I’ve been quiet on my blog, which you know what that means…I haven’t felt well. Honestly, I was feeling GREAT! Probably the best I had felt in maybe a year, if not more, so I was handling the small abdomen bloating issue since it seemed minor comparatively. I noticed that I started to have swelling in my abdomen in late April, early May. It would start on my right side, and the more I ate throughout the day it would gravitate to my whole abdomen. It was getting worse, and I was bringing it up to my doctors; they didn’t seem overly concerned about it though. They had me up my pancreatic enzyme meds for when I ate to help me process my foods better: hold onto the good nutrients and expel the bad ones. I didn’t think that was the solution to my abdomen, but I obliged and really committed to my enzymes (even though I slightly hate them. I have to take them after I eat a bite or two of each meal or snack which can be terribly annoying to interrupt your meal to pop pills.).
My family went to the beach with my parents, and I just didn’t feel great the entire trip. My abdomen was getting more and more bloated, and I started to look disfigured…which if you know me this was NOT settling with me well. I do not like to look a mess, ESPECIALLY if I’m in a bathing suit. My one pieces weren’t even covering up this odd tree trunk appearance that I was dealing with. We hardly went out to dinner on vacation because I just felt like I couldn’t eat a lot, and I was certainly avoiding fried foods thinking they would make me even worse. I love me some fried shrimp at the beach too, so this was NOT what I wanted. We got back from the beach on a Saturday, and I remember thinking how grateful I was that tomorrow was Sunday, and I could just recover before having to jump into the routine that a Monday brings. On Sunday I was in the bed all day, and my stomach was so bloated I looked as if I were 5 months pregnant. My fever spiked to 103, and Mike said, “let’s go. We’re headed to the ER.”
I was admitted and put into a bed quickly. Apparently, if you tell the front desk you have cancer, then they admit you very quickly. (There aren’t many perks to having cancer, but this is one of them!) I had oh so many humbling moments in the ER, which I’ll leave to your imagination. When you are having issues with your digestive track and are eliminating things that look like tar, some very personal tests need to be taken. My fever was up to 104 at this point, and I was immediately put on antibiotics and fluids. Fluids?! I don’t want MORE fluid…I’m trying to get RID of the fluid on my abdomen. I was terrified that I was going to come into the hospital with this issue of fluid and swelling in my abdomen, and was going to leave the hospital with no one knowing what was wrong with me…story of my life…I feel like doctors frequently don’t know what to do with me…I need a real-life Dr. House!
After several hours in the ER, they transferred me to the ICU. My weight was all over the place- when I checked into the ER it was up 9lbs from just 2 weeks earlier at my doctor’s appointment. Later it jumps up another 8lbs to drop back down 11lbs within 24 hours, and then it has been dropping ever since. This is all fluid, people. It’s kinda crazy. I can 100% tell you that I was NOT happy jumping up almost 20lbs within a few weeks. Uh-uh. Not happening. Not happy. Not O.K. While in the ICU, I had a paracentesis (what the hell is that?). They basically give you a lidocaine shot in the right side of your midsection, insert a catheter, and suck out fluid from your abdomen. The first time they only drained 10cc just to send off to test for infection, but the next day they drained 850cc. Two days later they drained another 2400cc. Crazy, right? When I hear “cc” I think of breast implants, so let me give you a reference. 850cc is like getting an E cup implant. 2400cc is like getting an L cup implant. (I didn’t even know an “L cup” was a thing, honestly.) That is a lot of fluid!
While in the ICU, I was still pooping tar (sorry, TMI) which told them I had internal bleeding. I had an endoscopy (tube down your throat to use a scope to see where the bleeding is occurring) and they found some ulcers at the surgical site of where I had the Whipple and my stomach had been reconnected to my duodenum. My kind doctor (who has become my friend) was able to stop the bleeding. I was still receiving a lot of fluids (even a blood transfusion) and medications, so I had what felt like 20 attachments to me from the IVs, leg cuffs (to prevent blood clots), heart monitor complete with 6 leads attached to my chest, and blood pressure cuff. Oh Lord- my blood pressure! I function on VERY low blood pressure already, but when it drops super low the nurses tend to be concerned. I had 3 IVs going, blood draws 3 times a day, shots of Vitamin K, and then my oral medications as well. I had CT scans, ultrasounds and X-rays. It was a lot. I finally started showing enough progress that I got moved to a regular hospital room.
Still very bloated and appearing very pregnant and a disaster emotionally, I was happy to be in a regular room with the freedom of wearing my own clothes and not being tied to so many IVs. I was still laced to a heart monitor, but at least it was on a battery pack that gave me the freedom to move about the room. I had so many visitors, and even my best friend flew from Michigan to be with me, and her husband sent me this beautiful flower arrangement! One nurse came in and said, “oooo, someone must LOVEEEE you!” I laughed out loud and said, “yeah- her husband does!” Jiffy and I think one another are the funniest people alive, so we were constantly laughing and trying our darndest to get kicked out. Didn’t work. Damn. The first night in the regular room, I was enjoying sitting in the recliner, and Mike and I enjoyed watching episode after episode of Younger. I stood up after a few hours and about lost my noodle. My body was so deformed and full of fluid, I was about to be hysterical. The only thing that held me together is that my boys came to see me in the room and walked in, so I quickly tried to hold back my tears and put on a brave face for them. It was that night that my weight jumped to its highest, which caused an emotional breakdown (again).
Eventually, through the last paracentesis, diuretics, other medications, and a low sodium diet, I started to melt back to myself. Not completely, but by Saturday I was released to head home and stay on diuretics and a low sodium diet. I was free from the hospital, and Jiffy and I immediately went to Target to buy me some Spanx, high waisted leggings, and loose tops so no one would see me and think I looked pregnant. I was confident that I was going to shrink back to normal, but I wanted to speed the process along. I was feeling better…until I started focusing on the low sodium diet.
Ohhhh low sodium. You are not easy. Sodium is apparently in E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! Here come the emotional highs and lows again. Let me tell you, if you want to lose weight- try a low sodium diet. I’m basically cooking 3 meals a day (which is a pain in my ass) with all fresh ingredients (which is definitely healthier), and if I want to eat out at Chick-fil-a then I have to save up those sodium milligrams and eat basically 0 milligrams earlier in the day. If you want/need to know sodium values, then come talk to me. We won’t be meeting at Zaxby’s to chat though because a House Grilled Salad has OVER 2100mg of sodium…in a SALAD! Bye bye Zaxby’s! It was nice knowing you!
We are adjusting in our house, and Mike has been amazingly supportive (no shock there)! I’m taking it day by day, and I’m feeling better. I’m also looking more like myself and less like a pregnant woman, which is helping me mentally. I don’t mind being pregnant if I’m going to get the gift of a baby at the end. It’s no secret I would LOVE to have one more kid, but my doctors have put the ka-basch on that dream. One doctor told me that if I had a third child I wouldn’t see my kids graduate from high school. Okay. I hear ya. We are done with kiddos; we have 2 amazing boys who are happy and healthy, so no complaints here! We continue to play whack-a-mole with my health. I will go to Tampa in August now instead of October, and after scans and blood work they will figure out my next step. For now, I continue on my new meds, take my pancreatic enzymes religiously, and stick to a low sodium diet. I’ll cross each bridge as I get to it.