A Good Father

Today was a hard day. It’s a Monday so it’s not all too surprising, but for me if I’m honest, most Mondays aren’t actually all that bad. I make a point to get up early on Mondays to spend time with the Lord, and then go to the gym. It sets the right tone for my week.

My alarm went off at 4:45 this morning and I peeled my eyeballs open one at a time and off we went. Thus began a normal Monday for me. It hasn’t been terrible, really, but my heart is so burdened for others, I feel as though I’m trudging through mud, and can barely move my feet forward, and my head hurts from crying so stinkin’ much.

For the last several months, every Monday morning, I ask my coworker how her weekend was, knowing the answer ahead of time… and dreading it.

See, she’s watching her brother die from a brain tumor.

It is the most heartbreaking thing to watch. Maybe it’s because she’s been such a sweet friend to me, maybe it’s because I’m a little more sensitive to others’ hardships now, or maybe it’s because I have a brother myself, but I can’t get through my Monday morning without crying because it just hasn’t been good news for a while.

Today, I couldn’t get her off my mind, because he doesn’t have much longer on this earth, and I know how very hard this has all been for her. Today, I spent my lunch break weeping for this sweet girl and her tender heart. Today, I wept like a baby in the middle of a store because my heart is just so burdened for her.

I also wept because I thought of a couple in our family facing what must feel like an impossible future ahead. They both have serious health concerns and 3 small children. I know fear must be lurking at every corner. I know those corners all too well. I have begged God for miracles and bright sunny days on their behalf.

I got an update about someone I know with cancer. The news wasn’t great and they are so discouraged. The road ahead seems long and without much to look forward to. Their daughter is dear to me and I have cried out to the Lord on her behalf much over the last month. “She’s too young,” I reason. She’s too tender and too sweet to have to carry this burden. “God, please be good to her” I beg.

Today, one of our family members suffered a heart attack (after weeks of other health procedures and trials) and is in critical condition. The family was called in tonight to say goodbye, but fortunately for us, it is just “see you later.” Brandon got a phone call on the way home and went straight to the hospital where he is with all of the family, singing that sweet man into heaven. Sweet, familiar hymns of God’s grace and goodness.

I have wept today, really wept, more than I have in a long time. My heart cries out for these sweet people near to me, going through such difficult battles. In addition to these hardships, I know 2 more young mamas, one who was just diagnosed with cervical cancer and the other who was diagnosed with an incurable disease. In crying out to the Lord today, I have heard Him whisper very clearly to me, “I am still good” and I know this down deep in my core. He is good. He is good, even when it seems as though what we’re going through isn’t very “good.”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

See, when you’re watching your brother fade from this life, know that He is good. God loves you and is piecing together the puzzle that we don’t yet understand. He is there, and He is good.

When you lock eyes with your spouse in the midst of a health crisis, know that He is good. He knows you have young babies, and He’s writing a beautiful story for them, and for you. Let Him comfort you, and fear not. He is there, and He is good.

When your loved one feels crummy, because chemo and radiation can do that, rest in the grace of God Almighty. It is hard, and it seems unfair, but He is good! He is whispering softly to you and wants you to rest in Him. He is good, so good.

When one of the patriarchs of the family is at the doorstep to heaven, and you can’t imagine life without him, know that He is good. When it seems impossible for you to live without your other half, the man you intertwined yourself with for the better part of almost a century, know that He is good. God named each of the sparrows, and He counts each tear that falls from your face. He is so good, so so good! Rest in Him when you’re weary, because He will give you rest.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

I have been so burdened for so many people today and all day, God kept reminding me today that He is good. He is sweet, and He is good. I have wrestled with this all day and I thought about this… when I parent my children, I have to sometimes watch them make mistakes, or get hurt, or walk through something painful and I don’t relish in those moments of their pain and their sorrow. Instead, I feel their pain as if it were my own, often wishing I could take it from them for myself. I hold them close after they’ve been hurt, and I whisper softly in their hair “Mommy is here. It’s OK. Mommy is here. I know this was painful, but Mommy loves you and I am here.”

I have prayerfully asked the Lord for mercy and goodness on behalf of each of you, and I hope you rest well tonight, hearing Him whisper in your hair “I am here, I love you so much. It will be OK, child. I am here.”

Post Discharge

Today marks 2 weeks since I was discharged from the hospital (the second time). I was hospitalized 21 days out of the month of January. That. Is. Crazy.

Since my discharge, Brandon was discharged 2 days later on high dose steroids and we’re both rocking the low-residue healing diet. We’ve been joking that we’re a match made in heaven! How funny is that?! But on a serious note, I gained a whole new appreciation for what Brandon has been through. This is no walk in the park. And I will heal and most likely never deal with this again. Brandon has to face a lifetime of this. Oh, I hurt for him just knowing that pain like that lies ahead of him potentially.

“What’s the plan?”, you ask… Well, the plan for me is to heal – rest, low-residue diet for a few weeks, no heavy lifting, no working out for 3 months, and no running, ever. In a few weeks I will be off all medication and slowly incorporating more “regular” foods (read- VEGGIES!!!) back into my diet, and hopefully back to work soon. I’ve watched my fair share of Netflix and I’m ready to get back to normal… Now, when I’m pulling my hair out in a few months because we’re crazy busy like “normal”, just remind me that I was tired of watching tv and that I wanted this.

The plan for Brandon is to continue his steroid taper (which is working to open up the partial intestinal blockage that landed him in the hospital) in hopes that we can get the inflammation down to the point that the Remicade can work. And the Remicade dosage will be increased at his next infusion. We have 2 options available to us: increase the dosage, or increase the frequency at which the infusions occur. Our doctor has put us on the track to increase his dosage first and we will see how that plays out. I’m still hopeful that the Remicade will work, and that we can get this nasty Crohn’s under control. In case you’re just joining us on this journey, Brandon has a very aggressive form of stricturing Crohn’s. When the Crohn’s is active, that’s when the scar tissue forms. We need to pray that we can get the active Crohn’s to settle down and go into remission. Remission can last for years and that is my prayer. That we can live in remission and free from worry.

Forgive my lack of posts the last two weeks. It’s not like I haven’t had the time… I’ve had plenty of time, but I’ve been in a bit of a haze from the pain medication still and have been doing a lot of reflecting. I’ve got another post in the works but I don’t want to overdo it on this one.

For now, though, I have found myself so incredibly grateful and embracing just how blessed we are. You might be wondering how I can feel this way, when I just spent 3 weeks in the hospital and with Brandon’s health history, but let me put it in perspective… things could be so much worse. Sure, we started out 2016 with 2 hospitalizations, but neither of us has cancer, and both of our children are healthy! I could be writing post after post about how one of my sons is sick, or how one of us has a terminal illness… but I’m not. I’m writing about little storms in the Delk’s lives and how each of you has helped us weather them.

This past Sunday at church, our pastor showed a video, an NFL football Sunday video. I cried through the entire thing. You might find that odd, considering it was a video of NFL football players for Super Bowl Sunday, but I found myself relating immediately to Thomas Davis, linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, and the tears just wouldn’t stop. Call me crazy, but I felt like the video was just for me, on my first Sunday back at church, and I felt God clearly speaking to me.

I am so blessed and I feel like I’m bursting at the seams to tell everyone. If you’ve got 25 minutes to watch the video, you won’t regret it, but if you can only spare a few minutes, listen to Thomas Davis’ story (minutes 1-5) and Trent Dilfer’s story (minutes 15-21), just keep the tissues handy. I’d love to hear your reactions to the video.

I have a big ole gratefulness post but I’ll save that for later since this one is already long enough. Thanks for praying for us during this time, friends. We value each of you and I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, we’re convinced we have the best family and friends in the world.

 

The Unthinkable

The unthinkable has occurred. Brandon is in the hospital.

Brandon hasn’t been feeling good for a few weeks now and I finally got him to contact his doctor’s office yesterday and they immediately set him up for a CT scan yesterday after work. He was miserable all day and couldn’t eat and by the time he got to the imaging center he was so nauseated and in so much pain that he was having a hard time drinking the contrast solution.

He didn’t make it to CT. He began getting violently ill and was rushed to the Emergency Room by ambulance. He has been in the Emergency Room all night and been medicated for pain and nausea and had a CT scan done there.

The CT scan showed a partial obstruction at what looks like the spot where his intestines were stitched back together, which is a common occurrence. The good news at this point is that the surgeon doesn’t think he needs to operate right now. What they plan to do yet I’m not sure. The bad news is that the looming question in our minds may be true…

Is the Remicade not working?

Brandon was admitted to the hospital last night but there are no beds available so they are still in the ER. Please pray that a room opens up soon so he can be more comfortable.

This is a disaster right now. I can’t even believe my life. I was hiding last night (sorry if you messaged and I didn’t respond) and just tucked myself away because I was having such a hard time. Please pray with us. Things could be worse, and I know that, but this is very difficult. We are having to fully rely on God right now, because nothing seems to make sense. I’m clinging to His promises.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I’ll update as I can. Thank you, beautiful support system, your encouragement means the world to me right now.

More on Brandon’s story.

More on my story.

Yes, this is crazy.

More on the Crazy Colon Story

21 days. I have been in this place for 21 days. Ew. Just ew.

Here’s where we are in the whole process…

Immediately after publishing my last blog post, I felt a little chilled so I decided to get in the bed and under the covers to warm up. I couldn’t get warm. I called for some warm blankets and was still shivering so hard the bed shook. Silly me, I didn’t think anything of it, just that my thermostat must have been cut down real low and that I had gotten cold wearing this fabulous, but thin, hospital gown. Brandon’s aunt and uncle came to visit me and I apologized for not getting out of bed but I told them that I really was just chilled to the bone. We had a great visit, I seemed to warm up a bit, and as soon as they left, I felt myself start to feel weak.

Suddenly it hit me and I called for the nursing assistant to come take my temperature.

102.8.

Wowzers! I was really sick! And it had happened quick! I vaguely remember calling Brandon and my mom and then everything else is a blur. At one point I called to have some help getting out of the bed and to the bathroom because I felt so weak and so achey. I waited and no one came for about 15 minutes so I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom. As I was clinging onto my IV pole and the handicap railing on the wall, I heard my name called out and the bathroom door flung open. Brittney was magically there and helped me get back in the bed. Bless her. I honestly don’t remember much else about that night other than being so grateful that Brittney had ended up in my room. She took care of me for a few hours and she and Brandon and Joan helped facilitate me getting more than just 2 Tylenol for the fever.

Clearly something wasn’t right if I had spiked a high fever like that so they requested that my doctor be paged and antibiotics and fluids started right away. By morning, I felt much better.

I’m still on IV antibiotics and have had a few other scans done and have a repeat CT scan scheduled for tomorrow. Pray with me that the fluid will be even less in this scan than the last one, and that the inflammation in my colon will have decreased as well.

I had an ultrasound done on my leg at the puncture site where they went in for my angiogram because I’m still having serious pain in my leg. The ultrasound showed that I have a 5cm by 1cm hematoma – which is basically a collection of blood within the blood tissue, outside of the blood vessel – and that’s the cause of my pain. No wonder my leg hurts! I have a big ole bruise under the skin, in the muscle! Owie! If you see me limping around, it’s because I’ve got a boo-boo in my leg, not because my colon is weighing me down. Hahahah!

clear-liquids-tray

After many a day spent eating clear liquids (that sounds funny to say “eating clear liquids”. I feel like I should say “drinking” instead, but whatevs), I was finally progressed to a full liquid diet – soup, milkshakes, ice cream, yogurt – and after tolerating that well, they advanced my diet to soft foods, a low-residue diet. Basically a low-residue diet is a low fiber diet, sooooo, basically all the foods I never usually eat: pasta, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, white breads, and I’m to have no raw fruits and veggies, and broccoli, brussel sprouts, and salads are out. WAAAAHHH. Is this real life?! I love broccoli, see prior post for explanation, and brussel sprouts are a serious close second. (Please do me a favor and if you’ve never had roasted brussel sprouts, please toss them in olive oil and sea salt and roast them and enjoy them on my behalf over the next few months. You will love them. Seriously. Everyone I have ever made them for loves them.)

I have lost a lot of weight not being able to eat over the last 3 weeks and my doctor and some of my family are worried about it. But trust me, if all I’m allowed to eat are things like pasta and white breads, don’t worry, I’ll fatten back up eventually. When taking my lunch tray away the other day, my nursing assistant commented to another employee “She hasn’t eaten hardly anything. No wonder she’s lost weight. I mean she needs to eat!” Well, scuse me Miss-I-didn’t-ask-for-your-opinion-or-condemnation-but-you-gave-it-anyway, but I haven’t eaten for 3 weeks, my colon and pancreas are angry with me, I’m slightly afraid of making them mad all over again, AND my stomach has shrunk! I can’t eat but a few bites at a time! Sorry, a bit of “I’m tired of being in the hospital” escaped me just then…

The plan is for another doctor to come consult today to talk about the plan for my antibiotics. Do I need them still? Will I be discharged with them? Orally? Intravenously? I will have a ct scan done tomorrow or Thursday and then hopefully discharge will follow soon after.

By Sunday I was feelin’ a little frisky. I had been snowed in at the hospital with no visitors since Thursday, and I had a nurse who was a real rule follower that day and it was grating on my last nerve. Sunday afternoon Mom walked through my hospital room door and I could have kissed her! Ahh, people! My people! Here!! And not just through FaceTime! Woohoo!! She and Deryl had braved the icy roads and driven all the way to see me! I was thrilled. Mom and I had a bit of a slumber party that night. She brought me some games so of course we played them, she gave me a mini-manicure (my nails hadn’t seen any attention for 3 weeks – eek!), we watched the Panthers game (#keeppounding!) and then watched a movie until it was so late we couldn’t keep our eyes open. Thanks Mom and Deryl for being the sunshine in my snowstorm!! :)

Yesterday was a pretty good day… most of you probably saw my picture on Instagram or Facebook but if you didn’t, the nurses all pitched in to get me a gift and a card. It was so sweet! I cried!

gift-from-nurses

Then, I got a shower. Wooohooooo! This is a big deal in the hospital because you have to have a doctor’s order – Yes, I’d like patient B.Delk to maintain personal hygiene and get the funk taken care of today – and you have to be unhooked from the IV, have the IV site waterproofed – usually done very professionally, like with a cut off latex glove or a sandwich baggie with the bottom cut off and the ends masking taped around my arm – and then of course have the strength to stand up and bathe for that long. After my shower, Brittney fixed my hair and I put on a little bit of makeup and Joey and Nicole came to visit and brought me a gift! A cute little outfit that I had to put on right away (I wish I had known before now that I could wear real clothes!!) and I seriously felt human again!

brittney-bethany-hospital

To top it all off, Joan brought me yummy potato soup!! So good! Thank you Joan! I’ve been dreaming about potato soup! :)

potato-soup

If you have called, texted, messaged, visited, sent a card, sent a gift, dropped off food, given gift cards or money, watched the boys, THANK YOU. I am trying to keep a running tally of everyone I need to write a thank you note to, and it is getting to be quite the serious list. Our family is so blessed! We are richly and abundantly blessed! And you have no idea how encouraging you’ve been. Thank you sweet friends, thank you. I could get all sappy right here, but I won’t because my lunch tray just got here and you know how exciting hospital food is right?!

If you want to join us in prayer, here are some specifics I’m praying for this week:

  • No more infection
  • That the fluid will have completely reabsorbed into my body and allow my belly to heal.
  • For reduced inflammation of my colon
  • For my pancreas to quit being so angry with me and simmer down
  • Reduced pain
  • For my digestive system to handle food well and not rebel against it
  • That my body would get enough vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy (with not eating for several weeks, there was talk of IV nutrition, but we opted to go ahead with advancing my diet and all of the supplement drinks they want me to try are making me gag or upsetting my stomach – Ensure, Carnation Instant Breakfast, etc)
  • That my leg would heal and I would have no lasting effects from the angiogram (because right now it seriously hurts to walk!)
  • That I would be able to go HOME this week (and stay home!!!)
  • For my sweet babies. This is rough on them and they don’t know how to react. Maverick woke up in the middle of the night the other night and demanded that Brandon take him to the hospital to see Mommy. Oy. My heart.
  • For my Brandon. He’s playing Dad and Mr. Mom so well right now, but its tough. And when I say tough, I mean, so-hard-to-juggle-work-laundry-meals-for-everyone-hospital-visits-childcare and on top of that the stress. Stress is a main trigger for a Crohn’s flare, and friends, please pray hard with me, because he hasn’t been feeling the greatest, and I am so worried. I hate I’ve put all of this stress on him and I want to fix it, but right now I’m attached to an IV pole, unable to do a darn thing. Please, please pray for this man. And if you’ve offered to help him, bless you. I want to repay you all for your kindnesses, and keep them coming, because the only help he’s getting right now is through you, and for that I am eternally grateful.
  • Travel safety for my mom and Deryl as they travel to and from NC to be with me, and for Joan as she comes almost every day to be with me and help Brandon.

If you’re new around here and want to catch up, feel free to read the rest of my Crazy Colon Story. 😉

A Discouraging Week and a Few Answers

I honestly haven’t wanted to write an update. I’ve been back here (in the hospital) since Sunday, and I’ve been a little more discouraged and battling the pain and nausea and “oh poor me’s” so blogging has been far from my mind. If you’ve texted me and my replies are short, its because I’m swimming through the pain medication fog, or gritting my teeth through the sharp pangs of pain in my side.

I was discharged Friday, spent a glorious one and a half days at home, and then by Sunday mid-morning Mom was gripping me by the shoulders and telling me that she was taking me back to the Emergency Room. To be still, Josh and Deryl would carry me to the car. That the boys would be fine, Christa would watch them and feed them and play legos and superheros and put together puzzles.

It was snowing, and the drive to the hospital is a blur. I remember gritting my teeth and moaning and crying and being carried to a wheelchair and whisked inside. A new bracelet was slapped on my wrist (I could have probably worn the one from the first admission but I’d lost so much weight that it slipped right off) and I was immediately wheeled to a room in the Emergency Room. In a flurry of activity, I was dressed in a gown, hooked up to an EKG machine, and had an IV started. It took multiple rounds of IV pain meds to get my pain under control. I was in agony. I reserve “10” on the pain scale for childbirth, but this was a definite “9.”

My labs came back with elevated lipase levels which means I had pancreatitis. The long and short of it (and the best my doctor can explain) is that basically my colon was so inflamed that it aggravated my pancreas and caused my levels to rise. I’ve had pancreatitis once before, years ago, a fluke thing, and it was incredibly painful. I didn’t eat for 2 weeks and was on enzymes to help digest my food for months and then I was fine. Haven’t looked back.

hospital-flowers

Now I’m in the hospital with ischemic colitis and pancreatitis. I feel ridiculous. Seriously. Part of the reason I didn’t want to post an update is that I feel absurd! I am not a sick person! Why am I laid up in the hospital with these ridiculously serious and painful conditions?! I want to be working and running to the grocery store with the rest of the county, trying to buy bread and milk and batteries. I do not want to be here.

Monday was frustrating. No one had called my GI doctor yet and by this point we were ready to transfer to UNC. Monday evening he came by, shocked that I was here and immediately took charge. He ordered another vascular consult, and that physician scheduled an angiogram for Wednesday. An angiogram (or arteriogram) is basically a procedure in which the physician goes through your femoral artery in your leg and feeds tiny tube and camera up through your veins and arteries.

Praise the Lord we did this test. Typically you have 3 main arteries that feed blood vessels to your colon. The angiogram found that I have only 2 arteries and that the third is not there. So, one of my other arteries has been trying its hardest to compensate and that’s probably why I haven’t had more trouble than I have. (It’s just like me to have ambitious arteries haha!) Needless to say, we were so relieved to FINNNNALLY have an answer of some sort.

No one told me about the pain from the angiogram though. Oh my. After the procedure I was in so much pain. My leg felt like it was being amputated. I generally have thick legs (a product of years of gymnastics, cheerleading and working out) but since I haven’t eaten in 2 weeks, I’ve lost some weight and the vascular physician said that because I was so thin, the artery was right next to the nerve and I would probably have severe pain for several days. He was right. In the middle of the night last night I woke up crying from the pain and have been on pain medication round the clock.

This morning I had an MRI. It showed that the pancreas is doing ok, and has no defects, and that the colon is still inflamed and has fluid surrounding it. It also showed that the bottoms of my lungs are collapsed from having sat in so much fluid the past 2 weeks. Don’t worry though, it isn’t permanent and once I get moving around a little more and breathing less shallowly and get rid of some of this fluid, the lungs will fill back up with air.

Overall, I’m a little more discouraged this go round and rockin’ some serious pain. The doctors want to try me on a liquid diet again (I haven’t eaten since Saturday) and then progress me if I can tolerate it. They also want to wean me off of IV pain meds to a regimen that I can handle at home. I am still in a lot of pain, so if you want to pray for me, I’d appreciate it.

I’m also really, really, really bummed that I’m going to get snowed in at the hospital by myself, while my boys build snowmen and sled down the hill and eat snow cream. I want to cry over this. I wanted to be able to go home today. I want to be able to eat. I want to not have an IV connected to my arm. I want to snuggle my boys without having to say “be careful of mommy’s tummy and her leg!” I want to cuddle up on the couch and watch movies and see the snow falling and eat homemade potato soup and brownies and other yummy snowed-in foods. I’m tired of being woozy and foggy and nauseous. I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to wear my own clothes. I want to bound out of bed and make the boys pancakes and sausage in the morning.

Seriously sad face emoji over here.

See, this is why I haven’t posted this week. Because I’m on the struggle bus and I don’t like being negative but I feel a little discouraged, yall! I am trying really hard to not have a pity party. If I’m delayed in responding to your messages forgive me. This week has been especially difficult and I didn’t want any negativity to come across.

I’m reminding myself that I have the opportunity to choose joy, and that’s the better of the choices, so joy it is. Enjoy the lovely snow! I’ll be stalking Facebook for all your snow pictures so keep em comin!

It Is Well, I Just Know It Is


It is well.

We’ve been on a crazy ride the last 2 years but all is well. I know it is. You want to know how I know? We have two beautiful boys (I know I should say handsome but they are beautiful in their mama’s eyes), we’ve not gone hungry – not once – and we have the most fabulous and supportive friends and family on the planet. We are employed, we have wonderful memories, we attend an awesome church with a wonderful church body, and all.is.well.

Romans 12:22 says: “Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.”

Psalm 34:19 says “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

bethany-day10-hospital

Ten days is a long time to spend in the hospital. As you can imagine, I’ve spent a lot of it in a foggy haze, some of it sleeping, some of it watching Netflix, and some of it seeking Him. I’ve turned it round and round in my head… why would my husband have Crohn’s disease and have to have 2 bowel resections and then THIS happen to ME? Trust me, the water filter in the fridge is being changed, and we are knee-deep in conspiracy theory thoughts about the building materials used in our house. Ha.

But seriously… Why?

Did you know you could drive yourself crazy with one little word?

Why?

It leads to so much doubt, so much confusion, and it slowly and silently crowds out the peace. Because “Be still, Child, be still” is a whisper. Its the first to get crowded out when the whys happen.

I may never, ever know why. I may walk out of this place and never have to return and be welcomed home by a mailbox full of medical bills and never know why. The thing is, I don’t need to know why. I’d love to know, so I can prevent my current situation from ever happening again, but I don’t need to know.

My Lord delivers me.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I have spent the last few days trying to turn this into joy. Trials are hard. Trials are messy. They break down the joy. They ooze of icky, yucky thoughts and doubts. But count it JOY, my brethren, because your faith through the trials is refining you. I can say with confidence, I am NOT the woman I was 2 years ago. I am stronger, more confident, more refined, than I was 2 years ago, young in the face of life’s trials.

We could sink a small yacht with the medical bills and doubts we have accrued over the years, but friends, it is well. I know without a shadow of a doubt that my God cares for me, loves me, and is leading me.

Refinement can be painful and most usually is. Perfection isn’t easy. But choose joy.

For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance. Psalm 66:10-12

I’m choosing joy and abundance. Choose with me. Choose joy and have abundance, for it is well, it is well.

What is Ischemic Colitis?

Today is Day 9 in the hospital. I have been in the hospital for 9 days because I have Ischemic Colitis.

What is Ischemic Colitis anyway? According to Mayo Clinic the definition is:

Ischemic colitis occurs when blood flow to part of the large intestine (colon) is reduced, usually due to narrowed or blocked blood vessels (arteries).

Apparently when I was running, in the cold, last Monday morning, the blood flow to my colon was severely restricted and Ischemic Colitis occurred. If Brandon had not made me an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday, I would have likely gone into septic shock and would have needed to have all/part of my colon removed. This is a very scary thought.

I have good news though!! The biopsy from my colonoscopy came back and it was positive for Ischemic Colitis but NEGATIVE FOR CANCER and everything else!! Praise the Lord!!!

-insert very calm and slow happy dance so as not to jostle my already tender colon-

Yesterday the hematologist came by and said he was going to test for all sorts of blood clotting disorders and then I gave up approximately half my bodyweight in blood in order to get those tests done. No, but seriously. Look at how many vials of blood I had to give.

blood-clotting-testing

Tomorrow I will meet with a vascular physician to talk about testing and follow up after discharge because those tests can’t be done while I am still an inpatient.

My GI physician came by today and reiterated to me just how rare this is. He said that his usual ischemic colitis patients are 70-80 years old and the youngest patient he’s ever had with it was 64 years old so it is extremely rare to see someone my age with this. He also went over again what a long road of recovery I’m facing. Let me say again… This.Is.Crazy.

I feel (other than my “swollen colon”) perfectly healthy! But, because my colon is mad at me right now, I am looking at several weeks of recovery and am under doctor’s orders to not work out for 3 months and he said the most strenuous thing I’m allowed to do for the next couple of months is walk up and down the aisle at the grocery store. -insert shocked face emoji and sad face emoji-

I am hoping to be discharged later this week or this weekend… everybody altogether now: “Yaaaaaaay!!”

I miss my babies so, so, so much. Like, so much. I can’t even begin to tell you how my heart longs to be with my sweet boys. And with my Brandon. Oh, I can’t wait to snuggle on the couch with my Brandon! To be able to hold his hand and not have to worry about moving my IV line out of the way. To be able to get him something, rather than having to rely on him to help me to the bathroom, or unplug my IV pole and wheel it around, or unhook me from these fancy-schmancy-blood-clot-preventing-blow-up-sexy-velcro-leg-wearing-thing-a-ma-bobs that I have to wear. So not cute.

Thanks for praying for us you guys! Yall are seriously the best! I get approximately a bajillion texts/calls/messages a day from yall and it is so encouraging. THANK YOU.

If you want to keep praying for us, you know I like specifics, so here they are:

  • Pray for wisdom for the doctors because we really, really, really want to know what caused me to have ischemic colitis. If we know what caused it then hopefully we will be able to figure out how to prevent it from happening again, because yall, this was no walk in the park. It was a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day err, 9 days so far.
  • Pray for Brandon and the boys. This is hard on all of them. Pray for low stress levels for Brandon (because stress is a Crohn’s flare trigger!!!) and peace. Pray for smooth arrangements with the boys so Brandon doesn’t have to worry about where they’re going and when too much. Pray for my sweet babes, that they will have lots of fun and not worry about mommy. Pray for easy transitions and good behavior – craziness tends to provoke naughty behavior in my boys. Can’t say I blame them.
  • Pray for rest. Brandon and I are both so very tired.
  • Pray for my mother. She is so worried and even though she’s smiling, I can hear it in her voice over the phone and I can read it in her eyes when she’s here. There is not much worse in the world than seeing your baby in pain and she so badly wants to make it better.
  • Pray that I tolerate food well and can be discharged soon!
  • Pray that the dark spots in my colon (that you saw in the pictures in Brandon’s post) will begin to heal and have adequate blood flow.

Thank you all and we love you so much! Thanks for reading our crazy story!

 

Guest Post 2.0

I don’t like roller coasters; I think I get that from my dad. Growing up whenever we would go to an amusement park, I would be the one sitting at the the exit waiting on my family and friends. I think the reason I don’t like them, is because I’m not in control. That’s tough for me. I like things ordered and neat, and more so, I like to be the one to order them in the way I want them ordered. Today has been a roller coaster. It started last night with Bethany having to do a prep to get ready for her colonoscopy today. I know from personal experience just how miserable that can be. To top it off, she didn’t even get to begin until 8pm last night, which ensured that she/we would be up all night. This was due to her G.I. seeking extra counsel as to whether or not she would be able to make through the colonoscopy without perforation, due to the swollen and fragile state of her colon. After deciding it needed to be done, the prep began. The team came in this morning to make sure she had completed the prep and made the call to the endoscopy suite to let them know. The procedure was supposed to begin at 11:15am. At 1:15, we were informed it had been moved to 2:15pm. In addition to the waiting, Bethany was not allowed to have anything to drink. No water, no ice chips, nothing. This also meant no pain medicine by mouth. She was still able to have I.V pain medicine, but it wasn’t adjusted to account for the medicine she wasn’t allowed to have orally. So we sat and waited, as she laid in bed and soldiered through the pain with grace. After being taken to the prep area, it was finally time and she was wheeled into the procedure room. I was told it would take about 45 minutes and then they would come and get me, and allow me to sit with her in recovery. After sitting in the hallway with my sister for about 20 minutes, the nurse came and got me. I got back to Bethany and she looked so peaceful. Like she was finally able to rest without the nagging, constant pain. Ten minutes later the doctor came over to talk and go over the results. I had silently been praying all day and trying to prepare myself for what could possibly be found, but I still wasn’t ready for his findings.

He confirmed what we thought, that this was Ischemic Colitis that she was dealing with. He begin to show me the pictures and my heart sank. From my own experience and from having a desire to go into medicine before I was called into ministry, I know just enough to make me somewhat educated. The moment I saw the pictures of her colon, I knew it was bad. I somehow managed to mutter, “that’s bad”, to the doctor, only to have him respond, “that’s very bad.” He said he took some biopsies and had them rushed. We should know Wednesday. He feels the next steps would be to consult with a hematologist (blood doctor), vascular surgeon and a general surgeon. As he began to walk out of the room, and as Bethany began to wake from sedation, I followed him out to inquire further and have a heart to heart. This G.I doctor I think highly of. He is the one who made the decision to transfer me to UNC and to get me into the care of the surgeon that is one of the best in the U.S. for G.I. surgery. He is thorough and diligent. I told him if we were looking at surgery that I’d like her to go to Chapel Hill and have this surgeon do it. Then I asked him, “What would you do?” he responded, “let’s get her to Chapel Hill, I’ll go call Dr. Karuda.” He told me that this is exceedingly rare.  We left the recovery room and headed back to Bethany’s room. Things begin to move quickly. As we tried to discuss the next steps, Bethany was beginning to read the concern on our faces and see that we would leave the room to talk. She asked us to, “to tell her like it is”, and “don’t sugar coat it”, so as we cried together we told her what was on the horizon. Transfer to UNC and beyond that a lot of unknowns.

It was here, as we discussed what ifs, that the Lord graciously lifted our spirits. The G.I. doctor returned to Bethany’s room and told us that he had spoken with my surgeon and that he felt Bethany did not need surgery at this time. He said he has never seen a case like this is someone this young and didn’t believe she needed to have a colon re-section, that there is a possibility that this could heal on it’s own. So where does this leave us? As of now, Bethany will remain here. We know for certain she has Ischemic Colitis.

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Normal Section of Colon

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Ischemic Colitis

Essentially, she has suffered a heart attack to this area of the colon. Even with this confirmation, we still need to get to the bottom of the problem. Ischemic Colitis is what caused her to land in the hospital, but what caused the Ischemic Colitis? As we have been told many times, this is exceedingly rare for someone her age, and of her excellent health status. We will see a hematologist and vascular surgeon tomorrow. The thought currently, is that she may have some type of clotting disorder, or vascular issue. If she is to heal without surgery, she is looking at many weeks worth of recovery. We are thankful for the Lord’s graciousness and goodness and are praying for continued answers. Again we are overwhelmed by the love and generosity of you all. We are overcome with gratitude! Please continue to pray!

Specific things to pray for:

  1. That the biopsies are negative. There is a very real possibility this can be the dreaded C word diagnosis.
  2. For the doctors to find the root cause
  3. Rest for Bethany. She is so weary. As you know it’s hard enough to rest in the hospital.
  4. Peace.  Bethany has been a champ, but she is mostly worried about the boys. Pray that the Lord would pour out His peace on her.

 

Brandon

The Swollen Colon

bethany-hospital-visit

Can I write a hospital update on myself?! Is that weird??

It is. But its also weird that I’m in here in the first place. Because, c’mon, I’m one of the healthiest people we know… right?! I work out 5-6 days a week, I take my vitamins and supplements, and I had started Whole30 on January 1st and typically eat a pretty healthy diet anyway. My coworkers tease me because when we have team lunch at Red Robin, they say bells and whistles must go off when I order because certainly I’m the only person in the history of the restaurant to ever order the bottomless broccoli.

… what?? I love broccoli, ok?!

And call me crazy but sometimes I eat a turkey burger and veggies for breakfast. So weird, I know, but I crave those healthy foods, and since doing Whole30 last January (which is basically a form of Paleo) I have chosen to eat mostly paleo foods in order to be able to have the sweets that I want to have. Its all about moderation, right?

Anyway, I’m sure you’re all wondering what the heck I’m doing laid up in the hospital for the past week. Yeah, I’m still trying to figure that one out too, but here’s a quick rundown of what happened.

Monday morning I woke up super early to be able to go for a run with Brittney and about halfway through, I had to stop and walk because my stomach felt extremely bloated and I wasn’t sure if I had a stitch in my side or what was going on. It was really cold out, and early, so I couldn’t really figure out why my stomach was being so weird. Anyways, after I finished the 3 miles, I got in my car and sped home, because I thought I was going to be sick. Long story and lots of details short, I ended up staying home from work Monday and Tuesday because I thought I maybe had the stomach bug or norovirus or something and was in a ton of pain. Mid-morning Tuesday, I called Brandon in tears while he was at work and told him I just couldn’t do another day like the day before. He got off the phone with me and immediately made an appointment with my doctor for later that day. I am so glad he did.

When I went to my doctor’s appointment, they ended up doing an ultrasound (at the time they were worried I was having an ectopic pregnancy or had a hemorrhagic cyst that was bursting) and found an abnormally large amount of fluid in my abdomen. They were so concerned that they sent me immediately to the Emergency Room.

I think at this point I was so weak and tired from being in pain and being so sick and not eating for 2 days that I was unable to really grasp the severity of the situation. I was barely able to stand up in the line to check in at the ER and when I finally sat down in triage, the nurse took the buzzer from me (like the kind you get when you have to wait at a restaurant) and said “oh sweetheart, you won’t need this anymore. We’re taking you right back.” At that point I knew it was serious. There were tons of people in the waiting room, and they were taking me right back?! Whoa. From working in a hospital previously, I knew this was a big deal. I was really, really sick.

After getting in a room, there was such a flurry of activity, that I didn’t have time to really think and I was still in so much pain. A bunch of labs and tests and doctors and exams later, I was told I was not only going to be admitted to the hospital, but that I would be heading up to ICU.

ICU? Less that 48 hours earlier I had run 3 miles and now I’m going to spend the night in ICU?! This was blowing my mind.

bethany-icu-hospital-visit

After having spent the last 4 and a half days in the hospital, I can say several things definitively now:

  1. I have walked a mile in Brandon’s shoes and gotten a small taste of what he’s been through and have a whole new appreciation for that man I am blessed enough to call mine.
  2. I may never eat jello again.
  3. Nothing matters except getting the pain to stop when you’re cross-eyed and belly up.
  4. Sometimes going to the doctor is OK. It might just save your life.
  5. After you don’t eat for several days, you truly are not hungry. It’s weird. I didn’t understand when Brandon was in the hospital and didn’t eat for 10 days, but now I totally get it.
  6. I have the best mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law for dropping everything to help me.
  7. You really do learn something new everyday. Colitis is an inflamed colon. (Hence the title of this post “The Swollen Colon” bahahha) There’s your new fact. You’re welcome. If you already knew that, did you know that taking too much ibuprofen could cause it? Yeah, I’m throwing my Advil bottle away too.

Maverick-Bethany-hospital

My kids have had a blast staying at their cousins’ house this past week and I can’t thank Brittney and Cole enough for watching and caring for my kids like their own. They have packed an extra lunch and dropped off 2 extra kids in the morning, and picked them up in the evening. They’ve fed and bathed and loved on them and sent me funny stories and pictures to get me through. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you! I hope they know that should they ever need it, I would do the same for them.

paxton-bethany-hospital

To my poor mother and mother-in-law, who both dropped everything and rushed from work to come to the Emergency Room (and have done this more times than I can count in the past 2 years for us), thank you. You have helped us navigate more emergencies than you should have to, and we’ve put your nerves through the wringer more than we should. (Oops) I’m sorry and thank you. Thanks for sitting in uncomfortable plastic chairs and waiting long hours for test results, just for us. Thanks for feeding me ice chips and helping me pee and getting the nurse when I’m in too much pain to do it myself. My sweet mother even washed my feet for me. That’s love yall.

So, for now, the diagnosis is acute colitis, and the plan is to try and get better… but seriously. Each day depends on how I am feeling and today, I was progressed to a soft foods diet and was able to eat a whole 6 bites. Yaaaaay!

hospital-food

Tomorrow I’ll have a repeat CT scan to compare it to the one from the other day, and then most likely I’ll have a colonoscopy to try and see what’s made my colon so mad at me.

Pray for continued improvement and less pain, wisdom for the doctors and answers. Definitive and clear answers. So far I’ve been a bit of a mystery case and baffled the physicians. I don’t like that. I want them to know that I have X and that in order to get better I need to do Y and that if I do that Z will happen. I don’t like the fuzzy abcdefg-crap in the middle.

Pray for my babies. They are so confused. I want to just sit and cry when I think about my poor sweet babies and how their little lives have been scattered with one parent or the other out of commission and how disruptive that is to the structure that kids crave. I feel awful. Also, its taxing on Brandon and everyone who has to help us. Life is just easier when no one is in the hospital, amen?

Pray for Brandon. He’s trying really hard to wear the husband/daddy/employee hat and finding out just how hard it is to do all of that completely when your spouse is in the hospital. He’s frustrated and wants to be able to fix it all, and has to keep the house running by himself. Pray for this man, that he would stay in good spirits, that he would be a positive rock for the boys, that he would be able to get good rest at night and stay well. Pray that the stress would not creep in and let his Crohn’s flare. Lord knows we can’t have both of us in the hospital at the same time! What a disaster!!

I know the Lord has a special plan in mind for the Delk family. He is preparing us for the future and I don’t mind weathering the storm. I know He is carrying us through this time and that at some point, maybe years down the road, we will be able to look back and see how all the pieces fit together, but for now, we will blindly trust Him, because that is what is required. Thanks friends, for praying for us, and for all that you’ve given to us. Your love has overwhelmed us again and we thank God for each of you.

If you missed the first part of this crazy week, you can read Brandon’s update. Or you can catch up on Brandon’s journey.

Deja Vu and a Guest Post

After two long days, we might have started to get some answers tonight. They have been treating Bethany for Colitis. Colitis is inflammation of the colon, specifically for Bethany, the transverse and descending colon. Basically, the area of her large intestine where it goes across her body and turns to go down the left side of her body is inflamed. As a result of that inflammation, the colon gets “weepy” and leaks fluid into the cavity surrounding it. This fluid is the build up of fluid that the original ultrasound found. This is what we know. The question has been what caused Colitis in a young, fit, very health and diet conscious, 31 year old women with no health problems? The doctor believes this is Ischemic Colitis. Ischemic Colitis is where a portion of the colon gets deprived, or starved, of blood for a period of time. This is typically seen in older patients or patients that have other underlying health concerns. The thought is that when Bethany was running on Monday, her body shifted the blood that was meant for this area of the colon away from the colon, and instead sent it to the muscles that she was using while running. Until this point, doctors believed she had colitis, but weren’t sure what type. Essentially, they knew the colon was inflamed, but there were multiple possibilities as to why. Even though the G.I. specialist believes this to be the case, it “fits”, it’s still not an absolutely definitive diagnosis. There is still the possibility that this colitis was brought on by a food borne bacteria/pathogen, making it infectious colitis. After much research and many, many questions, the reality is we may never know for sure the cause. What we do know is that we are here for at least the next few days as we are in this “watch and wait” period. They still need to make sure that this fluid in her abdomen is re-absorbed, and that the part of her colon that was deprived of blood is not permanently damaged, meaning she would lose that part of the colon and have to have a re-section done. Her doctors seem optimistic that she won’t have to have surgery and that part of the colon will wake up and function normally. Her diaphragm is also inflamed and the cavity that the lungs sit in, as a result of the inflamed fluid.

On Tuesday evening, with the doctors and ER team feverishly working on Bethany, my mind naturally begin to wonder; Why? Why her Lord? Why our family? What are you trying to teach us or prepare us for that we haven’t already learned in this difficult season? What did I do to cause this? I didn’t get very long into that thought process before the Holy Spirit reminded me that God isn’t conditional. He is ABSOLUTE. Unchanging. Constant. Steady. In His sovereingty and grace, He is Absolute. It’s not for me to always know the answers, the why’s and the how’s. I might not always know His reasoning, but I can always trust His infinite goodness. See even when I don’t feel it, or I choose to ignore it, God is always good. His ways are not my ways. As I’ve sat in this hospital the last two days, furiously researching potential causes and conditions, I’ve been reminded that it’s not up to me. Instinctively, I always try to control the outcome. If I can figure out the problem, than I can fix it. The common refrain there is I . I rely on me to figure it out, fix it, and prevent it and dedicate a large majority of time to that; when I should simply trust the Lord and His goodness. When “i” try to be the solution to the problem I rely on my own strength instead of looking to Christ for His. We may never know why, but what is for certain is that even in our darkest hour He is worthy. He is sufficient.

Once again, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and generosity. The calls, texts, offers of help with boys and to provide dinner, every single act of kindness has meant so much to us! The Lord has used you to encourage us in this time and for that we are so grateful! We truly have the greatest friends and family. We love you!

Brandon