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My Appendix Surgery Cost (during pregnancy)

a woman with both hands on her abdomen due to appendix pain.

This post is about my appendix surgery cost which happened when I was 4 months pregnant in early 2016.

I am taking a small space from this personal finance blog to share the cost of my appendix surgery and the whole experience. Mainly because it is not common to be both pregnant and have appendicitis (inflamed appendix) at the same time.

I’ll share how much I paid for my appendix surgery cost and where I had the surgery. Also, I’ll share about the diagnosis, the surgery procedure and the recovery process.

On top of that, I’ll share the possible reasons why I had appendicitis during my pregnancy. And what pregnant ladies can do to avoid this from happening.

Table of Contents

How did my appendicitis start?

I was in the fourth month of my miracle pregnancy after battling infertility for six years and a failed IVF treatment.

One fine Thursday afternoon, after lunch at work, I started to feel uncomfortable in my lower right abdomen. I thought it was a digestion problem. By evening, that uncomfortable feeling turned into light pain that comes and goes in a matter of minutes.

That night, the pain grows stronger. At some points, it felt like someone using a chopstick poking my lower right abdomen. I tried to get some sleep. I tossed and turned the whole night, I can’t sleep at all. Other than the sharp pain especially when I move my body, I was worried sick about the baby inside me.

Getting help from my gynae

The next early morning, my hubby and I immediately went to see my gynae for advice.

My gynae first checked my baby’s heartbeat. Then, she pressed my lower right abdomen with her fingers. When I jumped up and cried in pain, she was certain it was appendicitis.

I was not surprised. Because the night before, I had done some googling and based on my research, most probably the pain was from appendicitis.

She suggested writing a reference letter to Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) for surgery to remove the appendix. I told her I am covered by both my own and my employer’s health insurance. But, she told me to check with the insurance companies if their coverage includes surgery during pregnancy.

After some discussion, my hubby and I decided to follow my gynae’s advice. The reasons are:

  • I had my medical records from my visits to the Klinik Kesihatan and the previous infertility treatment program through the SGH specialist clinic.
  • The possibility of me being under experienced hands at SGH is higher because I trust the government hospital handles more rare cases of acute appendicitis during pregnancy.
  • SGH has more complete facilities in case of emergency.
  • The appendix surgery cost is definitely much lower compared to a private hospital.

When I asked my gynae how frequent it is for appendicitis to happen during pregnancy, she said it’s rare but it can happen.

The pain was still bearable but I was worried. Worried about the tiny life inside me. I can’t help but keep wondering:

  • why do I have to have appendicitis while I am 4-month pregnant after battling infertility for 6 years?
  • why must appendicitis happen during this critical period of my life?

So many questions in my head. But I knew I don’t have time for that. Instead, I need to think rationally and act fast.

An emergency visit to Sarawak General Hospital (SGH)

Without delay, my hubby sent me to the emergency unit at SGH. We showed the receptionist the reference letter from our gynae. It did help. The staff there took immediate action.

They checked me in detail. They took my blood pressure, and body temperature and asked many questions including about my infertility history.

Then, a young medical officer scanned my baby. After scanning, he drew a red marking on the suspected appendicitis location. He also drew my blood for testing and sent me for an ultrasound.

The diagnosis of my appendicitis condition

During the ultrasound session, after multiple scanning by two specialists, they concluded that it was 80% appendicitis. They said it’s hard to locate the exact location of appendicitis due to my pregnancy.

And I need to be admitted for emergency surgery. Again, I was worried sick about my baby. Will the surgery affect my baby?

So, they sent me to a gynae so that the gynae can brief me on possible risks. It was a tough time. But I recalled I am not afraid. Occasionally, I felt baby movement in my tummy area. Telling me ‘I am ok, mama’.

The suggested procedure

Shortly after that, the medical officer who attended to me earlier said I have three options:

  1. take antibiotics to reduce the inflamed appendix (no surgery needed).
  2. go through laparoscopic (the surgeon makes three very small cuts or holes to remove the appendix).
  3. go through open surgery (a traditional surgery where the surgeon makes a large cut to remove the appendix).

He suggested the third option, which is open surgery. The reasons are:

  1. Even though some inflamed appendix gets better with an antibiotic, there’s a high possibility of recurrence. Furthermore, he worried if the recurrence happen during the third trimester (seventh to the ninth month of pregnancy). And if the appendix burst, things might get very complicated.
  2. Laparoscopic is not recommended for pregnant women. Because it involves making three small holes in the abdominal area. This might affect the baby.
  3. Although open surgery took time to heal, it is a safer solution for both mother and baby. Open surgery has less impact on the baby.

The young medical officer asked for my opinion. I told him I agreed with him and to proceed with open surgery.

Actually, the night before, I have done some reading on how to handle appendicitis during pregnancy. Most suggest open surgery.

My appendix surgery

Immediately that night, they arranged for my appendicitis operation.

Have you been in an operation room before? If not, you might want to know the procedures.

The sharing below is based on what I typed on my phone while I was recovering.

  1. It was 11:45 pm, a doctor came and told me to get ready for my operation.
    • They got me to sign two papers, giving them consent for the surgery.
  2. A nurse came and assisted me to change into a light green blouse.
  3. Around 12 midnight, a male and a female medical staff wheeled me to the operating theatre (OT).
    • The journey from the waiting room to the OT was quite far.
    • They wheeled me into an elevator and passed by a long veranda.
    • I felt cold. Very cold from the night wind.
  4. About 10 minutes later, I arrived at the OT.
    • The OT was very cold and empty.
    • They helped me put on the light green OT cap.
    • And asked me to crawl to the OT bed.
    • They asked for my name and NRIC for verification.
    • They also asked whether I am the one who signed on to those two pieces of consent paper earlier.
  5. Then they wheeled me to the actual OT, which is very big, spacy and cold.
  6. There, I saw a few young doctors talking about scissors.
    • Some started to put the heartbeat detectors around my naked body, no shy feeling anymore.
    • The anaesthetist started to place the things on my right hand.
    • My hands and legs were shivering. When they saw me shivering, they put a warm blanket over me.
    • I recalled I was not scared. I prayed and put everything to my Lord.
  7. Then, I don’t know what happened.
  8. Suddenly I heard someone call my name, asking me to wake up.
    • I was blur-blur, not fully awake.
    • I asked the nurse what time it was. She said two something. It has been two hours.
    • And they put me in a warm room with a blanket to warm up my body. I waited in the warm room.
  9. Two hours later, around 4 am, I felt much awake.
    • They wheeled me to the ward.
    • My throat was very painful. I think they inserted a pure oxygen tube during the surgery.
    • And I realised I was carrying a urine bag. It was my first time and it felt quite uncomfortable and not convenient to move around.
  10. As I got more and more awake, the pain from the surgery also grew stronger.
    • Not only that, I feel dizzy and nauseous, even a sip of plain water made me vomit out some sour yellow discharge.
    • I felt weak and awful.
  11. Shortly after that, the nurse wheeled me to the ultrasound room to scan my baby. Thanks to God, the ultrasound showed my baby’s heartbeat was ok. But, I need to take some injections for ten days to avoid a blood clot.

For that whole day, I felt terrible and tired. With post-surgery pain, nauseous, and worry about my baby. I requested an early discharge. And I got discharged that evening.

Thankfully the surgery went well for both my baby and me.

My appendix surgery recovery period

When my parents visited me in the hospital ward, my late father told me to stay at their place during the recovery period. My husband and I agreed.

I was grateful for my late father’s advice and offer. Otherwise, it’s going to be a hard time because:

  1. I was extremely weak for the first two days.
    • I can’t even get up from the bed on my own.
    • And I can’t turn to the left or right when I lie down.
    • That pain from the surgery is not easy to handle.
    • I was grateful for my mum and sister-in-law’s assistance.
  2. I can’t walk straight. It was painful.
    • There’s no way I can prepare meals on my own.
    • And my mum helped to bathe me on the first day.
  3. On the third day, I felt much stronger and can get up from bed on my own.
    • I am able to move around better, but slowly.
    • And I went to my local physician to check and wash my wound.
    • Although there was some light infection, overall was ok.
  4. On the fourth day, while cooking with my sister-in-law, I suddenly feel dizzy and almost fainted.
    • I was terrified and immediately visit my gynae. Thanks to Lord, my baby was ok.
    • My gynae was also relieved that my appendix was removed successfully.

After one week at my parent’s place, I went back to my home. The doctors gave me three weeks of medical leave.

I slowly got better and stronger. About two weeks after the surgery, I feel like the normal me again. Just that I got a big red ugly scar from that appendix surgery.

How much does my appendix surgery cost?

My appendix surgery cost at SGH is RM118.00. I would say this is very reasonable.

I attached the official receipt below for your reference.

Official receipt from Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) of RM118.00 for appendix surgery cost.
My appendix surgery cost me RM118.00

The charges of RM118.00 include:

  • ultrasound procedure for both my appendix and my baby
  • emergency surgery cost
  • one night stay at a normal ward

If I choose to have the surgery at a private hospital, most probably the charges will be around RM6,000 to RM10,000 or higher because of my pregnancy.

Why I had appendicitis during pregnancy?

From my readings and research, generally, there’s no way to avoid appendicitis. When it happens, it just happens. It is a kind of inflammation.

So, when I was diagnosed with appendicitis, I started wondering what could be the reasons behind it. Or, what could trigger the inflammation.

From my appendicitis experience, I learned that acute appendicitis is one of the most common emergency surgery. With an estimation of 1 case for 1,500 pregnant women. So, it is not common to have appendicitis during pregnancy.

My mum told me she only heard once about such an incidence, appendicitis during pregnancy. And when shared with friends and family, none of them had come across a case like mine.

After recalling back what I did before appendicitis happens, below could be the reasons causing me appendicitis during pregnancy.

Taking warm baths

it was wet season throughout January. It rained and was cold. Naturally, I took warm morning and evening baths.

I guess those warm baths were too heaty for my body. I regret not listening to my mum. Earlier, she told me to take a cold shower to reduce the heat from pregnancy.

Taking additional prenatal supplements

I suspect some of the supplements were too heaty for my already heaty pregnant body.

Maybe there’s no way to prevent appendicitis. But, I guess we still can try to reduce the possibility of inflammation.

How to avoid appendicitis during pregnancy?

From my experience, I think these are things pregnant ladies can do to avoid appendicitis during pregnancy:

  • Avoid taking a warm or hot bath (while pregnant)
  • Avoid heaty food
  • Do not consume too many prenatal supplements
  • Take more fruits and vegetables for their fibre

But do take note every individual’s body and needs are different. It’s best to get professional advice and monitor your body condition.

Final thoughts

Appendix surgery is just a simple and quick medical procedure. But, for a pregnant lady, appendix surgery can carry risks for both the baby and herself.

As someone who only got pregnant after a long battle with infertility, you can imagine the fear of having to go through surgery. I am glad that I made the right decision to have my appendix removed at SGH. In case of emergency, I know I can rely on SGH’s expertise and facilities.

As for the cost of my appendix surgery, I am truly grateful for the reasonable charges.

Lastly, do you have pregnant friends? Share this with them. Let them know about the possibility of appendicitis in pregnancy. And hopefully, be able to avoid it from happening.

Image Credits

Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay
Screenshot by author

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