Tuesday, July 30

What's Happening

Ok, so I am about a month overdue for a major update on everything that's been going on with me. Our one "real" computer in the house, a little netbook, hasn't had a working screen in almost two years, so when I need to sit down and really blog, I have to make the time to turn it on, plug in the special cord that Hubs rigged up to connect the netbook to the TV, and get a chair over to the spot, hunker down and start typing. And then more recently our little netbook does this really charming thing of shutting off, completely randomly, either while paying a bill, writing a blog post, or worst of all - livestreaming church! Oh well, we make do. I am going to type as much as I can while old Trusty (or Not-so-Trusty) is running, and see how far I get :)

So. I have been out of the hospital for about six weeks, I think, and it has been AMAZING! The weather in Seattle has been out of this world beautiful, and I've been able to catch up on things at home that have been neglected for the past ten months as I was just struggling to stay alive and functioning in the very basic human mode. The other day I finally (as in, a year later) organized the big cabinet we put on the bathroom wall, cleaned it out of everything that had piled up over the year - wax ring for installing a toilet, anyone? - and got all of our bath towels put in the there.

Wow, that felt good to finally accomplish! When everything unnecessary and unused is OUT of a space, and it just has what we use and need, I feel so much better. So yay me, for slowly but surely working on things and getting to enjoy being a wife, mom, and domestic diva a bit again :)

Another accomplishment was finally putting tile backsplashes up in our kitchen, oh, three years after the remodel too place? Again, what a feeling of accomplishment, and security that no water from the sink or grease from the stove will be splashing onto the drywall (which is, yes, still unpainted) and causing issues down the road). I'm so thankful for the great deal on tile that we got, it was just what we wanted and works great in the room. We repurposed shelving from another area in the house, and I've got my open shelving wall and tile. It's looking pretty cute!

One bummer we found out is that there is mold under the wall surfaces in our coat closet, and so alas, ANOTHER remodel looms. It will be the last one, it is the closet in our living room, which is our one remaining room with old plaster walls and no insulation. But finding the time and resources to do that, in an already busy and balancing act of life, is a challenge. Good thing Hubs is always up for a challenge - by fall, we will get it done I think, and be much healthier and cozier this coming winter! 
In the meantime, I have boxes of my crafts supplies, fabric stash, glassware, birthday party supplies - you name it, sitting in my living room, waiting for a finished closet to be put into. Character building, I say ;)

So, moving on from house to health - here's what's been happening:

Going with the most recent events, I am on Prednisone right now in case of liver rejection.
My LFTs (liver function tests - ALT, AST, Alkaline Phos, Bilirubin) have been elevated pretty consistently for a couple months, actually since switching from Tacrolimus to Cyclosporine as my anti rejection med. My doctor is very calm about it, which I really appreciate and need, and isn't panicking, but started me on Prednisone a couple weeks ago and we are going to recheck my labs tomorrow (Wednesday). If numbers aren't improved, I have to go in for a liver biopsy. They will want to check for rejection, as well as any issues like infections and what not. It occurs to me that after so many blood transfusions this year, they will look for hepatitis as well. It will all work out!
Interestingly enough, the reason they can do a liver biopsy without the risks of bleeding is that...

ITP seems to be in total remission!!! GOD IS GOOD!!! My platelets have been steadily climbing since I left the hospital in mid June, and that has been an absolute encouragement. It is so fantastic to get a call from my hematologist or go online to check my results, and find that the platelet number is higher and higher every time. What a gift after such a crazy year of scary-low critical platelets! Most recenty, last Monday, my platelets were at 149,000. The range they call "normal" is 150,000-400,000, so WOW, I was just one point away :)

In light of the elevated LFTs, I went in for an MRI/MRCP earlier this month. They were checking to make sure I did not have any strictures in my bile ducts, as when you have PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis) liver disease, those can become a problem, and cause back ups and pain, cholangitis infections, and elevated numbers. I refuse to accept that PSC is back in my new liver, despite what the reports may have shown over the past couple years. I believe God healed me with my transplant, and I am sticking with that. And awesome as He is, God gave us a great report on the MRI! No strictures, and actually improved liver tissue in an area that radiology report eighteen months ago said was looking not so good.
Awesome, right?! :)

Finally, the other health event I had was my annual colonoscopy. Woo, party time! (Haha!) 

colonoscopy prep solution
With all of the colitis problems this year, the major bleeding coming from my colon and just being exacerbated by the ITP low platelets, my gastroenterologist and I came up with a plan to start talking about colon removal. The first step in the plan was to even accept the idea. Talking about a simple tiny biopsy and colonoscopy, let alone complete removel of my colon, is very serious when my platelets were as low as they were (8-10,000, consistently). It is much more than an issue of surgery, as there's talk of hemorrhage risk, and also they said I must do the surgery at a liver transplant center, because there is a risk of liver failure when doing abdominal surgery when liver scarring or cirrhosis is evident (so 'they' say). As you can imagine, becoming comfortable even talking about a decision that major was a big deal. That alone took me a few weeks.
Then I started doing research, asking questions, and had an interview with my doc and asked all sorts of things about colectomy, ostomy bags, and so on. If I am not completely healed of colitis, a surgery and ostomy looks like it is in my future. That was another big mental thing to get a grasp of, and took a bit of time.
Snuggles with my girl while waiting for my doctor
My smarty girl, checking me out after she saw my doctor do the same thing :)
The most recent step was to have my colonoscopy, so they have a current picture of what my guts look like to give to the surgeon if we continue going down that surgery road. This wasn't even an option for most of the year, because of such low platelets. But my platelets started improving and we scheduled the procedure, and the day before I went in to get my numbers checked. They were planning to give me a platelet infusion during the procedure, to prevent any bleeding issues, and only take a couple biopsies. Well, my platelets came back so good, I didn't need any infusion and they got to take more biopsies, which is always good for monitoring sake. Woohoo!

Kind of grossing me out, I had a number of polyps in my gut. I've never had that before, even having colitis for nearly 20 years. But they were all biopsied, along with a bunch of other spots of gut tissue - and everything came back clear, no malignancies, no dysplasia! Yeah Jesus! :)
Also, the report, similar to my Liver MRI, came back showing that my guts look better than the last scan, in two areas. There is definitely colitis activity and my transverse (across the top of my abdomen) colon looked worse, but the ascending and descending colon areas are improved. So, hurray for that!

Thankfully, things have been pretty quiet with colitis and ITP these past six weeks. I am so grateful for that! Not having to worry about bleeding and transfusions and going back to Critical Care or riding in an ambulance... phew! Thank You Jesus!
What a gift it has been to be at home, at church, and around our city with my sweet family and incredible friends, just enjoying the summer weather and all that is good in my life. WHAT a gift.
We may live in the 'hood, but our summer sunset views are million dollar :)
Pray with me in agreement for a great report on my LFTs and platelets tomorrow! Once my numbers are stabilized, I get to taper off the Prednisone, which is always a good thing. Last night my knees and belly were super swollen from the side effects. Pred is a great drug in the short term, but so many icky side effects when you have to be on it for a while. Speaking of which, is why I am up before dawn today. (Insomnia is another lovely side effect.) Thankfully in the summer, being up this early, it gets light out early, and I have always loved watching the sun come up. One reason I really loved being on crew in college :)

Today is a new day, full of new gifts, opportunities, and potential! Seize the day - look UP and around at all you have been given - life is good! Xo!

"So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective."
-Colossians 3, MSG