

“Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone. Since the main purpose of thyroid hormone is to “run the body’s metabolism,” it is understandable that people with this condition will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism. The estimates vary, but approximately 10 million Americans/Australians have this common medical condition. In fact, as many as 10% of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.   Hypothyroidism is more common than you would believe, and millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don’t know it.”

I was put on a hormone replacement called Thyroxine, Sometimes called Oroxine. I was fourteen at the time and have been living on hormone replacements since and I seemed like a fine, happy healthy young girl again. I wasn’t as tired anymore, I was back at school, I was a healthy weight and suddenly all was right with the world or so I thought.


I had recently just transferred from South Oakleigh Secondary College, where I got bullied severely and moved to a school called Karingal Park soon to be McClleland College where my best friend Katrina was attending, which made the transfer a lot easier because I already knew her and her friends.

I always loved musical theatre from year 7, I made a promise that I would always be in school productions so I also made a lot of friends when I joined the Karingal Park school productions. However half way through production I ended up needing crutches because I had always grown too fast for my body that my knee caps would constantly pop in and out of place. It was always annoying because it would happen randomly and it just so happened to have happened literally straight after another cast member and he used to make claims that “I was copying him” like I had control over my body, and my invisible illness. This is one statement that constantly upsets me because people can’t physically see what’s going on in my body so they claim I have control over it like it was my intention to have my knee caps pop out of place and cause me severe pain every time I walked. Luckily the knee cap situation cleared up pretty quickly.

When it drew closer to the end of year Ten and the start of year Eleven I started noticing some more changes in my body, apparently I was really skinny, so skinny in fact that I almost looked anorexic, however I had no clue of the fact, as I believed I was a healthy weight for my age and I loved to eat.


Lauren in Red (Left), Katrina best friend in Yellow (Right),

Although looking back at the images above you can tell that I wasn’t as healthy as I could have been. Then out of the blue I started experiencing severe stabbing pain within my fingers and toes, which then progressed to my hands and feet, at first I just thought these were growing pains as I was always growing too fast for my body. However within a week this invisible illness had progressed quite rapidly, the sharp stabbing pains that had been constantly occupying my hands and feet had suddenly progressed up through to my arms and to my legs and soon this sharp irritable unbearable pain had consumed my whole body. It got so bad to the point where I couldn’t walk properly anymore, I walked with my knees bent into one another, almost like I had polio disease. From not being able to walk properly my body was so ridiculously heavy, so mum made an executive decision to hire a wheel chair. When I wasn’t bed ridden or laying on the couch, I used that wheelchair to do everything and go everywhere, I even remember attending Katrina’s 17th birthday in my wheelchair.

It was the moment when my invisible illness started causing me more issues than not being able to walk, when I wasn’t able to bath myself, dress myself and even eat without needing the assistance of my mother or someone else, was when my family and I decided after many inconclusive doctor visits that it was time to go into hospital. I was staying at my grandparents house and they were close friends with a neurologist who worked at the Monash Hospital in Clayton, Victoria, So that was the hospital I was to attend.


In part two of this blog post, I shall discuss my admittance to hospital and the tests that I went through from what I can remember anyways and the next chapter to how I ended up with my official diagnosis of  Abdominal Cutaneous Nerve Entrapment Disease (ACNE)

Stay Tuned and Keep reading and if anyone has a story that they would like me to share on this blog please email to: thatsteelmedia@gmail.com


Lauren x