Archive | December, 2010

It takes a village

26 Dec

I think we’ve all heard the old African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”…and any mom certainly knows that’s true.  But to put a new twist on the saying, I believe it takes a village to beat cancer.  I left snowy Minneapolis a week ago to spend Christmas here in Las Vegas with my kids.  Within a day or two I was truly overwhelmed at the many, many ways others have reached out to Emily.  I know I’ve done what I can to help, but, that’s just what a mom does.  However, when I see all the ways so many others have helped, it’s easy to see the true kindness of others.  Many have sent Christmas cards merely saying “You’re in my thoughts and prayers”.  Others have sent little Christmas presents which indicate “I’m thinking of you”.  A diagnosis of cancer is devastating, but when it happens to someone you love, it hits you to the very core and we all want to reach out and help…believe me, you have.

Merry Christmas to the village.

Taking medicine into my own hands

12 Dec

This blog post is a bit delayed, but I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on recent progress.  I came home from the hospital this past Tuesday evening (December 7th), but my release was due in no part to modern medicine, in my humble opinion.  A week ago today, last Sunday, my morning started out with receiving news that I would need to be in the hospital another 5-6 days.  I didn’t take this well, considering I had already been in the hospital a week.  Basically they had found a pocket of bacteria near the surgery site and needed to determine the right medication to to fight this infection.  In order to do this, the lab was growing samples of the bacteria culture and then treating them with various antibiotics to find the appropriate medicine. In another life I may have seen this as a fun science experiment, but now that it was requiring 5-6 more days in the hospital it was another story.

At this point, a switch inside me turned on.  If I was going to be in the hospital that much longer, I was going to own this place, make it my own.  I immediately informed my nurse that my dogs would be coming in to spend the day with me.  Then I called up Nick and told him to pack up the kids and a travel bag and bring them on down.  After all, sometimes the best cure doesn’t come from a pharmaceutical company or from someone licensed to practice medicine.

To be able to spend the day with the family...priceless

The dogs behaved wonderfully and were a big hit with the nurses!  Later in the afternoon, Jane came by armed with Christmas decorations, holiday ornaments to decorate, a movie to watch, cookies and hot cocoa.  For a day that started with gloomy news, it certainly finished on a positive note.  But it didn’t end there.  On Tuesday afternoon I was informed they had finally landed on the right concoction of antibiotics and that I could go home – four days ahead of schedule!  I’m a firm believer that it was a positive attitude and some answered prayers from the big guy upstairs that allowed for this change in plans…and I was certainly thankful for it.

Holiday cheer - hospital style

Since arriving home on Tuesday night, I’ve spent the past few days slowly recovering and gaining my strength back.  Laying in a hospital bed for over a week definitely takes its own toll on your body.  I began working half days from home on Wednesday and will aim to start work full time tomorrow (from home, to begin with).

I was originally scheduled to have my ileostomy reversed (bag removed and small bowel put back inside me) this coming Friday, however a test showed there is still a small leak at the new connection point, signifying it is not completely healed yet.  This surgery will now be pushed back until 2011.  While I was looking forward to spending the holidays bag- and cord-free, it looks like that will not happen.  I also still have a catheter strategically placed in my upper right butt cheek that is continuing to drain the infection.  I have my fingers crossed that this fun apparatus will be removed in the coming week.

In the mean time, I hope everyone is managing to enjoy the holiday season that seems to just be flying by.  It appears we won’t be getting Christmas cards out this year so we wanted to make sure and wish everybody a happy holidays and say that we are forever grateful for the continued well wishes!

Just can’t get enough of this place

1 Dec

Apparently there is a strong subliminal force linking me to UMC Hospital because I’ve found my way back into one of their beds.  Over this past weekend I began having problems urinating, despite the copious amounts of fluids I continued to consume.  On Monday morning, I called my surgeon at 6:30 a.m. (something I have no problem at all doing – I feel I’ve earned the right)!  She advised me to go to urgent care and get a urinary tract infection test; Nick and I were there right when the doors opened.  Although the results came back negative, I began to experience acute abdominal cramping and the doctor suggested we head to the emergency room for follow up tests and a CT scan.  Within minutes we were sitting in the waiting room of the ER that was connected to the same hospital where my surgery was performed.  Over the next few hours we went through the exhausting registration process, were assigned to a bed, had over a dozen vials of blood collected, and finally underwent a CT scan.  The test results showed a collection of fluid located behind my bladder and in front of my *new* rectum – not a good sign.

The next step was to extract this fluid, as it was essentially a form of infection, and hopefully the other symptoms would then be alleviated.  I was officially readmitted into the hospital on Monday evening and received a warm friendly welcome from the same nurses who had cared for me less than two weeks prior…wonderful.  The procedure to extract the fluid would take place the next morning (Tuesday).  A radiologist performed a needle-guided CT scan whereby he used CT imaging to guide him to the exact location of the fluid.  He then inserted a hollow needle down into the cavern of fluid and suctioned out the infected liquid.  Like any other CT scan, I was not put to sleep, rather they used a local anesthetic, Lidocaine, to numb the surface area.  This did next to nothing to curtail the pain and pressure during this ten minute procedure.  At the end, however, I was presented with two large syringes full of bacteria-ridden fluid…success!  But it didn’t end here.  In order to make certain they get every last drop they left a hollow wire inside me which is now attached to a hose and vacuum apparatus that hangs from my right butt cheek.  In case anyone is keeping score, I now have a wound vac (helping to heal the main surgical incision) hanging from my lower left abdomen, an ileostomy bag (collecting my diverted fecal matter) attached to my central right abdomen, and a hose (suctioning out infected fluid) hanging from my upper right butt cheek.  I am beginning to feel like a puppet with all these cords and hoses attached to me – and affecting my every movement.

I am keeping my spirits high that I will be saying goodbye to the hospital staff soon again, here.  The doctors have opted to keep me a few more nights in order to administer some antibiotics and to keep an eye on the immediate progress from the procedure.  I will have to have another small procedure to remove the vacuum from my behind, but I’m hoping that may happen as soon as Friday.  Additionally, I’m hoping to lose my wound vac within the next few days, as the doctors are very pleased with the speed of healing on the once-infected incision.  That would leave me with just the ileostomy bag, which I am tentatively scheduled to get rid of on Friday, December 17th when I go in for another surgery that will consist of reattaching my small bowel together and allow for the normal digestive flow into my new rectum for the very first time.  All these exciting events on the horizon are keeping the energy in the hospital room positive, along with everyone’s continued support…oh, and Nick’s ill-fated attempt at cracking endless ileostomy jokes – those alone require pain medication!