Thursday, March 1, 2012

Healing & Dealing

Hello Friends!

On a different note, I have had a major prayer answered! God is so good. About four years ago, I was really sick and my spleen and liver were both swollen. I was tested for mono and leukemia, but thankfully, I was negative for both, but we didn't have any answers or a diagnosis. Every year of college I have been tested multiple times for diabetes because my blood levels have gone crazy, but it was never consistently seen through blood tests. Then, after my surgeries, I started having a lot of bowel and stomach pain and issues daily. I was referred to a gastroenterologist where I had tons of tests done including a colonoscopy, but every test and biopsy came back normal. After a few months, I was referred to the University of Iowa and was scheduled to have three hydrogen breath tests done.

A hydrogen breath test determines how much hydrogen your body produces after breaking down sugars. The production of hydrogen doesn't normally take place, but it results form your body's inability to break down sugar in the small intestine so the sugar moves further down into the colon where it is broken down by bacteria, which release hydrogen.

I was given a hydrogen breath tests for glucose, fructose and lactose. I was tested with glucose to determine whether or not I had a bacterial over growth in my small intestine. I was tested with fructose to determine whether or not my body is able to digest fructose. I was also tested with lactose to make sure my body was able to break down lactose, the sugar in milk.

About two weeks later, I received a call from a nurse. She shared with me that the glucose and lactose tests came back normal, but that the fructose test showed that I was fructose intolerant. This means that my body is missing the proper enzyme that breaks down fructose.

On one hand, this was a huge blessing, but on the other, it was anything but a blessing.

My spleen and liver had been swollen in response to the excess build up of fructose in my blood. My blood sugar fluctuated like crazy because the fructose and sucrose I had consumed could not enter my blood cells and be used for energy so it would hang out in my blood, making my blood sugar really high sometimes and then crash when it was filtered out. I experienced bowel and stomach issues because there had been such a build up of fructose in my colon.

As you may have wondered, fructose and sucrose are in EVERYTHING! This is why this is anything but a blessing. The only treatment at this point in time is to eliminate all forms of fructose, sucrose and sorbitol from my diet. Eventually, I will be able to test out different foods to see how much of them I can handle.

Scarred for Life

Wow it has been a long time! 

Just a quick update from the last 8 months...

During my second surgery, there were a lot of complications. I noticed when I woke up from the second surgery that something wasn't right. I was in much more pain in my right shoulder and arm. My right arm was in a sling and was iced.

I started asking a lot of questions, but there weren't any answers. I was restricted to my bed for the first 24 hours and I was on a specific diet; both of which were not required after the first surgery. I found that odd because I was told that it was just protocol...

Over the next couple of days, the pain decreased but my family and I noticed a couple of strange things. I was not able to breathe completely and my voice had changed! It was much higher and kind of whiny. 

When we met with the surgeon on the final day, the surgeon told me that the muscle that was removed was much larger than anticipated and the nerves to my diaphragm and to my vocal chords were nicked during the procedure!

I am so thankful and blessed that these nerves were able to fully heal over the following months! Praise the Lord.

For a while, my scars would hurt quite a bit because they were trying to heal, but the pain is mostly gone. I am also very thankful because the surgery seems to be a success! I no longer have the muscle spasms in my arms to the extent that I had them and I can raise my arms above my head without them falling asleep immediately!

My six month post-surgery check-up went very well! My recovery has reached a leveling point where I am not getting any worse or any better. I am so thankful. In a few short weeks, I will only be seen every eight weeks instead of every week, and I will only have one doctor!

My scars on my neck are fading, but here is a picture from 4th of July so you can have an idea of what they look like....

 This pic was taken at the Grand View Campus Fellowship Valentine's Day Dinner on February 10, 2012... My scars look much different. Now, they are still there, but they blend more in with the color of my skin. It kind of seems like I just have super defined collar bones :)

I thank you for all of your prayers and support throughout the entire process. I am a very blessed woman!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Super Quick Update

After a super long period of time with no is one :) I just wanted to say thanks for all of  your prayers, visits and car rides while I was not able to drive during recovery. 

The fantastic news is that I am healing super fast and my scar is getting better every day. My follow-up appointment went well and I have returned to normal life (a.k.a. DRIVING) 

My next surgery for the right side of my neck is scheduled for June 1st. I check into Mercy Main Hospital at 11:30 a.m. and go under the knife at 1:30 p.m. I have the same surgeon as before, Dr. Kuestner. 

My pre-surgery physical is set for May 25th at 8:40 a.m. They will be competing typical blood work as well as checking my cholesterol levels. Why? I do not know. They didn't prior to the first surgery, so that is interesting.

Please continue to pray. My requests are identical to the first post. I really do appreciate all of the support that I have been blessed with and I am so excited for the end of all of this!

P.S. I will be posting visitation info and such after my surgery. If you choose to visit, please bring a verse or your Bible so that I can hear the Word! This was the hardest thing for me during my first hospital stay because I was not able to mentally function enough to read my Bible. Every bit of encouragement helps!

In Christ,

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Recovery Update

Hello Friends!

I am doing very well and I am thankful for all of your prayers and words of comfort. I am feeling rather good today to say the least. I have not taken any of my strong pain relievers like Percocet since 8 p.m. last night. I am only on Naprocen and I am very happy to say that I am not experiencing a lot of pain at all! I had a very hard time sleeping last night paired with some weird dreams so I spent a lot of the night in prayer and chose not to take the pain meds any more. It worked out great because I had the Women's class at the DTC this morning and I was able to stay attentive and alert and I learned a lot from the Lord today.

I haven't had any more strange allergic reactions which is a blessing. The tape burn is healing and the wound covering (which I think are called Steri strips) are starting the process of naturally coming off. We are still waiting for the update call from the Dr. the set up my check-up for next week.

At the next appointment, we will learn the next stages of recovery as well as the date of the next surgery.

I have been blessed with a crazy-fast recovery and have many prayer requests answered. I am very thankful for the life that I have been given and I thank God for each of you.

Keep praying!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Construction Zone!

Hi Friends! Now that I am home and recovering, I will give you the details on my surgery and stay in the hospital...

Well, you know it's not a good thing when the nurse is confused about what side the surgery is being done on. After identifying me as the patient, the nurse asked, "So you're having surgery done on your right shoulder today?" To which I replied, "Umm I'm pretty sure it's the left side..." It was rather kind of awkward but she had just misread the chart.

So then she set up my IV  and took a routine blood sample to send to the blood bank before she started running something that was called a Lactate Ringer (?) Basically it's a blend of electrolytes and water to keep me hydrated and stuff.

After a few minutes a different nurse came in and said that the nurse had dated my blood sample the wrong date so they had to draw a new sample because of health code.

A few minutes after that, my sides just started itching and burning like crazy and my parents said that my face and skin turned bright red. I was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic that they run before surgery. My reaction was called "Red Man Syndrome" and was somewhat common. Basically, I broke out in hives without the welts. They had to stop the antibiotic immediately and start me on Benedryl which pushed the surgery time back to 7:30.

My surgery took about two hours so it was done at 9:30. Because I was on Benedryl, it took me  a little longer to wake up after surgery and I woke up around 12:15. My parents had received a good message from my surgeon after the surgery that she had found some extra muscle fibers growing around the nerves, which was unexpected, but good because they were able to remove it and ultimately provide more room for the blood vessels and nerves.

I spent most of the day sleeping and I don't remember a whole lot of pain. I didn't have any visitors outside of family and and my Dad stayed the night with me. There were a few times were I felt nauseated but I didn't have any more issues. I also began to itch badly underneath the tape over the surgery site. It turns out that I am also allergic to the adhesive used on medical tape. It was an easy fix...they eventually switched to paper tape. I still have Tape Burn which looks worse than it feels.

The next morning, there was talk of me going home, but I didn't think I was ready because I was experiencing way more pain than I had the day before. I was very blessed by friends and visitors when they came to visit all day long. It was a good reminder of how blessed I am. This was also the day when they gave me this "miracle drug" called Dillotted (or something like that). Basically, it just worked super fast and well! I was also on Benedryl to combat my new found allergies. It was hard to stay alert and focused during my many visits, but there was a lot of grace :) Later that night, my friend, Natalie was able to spend the night which was a blessing to my family so both of my parents were able to get good nights of sleep and rest.

Yesterday, the Dr.s came in and gave me the green light to go home home, so I did. Now I'm recovering. The hardest thing to adjust to is staying ahead of the pain. I was supposed to wake up at 2 a.m. and take my pain meds but I didn't hear my alarm and woke up at 4 a.m. when I was in a lot of pain. So there's a lot of things to get used to like the amount of time it takes me to get ready and how tired I seem to get after the littlest things.

So thanks for all of your prayers :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quick Update

I'm on day 2 of recovery and I'm doing very well despite a couple of allergic reactions so I get to go home tomorrow.  It's really wonderful because I can move my arm and I didn't think I'd be able to.  I am feeling very loved because there have been many visitors.  I'm on percuset, benadryl, baclafen, and a "miracle drug" so I will give you more details when I'm not so out of it.

Prayer Requests:
- that there would be no more allergic reactions.
- that my dad would get plenty of sleep since he's been staying at the hospital with me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"The Last Supper"

Hi Friends! I was very blessed to spend the final day before my surgery with my friends and family celebrating Easter. It is so amazing to me that Jesus Christ willfully died on the cross for my sins. He died so that I may be forgiven and spend eternity with him and his father in Heaven, How wonderful!

Today was also a great reminder of how blessed I truly am. Tonight, my dad had all 11 of us go around the table and share a blessing that we each experienced over the passed year. It was super encouraging to hear how the Lord is working not only in my own life, but also in the lives of everyone all at the same time!

My surgery is scheduled for 7 a.m. in the morning. I will check in at 5:30 at Mercy Main Hospital (downtown) where I will be staying for the next three days. My friends and family have volunteered to update my blog as we don't think I will be able to type...I will have someone post an update as to when visiting is ok and my room number, etc.

I just took a nap a little bit ago because I don't think I will be able to sleep well. I'm off to spend time with the Lord in the Word and in Prayer and to pack. Please visit me. Your encouragement is always welcome!

Here is the Prayer List again...


Please pray....

  • I will make it though the surgery without complications
  • My surgeon, Dr. Kuestner, will be well rested and focused during the operation
  • The anesthesiologist will also be well rested, focused and alert
  • Dr. Kuestner will have a chance to hear and see the Gospel through my family's interaction with her
  • I would have a fast, full recovery
  • I would stay encouraged in the word
  • I would remember that God's plan and timing are always better than mine
  • I would seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness 
  • I would have an eternal mindset and perspective
  • I would stay encouraged through fellowship
  • That I would be joyful and thankful
  • I would use this experience to share the Gospel and to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ
  • I would give all glory to God
  • I would not be upset or discouraged when I am not able to participate in fun summer things and fellowship...i.e...Bstud hangouts, CF hangouts, grill outs, wiffle ball, etc.
  • (Kind of joking, but not really - please pray that I would remember to filter my words when on meds)
  • Please pray for my Mom and Dad and my sisters!!!!!!!