Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Well, it's happening! I had my doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon to discuss what's been going on in my insides. Todd was very wonderful, and took the day off of work to be with me. We made it to my 1:00 appointment on time, but the receptionist apologized and told us that the doctor was running an hour or so behind schedule. Then she asked if we'd mind waiting, and we said that was fine. We wandered around the hospital complex, including the food court. I was starving! I told Todd that all I wanted was a hoagie sandwich, but I still wasn't able to keep anything down. Finally, at about 3:30 or so, we were able to meet with my doctor. We told him everything that had happened and he gave a quick probe of my belly. By this point, though, the agonizing pain had passed and I was only a little sore when he pressed. He said that it definitely sounded like gallstones, and that he would tentatively schedule me for surgery on Thursday, the 27th (tomorrow!). In the meantime, he wanted me to have the lab do some blood-work on me to doubly make sure that my gallbladder was the culprit.
By the time I got out of his office and my blood drawn, it was already 5:30. My first shift back to work after my maternity leave was supposed to start at 6:00, and I was going to be late. It was raining, and traffic was horrible, so I called work to let them know that I hadn't forgotten about coming back, but that I was going to be a little late, and they assured me that I was fine. I dropped Todd off at the house and hurried to work. I arrived at 6:30, and apologized profusely to my boss. I explained that I'd had a doctor's appointment, and that I'd made it early enough that it never occurred to me that it would conflict with coming to work. She told me not to worry, and that she was glad to have me back. She also told me that if I needed to hold off on coming back for another week or so because of my surgery, she would understand and work with me. I told her, no, the recovery time for my surgery was only supposed to be a couple of days, so I'd recover over the weekend, and be better by the time my next shift was scheduled on Tuesday, October 2nd (I'm only working one night a week right now).
At 7:00, I got a phone call from Todd. I'd only been at work for a half-hour, and was surprised to hear from him. He told me that he had just gotten off of the phone with my doctor, who had given him the results from my lab-work. I did indeed have gallstones, but I was also apparently suffering from acute pancreatitis. My lipase/amylase levels were 3000 times--yes, 3 thousand times--what they were supposed to be. Todd said that my doctor had told him that with levels like that, I should be on the floor dying right then. Then he told me that I needed to come home right then, and we were going straight to the hospital. My head was whirling. At first, I was sure that Todd was joking, or that I was hallucinating. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both. I hurriedly explained what was happening to my boss, and she told me to hurry safely home. I cried all the way to the house and while I quickly packed my suitcase. Todd and my father-in-law gave me a priesthood blessing, and I kissed my babies goodbye. I was so terrified that I would never see them again. Todd drove through the rainy night while I stared out the window and thought about death.
Then, only minutes from the hospital, I had an epiphany: I wasn't afraid to die. I mean, yes, I was afraid of never seeing my babies again, of not seeing them grow up, of not being able to grow old with Todd, etc. I was afraid of not living, but I wasn't afraid of death itself. I figured, even though I've made my fair share of little mistakes, I'd done all of the major things in my life the way the Lord wanted me to: I married my sweetheart in the temple, we had two beautiful little girls born in the covenant, and we were a forever family. If I needed to die that night, so be it. I can only imagine that the peace that flooded my heart along with this epiphany was a result of the priesthood blessing I'd received.
We pulled into the hospital parking lot, and headed to the emergency room doors. Since it was after hours, they were the only ones that were open, but my doctor had called ahead for us, so we didn't need to check-in in the ER. After another, surprisingly long, wait while my room was readied for me, I was taken up to my room. Todd stayed with me while the doctor explained our plan. He was pretty sure that what had happened was a gallstone had escaped into my bile duct and had gotten jammed into the sphincter that leads to the pancreas, closing it off. With my insanely high pancreatic levels, it wasn't safe to operate on me immediately, so we were going to keep an eye on me until my levels were closer to normal before discussing surgery again. The reason I was going to be in the hospital twiddling my thumbs for several days instead of at home was if my pancreas suddenly flared up even worse, it could be fatal before we could get to the hospital so it was better safe than sorry. He thought that it would probably take a week or so for my levels to drop back down, but he kept my surgery appointment scheduled just in case they drop faster than expected. On that comforting thought, Todd kissed me goodnight, and went home to be with the girls and to get some rest before work the next day.
Needless to say, it was not a fun night, but I got what sleep I could. This morning, I got my blood drawn, and I had an ultrasound done to check my gallbladder for gallstones, and to see if we could find the one that had escaped. We couldn't, but we saw the inflammation where it had been, and my gallbladder was full of the evil little things. I told the technician that I'd never before had an ultrasound for anything except looking at babies, and it was a little odd and sad to not see cute little limbs waving around it there. She just laughed, and agreed that that is the most fun part of her job. Back in my room, I got the results of my blood-work, and the lipase/amylase levels have dropped dramatically! They're now only about 500 times what they're supposed to be! Hooray! The doctor told me that if they keep dropping at this rate, I'll be able to have my surgery tomorrow after all! He thinks that Saturday's hellish episode was probably the peak of the crisis, and that not eating or drinking anything was actually the smartest thing I could have done to minimize the issue. Silver linings, right? I'm just excited at the thought of finally being able to eat something after my surgery, so I really hope it's tomorrow! I'm on an IV, so I'm not going to waste away or anything, but I'm seriously craving a hoagie. In the meantime, I'm waiting for my mother-in-law to bring Elizabeth to see me. Evie is staying with Jenette, but my doctor gave me permission to keep Ella in my room with me! I'm so excited to snuggle her warm little body, and kiss her beautiful face over and over, because it seems that I'm not dying after all!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gallbladder Issues...Again

They're ba-ack! I had a hunch they would crop up again, and sure enough! Saturday night, I had the worst gallbladder attack of my life, and I haven't been able to keep anything down since. It all started when we went to Steak n Shake for lunch while we were out running errands. Honestly, we weren't too thrilled with the food. Todd ordered the double cheeseburger, but he felt like he was only eating enough meat for a single. So he held his patties up, and we could see daylight through them! Mine wasn't any better. We ordered a s'more flavored shake to share, and it really did taste like fire-roasted marshmallows, but it wasn't my favorite flavor ever.
Evie barely touched her food, but she plastered herself with stickers, so I guess the trip was good for something.
I'd barely finished eating, when I felt some discomfort in my belly. I thought it was just indigestion brought on by whatever chemicals were used to make a shake taste like a campfire, so I ran to the restroom. Unfortunately, it didn't help, and mild pain kept roiling in my midsection. We went home, and I tried to relax, hoping the pain was just my back being sore from the busy day we'd had. I curled up behind Todd and went to sleep as normal. The baby woke up a couple of hours later wanting to be nursed, but when I was done and was putting her back in her cradle, I recognized all the signs of one of my more severe gallbladder attacks coming on, so I rolled my eyes, took a Percocet, and muttered to Todd that I was going up to the bathroom and would be back down soon. As soon as I got up to the bathroom and sat down, though, the pain flared up in earnest. Nothing helped it. Using the bathroom proved fruitless and so did throwing up. My body was racked with a worse agony than any I ever felt through two episodes of childbirth. It was so severe I couldn't even draw a deep breath. I managed to call for Todd, but then I was occupied with rocking back and forth, hunched over on the toilet in a seemingly futile attempt to hold myself together through the waves of agony. By some miracle, Todd heard my weak cry and came up to see what was the matter. He found me shaking uncontrollably from the pain and unable to breathe properly. It was the scariest moment of my life, because I was sure I was dying. He put his hand on my back, and I remember the warmth of that touch radiating through me, and giving me comfort. The pain didn't lessen, but I knew I wasn't alone and that somehow gave me enough strength to hold on for just a little longer. Todd brought me Tylenol and a glass of water, and he made me drink. I drank a little, then turned around and watched it all come back up. He made me drink a little more, and I threw up again. He kept this up and slowly, so slowly, the pain receded until, centuries later, I was able to take a deep breath and see past the red haze clouding my vision. Todd told me to keep sipping the water; he would be right back. When he came back for me, he guided me downstairs and towards the couch, where he had arranged a little nest for me. He had propped my pillow against the arm of the couch so I could remain vertical, which was the most comfortable position I could manage. He wrapped warm blankets around me, and placed the trash can on the floor at my feet. Lastly, he set my glass of water and bottle of Tylenol on the bookcase next to me, kissed my forehead, and went back to bed. I only got about 4 hours of sleep total, and so did Todd. He stayed up for hours with me and did his best to take care of me. He was amazing, and I don't know how I would have survived that night without him.
I had to get up early the next morning so I could attend the first meeting held for my new church calling. Todd asked if I was sure I wanted to go, but I felt much better and wanted to get ready for the day so I could see Evie off on her first day of Nursery. The hostess served us breakfast while we discussed our Relief Society activity plans for the next couple of months. She served us fresh fruit and quiche, which I'd never had. Only minutes after finishing my breakfast, I had to excuse myself to her bathroom so I could throw up all of the food she'd just given me. I felt terrible and was afraid of offending her, but she smiled and said she understood. She also gave me a small glass of Squirt to help calm my queasy belly. I had to leave the meeting a little early so I could go home and nurse the baby before church, but I told the ladies I'd see them later that morning. By the time I got to church at 11:30, my insides were decidedly achy. I could not get comfortable, no matter how I sat on the bench. I sent Evie to Nursery, then Todd and I sat out on the comfy couch in the foyer during Sunday School. I finally got up to go to Relief Society, and Todd took the baby with him to Priesthood meeting. We came home after church, and I lounged miserably on the couch. Nothing sounded good for dinner, and when Todd made me eat something so Elizabeth would get enough nutrients in her milk, it promptly came back up. Last night, I didn't have another attack, which I was half expecting, but I didn't sleep well either. Today, I ate a graham cracker square and a drink of water, and my insides immediately started hurting, and didn't stop for several hours until I can only assume it finally passed into the intestines past the reach of my gallbladder. I can't seem to keep anything down without excruciating pain except for water, so I called Todd at work and told him what was going on, and asked if I should make an appointment with a doctor. He said yes, so I'm going to see Dr. Knudtson tomorrow! We were already planning on getting this taken care of around January, once we had all of the medical bills paid off from having Ella. To that end, we'd told my OB/GYN about my gallbladder issues after Evie was born and mentioned that we were concerned they might recur once Ella was born, and he'd given us a card for a general surgeon that he recommended. That doctor was actually on leave when I called because his wife had just had a baby, but his colleague had an opening for 1:00 tomorrow afternoon. We have to drive to the other side of Denver for this appointment, but I left enough time that we should be able to get back by 6:00 in time for my first day back to work post-baby! Hopefully, we can figure out exactly what is going on, and can get this taken care of once and for all this week sometime (I'm hoping for tomorrow, but I'm not convinced it'll happen that soon). Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

18 Months!

My baby is getting so big! Today was her first day of nursery! She wasn't even concerned, either. She let me get one brief picture of her, then she was in the door and playing with toys without even looking back. I, on the other hand, had very bittersweet feelings about the whole situation.
Who said she could get so big? I didn't! And as there are only two of us who are her parents, I think that Todd's been secretly signing waivers behind my back, allowing her to grow up. Anyway, once Evie had abandoned me to go to nursery, Todd volunteered to take the baby with him, and I was left to go to Relief Society by myself. It was a decidedly odd feeling, and I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I actually missed my babies and felt sort of lonely.
I was telling Todd the other day that he is my best friend. But Evie is also one of my best friends, and I asked him if it was pathetic that one of my best friends is only 18 months old. He was diplomatic and side-stepped the question, but it's true. I look forward to seeing Evie every morning, and I love hearing what she has to say (and what a lot it is; this girl talks all the time! I'm compiling a list of all the fun things she says, and I'll post it at a later time). She's growing into her own little person, and she's so funny! I love staying home with her and witness her growing up. I just sometimes wish that she wasn't growing up quite so quickly. Anyway, congratulations, Evie, on being my big 18-month old girl! Mommy is so proud of you!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fun in the Sun

On the 4th of July, the day we brought Ella home from the hospital, Todd's family threw a party for us, welcoming Ella to the family. They gave us cute outfits for both girls, fun toys for Ella, and an adorable swimsuit and some swim diapers for Evie. Yesterday was my niece's birthday, so we all spent the day at Aurora Reservoir, and Evie got to use her cute new swimsuit.
On the way to the reservoir, I got my hair cut into a chin-length bob so I could take advantage of the breeze. Apparently, I look pretty good with "Mom hair." When we got to the beach, we pitched our chairs and ate some really yummy bacon, ranch, and chicken sandwiches that Jenette brought. Then, we set the kids loose to go play in the waves.
Evie had an absolute blast playing in the water with her cousins!
She loved splashing around with her toes.
Mariah, her older cousin, kept a really close eye on her so she'd be safe while exploring.
I only needed to go down to the water to take cute pictures!
At some point, Evie stole her Aunt Margot's hat and was walking around wearing it.
I kept expecting the hat to fall off, but she somehow kept it perched on her little head.
While Julia was opening her presents, Evie got bored and decided to head back out to sea.
I would hurry to get back in front of her...
But she would just walk around me and keep on going.
Finally, after yummy cupcakes, Todd took her out to the water while I stayed behind with the baby.
I'm actually really impressed with the clarity of the shots I was able to get. I was sitting at least 100 ft away, and was pointing my camera through two slats in the fence in front of me!
The two of them had lots of fun playing in the sand.
After her bath, Evie got to snuggle in her brand-new towel!
When Elizabeth was born, we were given a gift card for Target. Evie had outgrown her hooded baby towel, so on Friday, we decided to take her to pick out a big-girl towel of her very own. We put her down and let her pick out the color she wanted. She picked out this one and a bright pink one, but finally settled on the orange. She hadn't had a chance to use it yet, so when we got home from the Reservoir last night, we gave her a bath to get rid of all the sand, and wrapped her in her big orange towel. It's very fluffy, and she didn't want to take it off! I think that she definitely had lots of fun yesterday, and looks forward to wearing her cute swimsuit again soon!