When Bad Things Happen: Jenny's Story
Written by: Jenny
It was as though a large hand reached down from the sky, grabbed me out of my little Missouri bubble and dropped me into the middle of the ocean. Without so much as a 'good bye or a good luck', just... find your way back.
Let me start at the beginning.
Around the first of the year, I started having some lower back pain. It was odd for me because I consider myself a very healthy, active person and I just couldn't find relief. I stretched. I worked out. I didn't work out. I went to the Chiropractor. It wasn't going away. I went to the ER a few weeks later because it was starting to make me panic and I wanted an answer.
A CAT Scan and Ultrasound later, the ER doctor determined that I had a very large cyst on my left ovary. He sent me home and told me to follow up with my OB. So, I did.
We decided it was large enough and bothered me enough that she would remove it. There was the risk that my ovary would have to go along with it -- I was OK with that. I have had my babies. I'm a fertility mess anyway (I said goodbye to my fallopian tubes a few years ago).
One week later, surgery day had arrived. Laparoscopic. I've had that procedure before (two ectopic pregnancies), so I pretty much knew what to expect and I knew what my downtime would look like. I felt prepared. Things went as my doctor suspected they would. Bye bye cyst and ovary. Off to my couch to recover for a couple of days.
Everything was as I had anticipated at home until two days later, Wednesday.
My mom was staying with us to help while I was down for a few days. We decided to get out, go to Target and get our nails done. I was moving slowly, but it felt good to get up and get moving. After our girl's day, we headed to school to pick up my kids. The minute we arrived, I felt the absolute most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. Child birth? Piece of cake. This pain? I was sure I was dying at that very moment.
Mom mode kicked in. I had to make arrangements for someone else to get my kids. My mom isn't from KC, so I had to direct her to the hospital. All the while sweating and trying to breathe through the unbearable pain.
ER. Another CAT Scan revealed I had a perforation in my bowel. They were able to compare my original scan from a few weeks prior and it was obvious that this must've occurred during the surgery to remove my cyst and ovary just a few days before. Sepsis - something I had never WebMD'd in all of my years of self-diagnosing was now a word people around me were using. Off to the operating room.
A blur. Pain. In and out of sleep. But not real sleep. Painful sleep. Fully aware of what was happening, yet either because of denial or some sort of self-preservation, totally unaware of what was happening around me. Alert enough to know that my body was missing a section of my colon. Alert enough to know that I was left with a colostomy. Alert enough to feel every emotion that goes along with all of those physical changes.
Days passed. Family came to visit. I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to talk. My kids. My life! My babies! I couldn't even focus on what was happening with them or anyone else. I had to put every ounce of my mental and physical energy toward my body. My recovery.
Getting up to use the restroom was insanely hard. But, it got easier day by day. A walk to the end of the hallway seemed like a marathon. But, that too got easier as the days passed. I was so proud of myself when I was finally able to walk a complete circle around the unit. I was getting stronger, even though I felt weaker than ever before.
One week later, I was released. Home. I have never felt such appreciation for my beautiful home. My family. My dog. My bed. My shower. My life.
My husband. He is always my rock. But, this time he's outdone himself. Making me feel like a damn supermodel. Loving me. Assuring me. We will get through this blip just like we have everything else in life. I married the best man alive. I'm sure of it.
Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude.
I will have the colostomy reversal surgery this summer. Another week in the hospital, but with a more optimistic 'ending'. I'll have my 'body back'. Scars will tell the story. But, I'll be in one piece again and for that I am so thankful. I know there are many who won't have that chance. I have such appreciation and respect for those who have to live this way. It is a challenge both mentally and physically.
Nurses. I have to say this. YOU. ROCK. I had some of the most incredible nurses by my side throughout my ordeal. Unafraid. Caring. Loving. Sympathetic. Helpful. Funny. Smart. There just aren't enough words to fully explain how much of a deep appreciation I have for the men and women who took care of me. I believe everyone has their 'gift' in life. It takes a super special person to devote their life to helping others in the way that nurses do.
Positivity. Positivity. Positivity.
Somewhere in the middle of my pain filled-medicated-foggy hospital stay, I have a distinct memory. While laying there with my eyes shut just trying to make it to the next breath, I saw a road before me. It was so clear. If I went left, it was depression... anger... frustration. If I went right, it was positivity... happiness... life. I chose right. And there was no looking back.
Today is my first day back at work. Routine feels so good! Doing what I love makes me happy. So much is the same, yet so much is different. I'm different and as I have always done, I will use this struggle for the greater good. I will use my story.