24 Days

Quick background for the new reader: I have severe gastroparesis.  This means my stomach doesn’t digest food properly.  I have been living with this disorder for about five years or so, though I’m sure I had a milder form for many years prior to my docs finally figuring it out.  Maybe around age 25 I started throwing up, usually after eating too much…even though “too much” was hardly anything.  It wasn’t until I had my gallbladder out in 2016 that things got really bad.  They thought that was the culprit; they were wrong.

Anyway, five years ago, there was one solution and it was a major surgery to put in a pacemaker and it was in Cleveland.  No, thank you.

But time went on and things got worse.  Fortunately, science also progressed, and other options became available.  Mind you, there is no cure.  There is only treatment.

The best treatment, according to my surgeon, is a gastric bypass.  However, I just don’t weigh enough.  That was a truly bittersweet appointment.  Sad because I can’t get the surgery, yet thrilled because for the first time in my life a doctor said the worlds “you don’t weigh enough.”  The pacemaker option still exists, and is now right here in town, but involves several surgeries for the rest of my life to replace the battery every few years.  So, no.  I’d rather not.

Finally, we have the pyloroplasty.  This involves the pyloric muscle at the bottom of the stomach that in is charge of opening to the intestine.  Essentially, they cut it open and make a permanent hole, so it can’t clamp shut on me and prevent stomach emptying.  These were my options, so I went with door number 3.

Doc said he would set it up for the end of March.  Well, that came and went and I called the office, and the nurse there set me up with April 29th.  So, there it is, my surgery date.

I am currently waiting as I type this for the hospital to call me back to set up both a Covid test and pre-surgery screening. 

After the surgery I will be laid up for a little bit.  I will be on a two-week liquid diet followed by a two-week soft food diet.  Then, hopefully, provided all has healed correctly, I will be able to eat regularly for the first time in years.  (Also hoping after the diets to fit into the bathing suit I bought last year that was just a size too small.)

Am I nervous?  Very much.  I don’t like the idea of surgery, even though it will be laparoscopic and probably not much worse than getting my gallbladder out.  I more so don’t like the idea of being in the hospital afterwards, especially in a time when I can’t have a bunch of visitors and such to cheer me up.  I hope everything goes smoothly and I am out of there quickly. 

Then, recovery, which is always worse than actual procedures, but hey…I’ve done worse.  When I had my left eye done, I was on my stomach for an entire week….24 hours a day.  It was agony…but I did it.  I can do this, too.

So, in closing, I finally am starting to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.  I am going to hope and pray very hard that I do not get sick anytime in the next 24 days, either.  (Although, it would be sweet to tell the staff at Mercy about my imminent surgery.  They would be excited for me.)  I am just dragging myself to the end of April, hoping that May brings me better feelings.

I mean…it has to, right?

Tummy Trouble

My regular reader is aware of my battle with my stomach, but a newcomer may not be, so here’s a short recap: about four years ago I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a stomach disorder that prevents proper digestion.  It was described to me as such: every person has a blender in their stomach, and my blender had rusty blades.  As time went on, rusty blades turned into no blades.  It made for uncomfortable situations, like not being able to eat when hungry or feeling nauseous and bloated in the mornings, and it made for terrible situations, like landing in the ER because I was vomiting blood and had stabbing abdominal pains.  I was on a variety of medications for years, all of which proved useless.  Then they started doing regular dilation of my pyloric sphincter (the muscle that controls food leaving the stomach.)  This provided a month or two of temporary relief, and then it was back to the ER.  They are thinking I might have something called pyloric stenosis, which is a disease that is common in baby boys, not 36-year-old women. 

That brings us up to now.  Yesterday, I had my regular procedure with the added benefit of Botox injections to my pyloric muscles.  This is supposed to cause the muscles to relax and smoothen so as to transport food easier.  I read up a little on it, and results vary.  Some studies say it’s beneficial, some say they found no results.  All agree it can’t hurt to try, and I am in that frame of thought right now.  I’ve been living with this for years and any opportunity for relief is one I am willing to take. 

If this doesn’t work and I end up back in the hospital, then I will be talking to my doctor about surgical options out of town.  She mentioned some doctors in Cleveland that may be able to help.  I don’t want it to come to that, but I’m not going to go though the rest of my life like I have the past four years.  It has been terrible.  I haven’t been able to hold a steady job.  It has wreaked havoc on my depression.  The medical bills are out of control. 

But I’ll be damned if I let any of that get me down while I am trying to heal and improve my health.  I intend to do whatever I can to beat this ridiculous pain-in-the-ass disease and get back to the life it has stolen from me.  Today, I am hopeful.  I’m not hungry yet, but I’m drinking coffee again, which was a huge turn-off just a few days ago.  I am sitting in my office with the sun streaming though the window and I am content in knowing that there is a possibility, however small, that I might be well.