On Sunday February 7, 2016, at around 6:00 pm, Duke called to tell me that it was time! It was during church; communion service.
Of course, with dozens and dozens of close calls, maybe's and then failures, I tried not to get my hopes up.
However, by 11:15 pm, I was checking in at Duke's emergency room. They almost immediately walked me to the surgery prep rooms. I had been there once before...
After putting on the ever-stylish hospital gown, blood work, answering lots of questions and getting an IV (which was difficult), they let me rest for a bit.
Honestly, I was nervous at first and even though I thought it might really be it-the time; the stars, planets, and their moons in heaven were all aligned, God was smiling on me, time itself was standing still, and every single detail was in place-I still didn't want to get my hopes up.
Around four or five Monday morning, people started pouring in-anesthesiologists, nurses, doctors...a whole medical team was preparing me. One of them said surgery was scheduled at around 7. I didn't flinch, I'd heard it all before.
Then the actual surgeon came in. He set his proud self down on the blue and black swivel seat, leaned back all comfy, crossed his legs, put his hands together, looked at me with his dark eyes and said in a calm, low voice, "You really don't have to do this. I would understand if you want to back out. There's lots of risk."
Peace that passes ALL understanding - at least that my feeble brain can comprehend - was with me. My Warrior was with me. My Hero! My Savior!
Too late, Mr! I have the peace of Jesus! You don't scare me!
As much as I wish I could have said this out loud, not sure it would have done anything for this man's soul, so instead I said, "I still want to. I'm ready when you are."
"Okay," he said. "Well, I'm going to go look at the pancreas while they are removing the liver and I'll see how it looks."
Ready. Set. And it was a go! Praise God! It makes me cry even now thinking about it. God's time IS perfect! Thirty-one years perfect to be exact. He knows what He's doing! Why do we ever doubt Him?
At around 7:45 am, the surgical and anesthesia teams had finished their shift change, everyone was bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go! On a Monday to beat it all, thank the Lord! Best time to have surgery! Right?
They started me on an insulin drip. I kissed my old, yet loyal friends the insulin pump and CGM goodbye forever, Lord willing. It was sort of bittersweet. They aided me to be healthy. I won't miss them, but I'll be forever thankful for the tools God has allowed man to invent that aided in being a healthier diabetic.
Whenever I was wheeled into surgery I told the person maneuvering the bed around that it smelled like a science lab. He chuckled and said, "Yes, it does!"
They aligned my bed beside the surgical table. I saw my surgeon and another man (the other surgeon) man-handling something in a large, pristine, metal bowl. It was the pancreas!
"Can I see it?," I asked, very curious.
One of the surgeons (with a smile I could see in his eyes) lifted it up so I could look at it. The glorious piece of clay that some precious person didn't need anymore and had so graciously gifted to me.
It was huge! I'm not a super skinny person, but good grief where were they gonna put that thing?!
The pancreas was white and was made up of these little nodules all over it. It looked like it was made up of those round bubble bath beads that melt and pour out some sort of smell-good fragrance when they get in hot bath water.
I think I said something like, "That is so cool."
I got on the surgical table and asked the nurse that would be watching me the duration of the surgery, if I could pray.
"Oh, yes!," she said.
I closed my eyes and prayed, quickly, but for each person in the room, for the procedure and that God would use this for His glory.
When I opened my eyes they were bustling all around me. Someone asked me if I was ready, they were going to, "put me out."
Yes, I was ready. I knew the Lord was there with me. I felt strange peace, contentment, happiness, a little humanistic worry, and especially relief.
I didn't care if I died. I wasn't scared. I guess I always knew I wouldn't, but there was always that possibility.
I think the last thing I said was something really stupid, like, "Thank you all so much," and I drifted toward unconsciousness or sleep or whatever happens when one is having surgery. Pssst! I don't think it's sleep... 😳 More on that later though.
I woke up about 3 1/2 to 4 hours later in ICU. There was a young man named Adam that would be my nurse during the day.
I woke up to Adam asking me how my pain was. When I roused into myself, I realized the pain was bad. It was as if I could feel every stitch and cut, every staple and muscle screaming at me. Help!
I tried winding myself into a ball and I saw his face turned worried.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst, what is it?"
"A 10! A 10!," I said, teeth clinched.
He ran out and a young woman nurse came in and tried to console me while he attended to my pain. "Do you want me to go get your family?," she said, running her hand down my face to console me.
When I'm in pain, I just want to be left alone. I don't want people touching on me or fussing over me. Just make it stop! I hope I didn't push her hand away. She was being very kind.
After a few doses of elephant tranquilizers, my red hair got the idea who was boss and let the pain ease up a bit. 😄
Family came in and I kept falling asleep only to wake up 10 minutes later with my mouth gaping open, just like my daddy used to.
Why do I do that? I hate it! 😝
My beautiful sister in the Lord and former diabuddy, Kelby, came to visit and brought me a very stylish pair of pajama bottoms and a super soft robe to keep my decency.
Teresa and Chris were there the whole time during surgery and they were the family that came in as soon as my pain subsided for the most part. I remember seeing my pastor at one point and sticking my tongue out at him. It was my way of saying, "Yes, I'm okay." He worries about everybody.
Teresa is my angel. I love her. She hovered over me while she was there, making sure I was okay. Seriously, I love her to death. I would not have been able to do this without her!
Then I remember it being dark. Was it nighttime or evening or morning? I heard chatter and giggles to my right. I tried hard to see who it was. There was a doctor leaning against the inside doorframe with a bunch of giggling nurses. One in particular stood out because she was a little thing, but stood out tremendously with her hot pink scrubs. Was she trying to get the doctor's attention? ☺️
The next thing I remember is sort of cheeky, but it was super embarrassing. So is life. Sometimes embarrassing, horrible things happen and we have to deal with them the best way we know how.
Two transplant people came in. I believe it was either two doctors or one doctor and one nurse. I couldn't tell you what in the world they looked like if I stood face to face with them right this minute.
I remember the doctor walking in because I thought, "Wow. He really thinks he's something!" I could tell by the big, pearly-white smile, head held slightly too high and the way he strutted. He needed an award for being able to even walk so high off the ground. He wasn't anywhere near what he thought he was. Wish I had had enough sense to tell him.
He asked if he could see my staples. I moved the gown aside as my incision and staples are just above my belly button, around my belly button and down to the middle of my public bone.
He started massaging my right side - where they operated. His hands were warm on my swollen side and I'm going to be honest - it felt amazing! It took pressure off of my poor insides that had been cut to pieces.
"How does that feel?," he asked.
Honesty is wonderful, friends! We should always be honest. No matter how hard.
I was honest. I was honestly on s lot of medicine too. I hope all I said was, "It feels really good." Or maybe just the word "good."
His response makes me believe maybe I said how good it indeed did feel with a bit too much emphasis. Please don't let the devil work on your thoughts. I was in pain and it gave me some relief.
"That's why you have a husband," he said, with an evil smile, looking up at Chris, but continuing to massage my side. He knew he'd hit a nerve with the ladies in the room. A lot of men. Are. Pigs. I gave him a "you-think-you're-so-amazing-but-you-are-j
I appreciated the support from the other doctor/nurse, as she too, gave him a disgusted look. How dare him! I was in ICU, hooked to a looming tower full of medicines dripping into my veins, remember the elephant tranquilizers? And my body was in shambles. Men! No!
As a woman, I wanted to leap out of that bed and show him what he really was, but as a Christian woman, I pray he finds Jesus!
We are in this world, but not of it!
Let's talk about the IVs and such now. When I woke up, I had an IV in my right hand, one in my left and a Jugular line that was stitched into the left side of my neck. I may have had one in my arm too, but one was taken out, along with the nose drain thing when I left ICU.
I was only in there the rest of my surgery day and that night. The next day (Tuesday) they moved me out of ICU into a regular room.
My beautiful mommy came later that day and I was so happy she was able to be with me!
Although the worst wasn't necessarily over, I was so relieved. I won't go into too much detail about the rest of my stay now, but I did meet some great nurses, got loads of love, and was determined to get out and be able to take a shower!
God was with me! There was one song I kept singing to myself over and over: Trust in You by Lauren Daigle. The battle wasn't and isn't mine - it's the Lord's.
Read my next entry for more on the transplant!