Monday, August 27, 2012

Saga: Blessings & Curses

Underwater Leaves by Jon H. Cheatwood
It's been a little while since I've written anything, and this time I actually have a valid excuse.  I have been (still am) incredibly sick.

About three weeks ago I scheduled a doctor's appointment because someone finally suggested that all the pain I was having, that I had been thinking were just crazy muscle spasms due to all the issues I had been having with my sciatic nerve, were actually being caused by my gall bladder.  So I called the doctor and made the appointment.

The next night I found myself up at 1:30 in the morning feeling like death.  I ended up ending an 18 year streak of not throwing up that night.  I started throwing up at 1:30 in the morning and didn't stop till probably 9 or so in the morning.  Anyone that knows me that throwing up is right up on the scale with needles as far as things that I both hate and am terrified of.  It was a horrible night.

I ended up moving up my appointment to that afternoon, and after speaking to my doctor, he got me some anti-nausea medication called Zofran (which is typically used for cancer patients going through Chemo, if that tells you anything about how lousy I was feeling) and set me up to get an ultra sound of my gall bladder, liver and pancreas.

So I spent the weekend feeling like I was dying, and ended up having to get off the Zofran because I had a really weird reaction to the medication.  That made life exciting.  My dad got to watch me completely fall apart because when I called the doctor's office to ask about the meds they told me I should go to the ER, and that scared me.  My dad, instead, had me call one of my best friends, Heather, who is going to nursing school to talk about the whole thing.  She helped me figure out some meds I could take to keep my stomach in check until I could actually talk to my doctor.  It made a huge difference in my outlook and helped me calm down exponentially, though she probably didn't realize that at all (thanks, Heather, you're the best).

My folks left to go shopping and I took a long nap.  When I woke up, my folks were back and my wonderful father had a gift for me: neon colored socks with hearts all over them.  They were perfect.  My mom told me later that when he saw them he told her he was going to buy them because he was hoping they would make me smile.  They hadn't seen me smile much in about 3 days at that point.  The socks worked.  They were so bright, and they were from my dad.  It was hard not to smile about something so sweet and small.  My dad is the best.

The rest of the weekend was pretty lousy because I was in so much pain.  Thankfully I didn't throw up anymore after that first night, but eating became really hard to want to do at all.

Tuesday I went and had my ultra sound.  Wednesday I found out I needed to have a CT scan because they had seen a couple spots on my liver that they couldn't identify, and they had seen gall stones, so I was going to need to have my gall bladder removed.  I was also told I needed to have a follow up appointment with my doctor so that I could be checked out after having the bad reaction to the Zofran.

I spent all Wednesday on the phone trying to get everything lined up to get my surgery done and the CT scan scheduled.  It was a nightmare because the surgeon couldn't see me until September 10th.  When you're in that much pain, all you end up doing is crying.  Or at least I did.  Between the price of all this and the length of time and all the tests and the fact I needed more tests because something else was was a long day.

Thursday, Joel moved to Augustana for his freshman year of college.  I slept most of the day away.  I am so proud of Joel.  Honestly, what an awesome brother!

Friday, I went to the doctor and he explained that they wanted to get a better look at my liver because he just wanted to make sure everything was okay.  There was a very small chance the spots could be cancer, but he didn't believe they were dense enough.  After talking to him I felt much better, and he explained everything with the gall bladder, and told me I was fine after the Zofran.

I spent the weekend feeling sore, but feeling a little more hopeful.  Not only did I have the CT scan on Monday, but my doctor had gotten me in to see a surgeon that next Wednesday so I was moving along much better.

I don't know if you've ever had a CT scan, but the junk they make you drink is lousy.  I got lucky and they premixed it for me and it was an orange flavor that wasn't too bad.  It just has a really weird consistency, and you're not allowed to eat or drink anything for something like 14 hours prior to your scan, so I spent a lot of time wishing I could drink water.  And hoping I would never ever ever have to have another one of these.

The CT scan itself wasn't too bad except that I had to have an IV for it.  Thankfully I had a really wonderful nurse who made absolutely certain she could find a vein, and it was the least painful needle experience I have ever had.  She was really great.  It made life a lot less scary.

I was thrilled when we were done at the hospital and I got to come home and sleep.  Life was going alright.  I was hurting, but not too worried. doctor called.  He said there was something wrong with my pancreas and that he wanted me to go to the ER.  He said he was going to call ahead so they would be expecting me.  Then he said he was going to call my mom.  I got off the phone with him and started crying and couldn't stop.  I didn't want to go to the ER or have anymore needles or have anyone else poking at me or have anymore tests done.  I wanted to take a nap.

But naps were not to be.  Not yet.

My mom came home and drove me up to the ER.  Thankfully I was smart enough to pack up my favorite blanket, toiletries, my Bible, iPod, my phone charger and a book.  I had a feeling they weren't going to let me leave which just scared me more.  Hospitals have always freaked me out, so this was a terrifying experience to walk into.

My dad met us at the hospital.  He said the ladies at work had kicked him out of the bank when he told them I was going to the ER.  I'm glad they sent him.  He made things seem a lot less scary.  I ended up in the ER for roughly 6 hours from the time I checked in at the desk until they finally told me they were going to send me up to a real room so they could do some observation.  They had determined that I have something called a psuedocyst on my pancreas which just means there is a pocket of water that has formed between my pancreas, the wall of my abdomen and my stomach.  It's causing a lot of pain, and my pancreas was swollen and they wanted to check on that.  The whole time I was in the ER I was told I couldn't drink anything because of the tests they were running on the blood they had already drawn (did I mention how much I hate needles, especially when I am already feeling sick to my stomach?).

They got me upstairs and checked in around 11 pm.  The room was nice, and my nurses were wonderful.  They told me I still couldn't have anything to eat or drink, but one of my nurses' told me she would bring me ice chips.  She was wonderful, and they made all the difference, especially since I was still pretty dehydrated from having to fast for the CT scan that morning.  My folks stayed with me until about 11:30 when I told them to go home because they had to drive home separately and they both needed to go to work in the morning, and they both looked like they were going to fall asleep.

As I said, my nurses were great, but one of them did draw blood at 4am.  Again, I am TERRIFIED of needles.  It was not a great experience.  It became the first of many, many times I would have blood drawn.  I ended up having an MRI that day (Tuesday) as well because they wanted another look at my liver.  As of now (almost a full week since the MRI), I still don't know what the results were.

I spent from Monday night till the early part of Thursday afternoon in the hospital.  During that time, I had my blood sugar taken at least twice a day.  My fingers have just recently healed, although I can still see where they pricked my fingers.  I got really good at dealing with that.  My nurses knew how freaked out I was by needles, so they talked through the whole process which did wonders.  They learned to do the same thing when they were drawing blood.  They also got use to me crying.  I did a pretty good job of holding it together, but when you're exhausted and on a lot of medication and scared because every doctor that comes in gives you little to nothing in the way of explanation as to what is happening to you and keeps throwing out the word cancer like it's no big end up a little rattled and terrified and emotional when they tell you they're going to take blood for roughly the 8th time in three and a half days and no one seems to know what they need all this blood for.  They did tell me that I have pancreatitis and that they couldn't do any surgery on my gall bladder until my pancreas heals a little bit.

They still haven't told me what's going on with my liver, but I was told I need to have yet another CT scan in roughly a month.  I hate CT scans.  I never want to have another one, but hopefully my regular doctor will be able to tell me why this is necessary and what the heck my MRI results were.  I just need to understand what is going on, and doctors at the hospital are pretty worthless for that.  Well, that's not entirely true, the doctor that takes care of the whole 9th floor at Swedes was pretty nice.  He tried to answer my questions and was very kind, but I still hated that whole process.  It was scary all the time.

The good parts of being in the hospital (because there are some): all of the nurses were wonderful.  They showed up as soon as I needed them and would do everything in their power to make my life easier.  They were wonderful angels.  I had some great visitors.  Morgan and Adam came to visit me on Tuesday and sat with me for a couple of hours.  Morgan brought me this adorable bright colored and crazy patterned frog and a big "Get Well" balloon.  It was beautiful and the nurses all loved it.  It brought a lot of color to my room, and it was much in need of that.  Kayla sent me the first of the Hunger Games books and a note.  I got a couple notes, several phone calls, and my family came up every evening to sit with me and bring me whatever I needed.  Kathie and Hilary came on their lunch break on Wednesday which was really nice and completely unexpected.  Broke up a very gray day that I was very tired of.   Morgan brought our friend Alyssa and her little girl Kaylee up on Wednesday night (I think), and Kaylee ended up loving my dad.  Morgan brought me more books.  Morgan was been my angel in all of this.  Such an awesome friend.

Thursday they sent me home with some pain meds and a prescription to help with the pancreatitis.  I was so excited to be home and away from needles.  I have bruises all over my arms from needles.  I still hurt, but I am healing.  I spent the whole weekend taking a lot of naps, and doing a lot of nothing.  I am now on a low-fat heart-healthy diet until I get my gall bladder out, and my wonderful family are all participating in this with me.  They make my life so much easier.

Jay came to visit me on Friday night, and that was great.  He had a lot of things dumped on him because all of this still has me extremely stressed out.  Especially everything with my liver and the fact that I have no idea how I am going to be able to financially recover from all of this (and yes, I HAVE applied for assistance through the hospital).  I am grateful for his willingness to listen, and deal with my fears.  He's a good man.

Sunday, my family didn't want to wake me up to go to Sunday School, and I ended up waking up just before church was supposed to start, so I missed church.  I have every intention of being back next weekend.  My mom said she just couldn't justify waking me up when she knows I need the sleep to heal, and I have just started sleeping through the night.  The amazing thing  was that I got a big envelope full of get well letters from my kids in my Sunday school class and my fellow teachers.  The cards were beautiful, even if the glue was still wet on some of them, and I loved every single one of them.  My class is wonderful.  It made my day.

I slept through a lot of yesterday afternoon, and slept pretty well last night.  I am going to be calling my office tomorrow and see if there is a way I can come in part time for awhile.  Hopefully things will go well, and I will get to actually do some work.  It would be nice.  I could make a little money, and then come home and take naps like I need.

Anyway...I go to the doctor, as I said, on Thursday for a check up (maybe I didn't say that...this is a long post, it's hard to remember anymore) and to have a couple tests run to make sure everything is healing smoothly.  I met my surgeon while I was in the hospital.  I am sure he's an excellent surgeon, but he seemed a bit like a cold hearted weasel as well, so I'm not terribly excited about going to him for my consult.  On the other hand, if I go in on the 5th and he tells me they want to do surgery soon, he may be my new best friend. I just want to get this thing out of me and keep healing.

Please keep praying about all of this, and I will attempt to do a better job of keeping you posted on what is going on.  Life is a bit of a crazy mess, but God is definitely showing me again and again how blessed I am with the amazing people I love and who love me.  I'll get through this.

I love you.  Thanks for being there.

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