Choose Joy

Monday, November 19, 2012

There are so many times I wish I was Taylor Swift singing my heart out to songs I wrote myself about stupid men who made a lasting impression that warranted a whole beautiful song. But reality kicks in, and at the end of the day I am just me, not T-Swift. People might think that is weird, and truthfully I wouldn’t want to put my name on those songs, I might think it’s weird. 

I recently read a book about what the author refers to as “allowing people to steal your joy” and it struck a cord with me. I know I have allowed this to happen so many times in life, even though I am a generally happy person. I am a sensitive person, and words resonate over and over in my head, especially when they are disapproving or hurtful. After a rather upsetting night with people who certainly do not deserve any of my joy, I picked up a book, not knowing what the inside held, and found this conclusion of not allowing the joy to be taken. I jumped in the car for breakfast with my girlfriends, and I blurted out this entire summary on what I just read. 

After some time, the girls all agreed that the book was right, and that we need to all be better about this in life. Getting angry at the person who cut you off in traffic, the lady at your meeting who glared at you when your cell phone rang (I actually was in a meeting last week where someone yelled at an older lady because her phone rang, I felt terrible for her), your boss treats you unfairly, or in this case someone makes you feel you are not worth anything is only allowing those who offended to steal your joy. You are the one who ends up paying the price, you are the one who walks away upset. 

All of that makes sense to us friends, but one friend asked the question that I couldn’t seem to find an answer to: “How do we stop it from stealing our joy if it truly upsets us?” I don’t remember what I said, but I think it was something along the lines of “just don’t let it” but the more I think about it, the more I know it is not that simple. That is the part the book didn’t explain. The “how to” part. 

So here is what I came up with, and keep in mind, what do I know? Who am I anyway? I will tell you why I have street cred in a minute. I sat here, in my bed, where I do most of my deep thinking, and started asking myself how to stop it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how upset I was that one person who I barely know and who really doesn’t know me (nor care to know the real me) made me feel small. And even though I was repeating what I read about not allowing my joy to be taken from me, I already had. I had done it in the moment it happened, the entire rest of the night, the time I was trying to sleep but thinking about how angry I was, to the next day in the car when I was sharing my new life advice. 

Then, I began thinking. I told myself I fought really hard to get to this place in life. We all have. Maybe you didn’t have a major organ removal and a transplant, but you may have had something that made you fight just as hard if not harder. Even if you weren’t literally fighting for you life, I promise you we have all had to do a lot to get to where we are now. I started feeling entitled. Entitled to never letting someone make me feel small or weak or not worthy of every desire I have in me. I started feeling like I had broken a promise I made to myself to not let the trivial day to day stuff upset me. I remember telling God that if He made me better I would never be sad or mad again. Obviously this is not possible, but what I do know is possible is to be selfish when it comes to happiness. Choose it, want it, and keep living it. 

Once I remembered this, and brought it to light again, I figured it out. To choose joy you have to get rid of those circumstances or people who take it. You don’t literally have to “get rid” of them, but in your mind you do. And sometimes that even calls for moving on from friendships with friends or relationships. Avoidance is not what I mean here, I just mean accepting that a person doesn’t want joy for you, yet keeping it for yourself regardless. It all boils down to one simple word here. CHOICE. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This month is pancreatic disease/cancer awareness month! Purple Pride

Feedback from readers who are having surgery soon: They like to see
pictures of me to know that I am ALIVE and LOVING life:-) So here you go, a recent
function with my best girlfriends!

I have held off on this detail of recovery for a while now, always wanting to write about it, because it is the HARDEST part of the whole ordeal, yet not wanting to write about it because it is so misunderstood by our society and I never want readers or friends to misunderstand and judge me.

But here it goes, for me, and for all the others who will identify with this at some point after surgery.

Narcotic Drugs:

This is not an appendix surgery, it is not your gallbladder, your tonsils, your toe, it's HUGE. I swear some people I talk to are that under educated that they actually think they might be the same thing. Clearly some people did not pay attention during science classes! You can't have this surgery without heavy, heavy narcotic use. I do not mean the illegal kind of use, the kind that you buy on the street, I mean the kind that comes in the PCA pump in the hospital and in high dose pills when you return home. The kind that come in the form of a little patch that you stick to your body, the kind that comes in the form of a lollipop that you eat, the kind that takes the horrific pain you are experiencing away and makes you feel like you can make it through one more day. That kind friends.

You are having intense pain everyday when you even decide you need to have a TP-AIT surgery so most people are already on a daily pain killer. That is actually one way the doctors determine your urgency to have this surgery. Once you have the surgery you are not only dealing with missing an organ that has so many nerves associated with it, you are re-routed entirely, even given new blood supplies to organs that stay, and you are cut open all the way down your stomach. OUCH? Yes.

About 2 months after surgery I was on the highest amounts of medicine I had ever been on. I immediately began weaning down once I could. The pain doctor and I worked together to step down off these medicines in a way that would not make my life miserable, yet would not mean I would never be able to stop. I will never forget the resident, who was about my age, at the hospital, who pointed out that she felt I would need pain medicine forever and she felt sorry for me (I think this was 4 days post-op, as you can imagine I was not in a good mood). That didn't sit well with me. She didn't know me, didn't know my drive, or what I was capable of, so I actually asked to have her removed from the pain team, I may have even shouted that she must be removed. And she was:-)

Step by step, at two week intervals, I weaned down. First the patches had to go, and that was a huge success. Every bone in my body ached, every word someone said made me want to throw punches, and every sound gave me a splitting headache. I missed work, laid in bed and cried, and wanted to die. This is the truth. Nothing to do with the pain of the surgery, or recovery, everything to do with drug withdrawal. Then came the pills. First I got off the dilauded, which wasn't too bad actually, no idea why. Then the Oxycontin, which was a BITCH. Yes, I said that. There is no other way to describe it to make a reader understand. Every step down turned me into a person I didn't know. At one point I went on vacation with my mom and didn't come home for 2 weeks. People would text me saying they thought it "must be nice" to have such a fun life. Little did they know... And little by little I have decreased every two weeks. Every time feels like the first time, and it never got easier. Think having the flu times ten. That's how it was.

And now, here I am OFF all pain medicines. Eight months after surgery, and it has FINALLY happened. My friends know what a big deal this is, and how I tried to do it faster than the pain doc would say and would end up backtracking! But it's finally official. Thank God. If I listed the amounts you would die (and don't go robbing me, I turned them all over to a disposal place), and we don't want that, but just trust when I say I was on more than I hope any of you will ever have to be in your lifetime. The thing is, when I speak to other HP friends, it's normal, we were all on that amount or even more, all suffering that type of pain.

The point is not to tell you some crazy story about drugs. It is to tell you that you will be on them after the transplant and you will have to try to get off them. And try harder, and then harder, and go out of the house to avoid going crazy, and take a walk to avoid wanting to jump out of your skin... you get the picture. But, in the end you can do it! I remember my surgical team saying they would be fine with me staying on them for a year and then weaning down. To me that sounded nuts, but I get it now. I am also so thankful I didn't listen to anyone and did it faster than they said. It was so much better for me to just get it over with. I survived it. You will survive it too. And if you are struggling with it call me. We can yell and cry together on the phone. I mean it. Actually, I have done it (right Heather)!

Congratulations to me. Cheers to you!

And the beat goes on...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

As I sit here in my house on my couch enjoying all things and a glass of wine I am reminded of why I was put here and what my purpose is in this crazy life. Tonight I received a text from a friend who I spent some time with on the phone this week. I have never met this friend, only heard about her from other friends I have never met, and got in contact with her. I used to look at my Internet circle as virtual friends, and even get laughs from some of my own “flesh” friends about the relationships I’ve built with people I’ve never met. I don’t look at them as virtual anymore, just real friends. Real friends who understand what struggles come with HP and all things related. Real friends who care, worry and share in the same fears I’ve felt at some point or another. 

I told my mom about the text and she said it must feel good to help people. I responded that it did, and that I believe this was all part of the plan for me. While I will never understand why human suffering is part of anyones plan, I know it is. I feel my suffering was much smaller scale than others, yet much larger than some will ever face, but at any rate, it is all part of who I am and why I am here. 

I promised myself the world prior to the transplant. I was going to change things, and as I got better and regained my life those things faded away and life took off. Conversations with people who are still struggling, suffering, and missing their quality of life remind me that I need to review those promises and be a better advocate for pancreatic diseases and cancer. My friend told me that there was a center doing the transplant 2 hours from her house but it took years to find out about it. I am in the same situation. The Mayo Clinic never once mentioned that 2 hours away I could be having a transplant that is changing the lives of many. Instead I heard the line that "this will progress and there is nothing we can do to stop it." Why is this acceptable? It's not. It will never be. And I need to change it. I just feel stuck on how to change it. If you are a doctor specializing in pancreatic diseases you should be aware of all the options for a patient. You should not be allowed to withhold that information. I do not believe for one minute my Mayo doctor didn't know the name "Dr. Rilo" or "Dr. Grussner" and what they were doing for pancreas patients. He wasn't doing it and didn't have the means to, so therefore he would not tell me. That is the truth. Pathetic excuse for a doctor.

My conversation with my sweet new friend was delightful and important. I hope I eased fears, answered questions, and most importantly offered hope to someone who may need it more than ever now. This person has not had one single bite of food in 7 months. Imagine that for a minute. Her pancreas does not allow her to have ANY food at all, and all of her nutrition comes from a tube and a bag. I am so excited to share my hopeful story with my new friend and I can’t wait until one day she is the one on the other side, sharing her hopeful story with a new friend! And the beat goes on... 

8 Months

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blogs. I actually love all things blog related. My friend and I used to make fun of blogging, sorry, when the idea of it first became popular. We’d talk about funny things and say “You going to blog about that?” I know, jerks right? But now I read blogs, write blogs, and love blogs. I follow about a dozen blogs regarding TP-AIT, diabetes ( is my favorite) and others I have come across along the way ( and  Sometimes I ask myself why I enjoy reading about the lives of others, and sometimes even crying over people I have never met, but I think it is because I identify with them in some way. That’s all I can come up with as to why I read strangers blogs...other than some psychological issue...which I would prefer not to have. 

Blogging brings me to my next point, blessings. Many of these blogs teach me that I have been blessed with the greatest gift, something people don’t have the privilege of learning. I have been blessed with a new outlook on life. My whole family has, twice. The first time we received this blessing I was too young to understand it, but the second time I was living it first hand. The blessing, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, is that life is precious and worth living to the fullest because you never know when it will be all that “He” wrote here on Earth. 

Depressing? No, I don’t think so. I came across Maya Thompson’s blog because my nail girl, Emily, had a card on her station. It said “Rockstar Ronan” and I had looked at it every 2 weeks for a while. I never knew what that was all about, but I knew the picture of the little boy on it was so sweet. Later I would hear Taylor Swift sing about Ronan and I would put the two together, realizing that Ronan’s mom and I go to the same nail girl. I started reading her blog and becoming so amazed with her little boy. She posted a while ago about another little guy, Ty, who was terminal. I couldn’t help but click on it even though I knew it would bring more sadness. My own brother, Tyler, had childhood cancer, and I think I just wanted to know the story. Every night I would wait for his mom’s updates and pray for him. Every night I would thank God for keeping my Tyler here with me on Earth.  Tonight, before I even turned on my computer, I knew Ty had passed away. I even said it as my computer was warming up. I have no idea how I knew that, but I felt it and it was true. Tonight’s prayer is that those two little guys are playing in Heaven together and for both of their moms. 

I don’t post this to make everyone sad or to be negative. I post it to make anyone reading this be thankful and feel the abundant blessing of life. I post this to make people aware of the darker side of life and to feel obligated to "walk" or "donate" or do anything you can to help your favorite cause.  I think that the idea that life can be perfect one minute and gone the next is the reason we should live by the “you only live once” saying and do all that we want to do, even if it isn’t popular. Lately I have been saying “YES” to all things fun and “NO” to all things less than fun. I used to be worried, nervous, afraid of what people thought, but this new blessing of life has changed all that. For that I am so thankful. 

Yesterday marks 8 months since the transplant. Life is pretty much back to pre-HP days, something I NEVER thought would happen. I get my insulin pump on Thursday and am excited to try life with that (pink) thing. I am almost weaned off of all my medicine and am expecting that in the next month...and then I am throwing a party. Until then, CHEERS!

Mad Scientist

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My pancreas was WHEELED down the UA campus in
this cooler, controlled by the computer to the lab for islet removal! 
My CMG, wearing it to see how my diabetes is doing.
Rilo is very positive islets are still working well, and will get even better!

Mama and I at Union, our fav spot and I can actually EAT now. 

I now fall under the category of "bad blogger" which is something I promised myself I'd never do before surgery (BS). 

Here it goes, 2 inspirational stories for you blogger friends. You know that country song "I saw God today?"  Well, I was living that song, in these two moments and I am going to attempt to write you through those moments as well. We will see if I can do them justice. 

Transplant Department Waiting Room: Floor 5 

A young woman, about 25, handed a baby off to her grandmother and left the waiting room. The little baby had big brown eyes, an NG tube, and a bandage around her tummy. She was looking intently at me, inspecting my face and thinking her little baby thoughts, I imagine. I smiled, and commented on her big sister's shoes. The grandmother and I started talking and I found out that the sweet baby in her arms had a liver transplant in March. We compared stories, and her transplant came from her mother, who is also still living. The liver is the only organ that can regenerate, so they were able to take a part of the mom's liver and put it into her baby. Dr. Grussner was also my new baby friends surgeon. I thought about Dr. Grussners hands, fitting in that tiny baby, doing his genius work, performing literal miracles and I had told back tears looking at this little girl, who has also been gaining weight and doing well:-)

Airport Baggage Claim: Standing waiting for a bag in Denver

Her crystal blue eyes grabbed my attention right away, then looking at the rest of her I knew I had to talk to her. She was bald, wearing the infamous purple ribbon, which I am all too familiar with now, and was with a friend who was also wearing purple from head to toe. I stood waiting for my bag, waiting to make my entrance. "Are you a pancreatic cancer survivor" I asked, already knowing that answer to my own question but desperate to talk to her. "Yes, I am," she said with a bright smile. I lifted my shirt and showed her my scar.

We talked about it all.  I told her how the doctors thought I was an alcoholic, she said they keep asking her the same thing. It is absolutely horrifying to me that the medical profession has pegged pancreatic cancer and diseases as something alcoholics can only have. It is not only false, but pathetic. She had part of her pancreas removed, and wishes she had all of it removed now, and we discussed how the cancer had come back. She is now in research studies at TGEN, praying for a miracle to cure her. She said something that I keep thinking about. She told me that she asked the doctors not to give up on her. As weird as this sounds, I text my friend Jessica right after and told her the brief version of the story and in that text I said that I felt God all around me. I never say things like that, but I promise you this time it was true. Oh and by the way, she was on my flight home too...coincidence, I think not.

Check Up: With the Mad Scientist

Dr. Rilo, islet transplant surgeon, is a mad scientist. He was kind enough to take me on a tour of his lab after my appointments and it was unbelievable. I got to see where my islets were harvested and even watch a surgery on the computer. The entire time I was watching (parts, not the whole 14 hours) I kept thinking "no wonder I am still so sore" because let me tell you I was cut wide open with every organ exposed. Lovely thought, but seriously so cool to watch, and I NEVER thought my big chicken personality would think such things. Back to the lab, unreal, so many crazy mad scientist experiments going on. He not only created the lab, he builds his own equipment, because he was an engineer before his doctor abilities. I know, without a doubt, that if this man had unlimited funds for research he would have two things. 1) A cure for diabetes (he is already duplicating islet cells, just not getting them to produce enough insulin yet) and 2) A cure for pancreatic cancer. I swear to you this. If you had been there and saw what I saw you'd be shaking your head in agreement. Man is a genius. Must find him more money for research. Must. Add that to my list:-)

The Checkup:
I almost forgot that some readers might want to read about how the check up went! It was great, everyone was happy with my progress, maybe even somewhat in awe of it from a doctor standpoint. We talked about my running, Rilo told me to calm down with the marathons (he heard from my endopre-op stuff there was big talk about my spleen. My doctors wanted to keep it in, but told me that after surgery it could possibly tank because they were taking the blood supply and giving it a new one. Many people freaked me out about this, mostly who had surgery at other centers where keeping it isn't done, and I was so worried! Great news, spleen loves my body, doing great, loves it's new blood supply (I mean why not?!) and it is "out of the woods" for any trouble. Oh and I lied, one more new thing. LIVER is rocking it too, with its new little cells in there, doing whatever liver does. Amen! Still waiting on blood work, CGM results, and an EKG. After that I will report more news. Cheers friends. 

Long Time No See

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Family celebrating my Mom and Dad's day apart B-Days in San Diego

I am a high energy, type A, get everything done, build Rome in one night kind of gal. And lately I've been on my B game, lethargic, lazy, sleepy, make a big mess in my house and not clean it up for 5 days kind of gal. So not me! The old Whitney would have been running circles around the new Whitney. I go to Tucson for my 6 month check up next week and I am looking forward to seeing my surgeons. I am hoping they can tell me I have some vitamin (iron) deficiency and I will be on my way... (God see how I am putting that out there?).

New Whitney?

Yes, that is correct. NW rides the diabetes train. Unfortunately, the surgeons were not able to get many islets from my severely damaged pancreas, so over the past month or so my islets have seemed to be on a vacation. I would like them to come home now, but I am accepting that they may love their tropical island vacation too much and won't be returning. I am still so HAPPY and THANKFUL when I think about the surgery. Nothing like that, no regrets, all positive, but I won't lie to you readers. I have days that I want to roll down my window on the I-10 freeway (west bound, always) and throw my OneTouch Meter out the window, my Hummalog, my needles, my test strips, all of it. I would love a little break from the highs, the lows, the correcting, the freaking out, the feeling tired, lightheaded, shaky, headachy...

Diabetes is crazy and for a while I didn't care to get in touch with it. I became a pancreas expert, probably knowing more than most MD's around town, seriously. I read every blog, medical journal, definition and website. But diabetes, I had one friend with type 1 and that was about it. I didn't research it much, even though friends would say "Oh knowing you, you probably have diabetes figured out perfectly." To that I laugh and wish. The thing about diabetes is that you can't ever have it figured out perfectly. I really believe that. It isn't a perfect science and it takes error to learn.

I remember telling Dr. Gruessner that I was "100% in" for the transplant. I said I understood I would probably end up diabetic and then I said the famous last words "It's just diabetes." Wow, was I clueless. He looked at me with the most serious eyes, and corrected me. He said "it's never just diabetes, it's very serious and can be pretty rough." Now, in comparison to what was going on it is a walk in the park. I would be lying if I said this was anything close to the hell of HP. That is just not true! This is like Disneyland compared to the life I was living before hand. But, I do want those readers going into surgery to be a little better prepared than me, not that I would ever not do it because of diabetes. It is worth it. 

Food for thought: This is a link to a group that does marathons (and all have had islet cell transplants). They didn't have the kind I had, because they are type 1 diabetics that had donor islets, and it was way less invasive to do. It is still pretty cool and the team name for the marathons is "CELLMATES ON THE RUN" Hilarious!
So, the next post is going to be about the Big D and I don't mean Dallas! And I am going to start chronicling my diabetes adventures a bit more than before. I won't give up hope that my islets are going to phone home soon, and that will end my diabetes posts. You never know. You just never know. Overall, life is good and I have missed my blog. Cheers!

Birds of the Feather Flock Together

Monday, August 6, 2012

You know the cliques, the high school typicality that we all experienced if we weren't living under a rock, or haven't watched Glee. You had the cheerleaders, the jocks, the thespians, the band members, the honors society. We've all heard it,  you are who your friends are. Maybe not exactly, but what draws us to people is usually our similarities, at least at first. Even in the dating world, we are drawn to those who are most like us, usually, unless we are making "that" mistake or branching out searching for something different.

Birds of the feather flock together. Birds of my feather, hereditary pancreatitis, flock together. We flock in person, on the phone, or even on Facebook. We stick together, through all of our surgeries, battles, and recoveries. We pray for each other, worry about each other, and call to check up on each other. We blog about each other, and meet in person when we are receiving treatment near other birds of our feather. For me, the support of those who have been in my situation is the most valuable.

Most families have been hit hard by HP, not just showing up in one family member, but all or most. I spoke to one friend in Kentucky who had 54 relatives with PRSS. I know another family in Colorado who has a large number of extended relatives with it. My own family, as it turns out, also has more than just me with the genetic mutations. Fortunately, medical advances are strong and the future looks healthy.

A friend who helped me during my surgery is in need of prayers. Both her children, adorable Make a Wish Ambassadors in their city, and her husband, are all affected with HP. Her husband developed pancreatic cancer and is listed in very critical care tonight. One child had the TP-AIT, while the other is awaiting his TP-AIT. This mother is amazingly strong, never giving up hope for a healthy family. HP has waged war against this family, and I ask you to pray for them as they battle back tonight with vengeance.

I'll leave you with something my mom said, and continues to say to me every day.

"Something good will come of this situation."

Because of my Birds, my friends that I will always be tied too, I believe something good already arrived.



Saturday, July 28, 2012

Here she is, my favorite author, Emily Giffin!

I should be dreaming, it's 3 am, but instead I am dreaming a different dream. A dream I just began, out of tears and frustration. I write the best when I am upset. Some of my best blog work was spun out of my miserable illness, pain, and fears. Tonight, the cause of the upset is different, but its effect on me is the same.

My dad and I have been discussing future plans, what I want to do with my life. I laughed, telling my parents that if I didn't need to make any money, and could do anything I wanted, it would be to write. I would be a writer, ideally one who makes a profit, a large profit. I watch my favorite author, Emily Giffin, on her Facbeook page, and I idolize her. She was a lawyer, turned writer, who took a chance to write NYT bestsellers, something she didn't even know she had in her. I feel I have so much in common with her, feel connected to her, and how silly. She doesn't even know who I am. Yet somehow, I see myself in her, and I know that I could do what she has done. My dad, my number one fan, who encourages all of my dreams, no matter how ridiculous (trust me, I have had some pretty outrageous ones), encouraged me to get started on the book. He told me to sit down and, as the Nike ads always say, "Just Do It." I've got an incredible story to tell, and I plan to tell it with a twist.

Tonight, at about 12 am, after an upsetting night out at some lame bar in Scottsdale, I did just that. I sat down, feeling defeated about life, and wrote. I wrote chapter one, of many, in my new life as a writer. I have no idea what I am doing, or how it comes together, but I am not sure Emily Giffin did either when she began writing or for that matter, the girl from Arizona, who wrote Twilight. Now my thoughts wander to my favorite crazy novel, 50 Shades of Grey, and I wonder what people thought of that author when she wrote her book! I would have been embarrassed to put my name on that cover, yet so proud at the same time.

I am no good at secrets, surprises, or keeping my mouth shut. I so badly want to post the entire chapter, but I know all good things take time. I will leave you with a quote from my sales meeting this week, brought to my attention by my biggest fan, my Daddio. "Tough times never last, but tough people do." Ain't that the truth??? I promise "ain't" won't be in my new book:-)

Chasing Something

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"When you pray boldly, you’re not being selfish. You’re not being greedy. You’re releasing your faith, and that gets God's attention." -Joel Osteen

Recently I asked my hilarious and spunky friend Jenny to pray for something pretty comical and really trivial. We both laughed, and I told her I was absolutely serious.  From that, spun a rather serious conversation about God's will and whether or not we can direct prayers on what "we want" rather than what "plan" for us might be. The verdict? Pray directly. Pray for what you want, God protects us from our nonbeneficial desires, so either way, be honest.

I remember a specific Christmas Eve, long before the days of hereditary pancreatitis, long before hospital stays, long before learning some of life's most valuable lessons. I sat in a pew, at our church, praying so hard for a certain event to happen. I didn't understand it at the time, but God was protecting me from myself. He was saving me from a decision that more than likely would have ruined my life for some time. In that moment, it was all I wanted, but I was protected. Thank God, literally!

I had no idea what the grander plan was, or how it would unfold. If I could have looked ahead, looked up at the giant dust storm that was heading my way, I would have shuddered and crumbled. Again, thank God we can't predict our future! I still have no idea what the grander plan is, I only have a small clip. I do know one thing though, I want to make my life count. How to do that is still uncharted.

To Everything There is a Season

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Long overdue Z-Tejas Margarita! Oh how I MISSED YOU!

Being silly and taking pics, which turned into my first ever Instagram pic! Woo! 

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

The silver was shiny and polished and the script was engraved softly on the metal. My friend Jessica and I scoured them over, and decided on a purchase. The quote was on there perfectly, "A time for every purpose under heaven". I asked her what it meant, she said she thought it was from the Bible. I told her I thought it was from a song. Whatever it was, we liked it, and it meant something to us. We slipped them on our wrists and enjoyed them for the rest of our vacation, and them some. 

Today I am reminded of that silver bangle, because that quote, which happens to be from the Bible and the song, is resonating as I lay in bed tossing and turning. A part of me wrapped up in that surgery, in a neat little package, and after some time, a new season began. This new season is amazing. It involves catching up on lost time. 

I watched friends fall in love, get married, have babies, go abroad on trips, ski the mountains and even just have a beer at a bar. I watched it on Facebook, from my bed or the hospital usually. I tried to not be jealous, and to imagine a life where I could do those things too. Sometimes I would feel sorry for myself and beg God to take me back to 2008 when things were normal. Those were irrational thoughts. I even dreamed of being a flight attendant so I could just "fly away" from what was happening (even though I was too sick to fly away). That season has ended. It ended about two months ago, when energy returned, and life returned.

The new season is my turn. My turn to meet new people, try new things, go on any fun adventures I think of, or others think of and invite me to join! I can't wait. Today was a day that the permanent smile didn't leave my face. Why? Because this new season is a happy season with big things in store. 

Full Time 24-7

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"There's no knowing what tomorrow brings. Life is too short to waste it, I say bring on anything." 

                                                -George Strait

I promised to never be sad again, as long as I was alive. I promised to never eat any bad food again, as long as I was alive. I promised to never let something foolish upset me again, as long as I was alive. I promised to be happy I was alive, as long as I was alive!!! YADA YADA. You get the point. Want to know how I am fairing up?

I made a MILLION promises before surgery, to God, to myself, to my family. I mean I over committed, but that's okay. I have started to "go" more and think less, even if I feel out of my element. Small things, but things nonetheless. I promised myself I would take chances, with all things, even if they didn't work out, and I have been living by that.

What's in this title? Yep, it has a purpose, just like all the rest of them:-) I have gone back to work, but that is not the 24-7 job. The full time position that I PROMISED myself I would have no problem accepting is in the form of diabetes. I remember reading blogs of people complaining about diabetes after the TP-AIT and thinking.... "what, get over it, you are alive".  So I promise to be happy to be alive, but I do want to honestly update for people going through this too. 

Diabetes, a full time job you can't take a day off from. Ever. Or else you could be sick or worse...  It is no secret that I had a pretty low islet cell yield. The majority of the insulin producing cells in my pancreas were already dead, meaning diabetes was on the horizon shortly regardless of the surgery. I got about 115,000 out of 1 million. Weak. But Rilo was confident that the little babies were thriving and would be good cells. And they have been! They are been working like champs. But there are nights they take vacation time, tonight happens to be one of them. I want to share those stories, the less than perfect stories.

I feel amazing! Every part of me, no complaints. Diabetes doesn't hurt, but it's a wild man. Yes, a man:-) This weekend I had my first ever 300 blood sugar! I had one previous high of 200, and then this. Tonight my blood sugar was 300 before dinner. Still high, actually waiting for it to go down as I write this so I can doze off. Sometimes I set my alarm in the middle of the night to check blood sugar levels when its high and I am ready for bed. Sometimes I set it if I take insulin too close to bed time, to make sure I don't have a low in my sleep. I give myself shots in my office, my car, bars, anywhere. My roommate wakes me to tell me to check it if it was crazy before bed...and she makes sure I am up in the morning or she worries. Ya see where this story is going? Full time, even when you are asleep. There is no "I forgot" or "I can't do that now". I do it anywhere, even at the dinner table. And I really don't mind:-) I am blessed that my diabetes is minor at the moment. I take a short acting insulin only, and take about 4 units a day, some days no units, depends on the day. Just something I thought others who are thinking of surgery should know. You can do this though, trust me, its small potatoes. 

With all this diabetes talk, and I am so chatty tonights, that brings me to my final update. I am going back to Gluten Free of sorts. Low carb, natural foods found here. Started tonight. I made the rooms and friends zucchini pizza. YUM! Zucchini cut long wise, topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese all baked in the oven till tender and delicious. And carbless. Got the recipe from Aaron and Tammy, who have a blog (and I will post it soon)! More delicious and carbless fun to come! I will let you know how that helps the "situation". 

Test Strips...lame but it went with my "diabetes" theme!

New Sunglasses!
 From my family in Indiana and Chicago who gave me a Nordstrom Gift card. Thank you!

2-3 and STOPPING!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kristen and I at the Casino this past weekend...

What's in the name? 23 POUNDS, the number of pounds I have gained since recovery. I was a malnourished, 5'9" girl that was starving, literally! Not anymore, I have gained back the weight and am at my beginning weight before surgery. Between the throwing up and the constant pain, I thought weight gain was so difficult and not as much fun as "eating whatever you want" sounded. But, today I am delighted (I think) to report that Whitney is back. And now I am stopping!

Tonight I am praying for Courtney, a 16 year old girl, who is having her TP-AIT tomorrow in Cincinnati. I met her mom through email, and she had been a reader of my blog. Those types of stories make me so excited and make me want to keep writing to offer hope for families dealing with the disaster of the PRSS and SPINK1 mutations! I am praying that after this surgery Courtney will be able to live again, go back to high school (which she has missed for a year) and will just feel good again! What a blessing health is, and unfortunately we all take it for granted until it is taken from us. I can't wait for Courtney to get the monster out of her and to go on living her life. 

Update: I am proud to report that I WORKED OUT this morning at the gym! It felt so great to be able to actually break a sweat, not to mention I was wearing some pretty fabulous new running shoes. Yes, I have been very bad since being home...Nordstrom is just too close to my house. Whoops. Check them out below: 

Tomorrow I head to Chicago for an amazing time with family. Since I am a Zonie, I don't know my Midwest side of the family very well and I am so looking forward to spending a weekend with them! They prayed for me, supported me, and followed my blog as I went through a journey of a lifetime. 

Cheers to LIFE!

Busy Bee Buzzzz

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Does anyone know what Saturday marks???
The girls after brunch at Olive and Ivy. Who knew it was so good
for a breakfast spot?

Kristen and I at lunch! Opposite day apparently. 

Just my mama on the right and her bf, LouAnn!
I miss those two, living the life in San Diego!


Four months ago at this time I was getting ready to head to Tucson, worried about living through the next week of my life. The night before I gave strict instructions to Katie, my best friend, on what to do in the event that I was not here on Earth anymore. She kept telling me to shut up, but we both knew I had to say it all. And today, today my alarm went off at 5:45 am this morning. I raced around looking for something to wear, fixing my hair and makeup, and making coffee. I drove to the other side of town to get to work and was a normal person! I never knew how happy this would make me or how good this would feel. Being normal is a beautiful thing. Life is a precious gift, and even I take it for granted sometimes.

I get mad at myself when I actually care about something silly these days. It's human, yet when I do it I always stop to think about it. If my prayers become meaningless or silly, I try to stop and thank God for what He has already given me and then I put a disclaimer on it. I tell Him the greatest prayer has been answered so if He can't get to the other ones, that's ok.

I always say this, but if you are thinking about going through with the TP-AIT and you need someone to talk to, message me! I am always here to talk and I would do this surgery over again 100 times! My blood sugar can freak me out sometimes, and it can make me feel anxious, but it doesn't hurt me. Diabetes is nothing compared to living with a failing pancreas, trust me, I know:-)
What 4 months looks like:

  • I am pain free and off most medications! Huge celebration, once it is ALL medications there really will be a party:-) 
  • I am back to work and living at my condo, enjoying every minute of both. 
  • My enzymes are working, all vitamin deficiencies are gone in the latest blood work (my hair can feel free to stop falling out now OMG).
  • A1C is 5.5 but I have a feeling that is changing :-/
  • Up until 2 days ago I was only needing a few units of Hummalog (short acting insulin) a day, but things have taken a turn! I have been required a TON of Hummalog, and am worried for my islets. Praying BIG TIME for those little love bugs to start feeling good and working in their new home. But if not, well then I will survive that too!
  • I am still stinking TIRED after a day of work, or a half day of work! Seriously, wiped. But I am working on that and I think my energy levels are pretty great considering I had a huge surgery. 
Ending this with something I read in an old blog from DAY ONE of surgery! Wow, time flies and I do look back with the happiest of tears on how I have my life back! Thanks Jen for keeping such good notes on all of those times I don't remember.  "Thought I would end this with a picture of Whitney at the end of the Purple Stride Walk!! At the end of the walk she was so happy and full of life. You can do this Whitney!! Like I have told you a million times I know you will get your life back and get to do all the things you have dreamed of! Day by day Whitney!!!" -Jenny
Cheers to life!

A Month Later

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Three months and a few weeks out (I finally stopped counting so perfectly) from the transplant and things are going AMAZING! What happened February 16th changed me forever. Actually, what began February 15th, 2009 changed me forever. I think that after you experience something life threatening you are never the same again.  Our new lingo at family dinners now include "whats your number", "did you check your blood sugar" and "where is your insulin" and I do admit that I still panic if I go low or too high and make late night phone calls to the most wonderful parents God could have ever given me. But, we work through each day and nothing seems too big to deal with now.

Generally, I am EXCELLENT! I feel better than I have felt in 3 years. I am still sore, I have no idea how that is possible, but I am. Seems like after 3 months your muscles would just get over it, but I do still feel like I had abdominal surgery. I get very tired after work (oh, I went back to work, and even took on a new job along with my old job), but naps do the trick. Nothing too crazy that I can't live with. Occasionally after I eat I still have nausea, but no more actual getting sick. Just popping Zofran and moving on with my day.

Life is amazing. No pain, no hospital trips, no worrying about eating, none of that! I have gained 20 pounds~ yes I know, seems like a lie considering I am still a stick girl. This is the truth. I think I weighed around 95 pounds during my recovery. That was scary for me, but life is good again. I am taking insulin, but in small amounts (very). I am not on any long acting Lantus, and take only fast acting Hummalog with cards/sugars. Sometimes I take no insulin and can go days without. Sometimes I need it with every meal, just depends, but the transplant of islet cells worked for sure. We are blessed, happy and just enjoying every minute of this beautiful life. I have moved back into my condo and have an amazingly helpful and supportive roommate (and her sister), who I am so thankful for. She reminds me about checking blood sugars and makes sure she knows where I am at just in case! I can't thank her enough.

If you are thinking of doing this surgery and you are nervous (you are a nut case if you aren't nervous) email me. Then, call me! Then, DO THE SURGERY. You will get your life back. You will finally remember what it is like to really smile. Your smile won't be one you slap on and convince yourself about. I promise and I want to talk to you about it, so email. Until then, enjoy looking at pictures of the life I am finally able to live.


Update: Gallegos Family

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Little One we have all been praying for! She is so beautiful and wise!

A while back I asked for prayers for a family affected by hereditary pancreatitis. The family is darling and amazing! I have had the privilege of getting to know the mom, Jillian, over the past few months and we have both supported each other during some pretty low points. Her daughter, Tasia, had the same surgery that I did and her husband, Isaac, will return there in 3 weeks to do the same surgery I had as well. Yes, you heard me. Two pancreas transplants, two family members, same family. This is, after all, what we call genetic (makes me cringe). I wanted to update on our little strong girl, Tasia. She is home in Colorado now and doing SO AMAZING! She has had her good days and her not so good days, but overall she is not having any pancreas pain anymore and is eating and feeling pretty good. She is only in week 6 of her recovery, and as time moves forward she will feel better and better. She was able to get a huge islet cell yield for her transplant and her little islets seem to already be working. She told her mother that the day of her surgery really was the best day of her life now that she looks back on it. CAN YOU IMAGINE? This 8 year old gave up the playground, her toys, her girlfriends, and her childhood for a while to battle the pain of pancreatitis (okay she was diagnosed at 18 months, so it has been longer than a while). But now, she gets it all back and she already learned life's most valuable lesson. God has great things in store for Tasia and I hope to one day see her get married and have babies (yea I am cheesy, but it will be so cool). I feel so bonded to this family, and I know Jillian and I would be great friends if we lived in the same city- we are great friends on the phone! What a woman. And now she has to go through the battle one last time with her husband, who has remained an accomplished police officer and is now training for hostage situations. Talk about a strong man. He has been dealing with this since he was 8 years old, so his surgery will be a big life change for him. As I ask for continued prayers for Tasia, I also ask that God will ease Isaac's fears, which is really the worst part leading up to the surgery, and that he will take care of him in the operating room and during the days to follow. Anyone who has ever been through a 14 hour surgery knows how scary that feeling of walking in the door of the hospital that morning can be. I can't wait for the Gallegos to be on the other side of all of this and be a family together again in Colorado where they all belong.


Monday, May 7, 2012

While everyone was getting marked up papers in English 101 and hating the man who was our professor, I was loving my comment on my first paper: "You belong in Academia with your writing abilities." Actually, I am lying because the truth is I didn't know what "academia" meant.  I left class and picked up the phone to quickly call my Dad, of course. I asked him what the H that meant and he laughed and told me it was a good thing. I wonder if he remembers that conversation with me, I remember feeling like I didn't belong in Academia after that:-)

Needless to say I took all the writing courses I could at ASU, including 2 more from that same 101 professor, and he taught me most of what I know about writing. He made me do a piece on speed dating around the time that became popular. I will never forget Mr. Hart, the odd ball who rode around on his bicycle and was the epitome of what you imagine a "professor" type to be. Liberal, coffee drinking, bike riding, laptop in a cross body bag wearing older gent. A really amazing and gifted teacher who taught me that writing didn't need to be packaged in the perfect format the not so creative high school teacher recommended.

Why the background story? Writing has always been something I have labeled as a hobby when asked. However, it was never something I actually did when not required for school. My "pancreas era" gave me a way to use my favorite hobby and also provided the perfect amount of therapy I needed to make it through a huge transplant. Just because the "pancreas era" is over doesn't mean my writing hobby ends. I thought it did, and I left for a few weeks to enjoy life, but the truth is I enjoy writing stories and sharing with the world. I can only wish that one day I can channel my writing into a best seller like Emily Giffin, my favorite author. That would be true success.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Enjoying a great glass of chardonnay. 
Something I saw on Facebook and can't stop thinking about.
Also- something I could not have had time to think about months ago!

Ali, Jackie, and I on Cinco de Mayo! Arriba! 

Making decisions can be privileged. When you are fighting for life, decisions fall by the wayside. You no longer decide where to eat for dinner with your girlfriends, what to do for Cinco de Mayo, what to wear out on Friday night to ensure you look hot enough to get asked for a phone number (yep, guilty). You don’t care about what new pink lipstick you want to get to brighten up your face or which man you want to go on a date with. You don’t care what you do for a career, as long as you can get through each day at your job, and you certainly don’t have time to think about the direction of your career, and your ability to provide enough of an income to buy all the things you desire in life. 
Materials? Yes, the above can be, but they are also decisions about life that most healthy people make on a daily basis. You simply forget about YOU in a health crisis. You really do. Life becomes taking pain medicine to rid yourself of pain, praying the next ER trip is a week off, wondering if you will live to see 35, and begging God to take it all away and make life what it used to be. I can’t remember the last time I sat around thinking about all the things I mentioned, but last night I laid in bed unable to sleep as my mind raced through some of those topics. I can think again, I can make decisions again, I have freedom again. 
I read in a book tonight that the truth about most of us is that we are happy with what we have, even if we don’t know it. When life as we know it changes, we beg for the old life. I did that. I know. So tonight I am appreciating life. Is it perfect? No. But I haven’t had this close to perfect in a very long time. I didn’t even know that this beautiful life was going on around me the past 3 years. I think I tried to tune it out. Tonight I talked to my Dad on the phone about my weekend at my condo. I could not stop crying when we talked about how happy I was and how long I had looked forward to doing the simple things I did this weekend. 
Where am I now? Thinking about doing this surgery? DO IT!
May 16th marks my 3 month anniversary of the transplant. Everyday is better than I ever would have dreamed possible. I have no pancreas pain and absolutely no phantom pain (I have not felt pancreas pain since the morning I went into surgery). I check my blood sugar 4 or sometimes an OCD amount, depending. I make mistakes I never thought I would make with my new gift. I eat chocolate sometimes, or I have an occasional glass of wine, or carb overdose, whoops. I call eating a novelty that just hasn’t worn off yet. Mostly I am disciplined and I follow a diabetic diet of sorts, although I have some room to improve. I am only on fast acting insulin, because I do not need more than usually 4 units total a day. The doctors say if I ever need 10 units a day then I need to switch to a long acting insulin that will cover my whole day. Currently I would be too low (diabetes talk for my blood sugar would be at a constant low) if I did switch to that plan, but time will tell. I pray my islet cells understand why I had to move them from their cozy little nest in the pancreas and transplant them into my liver. I pray the hostile liver is treating their new tenants with love and respect so they can grow and prosper. If not, well then I will cross that bridge when I come to it. 
I got off insulin for 5 days. It was great not needing shots, not having to worry as much. However, as I began really eating, I mean like the portions I used to eat, I had to get back on it. It’s okay, but I won’t lie, I had a very human moment that I did what I used to cringe at other patients doing, and I complained about the insulin. I mean what an ungrateful bleeeeeep! But hey, only God is perfection:-) I am weaning off all medications for pain and am so PROUD of myself for this. I mean the most proud out of all the things I have overcome during this battle. If you have ever been on a pain med you know how hard it can be to stop taking it, even if you are on them for severe pain. I have "weaned" down to almost nothing and am continuing at great speed. My docs said to take it slow with the weaning because pain is there and still present due to the surgery, and my pain doc agreed. However, I had a different idea. I wanted to be done asap and told the pain doc this. He always hugs me when I come in and laughs at my drive and determination, yet I know he appreciates and admires it too. He has helped me through some horrible times, and now he is seeing my life turn around. The kind of stuff you become a doctor for, so I am glad I can provide a bright appointment. By the end of May I should be off all meds. The day that happens, I will be throwing a PARTY! It is a HUGE accomplishment.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Missing? Yep, that's me! I have been missing. Why, you may ask? Because I have been out ENJOYING the hell out of life:-)

Funny, when I was sick I would look at blogs for hours on end, read Facebook pancreas stuff, search my life away for information to help me get better. The truth was, I had no life. I used to, oh I used to have such a fun life! I was always out with my girlfriends, my boyfriends at the time, vacationing, studying for school, enjoying the life that was party and fun like it should be in your twenties. Then, for a while things stopped. Even though I kept going through motions, things stopped. And guess what? They are back again. Life is back again, in my house and in my heart. And it is going to be that party for the next 3.75 years left of these beautiful years called my twenties. Oh, and I can't wait!

I thought before, before when I was sick, I would be part of groups to help others. I thought I would volunteer to help pancreas patients. I thought this was my life calling. I remember a lady, Nicole, saying, in one of the blogs I read about this surgery, "it is amazing how your life fills up with other activities when you are not in pain." I remember thinking that she was not on here blogging anymore because she is raising a baby that she had after her life began again, after she recovered from her surgery. I was jealous of her. And guess what? I now know what she meant by that quote. I am 9 weeks into my recovery. Three weeks ago a funny thing happened. I felt better. Better than I had felt in three years. I felt like I used to feel every single day, amazing! And I no longer want to talk about that word "pancreas" and I want to move on with my life. I stopped looking at blogs, I stopped looking at sad stories on Facebook. I stopped all of that about a week ago, and I have experienced true happiness. True happiness away from this horrible organ that robbed me of my joy in life. And I want to keep it that way. Forever.  I want to stop blogging about it, because I am ready for the life I should have been living while I was blogging, reading blogs, searching Facebook, or at home on a Friday night. I can go out again! I can live again, and I don't fear a hospital stay within the next 15 days.

I keep waiting to turn some horrible corner, how sad. I keep thinking "this is too good to be true" and my eyes well up with the happiest tears. I am so happy I can't put into words how I feel about it. I have no pain, I have no problems, and I am OFF insulin. My islets are working, I am the 30% that this transplant works for, I am feeling better than I have ever felt. If one day "the little islet cells that could" stop working, well that is okay. Diabetes doesn't hurt, trust me, I have tried it:-) I can handle it, and I can handle it while continuing to live life. And yet, some small little part of me looks at life and knocks on wood. And does the sign of the cross. And thanks Jesus Christ, my Savior. And asks my Mom and Dad if they think this will end at some point. We all seem on egg shells. Am I lucky or what?

So cheers to life, and goodbye to pancreas blogging! This chic is moving on, moving on with my 20's. Moving on with my life. Saying goodbye to my pain. Saying goodbye to my past (but not to answering the call of those who are still suffering and may need my help). And thanking God every minute of it for allowing me to be this well. I didn't know life could be this good again. 

Super Mom

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mother's Day is coming up, and this year I am doing something a little different. I am putting a LOT of thought into what I do for my mom on this day. I want it to be the most special Mother's Day celebration we have had as a family. Why? Because my Mom is the strongest person, not even lady, I know. I have heard so many people say this about their parents, because we all love our parents, but let me tell you why.

Many people don't know this, but my brother Tyler had ALL leukemia when we he was 6 and I was 4.  This was before the days of blogging and Facebook. Our community of Litchfield Park wrapped their loving arms around her then just like they did again when I was facing my illness. She didn't blog. She didn't write about it. She really didn't even tell people. She is so different than me in that regard, much more private. Her key phrase is "Don't put this on Facebook" when things happen around the house because she knows how much I love Facebook! What's my point? My point is that I would not look at things the way I do if I didn't have my mom.

When my mom got Tyler's cancer diagnosis she was home alone. The Doctor told her Tyler needed to get to the hospital ASAP and that it was cancer. She hung up, packed them each a bag, told Tyler the truth, told him he was going to be just fine and drove him to the hospital. She said on the way she decided Tyler would not die. After that she went out and got a job in the middle of Tyler's chemo treatments. She had to. My Dad was young in his career and it wasn't going well. We needed money to pay medical bills and she needed a job. She not only got a job, she switched career fields and she was required to go to school for licensing before hand. She found a job where she worked 6 days a week, supported our family and paid Tyler's medical bills. She was a "hospital" mom but never complained about the cards we had been dealt.  I would say she even managed to enjoy my dad, me and life at the same time. She dug deep in her faith, and she knew it would all be okay. And it was. And it is. Tyler is with us, and he is cancer free.

Three years ago she repeated the above story, but this time it wasn't cancer, it was something we did not have a clear understanding of, it was hereditary pancreatitis. She did not panic. Maybe God prepared her somehow with the above experience.  She sat with me in the hospital all 35 times I was admitted. Two months ago she went through a battle with me and continues to today. She rubbed my back when I threw up, held a washcloth on my head as I cried in the bathroom about all the digestive issues. She rushed to Safeway for purple Gatorade and to Walgreens for prescriptions at all hours of the night. She held my hand as I endured countless needles, sticks, and procedures. She placed a cross in my hands right when I woke up from my surgery. She spent the night with me as I cried out in pain. She never lost hope, she always encouraged me to find the bright side in every situation.

My mom does not dwell. She does not seek attention from her trials she is given. She does not envy others, and she does not feel sorrow for her own challenges. She faces them with a smile. Even these trials. Now do you see what I mean? She is like me, always right, which can be an issue for the two of us strong ladies sometimes, but I love her and this is why I want to give her a special Mother's Day, one full of ways to show her how much we love her. She deserves it.

Spin That Wheel

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just gearing up for a successful Vegas trip, complete with several rounds of "Wheel of Fortune" and maybe even a little Blackjack. I have been to Vegas a few times but this time it is so much different. We are going, my Mom, Dad and I (and an old friend). This Vegas trip is different than the one our family took for my 21st birthday.   It is much, much different.

I look back on events and I think what I would have done differently had I known "this was coming down the pipe". I say silly things like I would have partied more in college, or drank a few more dirty martinis! But truthfully, I think I would have let go more and let loose. I am uptight sometimes, and I don't RELAX nearly enough. My oldest friend Katie, has known me obviously my whole life and she always tells me to  relax! I try to tell her to get organized and start worrying, (kidding) but life is all about balance. She has the opposite personality as far as stress goes, and I admire that about her. This weekend I am going to strive to let go and relax! I can't wait. I think I will be really good at it-)

This weekend is all about the celebration of a successful surgery. I am spending it with my Mom and Dad, who worried and prayed their daughter would be okay every day and continue to do so. They worry, wake me up to check blood sugar, ask how I am feeling more than a few times a day, help me with all of my doctors appointments and medications, and are always with me if I get sick. This weekend we celebrate the gift of life, the fact that I am still here and the success of the surgery. We are so pleased with how it has progressed and we are so thankful that the transplant is working. Of course nothing is perfect, but it is a new perfect for me. I am relaxing, letting go, and enjoying the gift I have been given by Dr. Rilo, Dr. Gruessner and God. I am not sure how I can ever thank them enough.

p.s. I am praying that this weekend I am blessed with good health, the ability to eat delicious meals, and just plain FUN! Lots 'o it! Oh and a huge win! A girl can dream!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jessica Marie and I enjoying some Mexican food, per usual.

Something nerdy: I just stepped foot in the house from a night out with my girls. What's nerdy about that? It was so normal, so amazing, so unusual for me that I wanted to remember everything and blog about it right away. I wanted to remember how HAPPY I felt, right now, so I needed to write this before I lay down my head to sleep tonight.

Euphoric.  It's feels like doing something you have wanted to do, but never thought you would get the opportunity. Maybe it's a trip you have always wanted to go on overseas or some far off land you have seen pictures of, or a degree you always thought about going back to get or a dream job if you had all the money in the world and working was "just for fun". Have I lost my mind? My 3 girlfriends just dropped me off, probably not thinking twice about our night out, or maybe even thinking it wasn't as great as their last weekend. But to me it was a real milestone in my recovery. A HUGE milestone in my recovery. To me it marked something so much bigger than just a night out. It marked doing something that I was not sure I would be able to do, even 3 weeks ago.

Tonight: What does 8 Weeks and 2 Days Post-Op look like? (and one day I won't count anymore either)
I ate a delicious Mexican feast at yep you guessed it, Old P!
I drank a glass of WINE! Real wine, I nursed it all night, but who cares, I still got to have one.
I laughed, and laughed and gabbed with girlfriends.
I enjoyed chocolate cake (with a side of insulin, so good though).
I enjoyed company of great friends.
Tonight before bed I will be praying God continues to bless me on my journey back to health.
I felt normal for the first time in a long time!
Gina and I! Sad I didn't get a picture with my roommate and soon to
be b-day girl Jackie, but hey I am sure there will be plenty more nights for that!

Eat, Drink and be MERRY!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A friend asked what I was up to tonight and my response was "eating, drinking, and being MERRY!" It feels so great, I forgot what it was like to eat, drink and just have a smile on my face!

I went to my docs appointment today (just a check up) and was told I am doing amazing and shouldn't change a thing.

"Just keep doing whatever you are doing." -Doctor

I have never been on any long acting insulin because I never needed it. I had heard from most people who did the surgery that they were on a long acting type of insulin, so I asked why I wasn't today. I always worry that I am missing something. The answer- If they would have given it to me, I would have dipped really low in blood sugar because for whatever reason my islet cells have been working like normal since day one. My docs wanted to keep me on insulin when I ate, because they wanted the cells to "take a break". The great news is I take 2-4 units a day, and that is IT! That is really nothing. I can't take more than 1 unit no matter what I eat, so I no longer count any carbs because I would drop too low if I ever attempted to take 2 units with a meal. The docs today said just keep taking one for a bit and we will get you off all insulin shortly! WOO HOO. I am that 30% for now that won't require insulin. I remember thinking 70% was so much bigger than 30% when I was playing my odds out in my head. Anyways, not much else to write, because I want to get back to life:-) Enjoying life, a beautiful thing! Thanks for reading and praying, it has changed the outcome of this surgery and my outcome has been watched over by the one and only: GOD!

And...You all know I was so worried about the "frozen pea" and my doctor says... dun dun dun... don't worry about it! He says to let nature run its course and they will heal. If it doesn't, he says its just tissue, and my body will literally PUSH the tissue out to the top of the skin if it doesn't want it in there! PHEW. I can handle letting nature take its course! I can handle a little scar tissue, I may have gone a little overboard worrying, because I had heard of people needing surgery for hernias. The doc laughed when  I told him my fears, which made me feel much better!

The Greatest JOY

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"In the dust of sadness comes the greatest joy" resonated repeatedly in my head today. It was made in reference to a young boy who went off to war and came home to America a happier, changed man. He had looked death up and down, and had almost been taken away by it.  People whispered about him, they thought he would be angry, or disturbed, as young men who have seen horrible things are expected to be. As I stood united with my family, the four of us, I kept playing a reel over again and again in my head. My eyes welled up with tears, and I didn't need to speak to my family to know we were all on the same wave length. I kept thinking of everything we have been through together in the past 7 weeks and even 3 years before that.

Getting to the JOY is part of the journey. It takes working your way through the darkness, the sadness, the rough stuff, to find all the joy placed in your life. The solider was facing death and saw things that no one should see. He faced death and then he had JOY when he arrived home. He was a changed man, a happy man.  Jesus faced pain and suffering for us on the cross so we could have a life full of JOY. Even I faced sorrow and pain in my life for a great deal of time, and now I appreciate the days I experience JOY with my family and friends.

I originally wrote a long winded approach to this simple message above and I deleted it. When I arrived at church today Tyler, my brother, reached over to me and whispered "I read your blog this morning." I smiled, and moments later my dad said "You should write an Easter post." I felt encouraged by the men in my family and it brought me joy. I was never alone in my journey, and never will be, because for whatever reason, I was chosen to have parents who taught me how to love people and forgive. I don't know why I was given to them, but I am thankful for that today. I am thankful Jesus chose to die for us and give us JOY. I am thankful to have experienced pain and sorrow so that my joy can be even greater than before. I guess you could say my whole family has "changed" and I am pretty sure it's in a good way, a joyous way. HOSANNA!
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