Jamshidi recovers from appendicitis, eases back into swimming

Jamshidi recovers from appendicitis, eases back into swimming

Omid Jamshidi (11) had already taken several practices off due to what he believed at the time to be a bout of food poisoning.

Having participated in swim since fourth grade, Jamshidi has always been a fan of water sports, using his time on the swim team to stay in shape and prepare for the water polo season in the fall. But this affinity for swim was stymied by what appeared to be a stretch of food poisoning. After a week of continued symptoms, his family decided to pay a visit to the emergency room.

It was here that he got lucky—while sitting in the ER, waiting for the results of a CT scan, Jamshidi’s appendix burst.

“Honestly, I feel like it’s the closest imitation to being stabbed,” he said. “I just fell out of my chair and hit the floor.”

Left untreated, the bacteria released by a ruptured appendix seeps into the other organs and can quickly prove fatal. Jamshidi was immediately rushed into emergency surgery to remove the toxins. Even with quick and sufficient medical attention, the struggle was far from over. Following the surgery, he spent three days in the hospital before returning  home. The next day, however, Jamshidi returned to the ER with a 106-degree fever; a second CT scan revealed that some bacteria remained in his body after the first surgery.

“The bacteria had gotten in between my small intestine and large intestine, in the little cracks, so they couldn’t see that with their eyes,” Jamshidi said. “After the CT scan, they realized they had to clean in the cracks as well.”

After a second round of laparoscopic surgery, wherein a camera is used to guide tools across the damaged organ, Jamshidi remained in the hospital for another week before being sent home.

It was at this point that Jamshidi realized that continuing his swim season would be difficult, if not impossible. The surgery left his abdominal muscles with several minor tears, making any form of motion difficult and painful for the next several days.

“The nurses had to physically move me,” Jamshidi said. “I couldn’t swing my legs around my bed. It just took too much ab strength. I would walk for 30 minutes every five hours to stay healthy and exercise.”

Jamshidi began to recover through exercises both in the hospital and at home. In addition to walking in 30-minute intervals, he stretched to keep his muscles active and flexible.

“It took me about three weeks to get back to normal walking and carrying my backpack,” he said. “I wasn’t allowed to carry anything over 10 pounds for two weeks.”

On top of this, Jamshidi was unable to swim for a month after the surgery to prevent chlorine from entering the scar, thereby risking an infection. However, the bond he had formed with his team encouraged him to try and work his way back into the sport and finish the season.

“I knew I still wanted to participate because I liked the people on my team and I still wanted to stay in shape because I knew it would help me recover,” he said.

After a month of being unable to touch a swimming pool, Jamshidi slowly began to work his way back into the practices. Upon Jamshidi’s return, he started off in a separate lane from the rest of the team, swimming recovery sets with the ultimate goal of restoring his stamina and stroke technique, rather than gaining speed. By the third week, coach Bruce Steel had moved Jamshidi back to practicing with the team.

“I’d still be there for the full two-hour practice, but instead of the tiring sets that everyone else was doing, he’d give me my own smaller sets so I could get back into the routine of swim,” he said. “He didn’t want me pushing myself to the point where I’d rip scar tissue inside of me and end up going back [to the hospital].”

Although practicing at a slower pace than the rest of the swim team initially discouraged him, Jamshidi eventually found his way back into the team practices and even some of the more recent swim meets. He has made substantial progress toward regaining his times prior to surgery, attaining a 28.13 second time in the 50 freestyle against Rancho Bernardo, March 29. In spite of being three seconds below the average for male swimmers on the varsity team, Jamshidi has  improved significantly since his bout of appendicitus.

“My stroke’s been improving lately,” he said. “Now that I’m practicing with varsity again, it feels a lot better because I’m slowly regaining all my times and I can keep up with people again.”