1/18/19 UPDATE: I received a call from the doctor's office on Friday morning, and the biopsies came back negative for cancer, not even a mass on the pancreas to worry about, just have to go back in six weeks to have the stent removed from the bile duct. Thanks to all for your prayers and caring!
I don’t remember all of their names, but I will always remember their kindness, from the Alamosa emergency room staff to Flight for Life folks to Penrose Hospital staff.
I had not been feeling well since the Sunday before Christmas. When I ate, my throat would argue with the food going down, and my stomach would tighten, cramp and hurt, just pretty miserable all around. I figured it was just the expression of accumulated stress, too much to do during the holidays. I figured it would play itself out.
Then on Saturday, January 5, I noticed my eyes were yellow….very attractive. Through the next week they continued to be yellow, and my face was turning yellow too.
Not being one to go to the doctor as often as I should, I didn’t call my medical provider John Sisneros until Wednesday, January 9. When his nurse spoke with me over the phone, she said I should probably just go to the ER, because there might be some tests that would need to be conducted.
Not really having anybody to spell me off at work, I worked the rest of the week and decided I would go into the ER on Saturday afternoon, January 12, after church and after going to my friend Harold Benson’s 90th birthday party in Del Norte (had to snag a piece of birthday cake!)
When I arrived at the ER, the wonderful folks in the ER began working on me. Tracey Headrick was concerned right away about the jaundice. I appreciated her professionalism, honesty and expertise. We are lucky to have her here. When she arranged to fly me out, she had taken into consideration that my folks live in Pueblo, but Parkview was full, so when the time came, I was flown to Penrose in Colorado Springs. I did have the phone number for Vicki with me, the former owner of my precious Oso, so I called her to see if she would check on him, as it became clear I wasn’t going home that night.
Bless her heart, Vicki came out in the cold to get a house key and pray with me and take care of Oso until I got home. Hers was the first of many prayers over me in the next hours and days, and continuing.
After a couple of blood draws (my veins are very shy, which makes drawing blood and putting in IV’s a pain), because one hemolyzed (new word for me), I was told my blood levels were elevated for things that didn’t sound healthy. An ultrasound in the ER revealed a mass of 4.6 centimeters on my pancreas. I am about as non-medical as they come, but I knew that wasn’t good.
I called my big sister, and she called my little sister and the next morning our parents (I didn’t want them driving and/or worrying all night.) Everyone in the EMT and flight crew was so caring and kind. Everyone in the ER here and in Penrose was just awesome. All performed their tasks with skill, but also with compassion. Prayers in the air and on the ground were appreciated.
It’s a blur and pretty surreal what transpired after I arrived at Penrose, but I remember some kind of scan and more needles and lots of kind people, and finally getting into a room at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning. That day a doctor performed an ERCP (don’t ask me to explain what all this medical stuff is), which basically was going down my throat (fortunately knocked me out for that) and putting a stent in the bile duct so things would work better there and I believe taking some “brushings” to test. I think I was supposed to have another kind of biopsy on Monday but the gent who does that wasn’t in, so they sent me home on Monday.
My big sister and her husband and my little sister came to the hospital on Sunday and cheered me up with presents, prayers and even singing over me. I could not ask for better sisters and brothers-in-love. I never felt alone or afraid. I felt very calm, although a bit overwhelmed.
My folks came up Monday thinking they would be there all day, but one of the doctors said I might as well go home for now. My mother drove me all the way home. With all she is dealing with herself, it meant a lot to me for her to do that. My folks stayed overnight, and we all loved on Oso, who had been confused by the whole thing.
I appreciated my boss Keith, his daughter Jennifer and our multitalented Ellie for taking up my tasks at work on Monday and getting a paper out, as much as they already had on their plates. Helen covered the water meeting Tuesday because I wasn’t up to it.
Food is still not sitting right in my system, and by nighttime, I’m feeling pretty rugged, but we’ll figure this all out and deal with it.
I still don’t know what the mass is, and of course it could be anything from a cyst to cancer. Just not knowing, and waiting for results, is the hard part.
Even after getting home, I have been overwhelmed by caring folks, from Roxie and Johnny who brought me a beautiful framed lighthouse picture and prayed with me to Susan and Jefferson Geiger who gave me flowers and candy. Several people have prayed with me, and I know many are still praying. I gratefully accept them all.
I know whatever lies ahead, I am not alone.