This will be a long one, but will explain all of my complications that have developed recently.
Back in December, I developed a cough. I had pain all over my body, to the point that it hurt for my husband to touch me. I went in to urgent care and was diagnosed with bronchitis. I was given antibiotics and cough medicine. Easy enough, right?
Wrong. Two weeks later, I still wasn’t well. They did a chest xray and found pneumonia. More antibiotics and cough medicine.
But, it still didn’t help. I saw my primary care physician at that point. The xray showed that the pneumonia was still there. Another round of antibiotics and still nothing. So he sent me to a pulmonologist to figure it out.
I ended up in the emergency room because of coughing before I could meet with that pulmonologist. While there, I coughed out a staple. A STAPLE! From my stomach. Out of my lung.
The ER doctor told me that it’s totally normal and nothing to worry about (yes, he said it).
The next day, I saw the pulmonologist. She felt in necessary to admit me to the hospital. And she told me to make sure I saw my surgeon while I was there.
My surgeon was very surprised to see that I coughed out the staple and told me that, yes, it is a problem and it is NOT normal. He ordered several tests and came into my room the next day.
I was diagnosed with a fistula. A fistula is basically a hole that creates a pathway to another spot in the body or out through the skin. Mine started at the top of my stomach and led into my left lung. Anything I eat or drink goes into my lung.
That day, they put in a PICC line. Which is like an IV, but starts in the arm and goes up through your shoulder and into the tip of the heart. They can use this to do pretty much anything.
They started tpn (total parenteral nutrition) through the PICC line that evening. It contains all the nutrients and vitamins that my body needs. In this pic, it’s the big bag that looks like urine, but it’s usually white.
I was able to go home Wednesday. They delivered a huge amount of supplies that night to my house for the tpn.
Thursday, we planned to do an endoscopy on an outpatient basis to try to close the hole. But no amount of suturing would hold it closed. So they put in a stent.
They wanted me to stay until Monday to get a scan to make sure the stent closed the hole. I was strictly npo. Nothing by mouth. NOTHING.
Sunday came around and I was feeling horrible. Belly cramps and diarrhea. I tested positive for c diff. Which is an infection in the bowels and is usually found in people with compromised immune systems. Like elderly or cancer patients.
Monday came around. The scan showed that the leak was still there. So, they wanted to put in a feeding tube through my nose. Which was the worst experience in my life. And they couldn’t do it. My stomach had twisted and there just wasn’t enough room to get the tube through.
I had finally had enough. I talked to the GI team, who had been heading up my case. They really thought a consult with surgical was the best option.
The surgeon and his team came in and decided that it would be best to have surgery. So, next Friday, March 3rd, I’ll undergo a long (4-5 hours), difficult surgery. They’ll remove the rest of my stomach and attach my esophagus to my small intestine. They’ll also put in a J-tube (which will be there for 3-4 months) to help supplement nutrition since I’ll hardly be able to eat anything at first. They’ll also put in a feeding tube through my nose to get me all the nutrition I need for the first 5 days.
Now, I’m just trying to get through until then. They finally released me Thursday. I have tpn and IV antibiotics to do myself here, but I’ll take it. I’m home with my kids. I am still strictly npo, which is fine. I’d rather not eat or drink so that I can breath and not cough
I also put in my resignation at a job that I absolutely love. But, it’s not fair to keep me on the payroll when they could hire someone who will be there everyday. I wouldn’t be able to go back until April anyway, and school is out in May. It’s absolutely breaking my heart.
I am scared, but I am strong. I have so much support from friends and family. Would I go back and do the surgery again? I don’t know. But I do know that no matter what life brings me, I’ll get through it. Because I am stubborn. And I have the blood of my mother, the most amazing, strong woman to have ever been in existence, running through my veins.
I think that’s everything thus far. After surgery, I’ll try not to wait so long to update.