Dealing with a Tough Diagnosis

December 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Our Recovery Journal

Jessica after surgery Dec 2013 (day 3)One thing we all live with is our past.  It is the foundation of how we are live today and how we plan to proceed in the future.  All the decisions that we have made and all the things we have experienced… every little part of our past is a factor in who we have become.

Some events can have lasting effects.  We can make our peace with them and keep our focus on today.  But our past always remembers.  And sometimes an event that occurred in our past reaches into our present and influences our future.

Each of us has unpleasant parts of our past.  For Jessica, a life of recovery means a life of dealing with the past on a daily basis.  The fact that she can’t drive, run, or even handle large objects with both hands are some of the reminders that life will never be the same as it was before.

But some of the results of her trauma fly under the radar…


A Trip to the ER

The past few days Jess had experienced flu like symptoms.  These resulted in severe dehydration and an ambulance ride to the ER.  As the stretcher was prepared and she was being set up for transport, the kids filled their rucks with enough supplies to set up camp at the hospital.

Once she was stabilized, the kids quietly readied themselves for the trip.  The accepted the fact that the problem would likely be resolved, then smiled as they were complemented for the maturity they showed getting suited up and ready.

Jess’ pain increased in the emergency room as we waited for the results of the tests and scans.  When we were finally able to talk to the doc, the diagnosis was worse than we guessed.  Complete blockage of her intestine.  A blockage which had prevented her from going to the bathroom for a whole day, and had already compromised the blood flow in part of her intestine.


Microscopic Blood CellsDiagnosis and Treatment

One fact of medicine is that blood is life.  Cells that interact with blood are provided with a steady stream of oxygen and nutrients as well as a vehicle to rid themselves of toxins.  Cells that do not interact with blood eventually die.  Dead cells in the intestine are like an indifferent workers in an assembly line.  Nothing works correctly until they are removed.

If the blockage was partial, treatment would be a suction tube fed through the nose.  Unfortunately, the blockage was major.  The only treatment was to open it up and cut out the blockage.

Surgery is so much more than opening a patient up and fixing their insides.  Even if everything goes well, one must deal with the pain of the incision and a reduction in activity.  Surgery also comes with the risk of infection.  The introduction of anesthesia and painkillers are wonderful during surgery, but the body then has to adjust to these changes in chemistry to regain equilibrium in the aftermath.

While surgery is an unfortunate outcome, it was the only choice.  Her pain would continually increase as more air and liquid entered her bowels.  Even the act of breathing pushes some air through the stomach and into the bowels.  Food or no food, the pressure on her bowels would continue to increase until it was either fixed or became too much for the bowel walls to support.

The worst part was the likely cause.  It wasn’t her diet that caused the problem.  There was nothing she did or didn’t do that would have changed this outcome.  During the surgery the doctor found that the scar from her c-section had gotten tangled in the bowl.  The scar looked like it had detached a little from the belly and put pressure on the intestine.

Surgery was successful and part of her bowel was removed.  Luckily, (it) is long enough that the two cut ends were able to be sewn back together.  After several days in the hospital, she will return home a weaker and less confident version of herself.  Just one more hurdle that she’ll have to overcome on her road to recovery.

With hard work and therapy, full recovery is likely.  Just the scars of surgery plus attention paid to diet and bathroom schedule.


Looking Forward

In the big picture, it is not the physical problems that are frustrating.  It is the fact that the past has thrown such a curveball into the present.  A c-section she never intended to have is now causing additional difficulty.

One thing we have learned is that no one has a perfect life.  We all have worries.  Each of us has had experiences that hurt and cause pain.  Many of these have no explanation.

The best way forward is to focus on what we can control and leave the rest up to God.  This is a goal we strive for with varying degrees of success.  If we succeed in this we’ll have the best chance at a positive recovery.

(read more…)


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