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T-Shirts

Friday, March 30, 2012

Just had an idea for a T-Shirt that I could maybe sell for fundraising money for Dr. Rilo's team...

"My liver has super powers" on the front
"It makes insulin" on the back

Of course only us with the transplant would get it...but it would be cute nonetheless! Random idea, wanted to get it down before I forgot about it.

A BOX OF CARDS

Thursday, March 29, 2012

One of my get well gifts was a beautiful empty box, the gorgeous kind, that is decorative. What a useful gift. My mom put all of my cards in the box and she saved them. Tonight I went in that box and read each one again. I honestly was pretty drugged up in the hospital so there were so many sweet words that I did not remember! What a blessing it was that we saved each and every card in the box! I cried my eyes out reading all those cards! WOW. Then, I felt so bad for posting that disgruntled post I had written a few nights ago. I was just frustrated because I started to have my nausea again and wanted to feel 100% like I had been feeling for the past week! I am going to write individual thank you cards (the first round of 20 already went out, then I needed to buy a new pack of cards so the next wave is coming soon), but until you get your own card (or I might make a mistake and leave a few out-so so sorry) I will write my thank you's here! THANK YOU friends for all the love and support and cards! I have now learned from this that anytime I see someone is sick or grieving I am going to SEND A CARD! WOW. What a card can do! Such a blessing and such a nice gesture, so thank you thank you. I love you all.

I am tired from a packed day so I am just going to give an update and go to sleep! I feel a real post coming up soon. I may possibly have to "get a new topic" my friends once I am feeling back to the person I was before I learned what I had! HA! Update on me: Woke up feeling like the old me this morning so I went to lunch with 2 of my girlfriends. Poor Shayla picked me up and we had an awesome lunch but then I got very very sick with the nausea after and she was SO SWEET and sat with me until my mom got home. Then, I threw up but it was a good thing because we figured out something major (I won't go into details about how, but let's just say I threw up what was last nights dinner). My stomach is not emptying like it should so the docs have put me on a new medication! I am praying it works well and it has some pretty hairy side effects so I am also praying those take a back seat. If this new med works there is a chance I could be NORMAL again, and soon. So that would be lovely and amazing. I also went to my pain specialist. It was an amazing appointment. I have managed to "wean myself" (I am Dr. Yates, remember?) off of a very addictive medication and I no longer need it. Big old step in the right direction, he was actually shocked, but very happy. Now, I have two more meds to come off of and this girl is medication free! Well, I will be on insulin for a while and enzymes forever but I already KNEW that and I like that idea:-) So....I am a few weeks away from "Oh happy day" of no more meds! Loving it. Going to bed a happy camper today. Thanks for reading.

Love,
Whit

A Powerful Mind

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Going into this I believed my mind would help me through this. If I could stay mentally tough I would heal well and I would avoid many of the disasters that I had heard about. I do still have this belief, but staying strong 100% of the time is hard. I have heard one phrase over and over again and I really NEED to break it down for my friends who read this. They told me time and time again the following:


"You will have good days and bad days for months during recovery"


Hmmm. Okay. Yea yea. Well I know what this means more than ever today. I have been blessed. I was blessed with a perfect surgery. But one thing you need to understand about me is I am positive. I am not negative, and actually stay away from negative people on purpose. I will never post a Facebook status that says "I feel horrible, when will this hell stop". NEVER. So even if I feel this way (oh and I have, many, many, many, many times during this recovery) I will not say that. It isn't me. I am not lying when I write how great things are, because I try to find the awesome in everything! EVERY story have a silver lining. So if I don't call you back (I had 78 voicemails during the month so far) don't think "Damn that Whitney, she is out riding roller coasters and enjoying Mexican food, and getting her nails done everyday and is INTENTIONALLY not calling me back (or seeing you or doing whatever else)." Because that is a huge false truth! 

My friends who are close know my battles and my struggles. I did have a PERFECT surgery. That is not a lie. Of course if someone else had the same surgery they may find 100's of things wrong with it. See my point? To me, I think I was so blessed with incredible doctors, nurses, and parents (major truth here, parents ahhh love them so much). I was blessed with no complications during recovery. Of course I didn't get the huge amount of islets I wanted, but God has really taken care of that for me and my islets are showing they work daily. Today, I had to skip insulin because my blood sugar was so normal after eating that I worried I would drop too low if I took it. So many POSITIVES! I love it! 

Of course the phrase above is so true. So, so true. And I have had those good days, and when I do you won't find me at home! I am trying to eat Wildflower for lunch, or Paradise, or Old Pueblo. I will be laughing with friends or walking around town. Since about Saturday at my favorite little 1 year olds birthday party I have been having those bad days. I mean I am still wearing the same shirt from Sunday and it is Tuesday...see what I mean? So not my style;-) I am a huge fan of bubble baths and clean clothing! HA! I've been throwing up and eating has been causing me cramps. These days are normal. They are to be expected. This recovery is still in the BEGINNING phase. I am still in the early stage. It goes on. People have issues in the 6 month time frame too. It is long and it is tough. 

Why am I saying all this? I guess I just want people to know. I feel like when I post on Facebook how great things are (And I really do mean that, on those good days I am on top of the world) I may be giving the false idea to people that I am "healed" and this is "over" and I just feel better letting the world know that it is very much still a healing process. So when I won't let my mom leave me (Muahahaha, yes I make her stay home when I am throwing up, I know I am 26, but I get SCARED lol) or I don't keep in touch with friends, please don't get upset! Also- I would LOVE for continued prayer. I get worried when I talk to people who are months out and just had a major set back. Its scary for me because I think about myself and my surgery and I just pray for healing. I recently have heard of a guy who was my "role model" during recovery and he is 6 months out. He is going to need another surgery and just found out. He has a massive hernia on his incision. These things happen, so I would love prayer for him too! Also- another one of my "role models" lost a bunch of blood 6 months out because he had a rip where his bowels were put back together and needed transfusions. I could go on and on. This gets to me sometimes, but then I remember something could happen to anyone! I just have to pray for healing and pray that I can live a normal life as soon as I am better.

For now I am looking forward to some things. I want to go on a trip with my family at the end of the month (a short one, but a celebration of life). I am praying that works out and that I am healed enough to be able to go. I am also looking forward to my friend Ang's baby BOY! We are all thrilled! She just found out today:-) My surgery was perfect to me, and today is allowed to be bad! I can't wait for tomorrow. That is why I named the blog soup of the day- tomorrow's soup shall be different and hopefully MUCH BETTER!  I was so thankful to wake up to no pancreas pain, and even more thankful to continue to have no pancreas pain! Life is looking good, and it will get more and more beautiful! 

It takes a village to raise a child

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Evan and Cole, the B-day Boy!
My mom says we are saving this pic till he turns 18 and
sticking it in the high school yearbook senior year!
Too cute!
"It takes a village to raise a child"

I remember my parents sharing that line with me after a wedding they attended. My immediate thought was of an African Village, part Lion King part Jungle Book. Not sure why, but that was the image that came to mind. A little baby, wrapped in leaves, with all these people lifting him up in a circle. Is that what they meant? No.

What that meant, at this wedding, was that our community of Litchfield Park, where I have lived since I was an infant, is something very special. It is a community that has a small town vibe and all of the neighbors know each other. The community is comprised of many who grew up here themselves and then moved away to be young and free. Once that wore off they moved back to marry and raise a family, because they realized how unique a place like this town has become in our country. The parents of the bride said that "It takes a village to raise a child" and that Litchfield Park is that village where we all pitch in to help each other.

During this time in my life Litchfield Park made a "Fan Club" for me. It was called Healing Hands- The Whitney Yates fan club, Litchfield division. Cool huh? So all of my neighbors on my street decorated an outline of their hands, writing encouraging words for me, and then the hands were strung together to make a "room decoration" for my hospital room so that I would be with Litchfield Park every step of the way. It was something I will never forget and it brought so much joy to my mom, dad and brother as well. My personal favorite was a hand that was placed showing the "middle" finger to the pancreas, very original, my LP family:-)

One day I brought home a bagel, about a week out of the hospital, and I noticed it had sprouts smeared all over it. Instead of acting like a normal, mature 26 year old woman, I acted more like a bratty 5 year old child. I looked at it and burst into tears throwing around a few horrible cuss words. It had nothing to do with my distaste of sprouts and everything to do with my frustration of feeling hunger and losing massive amounts of weight while becoming severely ill after eating. Who wants to eat when it lands you in bed throwing up in a bucket with a heating pack on your belly for a few hours? UGH not me, but that is just what I kept doing. And doing. And doing. Until, finally at 5 weeks tomorrow I am doing it! I am eating without horrific pain and throwing up. In fact it was been 6 days since I last threw up. Almost a week. Yes, progress! It still causes some cramps, and a few uncomfortable moments, but nothing like it was.

My point was, yes back to my point, the day of the "sprout bagel" my mom asked me what I was looking forward to once I was better. She expected me to say "Going to Paris" or "Kicking butt at work and making lots of money" but instead I said "Going to Old Pueblo with my girlfriends to sitting on the patio eating Mexican food and listening to music with a beer." I can tell you the beer hasn't happened yet, and no live music on Wednesday nights, but the rest happened tonight. I forgot to get a picture of it, but I went with 2 girlfriends to do just that. And as if that wasn't good enough, my best friend Katie so happened to be there with her 2 boys and husband so they joined us too. It was her baby, Cole's, first birthday and it could not have been a better night orchestrated by the Man Upstairs. I enjoyed the chips and salsa and was even able to eat a little bit of beans and rice. I ran into EVERYONE at Old Pueblo. I felt special, funny how something so small can make you feel like a million bucks. Everyone was there, family friends and neighbors, and it was so good to see them all. I felt like I was finally back, finally home to finish out my healing and journey with pancreatitis.

Tonight I feel good, minus a stomach ache and soreness around and inside my incision. I am not a "waiter" and I get mixed up when I have to go slow, as I am always running around with a million things on my to do list. This take it easy stuff is hard, but I know that I need about 2 more months of recovering as a full time job before I start doing too much. I took it upon myself to wean down on my medicines without the help of my doctor. Whoops. So night I got shaky and felt really sick. Needless to say I got back on the meds (except for 1, which I think I am doing well without). I was trying to get off pain meds and am going to wait until my pain specialist sees me next week. No more Dr. Yates, I learned my lesson.


http://www.strawberryblush.com
http://isaacgallegos.blogspot.com/2012/03/storm-before-calm.html

Everybody Loves Raymond

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flowers I got from my mom's childhood friend Thom and his
Mama, Betty (who is my grandma's best friend too). 
I think the show Everybody Loves Raymond will forever remind me of Tucson and my recovery from the TP-AIT! My mom and I watch it every night around this time, 10 pm, and we watch it during the day sometimes too! Truthfully, it is much better than something scary, like the news. I can't handle the news, as I have mentioned before. I like living in la la land and that includes my shows like Everybody Loves Raymond! Today was an EXCELLENT day. My dad came up and we discussed asking the doctors if I can go home on Monday. I have an appointment on Monday for a check up where they will do blood work and check everything else out. I am hoping all is well and I can go home. That would be so helpful. Although I won't be going to my place, I will be staying at my parents for a while, but both are home to me and I am ready! Also, I got these flowers yesterday, but felt like showing off some sunshine to you blog friends! I love these pretty flowers so much. Bright and sunshiny day!

I just miss my girlfriends so much! Tonight I was actually in the living room thinking "I am so BORED" and that is how I knew I was finally feeling better! When you are bored and looking for things to do, well that is a fabulous sign. It is still baby steps and I still have rough days that I stay in bed. Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up and threw up and then never made it far from my bed. It is amazing how much difference a day can make. By the time I woke up this morning I felt like a million bucks.

I started off sad because I was supposed to be at my friend Tara's wedding this weekend. She is going to be the prettiest bride ever and I wish I could go. All the girls I always go out to dinner with at home are going! I know they will have so much fun. I can't wait to get home to them so we can try new fun places to eat and go back to happy hour spots. Also, Jessi and Gina and I always go to breakfast and I miss that too! On weekends we get our coffee and egg fixes and try new spots for that too! I MISS those girls. I also miss going to Basha's with Katie and her kiddos for donuts! Just things that are "normal" for 26 year old girls to do, I miss those things! I am so thankful that I will be able to do these things again, but it will be even better. No more cancelling because "my panc is acting weird". PHEW!

So what did I do today to keep myself from getting too bored and lonely??? Well I talked on the phone to my friends...typical. I spoke to Jillian, my new pancreas friend while she was riding to the mall to get some new PJ's for her daughter since she will have this surgery next week. I talked to my dear friend Lexi who was feeling a little bored too at home. I also talked to her sweet mother in law who happened to be over at her place delivering A COCKTAIL. Talk about a great mother in law! I said "She comes over to bring you new cocktails shes made!" WOW! Lucky, huh? I spoke to Katie who is working on her son's 1st birthday party, which she has worked pretty hard to plan. I think my point here is I LOVE being able to think about other people now. Honestly, before surgery I had tunnel vision. I couldn't think about other people. I was so stuck in my own little world of fear and nervousness that I don't know if I was good at asking my friends about their needs and wants. I am so sorry if you felt that way. I know people must have been sick of hearing about it, but I promise I am coming back a multi-dimensional woman! I promise!

Today I made these suckers as part of my "cure boredom" project:
Oh and I should mention I accidentally took too much insulin after eating them! I am not the best at at calculating carbs yet, and I must have "over" counted! Whoops. So I had to drink some apple juice to bring myself back up...and I feel pretty good now. I think my islets are working so well that if I take too much insulin I drop too low. All better now:-)
My first little cooking project in a while...I love cooking
so really this is a poor excuse! But they were great! My Mom
and Dad seemed to enjoy them!

Gallegos Update and Diabetes Pen!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I wanted to update my blog readers on the Gallegos family that I wrote about earlier. They have had a crazy day today and so much has changed for them. The docs met to discuss Issac and Tasia and they decided that Tasia (the young daughter) will need to have her surgery ASAP. They are now not leaving MN and she is having surgery next week! I ask that we pour prayers into Heaven for Jillian, Tasia's mom, because she will be staying without her hubby (he has to work) and she will be going through this entire process with her sweet daughter next week. Then, she will turn around and do it again in May with her husband. This surgery has been very stressful for my mom, who had to go through it just once with me, and we were talking today about how strong Jillian must be to go through this twice. But, after talking with her, I know she can do it and will be very strong! Let's pray for them any chance you get. This young family is amazing and is about to get a normal life back. I am excited for them.

If you are interested in following their family and their progress here is a link to Issac's blog:
http://isaacgallegos.blogspot.com/2012/03/every-good-story-has-twist.html

What I am LOVING today??

This insulin PEN! Very nifty!


My blood sugar has been AMAZINGLY controlled. I only take insulin when I eat because my doctor wants to protect my islet cells and doesn't want them to work AT ALL. He wants them to just rest so they don't usually do any work. I never have to take insulin if I am not eating because my regular fasting blood sugar always stays at 90-100, which is perfect. This makes me so happy! I didn't get too many islet cells during the transplant, but what I did get is working so well. I don't want to jinx it by saying I am not diabetic, but so far I only need insulin while eating. I usually give myself around 3-4 shots a day and check blood sugar 4 times a day. Overall, I find it very manageable and I am already really used to it. So, if I have to continue to give myself the shots for the rest of my life I honestly won't mind at all. This pen is so cool. Prior to getting it today, I was using a syringe and loading it with insulin, which was easy to do at home, but not when I get back in my groovy groove and start going out (YEP, Get ready girls, I am coming back to Happy Hour soon)! Anyways, this is so easy...you just click the amount of insulin you want, attach a clean needle, and boom your done!

Thanks all for today,
Goodnight,
Whit

Healing with My Mom

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shelby surprised me with a visit and we went to an outdoor mall area. That was the
best day I have had since surgery. We got so lucky that I was doing so well! I spent the entire next
day in bed. Whoops. May have overdone that one. 

I actually ate a few bites of gelato out in public for the first time!
I had to count the carbs and felt like the guys behind the counter were
making fun when I was asking how many carbs. I wanted to yell "I am a diabetic!"

Today in the kitchen after going to get our yummy sandwiches
(which we brought home). I don't trust myself eating in public yet. No way!


I wanted to post new pictures too... I am not really "into" myself, but I want to remember everything and also show others who will be having this surgery. I am making this so I will have a journal of my journey for years to come. I wanted to post a few happily ever after photos of my progress. Tomorrow makes 4 weeks and things are moving along. We are even thinking of returning home next week after my appointment with the doctors as long as they say all is going well.

Mama and I on the turtles. She is such a BLESSING! I have been given the greatest gift from God, my Mom. 
These days I watch a lot of TV, walk tons, go to an outdoor mall once a day either for the grocery store or to dink around, and some days I am just plain sick so I stay home in bed! I all really depends on the day. I do get very severe cramps and I often throw up from them (about 5 times a week)! Yuck but it is totally normal. Apparently, my food is going to a new spot first since I have been "rerouted" which is just a lovely thought! HA. I am getting used to the internal cuts and the reconnection's I was given during surgery. Some days are amazing and I don't cramp when I eat and some are horrible. It is okay though, I am doing amazingly well. I am eating anything I want. Today I had a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant and didn't get sick at all. I have also had Mexican food and been fine. It really just depends. Then, another day I can eat yogurt and get sick! I am in an unpredictable phase, but I am hoping that each day it gets a little bit better. That is all I can ask for. I am so pleased with my progress and can't wait to start living life again to the fullest!

Before and After Stomach

One more photo album- I finally took the strips off of my stomach so I can apply Vaseline and Mederma to my scar and try to get it to fade over time (wishful thinking). My mom took a picture of me the night before so I would always remember my perfect lil tummy. It looks much different now, but I am so proud of how it looks now. This scar will forever tell the story of my life and of my second chance at life. My best friend Katie got me a necklace the day of my surgery and it has the date on it 2/16/2012 and my initial W. The day I got my life back, 2/16/2012, is the day I will forever be so grateful for! I wear it everyday no matter what I am wearing because I am so proud of it.

Okay, I do miss this, but the new me is pretty cool too:-)

Healing...

Swollen but healing....

Getting much better, Mederma and Vaseline 4 times a day.
My surgeon did an extra careful job on me using no stitches  or staples. He only used glue and surgical
strips in an effort to make it small. They said being smaller  really helped them with making the cut so small.
Also- Dr. Gruessner and Dr. Rilo insisted I see their plastic surgeon friend later! I appreciate them helping to make this nice! 

After Surgery Pics


Katie (my best friend), Tyler (my dear brother, and Father Kerian in the waiting room. 10 hours later...

Look at all of those MACHINES! Wowza. If you have this surgery go ahead
and show your loved ones this photo first so they know what to expect. Much less scary that way;-) 

Me literally right after, I asked for Katie (my BFF who was in the waiting room) and my
parents told me she had just left once she heard it was over. I wanted to call her and tell
her I was okay. I believe I said "Katie, I am alive but this hurts like a bitch!" Classy. 


Beginning with the drains still in, swollen and sore. 

Nice and clean after a shower, hanging out with my bear Kevin Donoho bought me!
I love her, shes a Vermont Bear!

Diane and I on a walk at the UMC.

My beautiful caretaker and rock, Mama and I outside on a walk. She was
my lifesaver and continues to be! Not sure what I would do without her.

Someone playing with my hair...I appreciated that I am sure;-) 

My battle wounds healing... Drains had been removed, again they just
pull those suckers out and they are LONG!

First day home from the hospital, wow looking smokin...NOT!

Surgery and Recovery Pictures

After my mom washed and dryed my hair and helped me get ready for a walk outside! 
ICU day 3- Still with my nose tube! OUCH! 

My much needed pain button! Day 4 still with the NG tube! Almost gone, I think
they pulled it out later that day. And they PULLED it out, just like that. OUCH. 

The cute sign Katie and Kara made for me! I had the best decorated room
on the transplant floor! 


Kerri and I
Getting much better, home in a few days! With my girlies! 

Prayers for the Gallegos Family

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jillian posted this on my wall during surgery. I want the same
thing for her, I want her to have the brightest days ahead with
Issac and Tasia and her two boys!
I met some of the most AMAZING people in the Facebook support groups that literally helped me get through the surgery and the emotional time, the waiting for surgery time! They prayed for me, talked with me on the phone, sent cards and gifts, and supported me! Yes, that's right, people I had never personally met supported me more than I could ever have gotten from others since they were going through it too. It is a funny thing to think about, but I was thankful. I signed off from the groups right before my surgery because some of the posts were plain scary! People would vent (which is good, that's what the group is for) but sometimes the venting would frighten me about my upcoming surgery. Also, hearing of all the "bad" things about the surgery was emotionally taxing on me, so I had to give the groups up.  I plan to "rejoin" once my nerves are calmed and recovery is further along.

Right before I left I got the chance to "virtually meet" the most amazing mother, wife, and family woman of God! Her name is Jillian Gallegos and she does not have chronic pancreatitis, yet her life is being changed by it as well. She is married to Issac, who is a police officer and amazing husband and daddy to their 3 darling children! Issac and his only daughter, who is the most darling little girl and looks just like her beautiful (seriously, beautiful) mama, suffer from the same genetic mutation that I do, PRSS1. Because of the genetic mutation, both suffer from hereditary pancreatitis. Issac has since he was 8 and their daughter, Tasia has since she was 2:-( 

Issac has been dealing with it, and was able to get through life with it, because his hospital stays were only about 4 times a year. Tasia has been dealing, and in between attacks is okay, but has been complaining of constant "rib cage can't breath" types of pain, which I totally understand as I had that type of pain too! However, as we know when we get this disease, it is progressive and does not have a cure. Issac and Tasia are actually BOTH very young, and have long lives ahead of them, but living like this is taking a toll on them and their family. The bottom line is that if there is a way to surgically help them both and take away their 50% risk of pancreatic cancer from having the genetic mutation, then it may be worth the surgery for both of them. 

This is where I need prayers for them. They are currently in Minnesota (a long way from home, Colorado) doing the "pre-operative" testing for the TP-AIT on both of them. The family is set on doing the surgery for the husband (he already has a May date), but they are not set for their daughter. It is a SCARY thing for a young mom to have to decide for her daughter. She is not old enough to make that decision and her parents will be making it for her. They are lost and confused, they don't want to do the wrong thing, and they are afraid of the effects of the surgery. I want to pray that as parents, Issac and Jillian will find the courage and strength to make the decisions for Tasia that are difficult. If they decide that she should have the surgery, I want to pray for Jillian as the caretaker in the family. This is so hard on any mom, let alone a mom and a wife, going through this not once but twice. I want to pray that she has all the tools in her tool bag needed to nurse her two babies back to health. I also want to pray that she has all the emotional tools needed to keep herself calm and sane during this rough time. I want her to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I want her to look forward to her little family in the future. I want her to see those fun events like prom, getting a drivers license, high school sports, college, weddings, and even babies, WITHOUT any problems with pancreases. If she can keep her eye on that dream I truly believe she will be strong enough to do this twice with no problems.

I also want to pray for Tasia and her dad Issac. I want their fears to be erased and I want their pain to be taken. I know that God is walking along side them both during their testing. I pray for the Minnesota medical team taking care of them and evaluating them. I pray that they put the Gallegos at ease during this time and that they make them confident in their abilities. This surgery is not easy, however, they will get through it. I have not met Jillian or Issac, yet I feel so close to them. I relate to Jillian a lot, her love for God, her family, beauty products, shopping, jewelry, and baking cupcakes! I feel her pain in all of this because I have been through it. I know they are going to start to do a little fundraising, as both parents will be out of work to do this and relocating for 7 weeks to MN and the insurance only covers hospital expenses. It will be very costly to get them to MN with just living expenses. As soon as I hear of a place to donate to them I will post the link. But for now, please help them by praying for them and thinking of them. They are amazing and they CAN DO THIS! Love to you Gallegos family. XO

Okay so I spoke to Jillian and here is the fundraising page for them. They will really need some help as Issac will be out of work (at least not full time) for at least a year since his job is so physically taxing and also it is just a very expensive process. Jillian won't be working as much either since she will be the primary care giver for her husband, and let me tell you, during this process the person going through the surgery NEEDS full time care. I still require it 4 weeks out. Any amount will help them:-)
http://www.giveforward.com/isaacgallegos

Love,
Whitney

Manicures and Nice Weather

Monday, March 12, 2012

Something about a manicure always helps the body!


Today was great! We went to this outdoor shopping center and a girlfriend came down with that Mexican food I had been wanting! She surprised me with a burro and chips and salsa! YUM YUM. I ate 1/4 of the burro...if that, but hey making progress. Then I got a pretty pink manicure. Ah so nice and I am loving my bright summer color.

Then, we walked around the shopping center and I made a few impulse purchases... one that I have wanted forever and will LOVE, a new handbag. Whoops. Now I am home and I am very sore! Geesh, its surgery pain for sure, nothing more, but intense. It is very sore inside my wound. My scar is fine on the outside, but on the inside, deep down there, probably where the pancreas was resting, is very sore! It feels like something was ripped out of my belly (because it was) but I am hoping the pain meds will bring it down to a more acceptable level of pain. I am praying for that and it still HURTS! Argh, hoping this passes. I have been stretching the pain medicine out over much longer periods of time than normal. I am allowed to take them every 2 hours, but I usually go about 5 hours. Tonight I need to go back to taking them more often until the pain is under control! 

I did not throw up today (or for the past 3 days) so I am very happy about that! Big step in the right direction. Over the next 6 months I need to put on about 15 pounds, which I am sure will happen naturally once eating is more normal. I have lost tons of weight to the point that I get nervous when I look in the mirror at my back bones. Yikes. I am going to the clinic next week for a check up. I got to skip this weeks appointment and will go next week. If they say things are going well I think we will head back to Phoenix. Technically, we probably could have left for Phoenix after surgery, but the doctors prefer you stay in case anything happens. I feel much better close to the hospital at night actually.

I am excited to wake up tomorrow. Today was so beautiful and the weather was amazing! I could have had on my shorts and flips since it was around 80 degrees and smelled delicious out. I could literally smell the flowers and I just loved every minute of being out and about. 

Again thanks for reading friends,
Love,
Whitney  


My Mom and I (We couldn't resist the turtles) 

Shelby and I (She surprised me with the Old Pueblo) 


Update from Tucson!

Today is day 3 of amazing! I have had a great past two days and am hoping today is the same:-) Yes, eating was rough, but the past three days I have not thrown up or had any issues! WOO! I am hoping this stays the same from here on out. My weekend was great! My mom and dad were here and my Uncle Jim and Aunt Renee came to visit as well from Indiana. I felt bad because the first day they were here I was sick with acid reflux. I know that sounds like no biggie....but OUCH. I was sick, throwing up and suffering with it! It hurt really bad, but I started taking some over the counter Prilosec and phew I was better by the next day.

Today I ate my typical bagel and cream cheese...never used to eat that in the morning, but it is my new favorite thing! I ate that, a half of one of course, and did not get sick. Thank goodness. Also, yesterday I really wanted a Taco Bell bean and cheese burrito, again never used to eat that (in college yes), but anyways I ate half of it and didn't get sick. I still have the cramping, which all the docs assure me is very normal when you eat. Other than that I am doing pretty well. I started taking the anti-nausea meds scheduled, instead of just when I wanted food. I think it has really helped a lot.

Yesterday was my first real outing. I was out with my mom shopping for 3 hours! WOO! By hour 3 I was a bit worn down...but still have so much fun nonetheless. I needed a few things since I am a skinny minny right now. I literally do not have anything that fits, so we went to Target and got some inexpensive yoga pants and sweats, then I went and got a few nicer things at the mall but tried to buy them one size bigger so they fit later. Good planning, Whit! Let's face it, I just love shopping.

Before that, I had been a bit of a bump on a log, but I am hoping I am at the top of the hill now:-) We will see how it goes. It is a bit of a 2 steps forward, 1 step backward game. I didn't get all that in the beginning, but now I know what they mean. One day I can feel like I just can't get out of bed, while the next day I am ready to go outside and do things. My scar is looking amazing. I took off all the bandages and have been using Mederma on it, also some Vaseline hoping to make that baby fade over time.

I am going to post all the surgery pics here too soon. I think it will be good for me when I want to look back on all this later in life. Some are a little scary, but it got better really quickly. If you are thinking of doing the TP-AIT I'd love to offer up any advice on coming to Arizona. I can't speak highly enough of the surgeons and how happy I am that I did the surgery at the center I chose. It was so amazing, my nurses were out of this world, and my doctors really knew what they were doing. My surgeon, Dr. Gruessner, started his career in MN and has worked with Dr. Sutherland for 20 years. My islet doctor, Dr. Rilo, has been harvesting islets his entire career as a doctor! He has even invented methods to doing it and goes around teaching and speaking nationally. He is amazing too. I left the hospital without any tubes, drains, feeding tubes, etc and I really think that helped me heal quicker. My doctors don't do a feeding tube unless you really need it because you are malnourished going in, or if you become that way in the hospital because you can't eat. So since I was okay in the hospital and my bowels woke up, they were able to leave that part out. It saved me a lot of stress and trouble, since most of the time the tubes themselves can make you very sick. I just loved my care and treatment, and feel if I can help someone going through this I would love to! So feel free to ask me any questions if you are in this situation and I would love to answer them all.

Thanks for reading!
Love,
Whit

My Battle Wounds

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Such a beautiful incision! Two small side drains
and the "big" one down the middle. They said
they did such a good job being careful since I was
young and "want to get married." -Dr. Rilo :-)
When I went to sleep on February 16th, 2012 I thought that my scar would cover most of my stomach and it was going to be an "upside down frown face" on my belly along my ribs. Well, when I woke up I was in very bad pain, yet I noticed right away that my stomach looked so much better than I had anticipated! I remember waking up from the anesthesia and 1) throwing up and 2) asking the nurse if I could see my stomach. She showed me and I was so HAPPY. I really don't remember much after this.... I remember asking for my mom several times. My stomach scar is very small compared to many others I have seen. Also, they used no stitches outside and they used no staples, which are common. I was so thankful for that! The surgeon was so sensitive to the fact that I was young and worked hard on my tummy! He was even open to having his plastic surgeon friend help fix the scar up if it was not good enough. That will not be necessary and I am very pleased!

My mom said they kept coming out saying that I wanted her but that they didn't think it was a good idea yet because I was still very sick. They told me they thought I should wait to see my mom, I had no idea this was all happening over the span of hours! She sat in the waiting room for hours after I was out of surgery. My mom and dad were the last two people in the waiting room, just waiting to be allowed to see me. My mom was worried because she promised me she would be there right when I woke up. She and I had talked about it many times and I told her how scared I would be if she was not there. She told the docs and nurses this when they were saying they didn't think it was a good idea if I saw her. Anyways, it all worked out well and although I do remember some of this, I am unaffected and my mom is okay too! We are so thankful to be here together recovering. I am a very blessed girl to have been given this life with my Mom and Dad and Brother. I could not be more thankful to have my mom here with me to take care of me. We have been spending our days together, and she is so patient with me when I have to sleep off the stomach cramps after meals!

Everything went so well at my doctors appointment today. I was told that everything was going perfectly and that all my "problems" were very normal. My problems are 1) stomach cramps after eating              2) throwing up after eating. If those two little numbers would leave my system I would be wonderful! However, they say it is because your body is getting used to the new system since the docs reconstructed my bowels. They also cut my stomach and part of my intestines. I still have a spleen for now, praying forever, but they did cut a lot of things and change things. The air in new places, food hitting new spots, and the system being in shock is what causes the cramps. It is something that can happen for 6 months, BOO! I am praying that it is a much shorter time, maybe a few weeks! I can live with that. I have lost some weight, okay a lot of weight, but I am thinking as soon as the cramping/nausea goes away I will be much better.

Tonight, I am so thankful! I can't say that enough. I would do this surgery over and over. I was thinking today, this surgery has taken away my pancreas pain. That means no more middle of the night trips to the Mayo Clinic! Do you know how happy this makes me? I have been going to the ER for 3 years with pancreas pain and I don't have to do that anymore! I am so thankful that the surgery went well and smooth and the recovery has not been nearly as bad as I had thought. Thank you for all of your prayers and all of your sweet cards in the hospital. I felt very loved and very thankful!

Being Still and Alone

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Me outside the rental house in Tucson
When I used to write this blog, pre surgery, I was always alone with my thoughts meaning I was usually sitting in my living room alone just thinking and writing. Since surgery, I have not had that chance to be "alone" and still to think. Most of my beginning days were full of healing and doctors and needles and poking. I had no time for blogging and I didn't even turn on a TV in my hospital room until around day 10. I spent 13 days in the hospital, which is not  a good place for blogging, and since being home I have been with family so much that I could not be alone with my thoughts.

Today I decided it was time to produce some of the "old pre-surgery writing" that I loved to do so much. I have shut myself in my rental house room, turned on the fan, and cracked an ice cold diet coke to help me think. My most recent blog posts are just to keep everyone informed, not necessarily my best work in the writing arena. Today will be my attempt to actually write from the heart and speak out about how I feel physically and mentally.

The hospital was a whirlwind stay. Each day was different and all the little bumps in the road usually shook me up pretty badly. Luckily, only minor things happened during my 13 day stay. They included some fluid in my lungs, which I got OUT with breathing treatments, using this breathing device for exercise like crazy, and walking a lot.  I had a small hematoma near the incision site, which is still clearing naturally and is basically a bruise. I had some bleeding that the docs say my body cleared up whatever was bleeding by scabbing naturally because it stopped after getting a transfusion.  I never needed more after that and all my levels stayed normal.  One night I threw up blood (which is what caused the whole "maybe she needs us to do an exploratory surgery at 3:30am thing). And the last "bump" was having an increased white blood cell count. The tests all came back negative and I do not have a temperature so they think all is well with that. During a CT scan the doctors could see my spleen was struggling a little to get more blood. They try to leave younger patients spleens in since the spleen helps us fight infections in our younger years. The doctors make no promises that you may need to get the spleen out later, but it is a much smaller surgery that can be done laparoscopic, similar to having a gallbladder out. To me it was worth it, and I pray that the spleen perks up over time and goes back to normal, which is common.

My surgeon said that I am on target and doing well. Each of these bumps were so minor and I think God really looked out for me on them. Things could have always been much more complicated, which I think I realized, the night the surgeon "on call" wanted to go back in and explore. I think back on that and I think about how scary that would have been. I am so thankful that my surgeon arrived quickly with an entirely different plan that worked. Each day I watched God perform a miracle in my life. I would get nervous and ask my Mom and Dad to pray with me out loud. I am telling you, that is something very new to me. I would just start praying, saying Our Father's, Hail Mary's, and prayers of my own. It worked. There is no other explanation for how well I am doing with this 2 weeks out than to say that God has had His healing hand on me this entire time.

I have been home 3 nights now and I am loving it. They do tell you when you leave the hospital that you have a 10% chance of going back in for something the first week, and a 3% the second and then you are "out of the woods". They use that term a lot when you get a transplant, "out of the woods". My surgeon would tell me I was 75% out of the woods for another surgery or that I was 50% out of the woods for another thing. It seemed to be something I heard often. I am praying I have a 0% chance of going back for anything, because it is just so much more comfy at home. I have taken so many HOT showers, shaved my legs, lotioned up, dried and straightened my hair, and today put on some makeup. Let me tell you how good that feels! AH. Today my mom is going to drive around and find a nail place so we can get a mani-pedi. I told her to find a clean place, as I am so worried about getting sick, but I can't live in a bubble and a mani-pedi is something that would really make me feel great. I think sitting there is something I can handle at this point.

Today Angela, my friend from high school, and her mom Sherry came to visit me in Tucson. We had coffee together (and I loved my Chi Tea (10 carbs for diabetes people) from the Keurig

Diabetes has been very easy to get used to since being home. I have a good friend in Litchfield who is brittle diabetic and she has sent me all kinds of good "cheat sheets" since I now have to count carbs for everything I eat. We will not know how much my islet cells will work until about 6 months out. So far they keep me pretty level all day and I only take insulin when I eat carbs. So I am now a huge carb counter! Thank goodness I found a good phone application with all the carbs in different foods right at my fingertips. I am sure going out to eat with friends will be a challenge but I will get the hang out if by the time that comes. I may not have to worry much about diabetes, or I may have to worry a lot about it. It is something we will not know for a while, because the islets take time to start working in their new home, the liver. I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but I did not get a large islet cell amount. We are not sure how this will affect my diabetes, and there was no way to predict this before surgery.

My doctors said the pancreas looked like someones who had been suffering for at least 10 years. They think that this genetic condition had been taking its toll on my pancreas long before I had that first attack in Coronado. They think that it was slowly digesting itself inside my body based on what the pathologist found. It's funny, I wanted my pancreas to be ruined, but not too ruined, so they could get islets. I wanted it to be damaged enough so that I would feel good about the decision I had made to take it out, but I also wanted it to be well enough to get many islets. I got one wish, but the other is in God's hands and I do believe diabetes will be just fine if that is what I am left with. So far, giving myself shots has been good and checking my blood sugar is something I am very okay with. I need more fat on me for the shots though! You are supposed to give them to yourself somewhere that is "fat" but I have been using my only area on my hips that I can pinch to get some fat. I switch hips every time! I may have to go for the butt soon, if I keep getting skinny!

Eating has been going better now. I am no longer nauseous as I was for the first few days of eating. Enzymes, which are what I am supposed to take to break down fats, have been making me sick. I think it is because I have not really had many fats in my diet and I also don't have a full stomach so I don't really need them all that much right now. I have cravings for food now, so that is a good sign. The only thing is my system has been on these heavy pain meds, more so than before surgery, thus causing everything to SLOW down inside. Maybe I should spell it out, I am not able to use the bathroom! YIKES! So today I am walking a bunch and then probably going to have to take some uncomfortable medicine to help with that:-( It is, I am pretty sure, caused by the medicine. I can't wait to get off all pain medicine. I already have NO PANCREAS PAIN, none. I know that once this surgery pain subsides, getting off this will be okay. It will be a struggle because I was on it for about 5 months prior to surgery daily, but I know I can do it. My pain doctor will be weaning me down slowly so I don't have a withdrawal. To be honest, I sort of already started. I cut way back on the meds. I was taking them every 2 hours, and now I am taking about 2 a night and 4 a day as opposed to 12 total.  I have other medicine that helps combat the pain as well, but I think I am doing fine with cutting back so I don't see why not. I can't wait to report that I take no pain medication. That will be a great day in my world.

 I know this is a long post but I wanted to try and get it all in before my manicure. I can't tell you how excited I am to be having one of those today. I know life is going to be so rich and wonderful in the next year. I also know this year will still be one of healing and getting used to my new "system" that the doctors made for me. My goals are to get off all the pain meds by 6 months, to be "regular" and to gain some weight within 6 months. Those are funny goals, but that is really what I want. I also want to have the "good kind" of diabetes, maybe none at all, but unfortunately that is not in my control. That one is in God's hands and my little islet cells hands. I will pray for that and for my spleen to perk up. Things are going well. I am happy and doing as well as I think I can be today. I have had a great day and I am looking forward to the day that I can sit on the patio at Old Pueblo Cafe in Litchfield and eat a green chile burrito and chips and salsa with my girlfriends. Then, maybe, just maybe I can have a beer and sit in the bar and listen to some music. Ah, that will be a good night and life will be good.

Home (Rental Home)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I am proud to announce that I am home now. Well, at the rental home, but it is still a house with real beds and real showers. Actually, I have not showered yet because we were waiting for my central line to be allowed to get wet. I got it taken out but it takes 24 hours to be able to get wet, which will be noon! Then, I will be in the shower. Anyways, life at home is good. My first night went well. I set my alarm every two hours to take my medicines and my dad woke up with me a few times too, which was really sweet. Once, I slept through the alarm so he jumped up. We also checked my blood sugar in the middle of the night even though I really don't need to. I am doing it a little more than needed now probably, just because I am nervous, but it can't be a bad thing.

This morning, well it is almost noon, I am going to eat eggs and potatoes. I have advanced my diet a bit more and eggs sounded pretty good. I mainly ate soups, puddings, yogurts, and light foods in the hospital but the past two days I was able to eat a little more food. I get nauseous easily so I take zofran before I eat for the time being. The doctors and dietitians told me to eat many small meals during the day somewhere around every 2 hours. I am still working on the enzymes. They make me sick as well. The enzymes are what you need to use with meals because you no longer have pancreatic enzymes to break down food. But, for some reason they seem to make me feel sick so I am not sure. I hear you have to play around with them to get the right amount. They work together with fat, and I eat little fat so I really don't need to take them every single time I eat. Also, I am still working on stomach cramping and little kinks with eating. I will get it all down soon but it is important to keep trying and keep working on it. The digestive system was "on a break" so long that it takes a while to get it all back together. The key is keep trying! Food will give me nutrients and make me stronger.

I am happy to be able to watch my Netflix movies and hang out here at the house. It is also so beautiful and warm outside. I love being able to walk out there and see how nice it is out. I am thinking I will begin going on walks with my mom tonight. I want to try and walk around the house a bit each day to get stronger. I do not want to go out in public for a while. I want to stay away from infections. They were able to leave my spleen in during my surgery, but it is showing a little bit of low blood supply and may not be working. I am praying that my spleen picks up and begins to work well. Worst case, I would need to laproscopicly have it out (similar to a gallbladder surgery) later in life. They left it since I am young and could use it. They still gave me 5 shots before I left yesterday to keep me healthy and free from flu and infections. I will need to be careful. Before I left my white blood cell count was a bit up, meaning there could be a small infection, or just meaning my spleen was struggling. They tested a few things (and the results may not be back till tomorrow) so they will let me know if I need an antibiotic. I didn't have a fever and vitals were normal so they were not too concerned. I am hoping it is nothing or easily fixable with antibiotics.

I do feel I am "walking on eggshells" as this whole event has been scary. I did get some scary and sad news about a young girl passing in the support groups. I feel terrible and it was heavy on my heart this morning. She was young and died of a secondary infection (due to lack of spleen). Her surgery was a while ago, but the lack of spleen and serious lung infection is what made her pass. I am praying for her family and am very nervous now. I know it isn't normal and is very very rare, but scary and so sad nonetheless.

All in all, God has been so GOOD to me during this recovery. I have had one set back in the hospital with the bleeding. Other than that, I was so blessed with really a seamless recovery. I prayed so hard for that and I know God was with me during this whole process. I will never stop praying, never. I know God is real, and I know He is the reason I am doing so well. Before all this began I believed in God, but I have NEVER prayed this much in my entire life. I needed God so much and He never left me. Even at 3:30 in the morning when I thought I would need an emergency surgery I prayed and knew in my heart it would not happen because God would fix me. Anytime I got scared or worried, I prayed and asked my family to do it with me. We would pray out loud and it would fix things. I am so thankful today! Two weeks after surgery and I am sitting on the couch waiting to eat eggs. God is so GOOD!
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