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.
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