My Whipple Story
(Elmore City, Ok USA)
Everyonce in a while I check in on the pancreatic whipple world. I do this just to sort of check in and see what's up. I don't do this often, because usually I just get freaked out more than it does any real good.
When I first started this journey, I couldn't read enough about it. But there weren't many (hardly any)positive stories. Mostly gloomy doomy. The kind that scare the crap out of you more than anything. So that's why I'm writing my story. I want there to be a least one more story that has some good news for all of you out there that are either getting ready to have a whipple or still very early into healing from one.
For me this all started with a kidney stone. At the time I thought it was really bad, but with hindsight now love that kidney stone more than just about anything. From that we found out my liver was enlarged, and from that I found out that I had a neuroendocrine tumour at the head of my pancreas. I was beyond lucky. Finding mine by total accident.
I am a 41 year old mother of five. Two of my own, three I am lucky enough to call mine after I re-married, and nana to six. I worked full time and considered myself pretty healthy. And now I'm being told I have cancer. It's a lot to take in in a short amount of time.
I had my whipple surgery on December 1st, 2015 at the OU Medical center in Oklahoma City. I spent three days in the ICU, and then five days in a regular room. When I first woke up from surgery I had a tube coming out of my nose, two coming out of my right side, and a catheter. Not exactly comfortable to say the least. But I had great nurses and a team of doctors that took really good care of me. After they took the tube out of my nose, I started throwing up, so we had to put it back in for a little longer.
Of course they want you up and moving and you have all this crap attached to you so it takes forever just to get out into the hall. But it did get better. And I started losing all of the attachments one at a time. I didn't have any complications. No infections or blood transfusions.
I did find out after the surgery that it had spread to two lymph nodes. This was a blow, because we were really hopeful that we got it all with the surgery. So I was told that I would be doing chemo.
I lost my mother earlier in the year to cancer. I had seen first hand the struggles she went through with chemo and radiation. I was really upset at first, but then I just remembered how brave my mom was. So I pulled myself up by my boot straps and decided ok, if this is what I've got to do, then by gosh, let's do it. By my last night my arms were pretty shot from the potassium in the IV's. But other than that, I was doing really good.
Once I got home, I did drop some weight, but got it back pretty quick. Then, on December 23rd (just in time for Christmas) I had a check up with my surgeon. Found out that I wasn't going to have to do chemo. I was off work for three months. And by the end of it, I was ready to go back. To get back to normal.
And so, here I am almost five months out from my surgery. About 95% back to normal. A few changes, but under the circumstances, they are tiny. No more alcohol of any kind...ever. But hey, that I can do. A little more gas than before. Some really nice new scars for my brag book. The other 5%?? Well, I don't think you can ever be 100% normal after something like this.
I have to get checked every six months. I know that there is a chance it will come back. I know that I may have to do chemo in the future. Life is a little bit more uncertain for us, but if were are honest it never really was before anyway. Even if we like to think it is.
My hope is that whoever reads this, whether it's for yourself or someone you love going through it, please stay positive and don't give up. There can be a happy ending.
I am living proof of it.