Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dr. A and I reunite

Today was my follow-up appointment with Dr. A. His opener was, "May I just say you absolutely scared the bejeebers out of me on that Friday night after surgery with that crazy pain thing? I've NEVER been so scared and worried and freaked out about a patient! After I got the call about how much pain you were in, I couldn't sleep the rest of the night. I'm SO glad you're okay!!" He was glad that the pain is continuing to go away. I've had a few days where it has bothered me, but it is nowhere NEAR the intensity that it was when I was in the hospital. He is still pretty baffled about what caused it, but we are both very grateful that it's pretty much gone!

He told me that I look fantastic (why do I only get hit on by old doctors? No one ELSE tells me I look fantastic! *sigh*), and I've gained 4 pounds since surgery, which is great! He was pretty surprised at my level of functioning -- that I was able to go back to school so quickly, and he was amazed that I was able to walk to school. Actually, he wasn't thrilled that I had done so much so soon, but it's okay now, especially after my boring week of bedrest. He, um, examined the J pouch... from the inside... and reported that I will have a good outcome. Apparently it is forming or healing or whatever it does in a very good way. I dunno, but that seems good to me! I think perhaps I am starting to get used to the J pouch. Last night I only got up 3 or 4 times. Hopefully this trend will continue! Dr. A said he didn't really know what was causing the discomfort and need to empty it so much, but he said he thought it will improve with time. I'd appreciate prayers that it will!

I asked him when I could start working out again, and he rolled his eyes and said, "I knew this was coming." He said after Thanksgiving, but I negotiated him down to the week of Thanksgiving. I gave him my sob story about how I was an NCAA Division I springboard diver, and after three weeks inpatient with a bad flare, on TPN (being fed through a vein), and pancreatitis, I was medically disqualified, and now that I feel better, all I want is to be active and run again, which I thought I'd never be able to do because of the UC and arthritis... blah blah blah... He gave up. I won. ;) I don't really have a venue so that I'd be able to start diving again, but I miss running, abs, even weights, and my yoga class I started this fall!

Dr. A wants to do the second surgery sometime in January. I hoped to do it over Christmas break so as not to interfere with school, but he thinks it will be best to wait until January. I think that this is related to the slow steroid taper. Being on steroids makes you heal slowly, and increases the risk of complications and infections, like I'm experiencing now. He also told me he's not sure if I'll be able to do classes this spring. This was news to me. The second surgery will have a much shorter recovery than the first one: three to four days in the hospital, and four or five days at home. The difficulty is, Dr. A said, that for the first three months, I will literally have diarrhea every 15 minutes, and be dealing with dehydration and "leakage." After that time, my body will sort of settle down and get used to the new system. A good outcome is having 4-6 bathroom trips a day, with minor "leakage" from the J pouch only at night, but this will be reached only after several months.

Dr. A is not sure if class will be feasible for me during this adjustment period. I'm not sure, either, and to be honest, I'm pretty scared about this surgery. It sounds a little more bleak than I imagined. I had this surgery to get rid of the millions of bathroom trips and urgency and accidents. It's a little depressing to learn that this surgery won't be a perfect fix. I know that living in the bathroom again will be temporary, hopefully, but I'm not looking forward going back to that life again. It's making living with Squirt forever seem pretty attractive. Dr. A reminded me that the difference is that I won't be in a ton of pain or sick or arthritic. But he said that the reality is that life will be very tough initially after surgery.

I'm pretty sad about that right now. Also, not sure how all this will work. Maybe I could put off surgery #2 until after I graduate in May - I didn't ask Dr. A about this, but I don't see why not. Just means keeping Squirt for longer, I think? Only problem is that stuff gets a little hairier with insurance, since mine is through TCU and is up in August. Maybe that's a good option, though? I don't know... just thoughts.

Whatever happens, I just want my life to glorify God. Being back at UTSW today reminded me of all the visits I've had... all my inpatient time in October, my Remicade treatments, tests and scopes and scans and blood work, depressing visits with the GI. On the way to the doctor or infusion center each time, I'd be filled with hope that I'd get more answers or that this treatment would do the trick or keep me healthy or ease my pain. It just reminded me how much I've been through and how far God has allowed me to come already. I'm incredibly thankful for that. If I need to take the semester off or something, once again, it's that investment of a few months so that I can be healthy for the rest of my life. I don't know exactly where God is taking me or where He wants me to go, but I pray that I keep following Him every day. I pray He'll give me the willingness to go through whatever else I need to go through. I read Isaiah 43 today, which is a great passage, and I was just reminded of God's infinite love and care. He truly protects His people so that He is honored. And He is always with me every step of the way. Here are verses 1-3:

"But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..."

God has brought me through so many rivers and fires already, for His name's sake, and I know that He'll continue to guide me! I pray that He continues to make it so clear that this is His work, not mine or a doctor's. May He be honored through this.

Hannah ;)

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