Can I get a "holler" please?

We three are living large. Highschool sweethearts. Married in the Newport Beach LDS Temple. Two kids. Taking life a day at a time!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ouch.

Well, I haven't blogged in a while for several reasons. Number 1, I've been "sick". Recently, I've learned how to fend off symptoms and attacks, which has allowed me to maintain somewhat of a normal lifestyle.
So, what have I been sick with? Here's the DL.

About a week after Mckenzi was born (mid September) I woke up in the middle of the night with the gnarliest pain in my entire abdomen and lower back. Sounds like gas, right? Just on a larger scale. I chalked it up to being bloated, and figured it had something to do with my c-section. That my intestines were just swollen and finding their place back in my belly. (Hey, I'm not doctor) The pain was so severe though, I couldn't sleep through it. It would last for about 3-4 hours at a time, and nothing relieved it. Normally these attacks would come at night, very very late, or early in the morning. Again, I chalked it up to gas, or c-section complications. These "attacks" would leave me useless. Neal would have to watch Mckenzi, as I could barely move. I mentioned them to my mom in passing a couple of times.

This would continue to happen to me for the next 6 months, and would become more frequent, and more painful, and last longer each time. My mom then started asking me for details of my symptoms. After some research, she told me I should see a doctor. She was concerned that I had Chrone's Disease, which is a disease of the intestines. There is no cure. And there is a long history of it in my mom's side of the family. Grrreat. Another reason she thought I might have Chrone's is because Chrone's disease is a cause of fistula's. We still don't know what the lump in my butt came from, and why it hasn't left yet (it is no longer a lump. The incision has mostly healed up, but there is a tiny opening that continues to drain). A couple of doctors have expressed that they believe it is a fistula. The original surgeon, however, thought that's what it was, and when he went in to repair it, didn't find a fistula. Funny thing about that surgery is, apparently there's a high likelihood of causing a fistula in the process. Awesome! Anyway, my mom believes I have a fistula, and was beginning to think it was caused by Chrones.

Long story short, about a month ago, I had an attack that was so intense and so painful that it took everything in my to not sit and sob through the whole thing. It was an attack that never seemed to end. Four hours passed, and it was still very intense. I called my dad and had him give me a priesthood blessing with Neal. A couple of years ago, when my bum issues started, I also recieved a priesthood blessing. In that blessing, I was told that if I trusted in my doctors and worked with them to figure things out, I would be healed. I am still not healed. Needless to say, I have questioned why I am not yet healed. I told my dad that I'm lacking somewhat in faith, before he gave me my recent blessing. We talked about it for a bit, he asked me what I wanted from my blessing, and I told him that I just want some sort of peace. Realistically, I want to just be healed, but I also realize the selfishness in that, and that I need to be more faithful. It is very difficult to be the picture of faithfulness when I feel like I'm just falling apart. I feel like I have rather righteous desires; I just want to be able to take care of my family and our home. My health issues have continued to stand in the way of these things. I am not whole. I want to be healthy for my daughter. So, I'm not sure what I expected from my blessing. But, I will tell you, I did receive peace. I felt the tender mercies of the Lord coming to me through my blessing, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I cried through the whole thing (unusual for me), and my dad did as well (very very unusual). Though the blessing did address my health issues, it mostly focused on the issues I've been having in my heart. Not physical issues, merely mental and emotional ones. It is always reassuring knowing that my Heavenly really knows me. I was reminded of His love for me, of my significance in this life, and I am very grateful to know these things. I was also told that my journey on earth is not finished yet, that there is much left I have to do. I was also told that in time, with much effort on my part, I would be cured from my health issues. This also put peace in my mind about Chrones - I no longer believed it was Chrones that was giving me issues, as there's no cure for it. I was grateful for that blessing, and for the PEACE that came from it.

I went to the doctor two days later. I described my symptoms - constant pain across my mid/upper back, that sometimes went down lower, too. Constant intense pain in my ribs and upper abdomen - not lower. Seems like my heart is racing, but it's not. Food feels undigested and backed up in my chest...weird, I know. It just never felt like it got to my stomach. Throwing up. Light clay colored stools. Fleurescent orange pee, NOT from lack of water. But the pain was the biggest issue for me. The terrible pain.

My doctor asked how old my baby was. "8 months."
How long have you been having these symptoms? "8 months."
I think you have gall stones. "What?"

Pregnant women tend to develop gall stones during pregnancy, because of the increased amount of estrogen. There's some correlation between estrogen and gall stones.

My mom told her about our history of Chrone's, too. So the doctor gave me a referral for both an ultrasound (gall bladder) and a gastrointerologist (intestines).

Long story short, I have gall stones. I waited in pain for two weeks to get the approval for the surgery. I now have an appointment with a general surgeon, but the soonest they could get me in is June 17th. LAME. And that's not even for the surgery! It's for a "consultation". Surgery will be scheduled up to two weeks after the consult. I hate all insurance. Period.

In the mean time, I wait. Neal and I have done quite a bit of research on the internet for how to prevent gall bladder attacks. In the beginning, all I ate was bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. The BRAT diet. Needless to say, I felt weak and terrible. The symptoms continued every once in a while. We have now done quite a bit of research, and have found out what works for my body. If I stay away from most fats, I am okay. I am eating a very natural diet, minus eggs, meat, and dairy. I can have sugar, which has been my only saving grace, really. You're not supposed to eat chicken or fish or any sort of meat, but I ventured out into the fish zone, and find that I still stay away from attacks while eating fish. This is a huge relief to me, because eating strictly fruits and veggies was making my milk dry up. I didn't even realize it :( I worked my butt off, pumping more frequently than necessary, to try and get my milk to come in as much as possible. I did it! My milk is back, and I'm doing well to maintain a healthy supply for Mckenzi. She also eats baby food three times a day, so we're good.

So, now. What is happening to my body? The liver produces bile, which the gall bladder stores. The gall bladder regulates and secretes the bile through a bile duct, which goes to the stomach to break up food. I have stones in my gall bladder. When people eat high fat diets, or foods that are difficult to digest, like red meat, the gall bladder reacts by releasing a large amount of bile (acid). In people that have gall stones, the stones try and get into the bile duct and "pass". This is not a safe option, like with kidney stones. When a gall stone actually is successful in getting into the bile duct, you have to be rushed into emergency surgery and have your gall bladder removed. So anyway, gall bladder "attacks" happen when bile is trying to be released into the stomach, and the gall stones are blocking or trying to pass. Hence the intense rib/back pain. If you avoid high fat foods, you avoid the need for large amounts of bile to be secreted at once. Thus avoiding attacks.


I am told that gall bladder surgery is no piece of cake. Some have compared it to a c section, because you have to go in behind all the organs, and moving those around never feel good. So it's no hop skip or jump to a quick recovery. I am concerned about this, because I am a full time mom to a very hands on infant. I have never left her alone for more than a couple of hours, let alone for an entire night or two. I am hoping that I will get the "ok" to go home after my surgery, and recover there. I don't want my issues to hurt my baby :(

This is the surgery. They go in at three points:

So, there's a 411 for all you kids that have been askin!

11 comments:

Shelley said...

Oh my gosh, Wendy!! I'm so sorry you have beenin so much pain for so long! The surgery looks intense but I am sure it will be worth it for you to have the pain gone and feel whole again. I will be praying for you!

Johnny and Emily said...

here is to you getting better wendy. i wish that when i saw your comments on fb, i would have said something. my husbands family is in the medical field and my MIL explained to me that gallbladder problems and gallstones are very common for women after they have babies and unfortunately, it takes women longer to realize there is a problem, cuz they figure its just "normal" post preggo issues. i actually had thought about telling you about gallstones, and i never did and i am sorry for that. but hope u start feeling better and hopefully that surgery date will come sooner than later. :)

Emily said...

Ugh, Wendy, I'm so sorry! I'm glad you found out what the problem is and that it's fixable. I have never had surgery, but I can just imagine the anxiety. I hope everything goes smoothly and that it will be the end of the health issues. You are definitely stronger than I! Did I mention I think you are an awesome, mom? I haven't seen you in person with Mckenzi very much, but I can just tell you are a great mom. Good luck! Blessings really do wonders, huh?!

Brandon and Jenn said...

I remember those attacks-- so painful! There were several nights when I'd pass out on the bathroom floor after throwing up everything (including bile). The surgery isn't bad, really. Don't stress about it. The wounds heal quickly and you'll be up and moving around in no time. My friend had it about a year ago (when her newborn was only 2 months old). She found the recovery to be way quicker and easier than her c-section recovery; so I hope that gives you a little hope.

Meghan said...

Wendy...this is Meghan McConnell. Not even sure if you remember me or not, but we were in the same ward back in the day. Anyway, I found your blog through James and Erin Low and had to comment because this exact same thing happened to me. My 3rd baby was born a few weeks after your little girl and I just had my gallbladder removed a month ago. The surgery was harder than I thought, but soooo worth it compared to the pain I was living with before. If you have any questions you can email me anytime. meghanburkinshaw@hotmail.com. I hope you are feeling better soon!

Janae H. said...

Sounds like you've done your homework. Sorry that it's taking so long to get rid of this pain. If you want someone to talk to about the surgery my Mom had it done within a few weeks of Connor being born, I'm sure she'd be happy to give you tips or share her experience or whatever.

THORNLEY FAMILY said...

MY DEAREST WENDY! I SOOOO FEEL YOUR PAIN.. WHEN I HAD MY ATTACKS I WOULD RUSH TO RUN A HOT BATH AND SIT IN IT FOR HOURS TILL THE PAIN HAD PASSED.THE HEAT WAS MY SAVING GRACE..PLUS NO WORRIES ABOUT UR SURGARY .. I SPENT THE NIGHT AFTER THE SURGARY SO I FELT LIKE A MILLION BUCKS WHEN I GOT HOME THE NEXT DAY... I EVEN MADE DINNER THAT NIGHT I GOT HOME..BUT DONT MISUNDERSATND ME IT HURTS THE FIRST DAY BUT NOTHING LIKE THE ACCTUAL ATTACK ITSSELF THAT U HAVE BEEN LIVING WITH FOR THE PAST 8 MONTHS!GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY HEALING!

Brittany said...

Wendy! We will totally be praying for you. So sorry that you have to go through this. You are one tough cookie. Hope everything goes well!

Megan said...

Wendy, I can't believe you have been living and dealing with the pain for this long! The exact same thing happened to me after Spencer was born, only after dealing with the pain for a couple of months I was rushed to the ER for emergency surgery. I wish I had known about your symptoms sooner, because everything you described is exactly what I dealt with. I didn't know what the pain was either and attributed it to giving birth. Also, I wasn’t out for too long after the surgery. From what I understand the pain is nothing compared to a c-section because they make such small incisions to remove the gallbladder, known as laparoscopic surgery (as I’m sure you know). So don’t stress about that. I’m so sorry you have to go through this! You are in my prayers. Love you Wendy!

Jessica said...

I always learn something new from your blog :) My poor little Wendy, I'm sorry you've been going though all of this! I know that all of your research and all that new willpower you're gaining are only going to benefit you in the end. I love you this much (a lot), and you'll be in my prayers!

KDB said...

Wendy, I am so sorry that you have been going through your own health trials too! I will keep you in my prayers as well, and thank you for keeping us in your prayers! I hope that the surgery will help you and relieve all your discomfort and pain. Hang in there and I hope things get better soon! Love you lots!