Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Little Momma 2.0

Life since my hospital stay has been vastly different than this time 3 weeks ago.  When I say vastly different, I mean polar opposite.  Wait, it was just 2 weeks ago? Oh my. It's been a long month to say the least.

Because of my ileostomy, I am relieved of my main Crohn's symptom (chronic bathroom trips) and my crippling abdominal pain has been completely eliminated.  I have gotten better sleep than I have since I was seven.  Without a trip to the bathroom every hour of the night (not an exaggeration) I have been able to get adequate rest that is needed for a complete recovery.

That Johnny Jump Up must be tasty!

I am on a new diet that consists of protein and carbs only - no fiber.  I am encouraged to eat steaks and bacon any time I want and no fruits or veggies.  I'm not kidding!  My nurse also suggested six large marshmallows a day to help with the output of my stoma.  I am pretty sure this diet is every kid's dream:

Child: But my doctor said no broccoli allowed, Mom!
Mom: Okay, well make sure you eat all your marshmallows.

The only real downside thus far has been that I am not able to pick up or hold my son (risk of herniating), rendering me practically useless with him.  This has proven to be very difficult.  As his momma, I want to pick him up and console him when he cries or just dance around with him at all times. I still have five weeks before I am even allowed to carry his weight, so my mom and Ian are his main caretakers in the meantime.  It really kills me to see him but not being able to do much with him, and I almost named this post "Little Momma Can't Pick Up Her Son".  I decided against it, not wanting to be a smellfungus. (2013 National Spelling Bee word.  Look it up.)  My life has greatly improved in the past week, so why focus on the negative?

Just letting it all hang out in the bathtub

I feel so much better than I have in a very long time, and know that the surgery was the right thing to do.  The stoma still scares me at times, but what it has given me outweighs the eyesore it makes on my abdomen.  It is a reversible one, but also built to last in the event that I fall head over heels with it.

A week after my surgery my mom asked me to rate on a scale of 0-10 how I felt when I was admitted to the hospital and how I felt now.  I told her I was an actual zero the day that I went, which was really one of my worst days ever.  Seven days after my surgery, I rated a 6.8, saying that the recovery curve is an exponential one, as I am sure a 10 will feel like an even greater difference than zero to 6.8.

I owe this drastic life change to all the prayers from friends, family, and friends of family.  I thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, and while thoughts are nice, only prayer is effective.  God is good, all the time.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
Psalms 40:2

Little Momma's Hospital Stay

"I feel like a shell of myself."  That is a direct quote from me to my mom from June 30th.  I had undergone a procedure 6 days prior that was supposed to help improve my health somewhat and it ended up exacerbating problems greatly.  The details are too gritty and more appropriate for a medical journal perhaps, so I won't spell it out.  I will say that I was in immobilizing pain and discomfort and admittedly wearing the Kroger brand equivalent of Depends.  I was below 100 pounds (on a 5'4 frame) and could hardly eat without doubling over in pain.  14 years of damage and inflammation from my Crohn's disease had reached its peak. 

My mom had flown in from Jordan because of the dire situation.  The following is a timeline to sum up my week long stay at the University of Louisville Hospital.

Monday, July 1: Mom and I check into University Hospital's ER around 2pm.  It's a very diverse place, filled with all kinds of interesting people, particularly the man right outside of my curtained room who is handcuffed to his bed.  I try not to look directly into his eyes when my curtain is ajar.

I talk to the surgeons, telling them I want the last procedure undone and to bite the bullet by getting an ileostomy.  I'm sick of piddling around with my medications and want my symptoms treated surgically, even if it must be by the procedure I have feared most in my life.

It is decided that I will have a colonoscopy Wednesday to scope the situation and go from there.  (Get it? Scope?! I know, bad joke.)  I eat my last meal before the procedure.  Try to sleep through the screams of a grown man who is afraid of needles and getting his leg cut off.

Tuesday, July 2: Finally get a room in the hospital around 6pm.  Start colonoscopy prep around 7.  This is miserable.  4 horse pills, around every 15 minutes with 8 ounces of water each time.  You throw up from sheer volume of water consuming your stomach, in addition to the, er, cleansing on the other end.  On top of my pain, and not being allowed to eat, this is just a bad day.  Only prayer and watching the light-hearted show Keeping Up with the Kardashians gets me through (but mostly prayer, and my amazing mother).

Wednesday, July 3: More pills and cleansing, yay!  Still in pain and starving.  I get wheeled to my colonoscopy at 1pm.  When I come to afterwards, I find that my ileostomy is scheduled for Friday and I am still not allowed to eat until after that surgery.

Thursday, Independence Day.  All I see on my twitter feed is people either complaining about something trivial or posting pictures of their fourth of July feasts.  Tempted to throw my phone against the wall.  Nothing much about this day except a visit from an old coworker, my 60 year old, jive-talking friend named Alvin.  You really come to know who your true friends are by who visits you in the hospital.

Friday, July 5, SURGERY DAY: I get wheeled to pre-op around 7:30am.  Worrying that I will be one of those special cases who is aware under anesthesia.  Trying to remind myself that I practically demanded my surgeon that this had to be done and done immediately.

I don't remember much from this day except that I woke up and was told the surgery was successful.  They were able to perform it laparoscopically, a major blessing allowing for relatively quicker recovery.  I am allowed to eat and my first meal post-op is a chicken and mayonnaise sandwich that I have since been craving.

Saturday, July 6: This day is fuzzy as well.  I look down at my new stomach and cry, seeing a big meaty blob poking out (the stoma) and lament my once beautiful abdomen.  This is for the best, everyone tells me as I cry about how ugly it is, and how ugly I feel.  I spend the night throwing up my pain pills and questioning whether I did the right thing by getting the surgery.

Sunday, July 7:  The morning is about as rough as the night had been.  My clinical assistant asks me if I like gospel music.  I reply that, Yes, I absolutely LOVE gospel music.  A few minutes pass and I hear a chorus in the distance...a gospel chorus.  A group of about 12 or so mid-age black men in suits walk into my room singing.  This is basically a life dream of mine being realized.  They sing and my cup truly runneth over, so to speak.  There might as well have been a host of angels in my room.  A scripture is read, I'm prayed over, and they leave, still singing the heavenly gospel tunes.  I resolve that I belong to the wrong denomination and need to find a gospel church, quick.

The day from there on out is filled with joy and awe.  It concludes with a visit from Louisville's quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  No need to expound because it was already written about.

Monday, July 8:  My surgeons say my stoma looks great and if I feel ready to go home, I can.  After a week in the hospital, I am mentally and emotionally ready to get the heck out of there.  Physically, I am still extremely frail, and while complete recovery will take more than a month, I am able to go home. 

Snuggling with my Honey Bunches of Baby at the hospital

That about sums up that week.  A special thanks to my aunts Anne and Brad for rescuing my mom from the hospital and giving her a break.  Also to my aunt Becky who endured the worst night of the stay with me.  Thanks to Dinny and the rest of Ian's family for taking so much care of my baby boy during that time.  Most of all thank you to my Momma, for all the love and care and sleeplessness and Ian, my wonderful boyfriend for taking care of JDK and me and sticking by my side.

This verse was read by one of the men from the gospel choir and seemed a good way to send me back out into the world:

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Micah 6:8 NKJV 

Little Momma Writes to the Repeat Offender

A month or so ago, my car was vandalized along with 12 other cars in LaGrange.  Nice, quiet Lagrange.  A new windshield was installed, and, figuring the odds of it happening again astronomically low (insert World According to Garp reference here), I kept parking on the street.

Fast forward a couple weeks, and what would you know, it happens AGAIN!  This time I am the lone victim.  Same shoe prints, newly shattered windshield.  My mom begrudgingly told me about the incident and my temper quickly went to boiling over.  So, to get this off my chest I have penned a letter to whomever is adding to what was already the most trying time of my life:

Dear Repeat Offender,

             I hope this finds you in good health. Actually, I don't know about that.  I am in an extremely bad way myself and if you could empathize maybe you would not keep ruining my days and emptying my pockets by vandalizing my car.

             Does your mother know what you're doing in the middle of the night?  Did she raise you to be so inconsiderate and stupid? Because seriously, I might understand if you were doing this to exact revenge on someone but I have done nothing to you and this is the second time you've done this to me.  Which is just stupid.  And infuriating.  I hope for your future that you are just an idiotic drunk teenage boy who will eventually grow out of this destructive phase and learn better.

            If I had more might in me and I knew who you were I would smack you silly.  You deserve a beating.  I have bills to pay, an infant to rear, and crippling health and I don't need an undriveable car on top of it all.  And speaking of my baby, if you decide to take it a step further and break into the house where my boy is sleeping, you will not be leaving of your own accord.  I have an uncle with a gun and he is not afraid to use it.

           While I am incapable of finding you and making sure you get yours, I am holding this verse as a promise that you will find your demise:

He does not let the wicked live but gives justice to the afflicted.
Job 36:6

           So watch out because the karma bus is gonna get YOU, asshole.

Your Victim