For those new to my story, here is a medical timeline comprised of Instagram posts from the last year. This first photo was taken as I was leaving the hospital after my Whipple.
“IM GOING HOME! 8 days and 7 nights in the hospital was definitely the most painful and challenging experience I have had to endure. I’m so thankful for a God who heals, nurses who treated me like their own child, supporters who sent me cards, flowers, and visited me when I was lonely. My parents are amazing and slept in chairs for 7 nights just so they could be by my side, I am beyond blessed by them. These next eight weeks at home are just the next chapter in my crazy adventure! I am SO BLESSED.”
“Merry Christmas from my family and the crew at Jewish Hospital. Hope everyone had a blessed holiday!”
“Happy New Year! My New Year’s wish is that when I leave this place for the third time, I won’t have to come back. Hoping third time is a charm!”
“For those who I haven’t been able to communicate with, I was back in the hospital this week but am finally home again. Monday was the start of my 3-4 weeks without any food or water, just IV fluids to provide my body with nutrients. This has been so hard but these next few weeks are just one more giant that will soon be defeated. Thank you all for your continuous prayers and support. Please continue with the prayers as I face an even harder road to recovery than originally expected. Praise God for his amazing healing hand! In Him ALONE our hope is found.”
“My first drink in 18 days!!!! My appointment today went well; my doctor is allowing me to slowly introduce liquids to my system. It will be awhile before it can have food but I’m thrilled right now! Thank you Lord for answering this prayer!!”
“My first bite of food in 30 days!!Thank you to all my prayer warriors! Still got a long way to go but this is one step closer to recovery. We must remember to be joyful in all circumstances because God is faithful ALWAYS!”
“After 14 very difficult days in the hospital I am finally heading home! A lot has happened during this time, I have been extremely sick but finally things are looking up. Last Tuesday I had a procedure to insert a feeding tube which will be my new source of nourishment for the next 2 months (hopefully that’s all.) please continue with the prayers as these next few months will present another huge challenge to my family and myself. THANK YOU SO MUCH for the unconditional prayers, love, and support that you have all sent my way. I love you all! Trust God and His perfect plan, ALWAYS. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10″
“Just wanted to give an update that would help my friends understand what these next two months minimum look like for me. In the picture you can see my feeding tube which was surgically put into my abdomen and empties in my small intestine. Because I have to be on total bowel/digestive rest the tube completely bypasses my stomach. I have to be plugged up 24/7 so I receive nutrition at a slow and steady rate. My IV pole holds my feed bag and the pump which controls it. As you can see this totally limits my mobility/ability to go anywhere since I have to be plugged up always. Luckily I am allowed small amounts of clear liquids! Prayers are always appreciated as I face at least 60 more days without being able to eat anything. My family is keeping total trust in our Lord, the ultimate healer and deliverer! He NEVER fails and he ALWAYS listens when we call. He makes all things perfect in HIS timing.”
“Smile. Thanks. Happiness. Words cannot express the gratitude, thanks, and humility we are feeling toward everyone who made this wonderful gift possible. Yesterday, we received a beautiful offering of love raised through the FundMe site, private checks, and collections by my sorority sisters! That is AMAZING, INDESCRIBABLE, JAW DROPPING. We have been completely surrounded by selfless love since day one which has further revealed the incredible love of Christ. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts to every single person who donated, shared the link, prayed, sent cards/food/gifts or even thought about our family. We have so much love for each and every one of you. I wish I could give each person a hug and a personal thank you, but since I can’t, I hope this post will reach all who were involved. We owe a HUGE thank you to my best friend, Erin, who organized this site and worked so hard to help us. We love you so much, Erin, and are so blessed by your friendship. Above all, we praise our Holy Father! “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19″
“Yesterday I had an appointment with Dr. Vitale to evaluate my progress after nearly 2 months of tube feeds.During this time I have built strength/stamina & have established some sense of normalcy. All are praiseworthy! Yet unfortunately, the improvements & healing that we were really hoping for have yet to happen. My body is very clearly & painfully communicating that even after all this time, my pancreas is not ready to move forward & definitely isn’t ready for food. So, I will continue what I have been doing for an additional 2 months–24/7 tube feeds & drinking clear liquids (no eating at all this includes chewing gum/mints)- through the middle of June. This treatment is an attempt to salvage the remainder of pancreas. If my pancreas doesn’t heal through several months of this, or if I begin eating again and have another massive flare, or I decide I can no longer handle this treatment, we would be facing 1-2 additional pancreatic surgeries. In the year 2014 I have only eaten on 17 days; I am patiently & eagerly awaiting day 18. Please pray that God would sustain me through this situation which is constantly painful, trying, & all around so difficult. We are told that my case is rare & complicated; though we may not understand what is happening The God of the Universe DOES & we fully trust in His perfect plan/timing. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him.” Lamentations 3:25.”
“As many of you know, my parents & I spent time in Cleveland from Thursday-Monday seeking out medical care at the Cleveland Clinic. While I have wonderful, trustworthy doctors in Louisville, my condition is complicated & not improving, therefore, we felt it was time for more professional opinions. I was seen by Dr. Vargo who seemed eager to take on my case and help me to the best of his ability. I had some testing done which will allow the doctors to take a look at my “plumbing” as a starting point in this process. We were very satisfied with this first visit & will be returning to the clinic in early July to meet again with Dr. Vargo & a team of physicians who will hopefully provide some answers, new findings, or reassurance in the care I am already receiving. I am still on 24/7 feeds, not eating (it’s been over 100 days), and in a state of serious pain & fatigue. Thank you all for your constant prayers, concern & support! Special thanks to all of our church family at FCC ETOWN who has showered us in love & truth! Regardless of what the future holds, we will continue to trust in God’s will and perfect timing above all. I’m so grateful for the incredible blessing of peace He has washed over me everyday for the last eight months.
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
TWO DAYS LATER…
“We heard back from Dr. Vargo in Cleveland today. My bloodwork and scans came back normal just as they have been for several months, thus, the mystery continues. However, they did find that the anchor for my feeding tube was dislodged and tomorrow morning Dr. Vitale will do a procedure at Norton to take out the old tube and place a new one. This is not a solution to my pancreatic issues, although we are hoping it could help to alleviate some of my pain. We will still be traveling to Cleveland again in July.
Last time I had this procedure it was accompanied with miserable complications; please pray that this time around is complication free and that tomorrow night I will be sleeping in my own bed.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.”
“Sorry for the delayed update- I want to let you know that my procedure on Friday went as smooth as possible. Thank you much for all the prayers surrounding that day!! Unfortunately I woke up that morning in the midst of yet another pancreatic attack. So, after my procedure the doc went ahead & admitted me to the hospital. They sent me home on Saturday; because I have been NPO since the end of Feb. & on full time tube feeds, there was no reason to keep me in the hospital when I can/am doing these treatments from home. Please keep the prayers coming, as you have graciously done for 8 months, since now I’m extra sick & miserable & expect it will take several days for me to get back to my compromised state of “normal.” Docs continue to tell me that my case is highly unusual & is one they have NEVER seen. Although my human mind cannot comprehend it, I have complete faith that God designed my unique struggle for a very specific purpose & that gives me great comfort. ”
Psalm 136:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
“This week my parents & I took our 2nd trip to the Cleveland Clinic for my medical care. The docs continue to say that my case is complicated. It’s past the point of acute pancreatitis & is now looking chronic. On Wed. I underwent a procedure to try & place a stint in my pancreatic duct. The stint placement is NOT a permanent solution, however, if executed properly, it could provide temporary relief. The hope is that a few months with the stint would allow me to start eating, build strength, & relieve the horrible daily pains. It could delay, or possibly eliminate, the need for major surgical intervention.
Dr Vitale tried the stint placement once in Feb. but was unable to locate the duct. Unfortunately, the docs in Cleveland were also unsuccessful. As disappointing as this is, we knew that the chances of success with this procedure were a long shot. The next step involves another trip to Cleveland to try the stint placement, for a 3rd & final time, through a more invasive approach. There are no guarantees with this but we are willing to try. We continue to take things one step at a time, fully trusting The Ultimate Healer & the perfect plans He has laid out. It’s through Christ alone that we find great peace & courage.”
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power & love & self-control.” 1 Timothy 1:7
“We planned to return to the Cleveland Clinic at the end of August but after prayerful consideration & discussion with Dr. Vitale, we closed the door to that route. Instead, I’ve been mentally preparing for my next major pancreatic surgery scheduled for this Friday & all the hospital/recovery time to follow… Now, that surgery is NOT happening, at least not at this time. Today we met with Dr. Ahmad at the Univ. of Cincinnati (at the request of my Lville docs) for another opinion. As always, my medical situation is complicated, up in the air & hard to communicate- but I’m doing my best to keep you prayer warriors updated. In the next 2 weeks we will be making 1-2 more trips for testing & appts. Then, we should know what’s to come in the near future. Just have to keep being patient through the pain & in God.
Each time I start to think I see the way the future is headed, God rocks my world & shows me a new direction. I can feel Him saying, “take a step back, my child. Don’t go gettin cocky on me, thinkin you know… Instead, trust in ME ALONE to reveal what I have in store, my plans which are perfect, my timing which is without flaw..” There’s great freedom & peace in living by faith; never knowing where tomorrow will lead but always being certain of who is leading. Thank you all for your love & prayers. Please keep them coming; the battle is far from over & this last week has had some of the most miserably painful days I’ve had in a while.”
“Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.” Job 23:17
“I will praise you as long as I live.” Psalm 63:4
**This last post was from Sept. 22, 2014. All medical updates from this point on were posted under the “Medical Updates” (such a creative name). Check out “Words from My Heart” to read more about my spiritual journey over the last year. Much love 🙂