Monday, August 30, 2010

Going Home

I have finally been cleared to go home!  Yeah!  I've been here for a week and I'm so ready to go home and sleep in my own bed and take a shower.

The pancreatitis pain is much better - the only pain I'm dealing with right now is a hematoma that has developed at one of my incisions.  The doctors are hoping that it will re-absorb on it's own - but it will take a while and until then it's pretty painful.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and prayers through all of this.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Still Here

OK - going on day 7 at the hospital.  My pancreatitis that flared up after the operation seems to have calmed down a bit and my lypase levels are back in the normal range.  I was also put on clear liquids this morning.  Who knew chicken broth could taste so good.

I have also developed a large hematoma at one of the incision sites.  It hurts like the dickens and is very tender to the touch.  Right now they are just watching it and hoping that my body reabsorbs it. 

Other than that I'm finally starting to feel better - I even went for a little walk around the floor today.  Let's hope I'm moving in the right direction.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Let's hope this works

OK - so I had a laparoscopic transgastric approach endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with sphincterotomy yesterday.  Apparently my Sphincter of Oddi was very narrow - about the size of a pin head.  When the surgeon went in and cut it open he said that the bile and sludge really started to flow.  So he feels the surgery was a success and he said he has a 99% success rate with this procedure.  While I'm not at all happy that I had one more thing go wrong this year, I am at least relieved that we have found a reason for it, and everyone feels that I will stop having bouts of pancreatitis now and will start to feel much better.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the procedure I had done is that I actually have another bout of pancreatitis.  This is because they were in there messing with it.  It's not as bad as my past bouts by any means - but it means that I will be here in the hospital through the rest of the weekend as pancreatitis is nothing to mess with.

I also just started itching really bad all over.  We think it is a reaction to the morphine I had in the OR.  All I know is I'm about to scratch my ever lovin' skin right off.  EVERYTHING itches.  And I am quite sore from the surgery - it was laparoscopic so that helps - but it appears as though they bruised one of my ribs with one of the trocars.  All the extra skin makes things difficult and there was a lot of tugging and pulling.

So I have been here in the hospital for 6 days - will be here for 7 or 8 at this point.  It's kinda lonely.  I miss my family and my bed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stir Crazy

OK - so it's been 5 days in the hospital.  I'm going a little stir crazy here.

That's all.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Plan of Attack ... Finally

After being in the hospital for 4 days I have finally met with the right doctors and we have a plan of attack.  I won't go into all of the details around the cluster that has been my life in the hospital.  Major mass confusion on my condition and the resulting communication around it was a nightmare.  The important thing is this:

The MRCP that was done did not show any stones in the bile ducts - it showed enlarged ducts - not uncommon after the gallbladder has been removed.  But my blood work shows that when I have these attacks not only do my pancreatic enzymes elevate - so do my liver enzymes.  This is evidence that whatever is going on is affecting my liver - almost like things are backing up there.  So while the MRCP is not really showing anything definitive - the bloodwork is indicating that there is a problem. 

So the next step would be an ERCP which is an endoscopic procedure (a camera down the throat) that would allow the doctor to visualize the ducts and do a sphincterectomy to relax that muscle.  As I previously stated that is difficult after you have had gastric bypass surgery.  So instead of it being endoscopic - it will now be done laparoscopically and surgically.  They are looking to specifically go in and make a cut in the Sphincter of Oddi to allow that muscle to stop acting like a dam.

All of this will be done tomorrow afternoon whenever the GI Surgeon and Dr. Enochs can coordinate their schedules in the operating room together.

Seems pretty straightforward doesn't it?  I have been in the hospital since Monday afternoon and just today at lunch was allowed clear liquids.  I have to now stop because of the procedure I'm having tomorrow.  This has been absolutely crazy.  I'm really ready to be done with doctors and hospitals and being poked and proded.  I'm ready to be done with all the pain I have had.  I don't get bored easily.  But I have been BORED being here the past 4 days.  It looks like I will be here until at least Saturday now.  Today I was told I was the most sane person on the floor - this after I unleashed the Wrath of Pam in order to get SOMEONE - ANYONE to tell me what the heck is going on.  That can't be good!  :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Was it worth it?

So I have been asked twice today if I think that my gastric bypass was worth it in light of the rare complications I have suffered in the past year that seem to be connected to my altered anatomy.

My answer ... YES!  115 pounds does not come off this quickly without some ramifications.  But they are gone and I am so much better in every way because of it.

The saga continues

Since I have been home from the hospital last week I have continued to deal with twinges of pain and a headache that won't quit.  I have not felt "right".  I followed up with my PCP (the most wonderful Dr. Josh Bloom) as well as with my GI Doc (the equally wonderful Dr. Hutzenbuhler).  Dr. Bloom was stumped and felt I needed to give my body a break from all the "noise" and just rest.  He felt that the physiological and psychological stresses that I have been under were causing my body to just cry UNCLE.  I couldn't agree more.

Then I went to see Dr. Hutz.  She said I was presenting with classic symptoms of having a stone stuck somewhere - like in my common bile duct or pancreatic duct (remember that I haven't had a gallbladder since 06).  We decided to follow up with an MRCP - which is basically an MRI of that area.  She said there were some problems - one is they wouldn't find a stone - which could also mean that I'm getting them and passing them but the act of passing them is painful.  Two is they would find a stone.  Normally you would then need an ERCP.  An ERCP is like an upper endoscopy - they just go down further past the stomach - and use the instruments in the endoscope to perform manometry on the Sphincter of Oddi (doesn't that sound like a bad word?).  It's actually a pretty simple procedure - in and out.  Problem is - not for someone who has had gastric bypass surgery - visualizing the SOD, etc... is very difficult.

I saw Dr. Hutz Monday morning and on Monday afternoon I started in with the pain again.  At work again.  This time it was accompanied by pretty bad vomitting.  I called Dr. Hutz and she sent me to the ER.  Have I mentioned I hate the ER?  I was there in extreme pain for over 6 hours before I was seen by a doctor.  I hate the ER!  By then I was so dehydrated they had a heck of a time getting an IV started - 6 times they tried!  They finally had to use doppler to find a good vein - even then they had a hard time threading the catheter.

I was admitted again.  My blood work was fine, but I was still having pain despite the good pain meds and obviously something is going on here.  So I was made comfortable for the evening and this morning an MRCP was performed.  The MRCP did not show any stones, but did show that the ducts and sphincter were dilated and inflamed.  So this fed the idea that I could be getting stones (or small stones) and passing them - causing these "attacks" - or I had some sludge build up at the SOD and it was acting kind of like a dam.  Dr. Hutz consulted with some other GI surgeons about how an ERCP could be done on a gastric bypass patient.  A former partner of hers does have some experience with this and consults with my bairatric surgeon (the incomparable Dr. Enochs) on a regular basis for them.  Dr. Enochs actually goes to the OR with them and helps them to visualize what they need to do the sphincterectomy.

So that is the plan - to have a sphincterectomy done here in fairly short order.  I don't have too many other details than that, but I am encouraged that I'm not just being told "We don't know what's wrong with you."  Pissy Pam takes up residence here at Rex when you tell her you don't know why she's in pain or when it will stop or get better.  :)

So the sag continues and I will update everyone on what is found and done next.  Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me - it means a lot to me and is very helpful.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where do I go from here?

So I spent 3 days as a guest of Rex Hospital for my bout with Pancreatitis.  The only thing we learned while I was there was that no one knows why I had the Pancreatitis. I don't have a gallbladder anymore and the ultrasound they performed did not show any left over stones or sludge in the bile ducts.  The other common cause of Pancreatitis is alcohol - I don't drink enough to cause that - I may have one drink a week at this point.  The other thing that was discovered during my stay at Rex was that the surface of my liver is rough and uneven - it should be smooth.  So I was tested for several liver diseases.  None of them came back as positive.  So that begs the question - why is my liver like that (supposedly scarred - almost like cirhosis)?  Did the problem with my liver cause the pancreatitis? 

And more importantly ... What the hell?  I mean seriously?  Who has all this stuff happen to them in such a short amount of time and it's not connected somehow?  Everyone I talk to says that it can't be connected to the kidney tumor.  Fine.  But I had an attack like this just in May - so it can't be idiopathic - it must somehow be connected to SOMETHING else I have going on.  The gastric bypass surgery?  My malabsorption due to the gastric bypass?  The abdominal CT scan and the upper endoscopy I had showed nothing out of the ordinary there.  And let's not forget that the day before all this happened I had my wisdom tooth removed.  I was put on percocet (nothing new there) and amoxicillin for that.  I feel like my body is attacking itself.  So either someone seriously has a voo doo doll of me and is having a lot of fun with it, or there is something systemic going on here.  I need answers.  I need to know I'm not going insane. 

But somehow I feel like I'm not going to get any answers.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I want off this ride

The fun just never stops here in Pamelot.  I had my consultation with the oral surgeon on Wednesday morning for my wisdom teeth.  Turns out I just had one that needed to be removed.  He had a cancellation after me and was able to just take care of it while I was there - so he did.  It wasn't bad and I don't have to think about it anymore.

So when I woke up Thursday - that was my biggest concern - the pain in my mouth and head from that.  But I had to get to work for a big team meeting that morning, so I took some Tylenol and sucked it up and went to work.

After the big team meeting we had I had a conference call that I needed to run.  So I stayed in the meeting room we were in and started the call there instead of heading back to my office.  Our group's administrative assistant was also there finishing things up and cleaning up the room - dealing with catering, etc...  Suddenly during my conference call I started getting some really intense pain.  I've had this pain before - it was the pain that lead us to eventually find my kidney tumor.  This pain was BAD - was coming fast - and would not let up. My chest hurt - all the way around to my back - and as a result I was hyperventilating.  I was shaking and having trouble breathing. I called the administrative assistant over to where I was and it was apparent very quickly that I was not doing well.  She went and got the building's security involved.  The company I work for really has their act together as far as first response, etc...  The head of security in that building is an EMT.  So he came with first responders and got my vital signs - gave me oxygen and called EMS.

So the firetruck came ... then the ambulance ...  You know I just love feeling special.  When they first started taking my pulse ox it was down in th 70's, but administering oxygen and getting me to calm down managed to fix that.  But the pain was not going away - it was coming in waves.  So the EMS asked me "Can we take you to the hospital?"  I said "I don't really get a choice, do I?"  she said "Well, you can choose which hospital we go to."  :)

So I got to take an ambulance ride.  Yeah me!  (Can you feel the sarcasm there?)

After several hours of blood work and xrays and tests the ER doc came to tell me that it appeared I have Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is just simply when the pancreas is enflamed.  So I was admitted to the hospital for observation and treatment.  I have had an ultrasound for them to look closer at my liver and bile ducts.  I had my gallbladder removed in 06, so I didn't think that gallstones could still be a problem for me (a common cause of Pancreatitis), but apparently you can still get gallstones or sludge build up in the bile duct. Treatment for Pancreateitis is just pain meds (and I am telling you - I have never had pain meds like this - WOW!) and resting the bowel and pancreas.  Which means I just lay here and don't eat or drink.  Not even ice chips - nothing that could signal the pancreas to start doing it's thing by releasing enzymes and hormones to aid in digestion.

So ... Seriously?  I mean really?  To say I am cranky would be the understatement of the year at this point.  I want off this ride - I'm done.  I just simply can't take any more excitement in my life right now.  I'm so sick of this.  I am hitting my limit.  So beware of the cranky lady on the 6th floor of Rex Hospital.  I hear she's the youngest one on the floor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Role Reversal

Some of you know this about me, but many of you probably don't.  When my husband and I had our first child 10 years ago we made a very important decision.  It was very important to us that one of us stay home with him.  So my husband made the very brave decision to be the one to quit his job and become a stay-at-home dad.  For us it was a very pragmatic decision.  I made more money and had the potential to make more money.  He came to me and said "This just makes more sense for us.  I will stay home."  We prayed about it and felt like this was the best decision for our family.

But I often feel that I never fully appreciated the sacrifice that my husband made for our family.  And I don't think others do either.  In this month's Marie Claire magazine there is an article by Hilary Stout entitled "Role reversal: The rise of the stay-at-home-husband".  And unlike many other articles I have read on the subject - I think she has covered this topic with care and open eye to the unique challenges this arrangement can have on a marriage.

But across the country, their situation is becoming more common: In the recent recession, three men lost their jobs for every one woman that did, and as a result, this year, for the first time ever, women make up the majority of the workforce. Four in 10 mothers are now their households’ primary breadwinners, and an estimated 143,000 unemployed fathers of children under 15 are caring for the kids full time while their wives work. lists 148 support groups around the country; MTV’s lineup includes “Stay at Home Dad,” a side-splitting Web show about an acerbic househusband; and confessional blogs abound, with names like Rebel Dad and Dudes on Diapers. Speaking of, Pampers—which in a recent survey found that 69 percent of fathers say they change diapers as much as their wives—has started targeting male consumers, hiring New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees as a spokesman.


Still, the transition from breadwinner to househusband can be rough on a guy’s ego. Despite all the enlightened views about hands-on dads, all the reflexive “That’s great!” comments from hip and politically correct peers, the professional dad lives a life filled with big existential questions (What is my true worth as a person if I don’t get a paycheck?) and tiny daily indignities, like having to buy presents for his wife with her money, or shrugging off incredulous looks at dinner parties after revealing he’s a stay-at-home dad. “At times it’s been emasculating,” admits PJ, who has been home full time since his son, CJ, was born two years ago. When people see him pushing a stroller at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, they jump to conclusions: Guys assume he’s been laid off, and little old ladies figure he’s dabbling in childcare. “Are you babysitting today? Giving Mommy a break?” they coo. “Babysitting?! I’m his father,” seethes PJ.

He recalls one recent evening after the baby had been a pill the whole day—nothing seemed to make him happy. By the time PJ’s wife, Michelle, came home from work, he was exhausted and miserable. “I need to leave,” he told her and walked out the door. He didn’t go far, just sat on the deck and listened to his iPod. After about an hour, he went back inside. “I don’t know if I’m man enough to be a woman,” he said to his wife.

It’s a doubt that plagues many men in his situation, who usually find themselves there for pragmatic reasons. PJ grew to hate his job, while his wife not only loved hers, she was making enough money to support them both. Joe and Jodi Schatz were pulling down similar salaries before they had the first of their three children 10 years ago. “She had benefits. I didn’t,” explains Joe, a former supervisor for a construction company in Baltimore. It was simple as that.

If the decision was easy, adjusting to it wasn’t. With thick, dark hair and a nice smile, Joe, now 35, isn’t the type of man women usually ignore, but he found the very female world of playgrounds and playdates alienating. He faithfully attended playgroup sessions in their suburban neighborhood, the only adult male in the room, and as babies drooled on toys and ignored each other, their mothers dished. “It would be a gripe session about their husbands, then they’d take it to the next level and talk about the hot guys in the neighborhood,” he says. “I’m like, What can I add?”

One day at his daughter’s tumbling class, a woman sat down next to him and struck up a conversation, to his delight after months of being ignored. But their talk turned into an interview. “Are you a stay-at-home dad?” she asked. “How does that work? Do you do the laundry and the dishes?!” He sighs. “I was like a science experiment to her.”

It could be worse, says Todd. Sometimes the moms are downright unfriendly, offering only judgmental looks from across the playground. “If your kid is crying and you can’t console him, you think, Oh, my God, I haven’t calmed my baby down in one minute. These moms think I’m a hack,” he says.

And the second-guessing doesn’t always stop at the park. Michelle Quiogue, a physician whose husband, Jason Sperber, stays home with the two kids, finds she has to curb her critical impulses when she walks in the door after a long day of seeing patients. “It’s a challenge not to say anything when there are dishes in the sink,” she admits. “But I have to check myself—he wasn’t Martha Stewart when I married him, and he won’t be Martha Stewart now.” Still, there are some things a mother can’t tolerate. Jason, a former teacher, is a wonderful, patient father, “but Lucy’s hair is often not properly combed,” says Michelle. “I know he tries, but I don’t think he tightens the ponytail enough.”

And what happens in the bedroom, when the Adonis you fell for has traded gym visits for mommy-and-me classes? Karen Gail Lewis, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist with practices in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., says sexual issues can easily arise from the radical role reversal. “A wife may be initially drawn to a man because he is nurturing and willing to do this,” she says. “But he can later look weak and inadequate,” particularly if she spends most of her day with men who are ambitious, like herself. Lewis says she has clients in this situation who wound up having affairs—a man with another stay-at-home mom, and a woman (not in the same family) with a colleague.

Experts agree that when switching roles, as with any relationship upheaval, communication is paramount. After PJ Mullen announced that he didn’t know if he could continue, he and his wife talked. “She said, ‘If you feel that way, we will change.’ I said, ‘No, I just need to decompress.’” A few days later, she brought it up again. “I said, ‘No, I’m fine,’” PJ says, and he’s still convinced that this is the right choice for his family. Joe Schatz is, too. “We consider ourselves blessed and lucky to have kids in the first place,” he says. “We just evaluate things as we go. Jodi’s been very supportive of the fact I’ve stayed home. I’ve been very supportive of her career.”

Caryn Medved, an associate professor of communications at Baruch College in New York who’s conducting a study of 45 families with female breadwinners, says that most couples adapt. While the guys listed a number of challenges, she said, they also talked about what a deeply rewarding experience it could be. “I’ve had men crying when I interviewed them,” Medved says. “I remember a man in Utah who talked about the ability to be a father in a way his father couldn’t, and the joy he felt in seeing his children grow.”

Indeed, as the economy shows hints of recovery, not all househusbands are in a hurry to get back to the grind. Not long ago, PJ turned down a well-paid job offer. “You do wonder about your self-worth, because you’re not earning a paycheck,” he says. But “my wife is the only one who matters. As long as she can look at me and realize that I’m doing the best for our family, it doesn’t matter that some random guy thinks I’m less of a man.”
I see so much of our own experience reflected in this article.  My husband  repeatedly complained about how he always felt the outsider as the only male at events for the kids.  The other moms never reached out to make him feel welcome and in fact mainly shunned him. The struggle not to complain when everything wasn't done when I got home at the end of the day.  I had to put myself in his position and remember that if he did that to me we would be coming to blows!  :)

I absolutely despise when people ask him if he's babysitting.  Um, no - he's the dad!  And I also cringed when people would assume he'd been laid off and was just doing this till he found a job.  It was a very purposeful decision on our part for him to stay home with our children.

But what I don't think has been covered nearly enough in the articles and coverage I have seen of late (and we were doing this far before it was "fashionable") has been the struggle for these men to re-enter the workplace.  My husband stayed home for 7 years - until all 3 of our children were in school full time.  When it was time to go back to work it was a very difficult transition.  He's doing great now, but the world is not as understanding about a man staying home with his children and then re-entering the workforce as they are about women doing the same thing.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

That Never Gets Old

I love WOW moments since surgery.  But I've been pretty steady with my weight for a while now, so they don't come as often as they used to.  I used to have them several times a week when the weight was just melting away.  And I'm OK with not having as many of them - this is the new life I am settling into.  And to be honest - many times I didn't know how to handle them and they made me uncomfortable. 

But today I had a WOW moment in a very unexpected place and I have to tell you - that never gets old.  :)  I went to a dear friends house for her sons birthday party.  I knew everyone there, but one lady I hadn't seen in a while.  Apparently, when I walked in - she didn't recognize me.  When my friend told her who I was she exclaimed "NO WAY!"  She didn't recognize me at all.  And a little while later she came over to me and was like "I don't know what it is - whether it's the blonde hair or what - but you just look fantastic!"  HEHEHEHEHE.  THANKS!  I kinda needed that shot in the arm.  Later she was asking me when I went blonde and she said "I bet your husband loves that!  It must be like being with a different woman!"  My husband's reaction ...  Yeah ... it kinda is!  Truly - that never gets old.  :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weighty Secrets

Have you heard of the website  People can anonymously post their secrets on this website.  It's rather cathartic for those posting, and it's some great therapy for those of us reading it as well.

So a new website has been put out there by the most wonderful Melting Mama herself (who has also brought us the fabulous Bariatric Bad Girls Club), called Weighty Secrets ( This is a place where people can post secret submissinos about life after weight loss surgery.  To quote Melting Mama ...

A lot of people who undergo weight loss surgery are told that having the surgery would be a cure for a their fat "disease" and life. After the honeymoon period of weight loss wears off - and the reality sets in - what then? This blog will give you a peek into the real life of WLS patients and those around them.

Life after weight loss surgery is filled with doubts, concerns and often? Secrets. Send yours.
As y'all know - I love my RNY.  I have a much different life than I did just 18 months ago.  But I am leaving that magic window and settling down into "normal".  Normal is never what you thought it was going to be.  I have tried my best to use the magic window to make the necessary changes in my life to make sure that this time "it sticks", but it's still a struggle.  I often feel like I'm still living in the fat me - still dealing with all the same feelings and responses I had before.  Reading this site has been immensely helpful for me on several levels.  One to realize that I'm not alone - others have gone before me - and have done it successfully.  If I'm willing to be taught - I can learn from them.  Two to remind myself that I can not be complacent about this - not now - not ever.  There is too much at stake.  I can't ... no I won't ... go back.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lauren's Hope

Medical ID Alert bracelets are an import accessory for many people in today's society.  But many people resist wearing them. They may feel it's ugly and actually draws attention to a part of their life that they may be embarassed about.  But the Medical ID Alert could be life saving for them - so the company Lauren's Hope has addressed this in a unique way by creating beautiful jewelry around the Medical ID Alerts. 

They offer several types of medial identification including: medical ID bracelets, medical ID necklaces, medical ID dog tag necklaces, ICE (In Case of Emergency) dog tag necklaces, waterproof and adjustable medical ID bracelets, diabetic driver and diabetes passenger stickers, medical identification luggage tags, temporary medical ID tattoos, medical ID ankle bracelets, custom engraved medical ID tags and much more. They are always adding beautiful and functional medical ID products to their web site.

As you already know - I love me some jewelry.  :)  Jewelry that could potentially save your life - even better. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I had a dentist appointment today.  Just your usual 6 month cleaning appointment.  So I thought.  Not so much.  I now have to my upper wisdom teeth removed.  Doesn't sound like such a big deal really - it's not major surgery or anything.  But it will be the 4th surgery I have this year!!!!!!!!!  I mean - really?  Do I have some cosmic kick me sign on my back or something?  I just don't know how much more of this crap I can take.  Let's review, shall we?
  • Cholosteatoma surgery on my ear - they remove what's left of the bones in my middle ear and build me a new ear drum.
  • Internal hernia repair surgery - emergency surgery to repair an internal hernia due to massive weight loss.
  • Right nephrectomy - right kidney removed due to kidney cancer.
And like I said - not like having your wisdom teeth removed is any big deal - but all things considered .... I'm just fed up!