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. 


  1. You are such an inspiration, Whit. I absolutely love your positivity, energy and most importantly, your love and awareness of God's miracles. You have been placed on this Earth for so many reasons and you have such an admirable attitude for it all. God bless you Whitney!

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