Thursday, July 30, 2009
Suzy has been discharged from the hospital! However, she is still in quite a bit of pain, though it is somewhat manageable by medication. She is walking, but anything more than 50 feet is really quite a bear. We'll have another appt with Dr. Parker in the morning and if all goes well, we'll be cleared to drive back to South Bend.
She's resting a lot and often falls asleep mid-sentence. Thank you for all of the phone calls, but at this point emails are best because she is constantly sleeping (or at least trying to sleep). I read her the emails when she wakes up and it really lifts her spirits.
Thanks for all of your prayers and please keep 'em coming.
Suzy is still quite groggy (the pain meds are literally knocking her out). Suzy doesn't normally take much in the way of pain killers, so these are hitting her harder than they might affect others, at least that's what the attending doctor seemed to indicate.
We were supposed to be out of the hospital by 10am, but clearly that isn't going to happen. Suzy still needs to be able to 'void' her bladder and walk around the hallway of her hospital wing at least three times. Considering that she hasn't walked out of her room even once, we might be here awhile yet. We're optimistic that she will depart this afternoon/evening, but God himself only knows.
We'll post more as it develops. Once again, thanks for your prayers and support - they are very much appreciated.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Suzy is officially now out of the recovery area and is in a hospital room. She will be in the room for the night and will check out in the morning, probably around 10am. Right now, she needs rest and that's exactly what she's getting. She's also in quite a bit of pain, but she's trying to stay on top of it with pain medication. Her phone is off and there is no phone in the room that can wake her.
As far as how the surgery went, here goes:
She went to the OR around 11:00am and was finally given the medication to knock her out around 11:30 and surgery began shortly after. After checking the uterus for any problems (there weren't any), Dr. Parker moved to the fallopian tubes. Other than pressure problems within the fallopian tubes (which Dr. Parker corrected by pushing air into them), he was able to get his scope all the way through the tubes to see if there were any other issues. Fortunately, there were none.
After those procedures, Dr. Parker then put his scope in through Suzy's belly button and proceeded to look at Suzy's ovaries and the surrounding area for endometriosis and signs of PCOS. He discovered a small amount of endometriosis and was successful in lasering all of it away. He also noticed that Suzy did, in fact, have a significant case of PCOS - though he was quick to say that it was definitely not the worst case he has ever seen. Dr. Parker performed an Ovarian Wedge Resection first on the right ovary, then on the left. Shortly after that, he closed up the incisions that he had to make and moved Suzy to the recovery room. Surgery lasted approximately 3 hours.
She'll be kept in the hospital overnight, but less than 24 hours (negating the need for full admittance) and Dr. Parker will check on her early tomorrow morning.
Suzy will be recovering intensely for the next two weeks or so and then can increase physical activity, but should still take it easy for four more weeks after the initial two weeks.
Once again, we are all very grateful for all of your prayers and sacrifices. Thank you so much.
Prayer requests: that we be able to manage the pain and a quick recovery
Dave here again. I am happy to report that Suzy is out of surgery and is recovering. A lot of details will be forthcoming a little later - as you can probably imagine a lot is happening right now. I don't know if Suzy will be able to post later or not, but you'll hear more from one of the two of us. The long and short of it is that the surgery went very well, there were no problems, and she should be out of the hospital by tomorrow morning.
Once again, thank you for your prayers.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Today has been quite the day. We left home at 7am and arrived in Columbus at noon. Luckily the hotel had our room ready so we were able to check right in. I say luckily, because I was supposed to start my "bowel prep" at noon. I can not even begin to tell you how much "fun" an afternoon of citrate of magnesium and Dulcolax tablets has been. Oh goodie. I have no idea what we would have done had the room not been ready when we got here. :) Add to that the clear liquid diet that I'm on all day (yes, that means that I had to throw out the four entire batches of Jello I made at 11pm last night because I realized they were colored and didn't fit my required diet) and I've pretty much just sat here in the room, slept and read...and well, considering the "bowel prep" you know what else I've been doing on a regular basis. :) (God bless a hubby who calls you from the drugstore wanting to know if you want the "Cars" or "Disney Princess" wipes....love it!)
But the book I started reading today has been a very good read. It's Padre Pio: Man of Hope by Renzo Allegri. Beatified by the Catholic Church on May 22, 1999 and canonized June 16, 2002 Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was a Capuchin monk and mystic whose life was marked with miracles and wonders. In describing these miracles and wonders, the book has a passage that I found to be striking to me, especially as I consider what is before me tomorrow and beyond:
These events [the miracles and wonders] are difficult to explain because they are closely related to the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, God in his infinite love wanted to save men through the sacrifice of his only Son. The Church also teaches that a Christian, through his own suffering, can "participate" in this sacrifice, thereby "continuing" this work of salvation. Reflecting on this mystery, some particularly holy souls offer themselves up as victims so that they might be like Christ, and God has accepted their sacrifice by allowing them to experience in their bodies the physical suffering that Christ endured on the cross.
Learning how to freely offer up suffering as a gift to God is something that will most likely take the rest of my life to learn. I don't want to go looking for suffering (few do), but rather to learn how to carry that suffering that is already in my life with grace and a thankful heart. One thing I do know, however, is that we each have crosses in our own lives and that they can truly be transformed when we unite them to the Cross of Christ. It isn't easy, but it is a real promise. He alone can transform our suffering into something beautiful.
Pope John Paul II was an incredible example of this. I know of some people who were sickened seeing him over the years presiding over events in his deteriorating condition. They felt that it was cruel to "parade a dying man around" and found it too painful to watch and wondered why he didn't just retreat from the public eye to die in peace. To me, his courageous suffering was his final gift to us--a lesson on how to suffer with Christ...a lesson on the dignity and inherent worth of every single human life from conception until natural death. In his life under both Nazi and then later Communist rule, he certainly was no stranger to suffering, and in 1984 he gave us a beautiful encyclical entitled On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering and then as his final gift of love to us, he exemplified this message of the Gospels with his very life.
All of this reflection brought to mind a quote from John Paul II regarding the transforming power of the cross in relation to human suffering. It was taken from a time when he spoke to the sick outside the Shrine of Jasna Gora in Poland:
Dear brothers and sisters, every contact with you, no matter where it has taken place in the past or takes place today, has been a source of deep spiritual emotion for me. I have always felt how insufficient were the words that I could speak to you and with which I could express my human compassion. I have the same impression today also, I feel the same way always. But there remains the one dimension, the one reality in which human suffering is essentially transformed. This dimension, this reality, is the cross of Christ. On His cross the Son of God accomplished the redemption of the world. It is through this mystery that every cross placed on someone’s shoulders acquires a dignity that is humanly inconceivable and becomes a sign of salvation for the person who carries it and also for others. “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s affliction” (Col 1:24), wrote St. Paul.
Therefore, uniting myself with all of you who are suffering throughout the land of Poland, in your homes, in the hospitals, the clinics, the dispensaries, the sanatoria---wherever you may be—I beg you to make use of the cross that has become part of each one of you for salvation. I pray for you to have light and spiritual strength in your suffering, that you may not lose courage but may discover for yourselves the meaning of suffering and may be able to relieve others by prayer and sacrifice. And do not forget me and the whole of the Church, and the cause of the Gospel and peace that I am serving by Christ’s will. You who are weak and humanly incapable, be a source of strength for your brother and father who is at your side in prayer and heart.
Father John A. Hardon, S.J. commented on Pope John Paul II's words saying:
These are the words of a father who understands. They are also the words of Christ’s Vicar teaching the suffering faithful to profit from the cross they bear and unite their trials with Jesus.
What is the Pope also saying? He is emphasizing the value of pain, when joined with prayer, in moving the heart of God. Prayer, all prayer, is always efficacious. But prayer takes on extraordinary power to win graces, for the one praying and for all mankind, when it is united with patient suffering.
Indeed, suffering is already a prayer, when humbly accepted from the hands of God and offered to God—as Christ’s prayer on the Cross—in patient resignation to a divine will.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers. Please pray that I too will be able to humbly accept and offer to God any suffering that comes my way, not only tomorrow, but for always.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Today was a crazy day, trying to get everything ready to go and to prepare for all of the "what ifs?". Morning mass, then coffee with friends, mowed the lawn, watered the lawn, watered the garden, went to the chiropractor, got a massage, had two incredible friends help me clean the house (thanks Ashley and Aislinn!), did some laundry, did the pre-registration on the phone with the hospital, had to deal with the insurance company (more on that later) hosted a make-up session for the study group I lead at our church (Women of Grace), and finally got myself packed. Whew...it was a day that's for sure.
People keep asking me how I'm feeling. I feel great. I'm really not that nervous at all. I guess having already gone through a major surgery (amputation of my little toe when I was still in high school), and having been an EMT at one time, I'm used to hospitals and being around medical situations. Sure, this one's different because it's on me, but still...I'm not too worried about it. I trust Dr. Parker completely. It's amazing what having a pro-life, pro-woman, pro-family, Catholic doctor can do to help one feel confident and at peace.
The Insurance company on the other hand...that was the true downer of my day. Why is it that I always end up feeling like I'm the hydrant and they're the dog? Four weeks ago, I cleared everything with them and so when I called today to make sure everything was set, I didn't expect any issues. (Stupid me.) I feel like Gatsby yearning after the green light at the end of the dock, only the thing I'm after is to find out how much this surgery is going to cost me. You'd think that would be an easy question. But it hasn't been. And today, they informed me they needed to talk to my doctor's office to find out more about why this surgery was being done. Thankfully, I was able to be three-way called to the doctor's office and the insurance guy and I were able to talk to my doctor's nurse. I'll spare you the details, but pretty much what the Insurance guy was after was the answer to one question, "Does this have to do or will it possibly end up having to do with infertility?" Ah yes....the big "I" word.
And why does it really matter? Because my friends, in case you don't know...most insurance plans won't pay for anything having to do with "infertility." They will however, pay for a termination of pregnancy...but infertility? Nope, nada. With all that we've been hearing in the news about this proposed Governmental Health Care plan, I really do fear for women like me who need these surgeries to correct a medical problem. After all, isn't that what Health Care is supposed to be for? To correct medical conditions? In almost all cases, an abortion (a.k.a. "termination of pregnancy" in Health Insurance lingo) doesn't solve a medical condition...there is rarely a medical condition involved, it's usually just a personal preference or "choice" if you will. Why can't we see, that in a pregnancy, the woman's body is actually doing what it is supposed to be doing?--fostering and developing a new human life. There is nothing to be fixed or healed there, everything is working just fine. In my condition, however, and the many women like myself, there is something wrong with our bodies. We have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome/Disorder, we have Endometriosis, we don't ovulate, we can't conceive a child or carrying a child to term. These my friends are examples of real medical conditions. Situations where the body is not working correctly and does need healing and care. You would think that health care would cover this, right? Nope. Not if they even suspect that you are doing this for any reason even remotely having to do with infertility. The big "I" word. It's like the scarlet letter of the insurance world.
It's a true struggle for me to try and come to terms with the injustice of it all. I pray for charity and for peace in my heart. I also pray that our politicians will realize what is at stake when they cast their votes on this new fiasco of a Health Care System currently being proposed. Tax dollars (including mine) will go towards publicly funded abortion (which as I have stated above is not a medical procedure to heal the body, and in fact is horribly detrimental to the woman's body, mind, soul, etc) and which will be covered by Health plans, but no tax money, and no health insurance, will pay for women like me to receive treatment that will restore my body to working order, reduce or remove my pelvic pain, help me to ovulate, reduce my risk of cancer (see piece on Ovarian Wedge Resection in earlier post), and perhaps even allow me to conceive and carry a child....yeah...none of that is covered if the dreaded "I" word is involved.
Lord, have mercy. We seriously need to pray for the Truth to come to light and for the falsehoods spread about medical care in this country to be revealed. Please pray for our doctors, and especially our Catholic doctors, that they would have the courage to once again return to a time where the Hippcratic Oath and the spirit in which it was intended held water...
I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:
To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.
I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.
In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.
All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.
If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.
So again, to answer the question...how am I doing? Regarding our travels tomorrow, the surgery, and everything else...GREAT! I'm just in mourning for our nation and our world, who have their priorities so greatly mixed up. Lord, have mercy.
Thank you all for your support, your kindness and your prayers.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Hi everyone. We wanted to let you know that I am scheduled to be having surgery on July 29th in Columbus, OH and we wanted to ask for your prayers. Over the past four years, I have been under the care of excellent NaPro physicians to help address my PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). NaPro Technology is short for “Natural Procreative Technology” and is a new women’s health science that working in conjunction with Creighton model of Natural Family Planning (NFP) to monitor and maintain a woman’s reproductive and gynecological health. It also provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system. Over thirty years of scientific research have yielded these treatments which are not only perfectly in line with Catholic and moral teaching, but also have been shown to be 30% MORE effective in resolving issues treated by non-NaPro methods such as the Pill and In-Vitro Fertilization.
Anyway, we have been working with excellent doctors in Indiana, then in Pennsylvania, and now in Ohio over the past four years, and although have seen some improvement in my condition through medication, diet, weight loss (32 pounds), and life-style adjustments, it is now time to surgically address the issues which we believe to be the main cause of our inability to, as of yet, conceive a child. Thus, I am scheduled for surgery with Dr. Parker on July 29th at noon. Dr. Parker is an amazing man. His biography and letter to patients are both well worth the read. He has been an incredible support to us not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
We had our “pre-op” appointment in Columbus, on Friday the 11th, and now have a better handle on how this is planned to go. The surgery will be a “major” surgery lasting approximately 4 hours. It will be an investigative surgery at first, but will most likely include an Ovarian Wedge Resection. Rather than try to explain it ourselves, we have included the text of the Pope Paul VI Institute pamphlet explaining it at the conclusion of this post. We will be leaving for Columbus on Tuesday, July 28th, surgery is Wednesday, July 29th, and we expect I will be kept overnight, released Thursday, July 30th, we will stay in Columbus in a hotel that evening just to be near Dr. Parker “just in case” and then we will have an appointment with him in his office Friday, July 31st, get cleared for me to ride in a car, and then we will be on our way back to Indiana. The expected recovery time is 2 weeks of intensive recovery and a further 4 weeks until I am completely recovered. We will certainly keep all of you posted as to how things progress.
We are aware that some of you may be hearing this for the first time and that it might seem strange to be hearing about all of this only now, and we ask for your understanding regarding why we have not shared any of this with you before now. As you can probably imagine, we are not only concerned about my overall health, but also mourn deeply for the children that we so long to have. This journey along the way of the cross of infertility is a difficult one and each person handles it on their own way. Until now, we have chosen to remain rather private about the whole experience, and to draw closer to each other and closer to Jesus by uniting our sufferings to His. We have also chosen not to let either my health, or our childlessness, to become the center of our lives any more so than necessary (the doctor’s appointments, blood tests, and ultrasounds, and other responsibilities pertaining to this have themselves have become a part-time job as it is). Instead, we have chosen to focus on our blessings, and to get involved in activities such as Abortion Clinic ministry, volunteering at the crisis pregnancy centers, assisting in Catholic Infertility support groups (Hannah’s Tears), and getting the message of authentic women’s health out especially to teenage women. This involvement allows us not to focus on ourselves and to work at transforming our own pain into something which can help others. Each day brings new experiences and new emotions as we learn to live with this cross that we have been given for this period of our lives. We continue to hope and pray and ask for your prayers as well, that either this cross would be lifted and that I would be healed and we would be given the gift of a child, and that we would continue to receive the graces necessary to carry this cross with humility and trust for as long as Our Lord requires it of us.
What about adoption or foster care you might ask? Again, this is a personal decision that each couple must face, and while we are open to both ideas, we always wait on the leading of the Holy Spirit before embarking down either fork in the road. At this point in time, we have felt distinctly led by God to make three different offers of adoption to women considering abortions. We have not known any of the women personally (one in Culver, one in New York, one in Texas), but have been made aware of their situations through mutual friends. In the first case, the pregnancy was ectopic and the woman lost the baby. The second two women, by the grace of God, cancelled their scheduled abortions, and have chosen to keep their babies and raise them themselves. We are so grateful to God for even the small part we have been allowed to play in saving these little lives and are thankful to even some type of good can come from our own personal suffering.
We understand that you will probably have questions about our situation about my health, surgery, recovery, etc and we are happy to talk about it as we are able to. But we also ask for your understanding when we ask that this not become a part of regular conversation. We know of your love and of your desire to support us, but ask that we be allowed to be the ones to bring these topics of conversation up. Your prayers, and not bringing these topics up in conversation are the best ways you can support us. For those times that we experience an increased mourning regarding our infertility, it is difficult to discuss the topic, as the pain only increases in doing so (it is like salt in a raw wound). For those times, when we have a small reprieve and by the grace of God, our suffering is lessened for awhile, it is difficult to discuss these topics, because it will once again bring to our mind, that which we have for a time been able NOT to think about. Therefore, we thank you in advance for your love and support and prayers and for allowing us to bring these topics into conversation as we are willing and able. This really is one of the best things you can do for us. We promise to keep you posted when there is something to report.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
St. Gianna Molla, pray for us.
OVARIAN WEDGE RESECTION
Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D.
Years ago, in the 1950’s to early 1970’s, Polycystic Ovarian Disease was treated surgically with the use of a procedure called Ovarian Wedge Resection. When one goes back and reviews the medical literature on that procedure, it reveals that there was a 70 percent pregnancy rate and a 70 to 80 percent rate upon which menstrual cycles (which were often long and irregular) were now regular.
When the drug Clomid came out in the mid-1960’s, one of the conditions in which it was effective was Polycystic Ovarian Disease. AS a result, there was now a medical treatment for polycystic ovaries and it reduced the need for surgical intervention. In addition, the wedge resection, in those days, created scar tissue and sometimes was somewhat counterproductive.
Interestingly enough, in the switch form a surgical procedure to treat polycystic ovaries to a medical treatment (i.e. Clomid), a 60-70 percentage pregnancy rate was sacrificed for a 35 percent pregnancy rate with the latter treatment. In addition, the cycles remained long and irregular and while being treated with Clomid and one could not take Clomid permanently.
A few years ago, at the Pope Paul VI Institute, it was decided to take another look at this question of wedge resection of the ovaries. The reason that this was undertaken was because of the progress that had been made over the last 10 to 15 years in the prevention of scar tissue and adhesion formation. Thus it was thought, that this surgical procedure, with the use of lasers and additional techniques for the prevention of adhesions, would be very successful at doing so. If that could be done then the value of Ovarian Wedge Resection could be maintained while at the same time decreasing the surgical problems associated with it 25 years ago.
Finally this is a procedure which, while improving a woman's health, also results in a regular menstrual cycle with regular ovulation and an improvement in fertility. The pregnancy rate following this procedure will be between 50 and 70 percent depending upon other circumstances.
An Ovarian Wedge Resection requires making an incision into the abdomen. This incision is usually four to six inches long and is, thus, a major surgery. It requires being in the hospital and requires a general anesthesia. Typically it takes 2-3 hours to complete.
The hospital stay is usually 48 hours and the postoperative recovery is generally not too severe because the abdominal incision is fairly small. Two weeks following the surgery the patient is up and around doing most things although it still requires a full six weeks of recovery.
During the course of the surgery a wedge of tissue is removed from the middle portion of the ovary. The incision into the ovary is made with a carbon dioxide laser. This type of an incision is very precise and non-traumatic. That is to say, it is the type of incision which reduces significantly the changes of subsequent scar tissue formation.
In repairing the ovary following the removal of the wedge, the most important principle is to use a type of suture which reduces or eliminates the formation of adhesions and also to close the ovary with a technique which reduces adhesion formation as well. Thus, at the Pope Paul VI Institute, a suture called Prolene is used to repair the ovary and a particular technique is used to reduce the adhesion formation. In fact, this technique works extremely well at preventing adhesions and if the surgery is done one should anticipate that virtually no adhesions should develop (although that can’t be 100 percent guaranteed).
Following the wedge resection, the cycles tend to become more regular again in about 80 percent of cases. Ovulation becomes more effective and Clomid can still be used but, in this case, at much lower doses.
Because women who have polycystic ovaries often have very long cycles, their risk of cancer of uterus and breast in increased. Cancer of the uterus, in particular, may occur in as many as 25 percent of these women. This is due to the continuous, prolonged stimulation of estrogen in the absence of progesterone (which happens with these long and irregular cycles). Progesterone can be administered on a cyclic basis to prevent this from happening.
After a wedge resection and when the cycles become more regular (in 80 percent of the cases), there is a natural regulation of the cycle because ovulation is now occurring more regularly, there are no longer prolonged episodes of estrogen stimulation and progesterone is produced on a regular basis thus preventing cancer of the uterus and breast.
In addition, while the male hormones are often elevated in women with Polycystic Ovarian Disease, and it requires medication to keep them down, these hormone levels decrease with wedge resection.
Finally, this is a procedure which, while improving a woman’s health, also results in regular menstrual cycle with regular ovulation and an improvement in fertility. The pregnancy rate following this procedure is nearly 70 percent in the experience of the Pope Paul VI Institute.
©2004, Pope Paul VI Institute Press Omaha, Nebraskahttp://www.popepaulvi.com/