Misfit Monday: Appendices

Useless, or something extra?
Appendices. Even the word is a misfit! Plural for appendix, it’s an oddity: where most plurals in English are formed by adding “s” or “es,” appendix’s “x” is a shape-shifter, and turns into a “c.” At least that’s the plural I’ve always seen, although according to Dictionary.com,  “xes” is also correct.

First, I have to thank my brother for this post topic. I’ve discussed my own Sheldon Cooper tendencies last week, and a few weeks before, but really, I’m not that much of a neat-freak – just when it comes to my car. My brother’s tendencies in that area extend to the processing of information, too. (And yes, he’s an engineer, and very intelligent.)

It all started Thursday, when my mom wound up having to take my dad to the emergency room for unusual, really-bad stomach pain that turned out to be appendicitis. When I called my brother and told him, he asked, “What exactly is an appendix?”

I explained that it was a vestigial organ attached to the large intestine. Then he started to read a definition to me: “Supplementary material at the end of a book, article, document, or other text, usually of an explanatory, statistical, or bibliographic nature.” * (He was obviously looking it up on the computer while we were talking, LOL!) But what it really comes down to is that the appendix is the misfit text in a book – the stuff that doesn’t really fit in anywhere else. And you’re not really missing much if you skip it; it’s supplemental information.

Holding cell, spare parts, or none of the above?
But the information on the anatomical appendix turned out to be quite interesting. I’d always thought it was a vestigial organ that no longer served any purpose, other than to cause some people problems. But there were several theories on Wikipedia. One was that it’s sort of a  protected storage bin for helpful bacteria, when there’s an infection elsewhere in the system. Another theory is that it’s an enhancement to the immune system, but this is mostly disproved by the fact that removal doesn’t seem to harm anyone. The argument to that disproof is that perhaps it’s more functional in areas without modern sanitation and hygiene. But there is one potential use that has been proven: spare parts, for people with congenital defects or after surgical removal of problem “parts.”

Walk-behind lawn mower

Strong, silent type
When my mom and I met with the surgeon after he finished with my dad, he told us that Dad’s appendix had been a mess for at least five days, and was amazed it took him that long to seek medical help. But Dad insists that he wasn’t in any pain until the night before. At any rate, all went well, and my dad came home yesterday. My daughter says her band director had acute appendicitis a couple months ago, and had to be rushed into surgery. He was back in school three days later (albeit against his doctor’s orders). Hopefully, my dad’s recovery will be as quick.

And hey, my brother learned something new, LOL!

What do you think – is the appendix useless, or does it serve a purpose? Have you or anyone in your family had appendicitis? How long ago, and how long did recovery take? My husband’s prepared to do some extra lawn mowing, but he’s wondering for how long!

* Definition from Dictionary.com

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11 Responses to \

  1. My son had appendicitis – when he was 9. I believe his burst when they operated, and after we brought him home, he continued to get sick. Had to have another surgery (to insert a tube for drainage). It wasn’t a pleasant time for any of us, and we had JUST moved to the area (there were still lots of boxes in the house waiting to be unpacked). If your dad didn’t have any complications, I’m sure he will be fine. It took a while for our son to recover.

    But for a useless organ, it sure can cause a lot of problems when it goes bad!

  2. I still have mine, but I don’t have my gallbladder. I think I remember the dr saying it really wasn’t necessary, although maybe he was trying to make me feel better? It sure did cause me a lot of problems before they removed it-like Stacy above said about her son’s appendix.
    Glad your dad is on the mend!

  3. my nephew’s appendix ruptured and he was in the hospital for a week. ugly. he was a very sick little boy. But all is well now. All the adults I knew when I was much younger, had their appendix out. not so common now…

  4. Stacy – his doc told us that about 10% of appendectomy patients have the kind of infection your son suffered. Hopefully my dad won’t. Thanks for sharing!

    Coleen – I know a few people who’ve had gallbladder surgery, and they seem fine, too, so I wonder what purpose it serves? Thanks for stopping by!

    Louise – glad your nephew came out of it! As infected as the doctor said it was, my dad was lucky his didn’t burst. Thanks for your comment!

  5. I’m glad your dad is on the mend and that his appendix didn’t burst. My brother had appendicitis when he was a senior in high school. I was married and he came over for spaghetti dinner the night before. He was up all night feeling sick and he blamed it on my cooking! Haha! He didn’t get better that next day, so Mom finally took him to the doctor, and they scheduled the emergency appendectomy. Jeff was in excellent health, since he was in wrestling. He had qualified for CIF, which was a week or two later. (I forget) CIF I believe is California’s best athletes competing for 1st place in their category. He wanted to compete and felt good enough, but no way would the doc clear him. Missing competing in CIF was one of those curve balls life likes to throw at us. I felt bad for Jeff, since I knew he was good enough to win. Too bad he didn’t get to fulfill that dream. 🙁

  6. Lynn, I’m glad all worked out for your brother! What’s funny about that story is that my parents’ anniversary was the day before, and they went out to dinner at a seafood restaurant I’d given them a gift card for, and Dad was blaming that at first! Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Hope your dad has a speedy recovery! I still have mine, but my husband lost his in college. Back then they had to cut you open, so the recovery time was longer. Nowadays, I believe its laproscopic (sp?), so you heal much quicker.

  8. Hoping the best for your dad in a speedy recovery. I’ve never had to deal with that particular problem or operation but I do understand healing from an injury or health complication. 🙁 Lots of well wishes going your dads way.

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