Monday, March 22, 2010

Correction: NOW the patient is better....

So I might have posted prematurely last week, because after Mama's surgery came a lovely case of pancreatitis....doctors told us there was a small chance she might get it, like 6-7%. She obviously is not someone I'm inviting on my next trip to Vegas....I don't like her odds.... Basically, she got a nasty infection in her pancreas, keeping her in the hospital through Friday (instead of Tuesday) and back on an IV only.
But there was never a lack of company, she wasn't alone for a single second! Which I'm actually not sure if she loved or not to be honest..... But she did learn to perfect the poor, pitiful face.... When I downloaded this picture I laughed out loud!! Mama, you're priceless!
When Friday came, her final meal was what we've all been waiting on...SOLIDS!! Well, the hospital's version of it anyway. Some rice, and mystery meat, and even a piece of very stale pound cake! I wish the lighting was better in this picture because after her blessing she gave me the slyest (devilish-I should say!) grin and wink I've ever seen!

After lunch on Friday, it was time to pack up nine days worth of stuff. We had hung all her cards from friends and family, and her 2nd grade students, around the room, and there seemed to be beautiful flowers everywhere!

I wish I had taken pictures of all Mama's cards, they made us laugh so hard. We re-read them everyday. Her children are so precious!

I am not exactly sure why Mom is pushing her own cart here....I promise the nurse took over at the doorway!

The patient is now home resting, and taking it easy. She has one more week out of school, doctor's orders, which is going to drive her nuts for sure, but we need our mama all better. Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers, from my whole family! You made our livers quiver! :)


I came home on Sunday, back to the real world, and finished putting up my Easter decorations, better late than never! (And go ahead, those friends, who like to make fun on me for decorating for know who you are. Yes, I have an Easter tree and proud of it!!) AK--I know you wont laugh, you love Easter as much as I do!

Happy Spring, and Happy Easter yall!! And here's to good health and happy livers! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Love Your Liver

There's this sweet man at work, Ricky, who's always huggin' on me and checking in to see how I am...and he says the funniest things. Just recently he said "Jenn, I'm just gonna have to keep away from you, you pretty thang. You make my liver quiver!"
I have no idea what that means, or if I should laugh, or be scared....but with Ricky, the good ol' boy from Mobile Bay, it makes me crack up.

The liver. Overworked. Underpaid.

I have learned more about that little organ in the past week than I ever thought I would. I am so thankful I have though.
And for those who never got the full story because my fingers got tired of texting, or I couldn't answer and whisper around mama in the hospital room, or I was just plain exhausted, here's the rest of the story.....with some pictures mixed in to entertain those who actually stick with me through this long, medically challenged post!
(Jessie, Mom and I all smiling because the Demerol had made its presence known!)

Last Wednesday, March 10, Mama was having terrible chest pains, so Daddy took her to the emergency room at Stringfellow Memorial in Anniston. She was seen immediately and they performed an EKG, which did show an abnormality in the inferior portion of the heart (which was actually more than likely due to the level of stress her body was under from the pain.) Never the less, they admitted her for the evening (11pm) and gave her pain meds to ease her pain.
(Jessie putting all that music therapy talent to good use! We belted out Buffett til the nurses 'bout joined in! I, mostly, be honest....this is supposed to calm the patient afterall.)
Beginning Thursday morning at 5:30am throughout the rest of her stay a battery of tests have been run. She began with CT scans, abdominal xrays, a stress test, and rounding it out with an MRI, daily ultra sounds, and nearly hourly blood tests every day. Her diet has been restricted to "drinking" saline from an IV, TWICE of which now has either collapsed a vein, or exited on its own those her skin....She is battered and bruised, hungry, has cottonmouth, in excruiating pain all the time....I cannot tell you how much it breaks my heart to hear my mother cry out for help in the middle of the night, and be able to do nothing. She is a strong woman, for Heaven's sake!, she's been an elementary school teacher for 30-something years, but this made her weak.
(Mom and Dad throwing comfort to the wind and cat-napping together early Saturday morning)
When I pulled the night shift, there was no sleep. I sat on her bed and rubbed her legs, and told her about the night she was born. In a Army hospital in Germany. I actually wasn't there, my grandparents just told me the story last weekend...thank goodness....I had fresh material! We also talked about the new guy, any "happy thoughts" we could think of to ease the pain. Because I hurt when she hurt. Now I know how she feels when Jessie or I hurt. It's debilitating.
But after all the testing, organ by organ, the wonderful doctors finally narrowed down the problem to Mama's liver. Enzyme levels like her ALT and bilirubin were VERY elevated, which sent them into a round of scary questions involving words like hepetitus, juandice, and liver disease. Once they did even more testing, they ruled all those crazy things out, and discover in the last ultrasound that mama had stones in her common bile duct.....
So here's the skinny. Your liver makes bile. Bile is stored in your gallbladder. Your body will holler at your gallbladder to send it some bile when it needs help in digestion. Sometimes that bile will stick together and form stones. aka gallstones. Mom had these 2 years ago, so they removed her gallbladder. So now the bile's got nowhere to hang out except the common bile duct (the hose that connects all these organs together like the tummy, liver, duodenum, intestines, pancreus) until the body hollers for it. But again, they made more stones. And got stuck. In the common bile duct. And backed up the new bile in the liver. ANd the good enzymes the liver make can't go anywhere. So the liver couldn't do it's job with anything basically. The liver couldn't function correctly!
Mama's liver couldn't quiver!
(Mom's dear friend Jan Griffith took walks around the hospital with her, and visited I don't know how many times! You are so good to mama!)
SO.....first things first. Make her comfortable. Enter Demerol, stage left. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes she didnt feel a thing, and the tears kept coming. If I heard one nurse say it, I heard them all--apparently stomach, or gastrointestinal problems are the most painful of all! God love her.
Next, the procedure. Docs decided an ERCP (endoscopy) was in order. So Monday the ERCP took place, and went over very well. They removed the stones from the common bile duct, inserted a stint, and gave us all a thumbs up after surgery.
(Sweet friends Angel Rait, and Rod and Lisa Nowlin let mom know how much she was loved by giving her a special prayer quilt that was prayed over by her Sunday School class that morning. We also sent this into surgery with her.)
Which is where we are now. After surgery. In a lot of unexpected pain, and not quite eating sold (soft) foods as we hoped for. And certainly not out of the hospital as we REALLY hoped for. BUT....we have roughed the storm. The stones are gone. There are a few more liver issues we will address at home, to make us all as healthy as can be, and keep our livers working perfectly. And I say "we" to all of this, because we are making lifestyle changes as a family. Because now more than ever, I realize how I much I need these people. For a really, really long time.
(mom and one of her "besties" Sherry Gwin, who was at the hospital constantly with her sweet hubby Marty, cheering my mama up with their smiles.)

So today I ask you to say a quick prayer, because we're not quite out of the woods, but I think we're awfully close. Thank you so much for your prayers, your calls, texts, messages, emails, and love for my family!! We felt them!

Mom had a bladder infection a week ago, and prior to surgery yesterday had a very poorly functioning liver. If there is any lesson I've learned, it's to listen to your body. This has been a very painful blessing in disguise, to get to the root of the problem. Beyond the bladder, and the stones, we have learned how better to take care of our liver, and ourselves, and for that I am saying my prayers today! God is Good!

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Mom.

To mama on her special day I send her hugs and kisses I hope you are surrounded with Lots of love and birthday wishes!
You're the best for late night talks, You're an awesome secret keeper. With each new story that you share My love for you grows deeper.
You're my bestie, my support, You're my teacher, and my friend. I love you more than my luggage! Clarie says, and so do I, until the very end!
It's funny as the years go by I realize more and more In my mirror I see my mom And it warms me to my core.
"Oh, you remind me of your mother!" People smile and say to me And it’s a badge I wear with honor…. A Lil' Debbie I'm gonna be!
Happy Birthday, Mama!!! I love you more than you know!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

...Mountain Mamas....Take Me Home....Country Road!

Sing it, John Denver! (Or in the case of TT's ipod, Taylor Hicks!)
This weekend was the annual reunion of my college roommates, lovingly called OOC Weekend, because we are still just soooo Out of Control these days....I wont tell you what time we started yawning!
These are eight of my favorite people in the world, they make me laugh til I cry. They pick me up when I'm down. They've gotten me through some pretty crappy times. They tolerate my inability to filter myself and love me for my many other imperfections. They make me feel pretty normal in these God awful skinny jeans, and tell me to change when I should. They're good for one-on-one convos, and in a group, we'll wear you out. That's why I love it. It's tough to keep up, we're exhausting, and infectious, and OUT OF CONTROL, and that's why each one of us, so different, some far away, are so perfect together. A perfect balance.
Speaking of balance.....did some call for a tripod? (No 61, I will post no such picture....the 8 of us now just took a mental shot. Love you and your balance.)
Now, no more mush. On to the good stuff. I'm a slow-poke poster, so for the two of you who dont go to these blogs already, you can see other recaps here and here.
This year's host was 61, and she chose a Destination OOC--a beautiful cabin named Solitude in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, so that's where we all met up Friday afternoon with car loads of firewood, vino, and way too much food!
Could these BE any more perfect?!?! And in Cardinal & Straw, no less! If we had only busted out our pledge class jerseys!
First up was warming up by the fire....which didnt last too terribly long. There was spinach dip calling our name. (Jess, that's really why we keep you around you know!)
And we definitely are going to keep TT around because of this! Check out our AUsome tshirts! Hopefully these are an annual event now! We flipped out when we saw the long sleeves and Patagonia logo! TT-you rock!
Anna Kate cooked up her Grandmother's special lasagna, and I ate one helping more than my tankini appreciated later.....because next up was the hot tub! I'm not exactly sure how long we spent out there, but my hands and feet definitely resembled dried fruit, and it was 19 degrees from the neck up!
So a little more chatting, and it was snug as a bug in a rug for us.....not literally. The bears stayed outside. We locked the doors to make sure of it. Because the pamphlet said they can open doors, but not unlock them. Go figure.
The next day, I made fire. No one gave me a badge though. I wish I could remember my Girl Scout leader's name. I also wish I had some Do-Si-Dos right now. Dang.
61 made her first smore all by herself (she and Rigsby also helped me make fire). We all decided we were handier than we though! We can carry wood, light fires, protect ourselves from bears and coyotes, and we even learned to tune out the gunshots from the neighbors after a while too! ha!
After smores and enjoying the perfect weather, it was back inside for what else...more snacks! By then Ginny's yummy breakfast pies had worn off and we needed more substance! And of course as my luck would have it, I pig out on corn dip, then the hot tub comes a calling. Thank goodness for a dance party afterwards!! This is the year we all turn 30, Lord help us, but it seems every time we get together that time has stood still. It's just us, but instead of the dance parties in the dorms or the McKee House, its in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Or instead of breakin' it down to the radio in the Bronc around the AU campus, it was in the Yukon to an OOC Mix CD on the way to Laredos for OOC 2008! Our "interventions" now are called the Circle of Friends, and all eight of us catch the others up on our lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Oh wait, I'm going mush again aren't I? Sorry, its been an emotional week. How about I leave you with some key phrases from the weekend. No explanations necessary (for the ones who need to know at least!)
The tripod
She's still in Knoxville?
Boo Yah!
Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!
Party foul #1
Where's your "heat?"
Motorboat #1
Boo YAH!
I'm pregnant!!
Party Foul #2
Motorboat #2
Kick it 3rd gear!
Mountain Mamas!!
And of course, OOC baby!!
Until next year, when Blazer hosts, I will pout and look at pictures and wish I was back in the mountains roasting smores and drinking vino in the hottub, and missing you girls!