Total Pancreatectomy with Auto Islet Cell Transplant...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I explained it once before, but now I have a better understanding of what is going to happen.
Here is a LINK to my surgeons web page! Check it out!

The doctors will take out my pancreas in a 10-14 hour procedure. You need your pancreas to create enzymes that digest food and make insulin for your body. Without my pancreas the doctors will need to give me enzymes in pill form for the rest of my life. It will be a challenge at first figuring out the right number and combination of pills. Second, I will be diabetic. To avoid the full affects of this they will the the AIT part of the transplant. This means they will TRANSPLANT one part of my body into another. They will dissolve the pancreas completely in a solution (over the course of 5 hours, while I am in surgery) and they will get all of the cells that produce insulin out of the pancreas. They will then put those cells (2 teaspoons full) into an IV bag and inject them into my portal vein, along with a ton of Heparin (an anti-blood clotting medicine) to keep it flowing. Over the next three months those cells will make their new home the liver. They will not work at first and they may never. 33% of lucky people have those cells working and do not need insulin. The rest do, some much more than others. Some are severe and some less. It is in God's hands for me.

Many speak of phantom pain after surgery. That too is in God's hands. Even if I experience this it is still a much needed surgery. I have a very high risk of pancreatic cancer, but with this surgery I will have no pancreas. Also, the cells that will be in my liver will be cleaned of mostly all of my pancreas leaving a small percentage of cancer possibility in the liver. The risk of cancer is much smaller than if those cells were still in the pancreas. Diabetes will be possible and I am expecting it. Other issues with digestion can arise and most experience them. Again, I am ready.

After surgery I will be in the ICU for 3-7 days or longer depending on my case. I am hopeful for a seamless recovery with a short ICU stay. After ICU I will be moved to a transplant floor where I will be in my own room to heal. Immediately after surgery and once I wake, a physical therapist will arrive at my room and try to get me to sit in a chair. I will try every day to move my body in some way and I will try every day to not let pain get the best of me. They say you do better when you are able to move your body. I have thought up milestones that will mean I am doing well, but I know these milestones can change depending on my amount of pain. Doctors say that the pain will not be controlled for 2 days, but that after that it will be well managed. I will have a pain pump and I will be able to press it for IV pain medication every 6 minutes. This surgery is especially painful because there are many nerves associated with the pancreas. Also, they are cutting out a vital organ and putting your internal organs back together again. The surgeons will carefully be placing body parts that have never been linked together next to each other. These internal scars will have to heal and will be painful. The external scar will be from under my breast bone all the way down to my belly button. This will have staples and will take time to heal as you can imagine. I will be on the transplant floor anywhere from 15-30 days and then I will return to a condo that my family will rent in the Tucson area for 7 weeks, or until I am cleared to travel home. The surgeons want me to stay close to the UMC even after I am better, just in case I need anything and also until all of my tubes are out!

I am going to have drains, a feeding tube, and other various "plugs and cords" as I like to call it. I will need to stay in Tucson until they are gone. In the hospital my parents and I will attend diabetes training, feeding tube classes and much much more! We are going to learn how to handle my illness without nurses so I can do it at the condo. It is going to be a lot to learn for all of us but I know once I reach the "learning how to handle my condition at home" phase I will be ready to scream hallelujah from the mountain tops!

My hopes for the first two weeks after surgery:
I pray I wake up and hear "everything went well" or "just like normal".
I pray I wake up and see my Mom, Dad, and Brother.
I pray I wake up and know the world around me and everyone in it and feel like myself.
I hope to be in less pain that I think I will be in the first two days.
I do not mind being over medicated the first few days, I hope I am!
I hope to not remember waking up with any ventilators or any other scary thing.
I want to be walking within the first 2 days.
I want to walk everyday and get strong faster than normal.
I want to spend MAXIMUM 2 weeks at the UMC and then I want to go to the condo.
I will be eating Popsicles sooner than later (I know the feeding tube part will stink and I want it out asap).
I know I will feel better when my swelling goes down and I can wear my own pajamas.
I know I will feel better when I can do my own hair and take pride in what I look like.
I can't wait to feel like showering and having my mom help me with my hair!
I hope I am well enough to enjoy my friends visits.
The day I put on makeup- I am probably feeling much much better and should be home!

Dear Lord,
My hope is that when my pancreas is gone my pain will be too. My threat of cancer will be gone. My life will resume to normal. I will be able to plan things again and actually follow through. I won't be in the hospital every three weeks and I will live life to the fullest. Please Lord help me to achieve these things through you. Please watch over me Lord and let me be healed. Let me make it out of surgery stronger than ever and ready to fight for my life. Thank you for all that you do for me Lord.

1 comment:

  1. Whit, I'll be saying that prayer for you too! I know the Lord is watching over you and holding you throughout this whole process. It sounds like He's really helping you to have peace about this! I felt the same way before mine- that it was totally in God's hands (the islet cells, the phantom pain, etc.) and what happens, happens but God's in control! And it sounds like you're in great hands with the team in Tuscan.
    A song that I LOVED during recovery:


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