Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Missing March

I missed March this year.  Let me tell you about it!

On March 1st I went in for a colonoscopy.  It was scheduled and due to me not feeling so well off and on through out January and February.  The appointment was for 8 am, I thought I would be home in time for lunch!  It's a pretty routine procedure, right?  WRONG!  As some of you may recall, last April I was admitted to the hospital with a partial intestinal blockage.  I was treated with drugs and released, and continued drug therapy.  Prednisone for 8 weeks and imuran for as long as my doctor kept me on it.  Well, it caused scar tissue in my intestine and a narrowing as a result.  The doctor was attempting to stretch the narrowed areas with a balloon and one area kind of shredded.  He kept telling me it look like ground beef.  I am not sure I want to know what he means by that.  Anyhow, due to this shredding I had a small perferation and they admitted me to the hospital for observation and pumped me full of antibiotics to ensure I didn't get an infection.  I spent the next 11 days under observation, undergoing a million tests (2 CT scans, numerous x-rays, and an upper GI follow through, as well as constant blood work)  They took me off food at first and just had me on IV's then slowly started reintroducing foods, starting with clear fluids.  I was scheduled for surgery on March 12, but the surgeon decided it would be better to delay it 8 weeks and try more drug therapy.  The drug is called remicade and it is a serious drug for seriously sick people.  It can cause lymphoma, but the risk of that happening was much less than the risk of me getting worse.  I was released from the hospital on March 11th with promises of surgery.  

So I went home on Thursday, March 11.  On Sunday, March 14th I started to have abdominal pain again.  By Monday it was worse and I made my husband take me back to the hospital.  They diagnosed me with constipation caused by the barium from the upper GI follow through, put me on IV fluids, stopped letting me eat, and gave me laxatives.  Once everything was moving I was sent home again.  So, Wednesday, March 17th I was home and hoping it would be the last time I saw the hospital until my surgery, now 7 weeks away.

In order to go for a remicade infusion (which costs $4000 per shot by the way! Thank god for health insurance!) they needed to make sure I didn't have tuberculosis. This meant more tests! I passed though! If you have never had one, it is very interesting how they test for it. They take a needle and insert it between the layers of skin, then inject you with a serum that bubbles up like a blister. Then 48 hours later you go back to get your test "read" and if you have red spots or a rash around the injection site then you have to go for a chest xray to confirm you have it. I had nothing. Just a small bruise from the injection. I went in on Monday, March 22 nd for the injection. 

On Tuesday, March 23rd, I started to feel like crap again.  Which was just perfect since my husband left that morning to go to Vegas for 4 days for a trade show.  So there I was alone with 2 kids and feeling like absolute crap.  I worked most of the day and hoped I would feel better so I could work again on Wednesday.  I had to cancel on helping out my daughter's brownie group that night and everything.  Wednesday I had to go get my TB test read, then I planned to go in to work but I was just in so much pain I went home and called in sick.  On Thursday I was so sick I kept the kids home from school and popped percocets and went back to bed.  They were such good little nurses!  I thought I just had constipation again, so I had been taking mild laxatives hoping things would pass.  Thursday afternoon I started to feel better for a bit, then around dinner time took a turn for the worse and was in so much pain I was delirious.  I called my husband crying, not sure what to do.  He called around and finally was able to get his boss to come and drive me to the hospital.  My parents met us in emergency and my dad took the kids to their house while my mom stayed with me.  They admitted me, sent me for xrays and blood work, etc.  There were no beds, so I ended up spending the first 7 hours in the OR in the emergency department, then they needed it for some idiot with a knife wound, so they wheeled me out to the hall.  At this point they were shooting me up with morphine so I didn't really care where I was laying! 

The next day they found a bed for me (in maternity of all places) and my GI specialist came to see me and told me that he was sending me for a CT Scan and I would likely be having emergency surgery, as they were pretty sure I had a blockage.  The CT Scan results agreed and I was booked for surgery on Sunday morning at 8 am.  I was scared by this point.  Other than my wisdom teeth I have never had any kind of procedure.

I hardly slept Saturday night and was very relieved to see my aunt and my husband at 6:30 am the next morning.  They took me to the OR prep room and at 8:00 am on Sunday, March 28th I underwent major abdominal surgery.  They ended up taking out 8-10 inches of small bowel, my appendix (I had a fistula going right through it!) and a hernia that seems to have been caused by the blockage.  I remember going to sleep, then I remember them waking me up and me panicking because I couldn't breath.  I kept trying to point at my mouth to tell them I couldn't breath and they kept pulling my hands away.  I know now that I had a breathing tube down my throat, but at the time I was terrified.  I woke up again back in my hospital room with my husband, aunt, and sister looking down on me.  The rest of Sunday is pretty much a blur.  I remember bits and pieces, like blowing my IV, ordering my family around as to who was feeding me ice chips and who was scratching my back, that kind of silly thing.  Oh and my morphine drip button not working.  It was on a 10 minute delay, so I could only push the button every ten minutes, but I kept pushing it and then telling everyone it was broken.

I now have a 6 or so inch long incision down the center of my stomach that I will always carry with me as a reminder of what I have been through.  I got released from the hospital on April 3rd and managed to be able to spend some time with my family for Easter.  When I left the hospital I was on solid food again and everything seems to be working fine.  I go back on Friday to get my staples out.  Time will tell if the surgery was successful.  Crohn's patients fall into three categories after surgery.  1)  Never have a problem ever again.  Basically cured.  2)  End up back in surgery in 10 to 15 years due to a flare up.  3) End up with a flare up in a year.

I would be happy with option 2 at this point.

When things like this happen you realize who cares about you.  I am forever thankful for my husband who was by my side holding my hand through this whole thing.  He came straight from the airport to the hospital on the Friday afternoon.  My sister and my aunt that visited me every day.  My other family that visited me often as well.  My friends that were texting or emailing to see if I was alright, one even stopped in and gave me a mini manicure the night before surgery!  My mom, for taking care of my kids when I couldn't so that my husband could be with me. 

In 4 - 6 weeks I should be as good as new!  For now I am taking it easy and just relaxing and doing things slowly.  It feels like I am going to split in two when I cough or sneeze or laugh, so I cannot wait for that feeling to go away!

And the best part?  My very generous husband took my wedding rings in to get soldered together since I couldn't wear them anyhow, and as a get well soon gift he got them to add my anniversary band to the set!  I will take diamonds over flowers any day!!!  He is so thoughtful!  I am so very lucky to have him.

And that is how I missed March.


Rianne said...

You're a warrior my dear! You're gonna rock that surgery scar. So happy things seem to be looking up, my fingers are crossed for option one :)

Shannon said...

I am SO HAPPY that you seem to be doing better :) I am hoping for option 1 as well...that would be PERFECT ♥

Chicks That Click said...

Oh my goodness Leslie!!! Sorry to hear you've been doing so poorly! I hope all goes well with the recovery! Thank goodness for family and a great hubby! Get well soon!