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So, apparently, I’ve decided that this will be a week of [over] sharing.  Sorry.  I have to get this one off my chest, though…it’s a doozie.

This story starts a long, long time ago.   I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.  And now you’re singing.  Sorry, again.

But really, it was a long time ago…I was in the eighth grade, and I met my would-be husband.  He was 15, I was 14, and we were both “going steady” with other people.  Scandalous in my junior high!  Ha!  But, I digress.  We were kids when we met, so when we met each other’s parents (the now in-laws), it was…different.  I referred to my in-laws as Mr. and Mrs. Jaworski, out of respect.  Fast forward a few years, and my in-laws didn’t automatically transfer into “Mom” and “Dad”…they are now “Cheryl” and “Terry”.  Weird to some, but it just fits.  My MIL would sure love if I called her “Mom”, but it just doesn’t seem right.  It certainly doesn’t mean that I love her any less.  And now, on to the point of my story!

My MIL is sick.  Has been for a while.

In 1998, my MIL had a bout with lung cancer that resulted in the lower lobe of one lung being removed.  Listen to that.  A “bout”.  Sort of like how one might have a “bout” with acne, or a “bout” of the flu.  When you are nonchalant about cancer, you know it gets worse.  Oh, and does it ever!
Shortly after the cancer, Cheryl endured having her kidneys removed.  She has suffered from the genetic disorder called Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) her whole life, and her kidneys finally just quit.  Yes, KidneyS, plural.  They removed them both, which resulted in a 3-times-a-week day-long dialysis treatment, and a very strict fluid intake.  Think about how much we consume that is mostly water…fruit, vegetables, ice, plus obviously anything actually liquid…and it all had to be meticulously measured.  But?  She endured.

A transplant was a long time coming (due to the cancer, of course).  Because of the genetic trait associated with PKD, next of kin were obviously not feasible donors.  However, a few years later, she finally received a healthy kidney!  The transplant itself was stressful, coupled with a body that had been ravaged by first cancer and then near-constant dialysis, made the recovery extremely difficult.  But?  Recover she did.

Fast forward again.  My MIL was part of a crazy car accident.  It was fairly severe, and she ended up with some back trouble, as well as some additional leg problems associated with her neuropathy (Oh, did I forget to mention the nerve damage incurred during the kidney removal?  Right.)  This accident led to some pretty heavy painkillers for an extended period of time.  Not. A. Good. Thing.  At this point, she’s taking pain killers, plus a medley of drugs related to her kidney transplant.  Steroids and anti-rejection drugs spin her into a diabetic frenzy, so go ahead and add insulin to the mix, too!

A few more years go by.  The back pain and leg pain haven’t gone away.  My MIL decides to have ELECTIVE back surgery to correct the issue.  While recovering in an extended care facility, she’s rushed to the ER.  The family was called in.  No one knew the severity…until we got there.  You really have to understand, at this point, doctors and hospitals and extended care facilities are old-hat.  We’d been to all of them, and Cheryl always got better.  We weren’t prepared for what we saw.

Now, it’s January, 2009.  The family is sitting in the Surgical ICU at Toledo Hospital, watching-helplessly-as the matriarch is wired up to so many drugs that we couldn’t even count.  She had undergone emergency life-saving surgery to remove a bowel obstruction which had caused her body to go into septic shock.  She wasn’t doing well.  Intubated, sedated, and silently crying.  It was heart-wrenching.  She was in that ICU for nearly 3 months.  Another surgery – this time to perform an ileostomy (yes, there is an external bag involved…it’s that kind of thing) – a medically induced coma, and the administration of lots and lots of drugs all took place before we left those walls.  She spent quite a bit more time in a step-down unit before actually leaving the hospital for a different long-term care facility.  All-in-all, it was 6 months before she was home again, just in time for her granddaughter’s first birthday party at the end of June.

Recovery was slow.  Mentally and physically.  A couple more years pass with Cheryl in and out of the hospital with random infections.  With over 80% of her intestines removed, her body simply can’t absorb nutrients like it should.  That coupled with the immune-suppressing drugs taken so that she doesn’t reject her transplanted kidney equals lots of illness, all the time.  Now 80 lbs. lighter on her tiny, 4 foot 11 inch frame, Cheryl began getting better.  And better she stayed.

Better, at least, until yet another fateful car accident sent her careening back into the hospital once more.  This time, an emergency surgery to remove her spleen almost caused her transplanted kidney to fail.  Do you know the purpose of the spleen?  Neither did I until this happened.  It’s kind of like your body’s filter…it helps support your immune system.  So now, Cheryl is without that natural filter, still on the immune-suppressing kidney drugs, AND can’t absorb nutrients like you and I because of the loss of so much of her intestine.  Somebody has it out for this woman, I swear!

Back to a long-term care facility for rehab she went, and had once again fully recovered.  Until right now.  She is back in the hospital’s ICU unit as I type this.  She’s battelling yet another ailment, most likely one that you or I could easily fend off with minimal discomfort.  However, they tend to put her on the brink of death.  We could use some constant prayers, is what I’m saying!  

This woman, my MIL, my Cheryl, is stronger than anyone I know.  I think lesser people would have given up the fight a long time ago.  But Cheryl?  Nah.  She’s going to be around for a long, long time!

I totally just had to get this story out there.  Thank you, to anyone who hung around that lengthy diatribe to the end!  This is a subject that weighs on our minds constantly over here, and I just had to write it down.  Have you gone through similar shocking dramas?  Do tell!

Comments

  1. Kathy, I am so sorry to hear that Cheryl is back in the hospital. I will add her and your family to my prayers.

    Thank you for sharing this story. You know of course that I witnessed some of it when we worked together, but I had no idea of the depth of her illnesses. What an inspiration your MIL is – she will pull through just like always, I am sure.

    Take care of yourself and know that I am here for you if there is anything I can do for you.

    Lots of hugs and prayers sent your way…

    – Valerie

  2. So sorry to hear about your MIL Kathy, her story is an inspiration to anyone who is facing struggles in their life. She is definitely in my prayers : D

  3. Kathy, just wanted to let you know that your MIL and all of her family as well is now on the prayer list at Cedar Creek – praying that Cheryl is feeling better : D

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