Saturday, July 27, 2013

1 Corinthians 16:13

1 Corinthians 16:13

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

I know I promised my next blog would be about breastfeeding, but I want to share/vent just really what happened with Brad last week. It was hard to really explain it on my updates on Facebook as we didn't have very many answers for quite some time and still don't have all of them.
A little history first; a few years back Brad had a similar issue just no where near as severe as this episode was. He was in the hospital for a few days, they did one colonoscopy, took one look and said ok so and so is what caused the bleeding. They gave  him fiber supplements and sent him on his way. We thought it was over no big deal. Just needed to eat healthier. Which we changed our diet and what we ate after that first time so he didn't have any issues afterwards.
Wednesday while at work he started bleeding again. It came out of nowhere so it was a little surprising. And with Brad being a man he didn't think anything of it and didn't tell me. Later that night he felt sick and proceeded to tell me he had started bleeding again like 3 years ago. I said do we need to take you to the hospital? Of course he said no, he was going to go anyway in the morning to get some blood work done for work since he had been complaining of being really tired of all the time for the past few months. He woke up the next morning and said he needed to go to the ER. I was torn because he seemed like he felt ok and I didn't want to leave Peyton so he drove himself. I felt terrible for making him go alone but what was I supposed to do with Peyton? The ER is no place for an infant. He later texted me and told me the bleeding had stopped but they wanted to keep him overnight to monitor him. His vitals were stable, hemoglobin was low but not terrible so I said ok ill come up in the morning. This is where I wish there was 2 of me. I wanted to be with my husband but I needed to be with our daughter.
He never had another episode and they couldn't explain what caused it but he was stable so they sent him home Friday afternoon with no answers. He felt better just still really tired. They gave him no restrictions other than taking some iron and eating iron rich foods to get his hemoglobin back up. That night we made steaks per his request. About 9pm he said his stomach was hurting. I asked if he needed to go back to the hospital he said no. About that time Peyton was getting fussy so I went upstairs with her but told Brad I wasn't going to sleep until he came upstairs. I wanted to go back downstairs after she fell asleep but I didn't want to bother him as he was back and forth to the bathroom and he's never been the type to talk about his bowel movements. About 1230am he came upstairs and I immediately knew something was wrong. He said he felt like he needed to go to the hospital right away. He said the bleeding had started again and was worse. I knew I needed to drive him so he went straight down to the car while I got Peyton up and in her carseat. I am asking brad questions as we pull out of the driveway and it was almost like his brain and mouth weren't working together. He couldn't form a sentence and he couldn't answer any questions I asked him. He had a blank look on his face. It really worried me. We got half way down our road and he falls forward in the seat, vomits all over himself and starts to convulse. I panicked in the middle of the street I stopped the car ran over to his side, and opened the door. I lifted his head up and he had the blank stare again. I couldn't get him to talk or answer me and his face was gray(a very scary color as it was the way my dad looked the night he died). I immediately called 911 as I was afraid of the worst and scared I wouldn't make it to the hospital. Brad came to about 5 minutes later and was feeling a little better but didn't know what happened. The ambulance came and of course since he is feeling better they acted like nothing is wrong with him. I still had them take him to the hospital because I was so scared this would happen again. This whole time everything was going poor Peyton was in the backseat. She was wide awake. I felt terrible! I called our friends Kyley and Tison down the street and asked for them to come get her. I will forever be grateful for them during this whole situation. They took Peyton with no question when I needed help.
Of course we get back to the hospital and give them the spill about everything again and they take their time because at the moment he was stable. they took more blood also. A Dr from family med came in and looked very concerned. At the time Brad was resting as much as he could rest. The dr stated she felt he would need a blood transfusion because his Hgb(hemoglobin) was too low for they're liking. At this point it had dropped from a 12 (his first night in the hospital) to a 8. I have always heard horror stories of transfusions so I wanted to talk to the Dr before just signing the paperwork. She wasn't very nice to me as she basically told me if we refused any transfusions he would probably die. Having someone tell me my husband could die made a huge hole in my stomach. I never even thought about life without Brad before. And for her to tell me in such a way was so hurtful and made me sick. We never were going to refuse the transfusion as we both knew if he needed it he was going to get it.
Once we got the okay on the transfusion they were going to move him out of the ER and into a regular room. At this point I was so sick to my stomach I excused myself from his room to have my breakdown outside, alone. I screamed outside of the doors of the ER. I made the phone calls I needed to, to his mom and dad, and of course my mom too. Everything from then on seemed so slow moving.  The first transfusion would take at least 3 hours because they didn't want to do it to fast to cause any rejection.
The whole time they are giving him the first 2 units he was still bleeding. Talking to the nurses, they were acting like this was no big deal. I could visibly see him getting worse and worse and it seemed like no one cared. We kept asking where the drs were and of course it being a Saturday they are on call and taking their time since his vitals were still showing he was stable. It was extremely annoying that no one was listening to either one of us.
Finally I told him not to flush the toilet because the nurses needed to see just how much blood he was passing each time. FINALLY when they actually saw what he was passing, they freaked out. We immediately got transferred up to PCU, they ordered a CT Scan and Angiogram. He went down first for the CT and finally we had some answers. They knew the bleeding was coming from the small intestine just unsure of where. There is about 20 feet of small bowel but at least we knew it wasn't in large intestine or in his stomach. Next up was the angiogram, the Dr came and told me this was to try and pin point where the bleeding was. He said if he wasn't actively bleeding at the time they would be unsuccessful.
So I waited for 3 hours to get no answer. He had stopped bleeding between the time of the CT and the angiogram. The Drs next plan of attack was a pill camera he would swallow and take pictures all the way through his GI track to see what was causing the bleeding. They still were unsure of what was causing it. They threw out words like AVM, Diverticulitis, and Tumor.  But those weren't answers just possibilities. Saturday night he seemed ok. He wasn't actively bleeding which was good and he was in good spirits. I called my mom and talked to her for awhile. She asked me if I needed her to come out here to help me with Brad and Peyton. I broke down and told her I needed her. I was scared and helpless. I felt terrible for making Tison and Kyley who have 2 kids watch Peyton too and I had no idea when i'd be leaving brads side. I was too scared to. And in all honestly I hadn't even thought about Peyton, I was more concerned about Brad (i'm sure than makes me sound like a bad mother but I knew she was in good hands and she was okay, my husband wasn't). She booked her flight while on the phone with me. She would be here the next day.  I called Brad's mom and told her my mom was coming and she booked a flight out here too. I owe them both so much for flying all the way to Hawaii to be there for us and help us with everything. 
He did really well saturday night and they started the pill cam at lunch time on Sunday. After about 2 hours they told him he could start having clear liquids so he asked for a Sprite. Literally, 30 minutes after had sprite and chicken broth, he could tell he was bleeding again. He kept telling the Dr & nurses he knew his blood level was going down but they wanted to wait until they got blood results back because by this time he had already had 8 blood transfusions. His vitals were steady but Brad knew it was getting worse and quick but nobody would listen to him. It was so frustrating that the Dr's wanted to see it on paper that his levels were dropping rather than listening to him. It was getting to the point of they couldn't put enough blood in him fast enough to replace what he was losing. He was going to the bathroom every 10 minutes for hours on end and filling the toilet with just blood. It got so bad at one point through sunday night there were at least 5 people in his room working on him, his IV's, pumping a unit of blood manually to get it in him faster(20 minutes instead of 3 hours). We still had NO answer on what was causing this and it looked like he wasn't going to be strong enough for any sort of surgery to fix whatever was wrong because his body started going into a state of shock from all of the blood loss. When they finally saw on paper what his blood levels were, they all panicked. He went from a 8 to a 5 Hgb within a matter of 6 hours. They could finally understand he was losing more than what they were replacing. This was the 2nd time in 24 hours I thought I could lose my husband. I couldn't leave his side to go have my breakdown moment. I had to stay strong for him. He knew it was bad but I couldn't let him know I knew it. I had to be strong for all three of us. Brad, myself and our daughter.  Throughout sunday night, Brad was conscious and when his levels dropped really low he went in a state of confusion. But the whole time he kept saying how much he missed Peyton. It was heart wrenching because there was nothing I could say to help him. I kept telling him she was with my mom and she was dreaming about playing with her daddy. I told him to be strong for her. I told him how she loves him more than anything in this world. We both sat and cried thinking about our daughter. At that moment my only prayer was for Brad to hold Peyton again.
His body was able to clot and stop the bleeding like it had the times before but it was only a matter of time before it started again. 
Monday morning we finally had some Dr's listening to him. Brad had a family medicine team, GI team, Radiology team and a surgical team all trying to figure out what was wrong with him. We felt like we were in an episode of Grey's Anatomy at one point because all the Dr's talked to each other and explained his case over again with questions. Major surgery was the last resort. They didn't want to go in blind and resect parts of the small bowel without knowing just where the bleed was. Which I was thankful for; I know Brad wouldn't want a huge scar to remind him of this nightmare. 
They wanted to do a nuclear scan that morning that would tell us exactly where the bleed is but the trick was he had to actively be bleeding. Of course the first scan told us nothing. He told the dr's he knew he wasn't but they told Brad he could try and provoke it start bleeding again. Brad mentioned the sprite from yesterday so they told him to go ahead and try that. Sure enough, not even 30 minutes later he felt like he was bleeding again. Having already had the nuclear medicine in his body they took him straight to do another scan and they could see exactly where it was. It was located right where the small intestine and large intestine meet.  He went directly into Interventional Radiology to do the Angiogram. That was the longest 3 1/2 hours of my life waiting to find out if they were able to embolize the vessel that the bleeding was coming from. At the time of the Angiogram they had 2 units of blood going simultaneously because they needed him as strong as possible through the surgery.
They finally came out and told us they fixed the bleed! I was so relieved but I knew we weren't completely out of the woods yet. At that time the Dr's were saying this is most likely an AVM which stands for Arteriovenous Malformation. The Dr's said this is the most likely thing that caused all of the bleeding but still very rare. One of his many Dr's told me it is amazing that he lived this long with a bleed like this(meaning this is definitely what caused the bleeding 3 years ago). 
During the course of the first 5 days in the hospital Brad received 14 units of donated Blood, 2 units of Plasma and 2 units of Platelets.
 The Dr's STILL do not know exactly what caused the bleed because they couldn't get a direct look at the area. They are currently running more tests to rule out everything from AVM(if it is that there could be more of them elsewhere in the GI Tract that could potentially bleed) Meckel Diverticulum (extremely rare but he has all of the symptoms) or a small bowel tumor. We are hoping for all of the answers after next weeks testings. 

During this whole ordeal it was so incredibly hard to keep my faith in God. Why did he make my husband suffer like this? Why did he make our family suffer like this? Why would God threaten the life of such a young healthy man? What did we do to deserve such fear and pain? Seeing my husband like this made me angry at God. Why him? Why not me? I'd much rather be the one going through this than him. He is so undeserving of that pain. Through so many prayers and talks with God I finally learned that God was testing me. Testing me as a wife and as a mother. Since Peyton was born I have forgotten a lot of my duties as a wife. The #1 being taking care of my husband. I've been so obsessed with caring for our daughter 24/7 I forgot what it was like to take care of my husband. Learning that this could be a condition that Brad was born with and waiting until now for something to happen; God was waiting on me to be the one to be there for Brad, not his parents or anyone else. Learning that this probably is what caused the episode 3 years ago and Dr's just blew it off as something small; God was waiting on our marriage to evolve and us to grow as a family. 

Facebook is the biggest way to communicate easily with a lot of people. It was so humbling to see how many people stopped and prayed for my husband. We got messages from people we didn't even know that put Brad on the prayer list at their church all over the country. People posting on their own Facebook pages for their friends to pray for Brad. Even an old high school friend of mine had a friend all the way in Ireland say a very special prayer just for Brad. It was so amazing! We both could feel the love from everyone from miles and miles away. Feeling all of that love is truly what got us through this, that is what kept my faith in God alive. 
We ask that you please continue to pray for Brad as he goes through these tests next week to get some answers and find out if this could happen again or if he needs further surgery. Being a man and a stubborn one at that, he is eager to get back to work and in the normal flow of things. He's never been one to rest or sit still! But he is still very weak and it will take some time to get his blood levels back to normal. 
We cannot thank everyone enough for all of your prayers and support. Especially Tison and Kyley for taking care of Peyton until our mom's got in town. They are truly amazing friends! Also thank you so much for all of our friends that came up to the hospital to spend time with Brad. It meant more than you know! Thank you so much to my amazing mom and Tina for dropping everything and flying to Hawaii to be with us and helping with Peyton. And a very special thank you to the 14 anonymous blood donors who saved my husbands life. I strongly urge everyone to go out and donate blood if you are able. 

Romans 5:2-4

Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.

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