Bittersweet

Appendicitis dampens Maggie Fay’s commencement celebration

By Karly Kovac ’16

“Mom, something is not right. I think I have to go to the hospital.”

That is the last thing Maggie Fay ’14 thought she would be saying on her graduation day. After all of the senior week activities for the class of 2014, receiving an award for four years as an Arrupe Scholar, and with her 22nd birthday just days away, Fay was ready to celebrate the end of a long week of congratulations at her commencement on the quad. In fact, this wouldn’t be the first time her family would be sharing this day. Fay’s mother, Maureen (Rose) Fay ’79 and her brother, Patrick Fay ’11, are also John Carroll graduates. With a John Carroll flag flying prominently outside the family home, participating in the ceremony was a special honor and part of a legacy.

Maggie Fay '14

Maggie Fay ’14

Everything leading up to commencement was busy. The day before, Maggie Fay was in Pittsburgh and returned home late at night. She woke up Sunday morning feeling fine until the ceremony, when she started to feel a slight stomachache.

“I thought it was because I was hungry, or I didn’t eat breakfast, or because I was nervous,” she says. “I ignored it. Then afterwards, we were taking pictures with everyone, it started to hurt a lot more. So, I said, ‘Mom, we need to stop taking pictures and go out to eat now because I am so hungry.’”

“She’s not a complainer,” says Maureen Fay. “She kept on saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I have such bad pains. I must be just starved.’”

Maggie Fay decided to tough it out and went to bd’s Mongolian Grill. She was going to get her typical refill plate at the grill, when the pain increased immensely.

“She kept whispering to me, ‘We have to leave. I’m so sick,’” Maureen Fay says.

“I was trying to hold myself together for everyone, saying, ‘Hi, I’m great! Thanks for coming!’” Maggie Fay says. “As soon as I got back to my John Carroll house, I was going to sleep it off, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I didn’t exactly know what was wrong with me, but I didn’t want to say to my friends in the house, ‘Hey guys, I don’t feel good.’ So, I kept it to myself.”

After a while, the pain left Fay rolling on the floor in agony, so she quickly packed up her things in University Heights, Ohio, and headed across town to her home in Bay Village. Fay told her parents that what was formerly thought to be hunger pains were getting worse.

“Wait until morning. The ER is expensive,’” says Fay about her dad’s reaction.

“I don’t think I can wait until morning,” Fay responded. “There’s no way I can wait that long.”

The long day was made even longer because the family waited in the emergency room four hours before being admitted.

The Fays

The Fays

“I thought it was her appendix,” Maureen Fay says. “I had mine out when I was little, and it can be hereditary.”

Just as Fay’s mother expected, her daughter was diagnosed with appendicitis. After a CAT scan and blood work, doctors said they had found it early, but Fay’s white blood count was extremely high. Thankfully, the appendix hadn’t ruptured, and the surgery was successful.

“It was perfect timing because I had a day to recover before my birthday,” Fay says

Moving forward
Though Fay graduated with a communications degree in integrated marketing, she plans to return to school in the fall to start her prerequisites for nursing school. The decision stems from an experience Fay had while lifeguarding at Huntington Beach on Lake Erie in Bay Village three summers ago.

“My second week into the job, I got to work early, and people were drowning,” she says. “There were huge waves and a big undertow. There was a huge, intense rescue.”

Tragically, a few of the swimmers lost their lives; however, Fay took part in a rescue that saved the lives of others. Though Fay isn’t exactly sure what sector of the nursing field she plans to enter, she’s definitely considering working toward a position in the emergency room.

“We took this whole thing with the appendix where she was just lying in bed, waiting for the surgery and kept saying, ‘Wow, Maggie. Watch everything and observe it all. You’ll be on the other side of it soon,’” Maureen Fay says. JCU


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