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.


  1. I am so so glad that you are doing so good!!! Such an answer to prayer!!

    There's a beautiful outdoor shopping mall called La Encantada. It is pretty small, but relaxing when the weather is nice! If you have the energy and want to get out of the house I suggest this spot. There's even an Aj's there for you to stop for a snack or drink. A plus is that its up in the foothills which is gorgeous and there is no where near as many people as at a normal mall!

  2. Awe, I'm bawling! So good to hear that you're doing so well! Your post tonight gives me such encouragement!! ((hugs)) my friend and I will pray those islets take hold so you can get on to burritos and beer!

  3. Glad you are doing well and appreciating all the little exciting things life has to offer. I am still praying for you. I hope you got my card I will try to come visit you soon, take care, Love Heather

  4. Hey Whitney! I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award - see my blog to read more and nominate others :)

  5. Thanks for sharing Whitney!! You really are an inspiration with how well you're doing.. praise God! I believe wholeheartedly that God's been watching over you! I'll pray the clinic appointment goes well today.

    And it was either this blog or the one before, but I read how Jessica's passing was tough on you. Me too. I've been thinking about her and her family a lot lately, and it just breaks my heart.

    Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly with all of us. Keep up the amazing recovery!


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