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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Update

Julia is doing better. She went to the hospital in a lot of pain, but didn't need to have a scope. She is back in school and doing well now, thank God! ;)

Everything is okay. My ultrasound was more or less inconclusive, so we did more labs. They came back with my white count even higher, almost double what it was when I went home from the hospital. So I'll most likely be getting an MRI soon to see if I have more abscesses or something. I had an appointment with Rheumy, which was frustrating but not really significant. I'm feeling okay, pretty much holding steady.

Everyone asks me what it means when I go for a while without posting anything on the blog... if it's good or bad or what. I honestly don't know. All I know is that right now I just need to take a bit of a break from blogging about my health issues... they simply don't seem important or worth complaining about at the moment. ;)

Hannah ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pray for Julia! (and two hours of ultrasound)

Please pray for my friend Julia!! She is feeling sick and is going to the hospital for a scope of her J pouch to see if she has pouchitis! Please pray for her to get well soon and have the strength to face this test. Pray that she will keep her eyes fixed on Jesus!

I've been feeling a bit better this week so far! I am working on getting back down to a more reasonable dosage of pain meds while still being relatively comfortable. I'm being careful to get lots of sleep and naps aplenty, and I think that's helping me to deal with pain better. I'm also just adjusting my energy expectations - I just am wiped out and need a ton of rest - the more naps, the better! In happy news, my appetite has completely returned - I am eating like a fat kid! And I haven't touched my nausea medication for days! I eat and (most of the time) I don't feel sick! I'm enjoying being able to enjoy food again. Also, I can no longer see my ribs, so that's a good thing, too. That being said, I'm still hurting a lot in general and having that lower abdominal pain as well as bladder issues. But it's not stopping me from eating! ;)

Dr. Saturday's office was in the doghouse, but yesterday they redeemed themselves by FINALLY returning my calls and scheduling me for an ultrasound. The ONLY day I could do it was today, and they got me an appointment today at an imaging center about 2 miles from my house. Nice! The plan was for me to get the ultrasound, and then come see Dr. Saturday immediately afterwards. Unfortunately, the plan did not take into consideration that the ultrasound might take TWO HOURS. So, I missed my appointment, and Dr. Saturday was going into surgery, so they said he'd call me. Actually, they asked me if I would drive the disc over to them, then he'd call me, but I thought it made a whole lot more sense for me to NOT drive all the way over there to hand them a disc when they will get it electronically by tonight.

Thankfully, the ultrasound (unofficially) didn't show any huge, major issues!! No giant abscesses jumping out or anything. Of course, it (unofficially) showed that I have huge cysts on my ovaries, as always, which makes everyone freak out, but it's just my normal. This is like the 5th or so test that has shown them. They never turn out to be anything bad, and they always go away on their own without a problem. She did see something on my right side that she thought might be an abscess, but I doubt it... I only hurt on the other side! We'll see what the actual report says and what the doctor thinks.

Today, about an hour in to the ultrasound, I had this moment of realization: this is way weird. I'm alone in a room with a stranger, who came in, dimmed the lights, told me to take off my clothes, and she's moving tools covered in gel all over my body. Slightly uncomfortable. Especially so because this technician had this really smooth, soothing (read: slightly creepy) voice. Just an observation. ;) No, really, she was super nice. I was not supposed to eat today for the test (not really sure why...) and I was pretty hungry by the time she was done. She offered me her bag of chips on the way out! ;) I guess she could see that my tummy was completely empty! But I didn't take the chips. Even though we had two hours of bonding time, I still didn't feel like we were on the level where we could share food. ;)

I feel like I'm back in that nebulous zone of this spring - ultrasound doesn't show anything, but I still feel kinda crummy and my labs show infection. The infection was smoldering enough that no one wanted to treat it, but concerning enough that Rheumy couldn't treat my arthritis. And... Monday is my next Rheumy appointment. And since my white count is elevated, I doubt we can make any changes to help the arthritis go into remission. Oh well. "Nebulous" is MUCH better than "surgery needed urgently" because of some huge problem! God is good.

Please pray for me as I continue to walk by faith! Also, I am quitting my job at the end of the month (this has been planned for a few months, so it's not sudden). I was HOPING to have something lined up to start, but I am still waiting. God has graciously provided two fantastic possibilities. I just have to be patient and wait... and then decide which one makes more sense with my health and stamina issues. One's a lot of hours (maybe more than I can handle), but offers amazing health benefits. The other one is a really fun, wonderful situation with fewer hours (maybe too few for financial survival), but no health benefits. Hmm...

Hannah ;)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

By Faith

So, I had postponed writing this post... I was waiting to have a better attitude before I wrote this (hence the 10 day gap in posts!) and God has finally provided that. Better put, my attitude has finally come around to a more godly perspective.

Today in church, we learned a song from Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 is this amazing chapter that talks about many great men and women who lived by faith in God. Some of them saw and accomplished amazing, wonderful things - people raised from the dead, kingdoms conquered, victories won. And then others... others were tortured, afflicted, and never received the promises of God in this life. But they lived by faith.

How were these great men and women able to endure what they endured and still be faithful to God? It's because they weren't focused on this life. They were looking forward to what God has promised. They considered themselves as strangers on the earth ( verse 13). The world wasn't their home; in fact, the world was not worthy of these men and women (verse 38). They were seeking God. They were seeking heaven (verse 16). That perspective - that long distance, far sighted vision - the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (verse 1) - that faith - allowed them to live a life that honored God in the midst of tragic and horrendous circumstances.

I have been more than a little bit down and frustrated and NOT walking by faith. My stomach has been hurting more and more. I went to see Dr. Saturday on Monday, and by Wednesday morning, he was on the phone with me because my white count has jumped up again. That plus my increased pain warrants further investigation. It is likely that I will need MORE surgery. This week, I'm going to go in for an ultrasound (if his schedulers ever quit playing phone tag with me) and an appointment with Dr. Saturday to decide where we go from here. I've been exhausted and in pain. On top of all that, I'm trying to work and study for the MCAT (I'm taking it in a month!) and investigate health insurance options and search for new jobs. But I just have no energy.

I didn't understand why I can't get better. It seems, at times, like pointless suffering. Why, at age 23, do I have innumerable doctors, chronic pain, an ostomy (which is having strange issues that would require another surgery to temporarily fix), joints that don't work, adrenal glands that don't work, guts that hurt, and no real solutions or end in sight?

My dear friend, Kendra, has recently found out that she has a large (thankfully) benign mass in her intestines (I probably gave it to her... what are the odds?). Her husband, Stephen, is 1,000 miles away, unable to be with her, and she needs surgery. It's a hard, hard situation.

When you look at life, at the world, and you consider the poverty and natural disasters and suffering and oppression and sickness and death and all the horribleness of life, it is so easy to get bogged down. In my own life, if I look at my health situation and imagine living the rest of my life with these problems and this pain, it zaps my desire to keep living. But that is NOT the perspective that God has called me to have. That is NOT a life of faith.

My life is not about this earth. It's not about what happens to me here. I am to live in anticipation of the promises of God. If I were seeking something here, then there really isn't much reason for me to keep living. What do I have to look forward to? A life of surgeries, sickness, and pain? But I am looking forward to a heavenly kingdom. My job isn't to change my situation. It's to live by faith in God without regard to my circumstances. Why? "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (verse 6). I'm to live with my eyes on the future, to what God has promised, to what He has prepared, to heaven.

Please join me in considering your own life - are you walking by faith, or are you caught up in what this life has to offer? Moses chose to endure ill-treatment with the people of God rather than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. He was looking for Christ, to the ultimate reward of eternal life (verses 24-26). May we do the same, and walk by faith each day. Then God will not be ashamed to be called our God (verse 16).

(And please pray for Kendra and Stephen).

Hannah ;)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

She's Baaaaack!

This week has been good so far! I've been fighting back this darn flu bug, which has left me voiceless and coughing and with a sore throat, but I feel good otherwise! My pain was bad yesterday, but overall it has been manageable and tremendously better than it was, which is AMAZING, if I hadn't mentioned that.

The only thing that's worrying me a bit is my tummy... it is hurting again where the abscesses were. Dr. Saturday told me I could expect to have pain there for quite a while. But the pain had totally gone away, and now it's back. Hm.... hopefully that doesn't mean anything bad. I'm also having intermittent pain and nausea like I did in the summer - from obstructions, I think. Squirt (my ileostomy, which pretty much continuously squirts) stops squirting, my belly hurts and I get nauseated... then things finally start moving again and I feel better. It's a pain. I can't figure out why it's happening, but I'd like it to stop! ;)

I feel so blessed to be able to be back at work (working a reduced schedule). I feel like a celebrity, actually! Everyone has gone over the top in welcoming me back and making sure I'm okay and everything! One of the guys I work for came up and hugged me while I was having a snack. "It's so good to see you EATING again," he said. They are so sweet. It has been great to be back, but it is exhausting. I am so tired by the end of the day! I hope that my stamina will come back once I get completely over the flu. But it feels so good to be on the job. I really missed working!

I returned to the Pain Dr. today. The nurses were both happy that I was looking a lot less miserable than I did last week. I pretty much wanted to curl up and die that day. I actually didn't see Jack Black; I saw one of his associates instead, who is very nice and gave me tips for med school. My pain is so much better! I told him. What did you do differently? He asked. Nothing! I said. What changed? He asked. I don't know, I replied. It's a mystery... I guess Dr. Pain was probably right with his theory about my body getting rid of the toxins and stuff. Anyways, I am just glad that it's better! So thankful! I'm starting to feel like myself again.

Today marks one month since my surgery! It's been a month of recovery, definitely. I am very thankful for how well things have gone. No ICU, no home TPN or antibiotics, the surgery did what it was supposed to do, I am actually feeling BETTER than I did before surgery, and I am blessed with doctors who are very responsive when I have concerns or problems!

Hannah ;)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Right Before Dawn

When I went to see Dr Pain last week, I felt AWFUL. SO much pain, and NOTHING was helping. He told me that the darkest hour was right before dawn, and I told him, "Yeah, right." ;) I'm a nice patient. Actually, I asked if he could anesthetize me until morning broke.

Well, I guess he was right. The patch held me over and my pain has come down, even now that the patch has worn off. Oh, yeah, I also got this HORRIBLE flu bug on Friday - like sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, fever, chills, aches, and vomiting. I haven't been so sick from something that's not autoimmune in years! The concern with me is always dehydration and keeping down the steroids... Thankfully, it quickly passed, except for the fact that I have no voice at all! Everyone thinks that's funny!

God is so, so good. I am so incredibly thankful that I am not wanting to crawl out of my skin from pain anymore. My pain is still above my "baseline," but it is SO much better. And He resurrected me in order to have a wonderful weekend filled with friends from far and near. And I got to go back to work today. Last night, I was laying in bed awake just filled with thankfulness. Last Monday night, I was writhing in pain at the hospital... today I went to work. Thank you, Jesus... There is nothing better than being in awful pain and then having relief.

Hannah ;)