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Mayo, Day 4

This morning at 9:00, we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and on our way over to the hospital for my CT scan of the good ol’ pancreas. The thing about doing a CT is that you have to drink a bunch of dye/goo that tastes kinda milky and kinda like … sweet chalk. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. It’s not something good, I can assure you.  At no point would you want to, say, chug a gallon of it when you’ve just gone for a run. Nor would you just want to reach into the fridge and drink it up with a chocolate chip cookie.

So there we sat, and after receiving an IV port (because not only do you have to drink all that goo, but you also get iodine injected into your veins too), the nurse brought me my three bottles, labeled with 15-minute intervals. Chug chug chug!

Then at 10:15, they called me in and I went to lay down on the table for the CT. I was feeling reeeeeeaaaaallly waterlogged. And slushy. I mean, I drank a lot. Then they hooked the IV up and gave me the iodine stuff and told me that I was going to feel really warm and like I peed my pants. Seriously?? Within 5 minutes, the CT was done, and then I promptly sat up and threw up everything I had just drank. Yeah like that’s not totally embarrassing. So then I was done and on my way.

We came back up to the room and just laid around until my appointment with my GI to discuss everything at 1:00. When we showed up to the digestive floor, a rather dapper elderly man in a wheelchair was sitting there next to us. He rolled on over and decided that we looked like nice people and needed to talk to us. He was 92 years old and had been married for over 60 years. He started telling us how he immigrated from Scotland and how his  mother was a midwife, and actually that was rather a fortuitous thing because as it turns out he got involved in the sales of a new invention at the time, a device called the diaphragm that really changed birth control….

Just when things were about to get interesting, we were called into the doctor’s office, and left poor Mom sitting there with Mr. Diaphragm. Turns out, he then went on about how he was a salesman and tried to get her to become a part of his sales team, selling a special kind of face cream! He also told her all about how he and his wife have come to the Mayo clinic since they were young, and now they’re here for a few days. But when they come, they always get separate hotel rooms because apparently he snores. A lot. Poor Mom got quite the earful!

Meanwhile, we went back and met with Dr. Pardi. He definitely had good news for me. My Bone Density scan came back better than normal which means that the past 3 years of off-and-on prednisone haven’t done any permanent damage to my bones. That is awesome! The second bit of good news was that he thought that my pancreas looked good, that the spot they had previously seen was nothing to worry about, and that if I ever had issues with pancreatitis again, to let them know. Pancreatitis can be a side-effect of medications for UC, but it can also just spontaneously pop up in UC as well. He thought that the gallbladder could’ve been involved, but if this ever happened again, to let him know before they just decide to start taking random parts out of me.

Which led into our next discussion about what to do about my ulcerative colitis. What will my plan be? Well, as of today, I am scheduled to come back to the Mayo Clinic the week after Thanksgiving to have my colon removed in the first of two surgeries. I will have a temporary ostomy (um, fun, right? blah) and then 3 months later once everything has healed, I will come back in February or March and have the second surgery that will allow me to have normal poops just like everybody else. They basically create a new bowel.  Everything is done by laparoscope.  And in the end, 92% of people who have this surgery done are thrilled. That’s pretty amazing.

The more I thought and prayed, the more I realized — why wouldn’t I take the opportunity to be cured of this disease? To put an end to the past 3 1/2 years of a rollercoaster ride that have really really sucked? To not be sick every other month? Why wouldn’t I take that opportunity? Can I be brave enough to endure a few months of discomfort, of inconvenience and ickiness, only to have a chance to have a normal life again? Can I trust that God has a great plan for my life and that He has known all along that this day would come? Yes. I can. I can do all of this. And I can do this with a happy spirit and with joy in my heart.

Despite my initial feelings of being overwhelmed and saddened that this is, in a way, my only choice,  I feel like I’ve been given a whole new chance at life. I’m never going to have to take all those meds ever again! No more immunity-hindering, serious drugs! No more Prednisone that makes me bloated, puffy, irritable, and crazy moody!   Heck, I figure that at Thanksgiving, we are going to PARTY! I’m gettin’ rid of this nasty ol’ colon and moving on to bigger and better things!

The doctor looked me squarely in the eye. “You seem really at peace with this decision,” he stated. And the answer is, yes. I do. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to experience moments of doubt and panic, wondering if I have made the right decision.

But in some ways, we’ve been down this road before. A few months ago, I watched Simon struggle with a decision. He had to decide that he had done as much as he could for the company he was working for and he had to make the toughest decision ever – to leave. It wasn’t a decision he wanted to make for himself; he really did want it made for him, in some ways, much like I wished that this decision would’ve been made for me. And while he knew that while the next few months of unemployment weren’t going to be easy, he knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel and that soon things were going to be okay. I can so relate.  And now, at the other end of that tunnel, now that he is gainfully employed and loving what he is doing, I can say praise God – there was a plan and we are going to make it.

It’s been an emotional week here at Mayo, for each and every one of us. THANK GOD for my parents and for Simon. I would be lost without them. Their support has been HUGE. Also, I thank each and every one of you for sticking around and following my journey here. Every comment left has meant SO MUCH TO US. I know it’s not the typical fun, design-related stuff, but like I’ve said before, this is my life. And I can’t tell you how good it feels to sit here and write all this out, and get it off my chest. I promise that I’ll be back with more fun stuff next week. 🙂

xoxoxo,
Rachel

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