Yes, I Am Alive

After being in the hospital for 2 weeks and a few weeks hiding away in my apartment, recovering, I’ve rejoined the real world. The typical response to seeing me for the first time since surgery is “wow, you’re alive! What happened to you?” I never really know how much of the story people want so I figure I’ll give you two options to read. The short version and the gory version, read on with caution and certainly don’t look at the picture at the bottom if you have a weak stomach.

Short version: I had an infection that required surgery to be removed. The End.

Gory version: This version starts in 1990 when I was born with hirschprungs disease. I had 3 surgeries as an infant to correct this, a colostomy, a colostomy reversal and a bowel resection in which they removed 9 to 12 inches of my colon. At age 5 I had a major blockage due to scar tissue and they had to do a 4th surgery where they removed over 100 adhesions. In 2008 as a high school senior and captain of the swim team I had extreme back pain that caused me to barely be able to swim. After seeing many doctors and specialist it was said that it was scar tissue from the previous surgeries causing this pain. I was told to live with this pain for as long as I could to avoid another surgery that could potentially damage my fertility because of where the scar tissue was. So for 8 years I’ve lived with back pain that has limited my abilities and the fear that my fertility could already be damaged or lost.

On Tuesday, May 24th 2016, after over 12 hours in the emergency room with extreme pelvic pain, a high fever, vomiting, a headache, countless tests and a very high white blood cell count I was admitted to the women’s health unit for antibiotics and to see a surgeon. My wonderful surgeon, Dr. Laskey, a gynecological oncologist, came in the next morning. I had 3 doctors during my stay along with their residents and interns, Dr. L being the primary along with a general surgeon, and an infectious disease doctor. Dr. L wanted to do surgery but thought it best to wait because of how bad the infection was as well as to try to save my fertility. My white blood cell count started to get better and they wanted to send me home on IV antibiotics until it was safe to remove the infection surgically in about 2 to 3 weeks. After a week they put a PICC line in and were gearing up to send me home. I had so many rough nights where I begged my mom to have Dr. L remove the infection immediately because the pain was so bad. One night, in specific I thought I would be dead by morning. I was told on Monday I could probably go home by Tuesday, one week after admittance. But by the time Tuesday came around the doctors decided they couldn’t wait any longer and they needed to do exploratory surgery and remove whatever they deemed necessary.

On Wednesday, June 1st I went into my 5th major abdominal surgery. I was not as nervous as I expected to be. The risks of the surgery were great, but I knew my God is greater and His plan would be best. I was so blessed to know I had many praying for me and my family during the surgery. We told my surgeon that she has probably never had so many people praying for her, and I fully believe it. From Winston-Salem to Medina, Stow and beyond I know I had people going to God on my behalf, and for that I am forever grateful. Going into surgery I was so ready to have peaceful rest. I know that sounds crazy, I can’t quite explain it but I knew under sedation that I would sleep better than I had all week in the hospital with the pain I was in. I was ready for a good mental nap as my body fought for itself. I felt worse for my loved ones who would have to wait hours to know the outcome. I knew I would much rather be the one on the table than the one in the waiting room. I prayed so much for my family and friends to be comforted during their wait and after, depending on how the surgery went.

During surgery they had to remove 2 liters of infected fluid, 2 large masses of scar tissue from my previous surgeries that acted as a breeding ground for infection, 9-12 inches of my small intestine, both of my ovaries and both of my fallopian tubes. The infection did not spread to my blood stream and I am still praising God for that. I spent another 6 days in the hospital recovering and have a 6-8 week recovery time that I am 6.5 weeks into. Physically, I am feeling better everyday. I had 41 staples down my stomach and the scar is healing well. I am still very sore. Wanna see a picture? I think its a great memorial for all God has done and is doing in my life.

image2

Losing my fertility has probably been the hardest part of all of this and will probably be the focus of many future posts. For now, I am wrestling with God and could still use your prayers. He has given me such great peace but it is still a struggle as I think about the future of our family.

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6 thoughts on “Yes, I Am Alive

  1. Crystal, you are amazing, thank-you for writing and for articulating so well the peace that God gave you heading into and out of surgery. Louisa

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  2. I love you and am so Thankful that is behind us. You maybe 25 years old, happily married but your still my baby girl and God still uses you to grow me. I have witnessed you at deaths door 3 times now in these 25 years and after each occassion I have looked back over it and recognized how God uses our weakness to show us His strength. Not many things make a mother feel more weak than not being able to help her ill child.
    I admit that I mourn the loss that this involves and yet I also give Thanks for the first hand knowledge of knowing full well that it doesn’t take giving birth to be a Mother and I have such peace knowing God has a perfect plan and I believe that will include me hearing many more little ones calling me Nana that also call my baby girl, Momma.
    So proud of the woman you’ve become, love you.

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  3. Crystal –
    Your strength and faith in God are an inspiration. We will come to pray for you and Austin. I know God has great things in store for your future! Hugs and love!
    The Dudones

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  4. Crystal,
    We love you so much. Thanks for how you live and how you share.
    This is what I texted Austin when you were in the hospital June 1st at 12:34pm…
    Austin I just wanted you to know that we love you both very much and are praying for you. Thank you for keeping us aware of your families physical battle.

    I just called Melissa at work to pray together as I’m driving from Indianapolis to Erie Pennsylvania for work.
    We prayed that God would shield you both from doubt or anxious thoughts. That you would both rest in His sovereignty, and that the surgery would yield information that aids in Crystal’s recovery and healing.
    Scripture for you.
    “I said to the LORD, “You are my God!” Listen, O LORD, to my cries for mercy! O Sovereign LORD, the strong one who rescued me, you protected me on the day of battle.”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭140:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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