Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Story Begins...(Part VI)

     August 29, 2013: My parents, my husband and I decided to go on a short trip to the beach. It was a long desired and deserved getaway. Although I had an open sore on my body from the abscess drain that I knew would prevent me from getting deep into the water, it felt good just to get away. Well, the next morning forever changed the course of my life and I won’t ever forget it. I woke up to fecal matter coming out of that hole in my abdomen. Don't reach for your glasses...you read that correctly! I was freaked out! I immediately called my doctor who told me I had to rush back to Philadelphia for emergency surgery to have my colon removed. Say What?!? Say huh?!? 

     What I had developed is called a fistula. It is when the waste can’t get out the normal way because the intestinal passage is too narrow so it starts to create an abnormal tunnel to get the waste out. This fistula was coming thru to my belly button area but I’ve had others in the past to go to other organs in my body and spill the waste there. Crohn’s is a nasty, nasty disease. All I kept thinking about on the trip back to Philly was, “I don’t wanna die"....and surgery meant death - maybe not a physical one, but an emotional, psychological death. The death of a dream. The death of my envisioned miracle. I was determined not to have surgery, but I knew that I could not live with a fistula and fecal matter spilling out from my abdomen. My parents and husband were visibly shaken. 

     A bed was waiting for me at the hospital. My GI doctor visited with me, and I could see that “I told you so” look on her face. We have an excellent doctor/patient relationship, but I could tell that she just didn’t understand what I was going through. When the colon and rectal surgeons visited my room, they gave me two options but they both involved surgery. They gave me some time to think about it. It was at this time that I continued to pray hoping that God would, like Jesus in the garden, remove the figurative cup from me. Nevertheless God, not my will, but your will be done. I even spoke to a person that my surgeon put me into contact with. She’d recently had surgery to have her colon removed. Even though she was dead set against it at first, she did go ahead and have it done to save her life. She shared some of her story with me and assured me that I would be alright.  Thanks Janet Milford; You are a saint! Thank you, Dr. Benjamin Phillips for bringing us together. 

     The next day, September 6, 2013, I underwent surgery to remove my large intestine (colon) and to give me a permanent ileostomy. An ileostomy is a surgical opening that brings the end of the small intestine, or ileum, out to the surface of the skin. The body waste is then collected in an external ileostomy bag. The surgery went well, I was up eating, talking and laughing the next day. I was in pain but my video game reflexes came in handy using the trusty pain pump (PCA) and it managed the pain pretty well. However, two days later, I fainted because my hemoglobin dropped to 4. Honestly, I thought I died that day. I think my mom did too. She is a woman of faith, but I believe this incident tested her faith like never before. Everything just suddenly went black. I was immediately transferred to Critical Care and I had to have 4 blood transfusions. I was so weak; I couldn’t even walk or talk. It took everything I had in me just to try and keep my eyes open. I stayed in that unit for 6 days and was discharged from the hospital on the 7th day (17 days total admission). 

     Despite all of this happening, and my long and hard fight against this, I now feel surgery was the best decision. I am still adjusting to life with a bag but I assure you of this. You can’t smell me. You can’t see the bag and if I didn’t tell you about it, you would not know it was there. The best part: No one can blame me for a fart ever again! Also, if people are talking about me, hey let them talk! Hopefully they’re talking about the fact that I am Crohn’s free. Now that my colon is gone, I never have to deal with that dreadful disease again. I am a walking, talking, living, breathing (and singing) testimony! Oh, I didn't tell you? Well, I LOVE to sing, and now I have a reason to.

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