October 2019 Update

It’s been a long, LONG time since we’ve done an update! After the last one, we had just had our transfer. Well, for anyone who doesn’t know, it was successful! We have about 7 weeks left of this pregnancy until our little girl arrives, and we couldn’t be more excited!

 

I never intended to go this long without updating our blog. After we found out we were pregnant, I had a bleeding scare. That bleeding scare turned out to be a subchorionic hematoma which lasted the entire first trimester. It was a long and fearful three months of uncertanty and honestly, I just couldn’t bring myself to write about it during that time. I’ll eventually go into more details in another post, but I’m so thankful to sitting here feeling our little girl kicking away.

 

After we finally got through that season, another storm rolled in. Unfortunately, Chris began having another episode of severe abdominal pain. It was very similar to last October. The doctor that we were seeing at that time suggested another surgery, since it had worked so well last fall. Chris ended up having that surgery on July 3rd and felt somewhat better for about a month. Then in August, he suddenly got worse. He couldn’t eat, or even move around very much without being in pain. The doctor who had been treating Chris since last October basically threw his hands up and sent us to pain management. We knew that wasn’t the final destination, and started researching top doctors in the country. We found one in the midwest and planned for Chris’ dad to fly out with him. Luckily, the week before that appointment, we were able to see another doctor in our state. He was great! He found that the problems that Chris was experiencing this year was different from last year even though the symptoms were very similar. Luckily a new course of medication and complete diet change has worked and Chris is starting to feel a lot better.

 

This year seemed to be filled with non-stop medical issues, but we are so thankful that things are starting to turn around again, just in time for our newest family member. I wanted to take the time to thank each of our family members for the continued prayers that we have received. This is a very quick update that doesn’t even begin to describe the stress that we have been dealing with. We are so extremely thankful for the all of the help and support over the last few months. Eventually, I will write a more in depth update, but for now wanted to break the radio silence. Please continue to pray for Chris’ healing. He is making really good progress but still has a little ways to go.

FET Update 3/13/19

On Wednesday, Chris and I drove down to Reading for our embryo transfer. This was our first transfer, so we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. We checked in with the receptionist, and only minutes later, were brought back to one of the rooms. The nurse asked if I had a full bladder and I showed her the ginormous bottle I had been working on drinking on the way down. (prior to the transfer, they ask that you drink a full liter of water). She had the ultrasound technician come in and check that all was set to move forward with the transfer.

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As soon as the technician verified that we were good, the doctor came in the room. He explained that they had an egg retrieval scheduled to go and that we may do the transfer immediately, or that we would have to wait about 20 minutes until he was finished with that.

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As soon as he left the room and shut the door, he came right back in with the nurse who explained that the embryologist was on the way up with our embryo. The procedure was very quick. We got to watch the entire process of our embryo placed in my uterus on the screen right behind me. It was amazing!

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After the procedure, they instructed me to go home and rest. Easier said than done with a toddler, but Chris has been a huge help with Lexi and housework the past few days! It has now only been 3 days since, and way too early to have any guesses if our little embaby is going to stick around with us. These three days seem like three years so far, and I know that these two weeks of waiting are by far the hardest part! We are fervently praying for this tiny little life daily – that cells are dividing properly, that implantation is happening as it should, and that hormone levels are correct to support this pregnancy. We appreciate all the love and support that we’ve received over the past few days and will update with the outcome of this cycle when we are ready.

FET Update – Chris

It was about a week and a half between Katie’s first bloodwork/ultrasound appointment and the one she had this past Friday. It seemed like it took forever. We were very thankful after the first one, that everything was clear and we would be moving forward with the cycle. But each day waiting for the second one, we got more and more anxious. There were so many things that could prevent us from being able to move forward this month and the waiting was playing games with our minds. On this past Friday, I was very thankful that the appointment was finally here and that we would know for sure if we would be transferring this cycle.

Katie left for the appointment and I woke Lexi up and got her ready for the day. I had to be in the office right after the appointment so I drove Lexi to the doctor’s to drop her off with Katie and head into work. Katie called while we were driving and sounded very cheerful, which I knew was a good sign. We’ve been dealing with infertility our entire marriage, and I’ve gotten really good at knowing if we got good news or bad news simply by the sound of her voice. Thankfully this was good news! Everything in the ultrasound looked great and the ultrasound tech said we should expect to hear from our clinical team today with our FET date.

Once again we had to wait, but only for a few hours this time! The clinical team let us know that our FET would be scheduled for the following Wednesday the 13th and Katie should start a couple of the medications that night. One of those medications happened to be progesterone which is given via a 1.5 inch needle in her hip by yours truly every night. I’m an MBA… not a doctor or a nurse, not even close. These shots are really painful to, which means both Katie and I need to pump ourselves up and get the shot over with each night. After a couple times, I’m actually getting pretty used to administering the shot, but unfortunately, the shots haven’t gotten any less painful. I’m constantly amazed by how gracefully Katie handles every single challenge that infertility throws at her. These shots are just another example of that strength.

We are so excited and anxious for Wednesday. We are so hopeful, but after so many heartbreaks and disappointments through infertility, that hope is very tentative and careful. We know that God’s perfect plan for us will be carried out. We trust in Him and His timing completely. We also know that if this doesn’t work, it will be heartbreaking. Our embryo is wanted more than he/she will ever know. I know that all of you who have gone through infertility, know this internal battle well and deal with it every single day.

How can you pray for us?

Pray for a smooth procedure on Wednesday. That we would experience peace and that God would help us to trust in His perfect plan. Pray that the following weeks while we wait to take a beta hcg pregnancy test would pass quickly. And pray that no matter the result that our faith would continue to grow.

2/5/19- Embryo Update

Chris and I had our follow up appointment today after our retrieval.

We got 6 embryos! On the day of retrieval, we found out that we had 28 eggs. The next day, we found out that only 16 were mature and yesterday we found out that 6 were fertilized and grew to blastocyst stage! Our doctor said that all 6 look great! We are so thrilled! This entire week, we’ve constantly prayed that God’s will would be done. That He would provide the exact number of embryos that He has planned for our family.

So, I know what you all want to ask. Does this mean we will have 6 additional kids? The most honest answer I can give you is probably not, but we don’t know. Sometimes embryo transfers are not successful for many reasons. Sometimes the embryo just doesn’t implant in the endometrium or the egg could implant in a fallopian tube instead. Miscarriage rates are also slightly higher in IVF pregnancies. So, even though we have 6 embryos we still have no idea what God has in store for us. If our first transfer fails or ends in miscarriage, we still have some embryos to try without going through the retrieval process all over again. At first, we were a little freaked out that we got 28 eggs, but we are trusting that 6 is the exact number that God had planned for us. We take the responsibility God has given us over these six just as seriously as we take the responsibility of parenting our daughter Lexi. We will do everything we can to take care of those embryos and give them the best life possible, whenever they are brought into this world.

The IVF process was hard on my body. I did about 30 shots in just over 2 weeks and the retrieval left me with OHSS. We are hoping that our first transfer is successful, but are relieved that we won’t have to go through that again if it is not successful.

OHSS update – I’m starting to feel a lot better this week. I’m still not cleared to work out for another week or so, but our doctor was happy to see I was walking around so easily without any problems. I’m still slightly uncomfortable and get pains if I move to quickly but am feeling pretty much back to normal.

Transfer- Because of the complication with OHSS, our doctor wants to wait a month to give my body a chance to fully recover and give us the best chance. If all goes smoothly until then, we are planning a transfer for sometime in March.

IVF brings on so many emotions that I didn’t even think about. We cried when we got the news about our 6 embryos. Those are our babies! It’s crazy because even though I’m not physically carrying them, I already feel such a strong connection to them. I’ve been constantly thinking about if they are boys or girls and what they’ll have for personalities. This emotional and spiritual connection to our embryos was felt so strongly by both Chris and I. After experiencing this, we can confidently say that God’s hands have been in every single moment throughout this journey so far, He is the reason those 6 embryos exist and we fully trust that His perfect plan will be done for each and every one of them. For anyone that claims IVF is taking God out of the equation or is trusting science instead of having faith, I guarantee they have not experienced the spiritual journey we have just gone through. Waiting until March is going to be hard and the anticipation of waiting for that transfer day is sure to wear on us. Please pray that God blesses us with patience during this time, faith in His timing and continued healing for my body as I continue to recover from OHSS.

1/29/19- Retrieval

Chris and I had our egg retrieval earlier this morning. It is so crazy how fast this process has gone by.  I’m now home but very uncomfortable and trying to stay on top of the medications.  We arrived at the office at 9:00 this morning and were quickly brought back just a few minutes after checking in. I could tell that the nurse who brought me back was new. When it was time to place my IV, she kept checking each arm and finally decided on the left. Then, she kept poking and digging and finally alerted me that she was going to get her supervisor, who got it on the first try. Ouch! After that, Chris and I had a short wait and then I was brought back to the procedure room. I was sedated right away and remember waking up to the doctors voice speaking with Chris. He told us that they got 28 eggs. I remember, in my groggy state, feeling shocked and so happy, until he kept explaining the situation. Because we got so many eggs, I am at risk of developing OHSS and we are going to have to freeze anything that fertilizes. I have a hard time waking up from anesthesia. It usually makes me super emotional anyways, so this news left me sleepily crying for a good half hour. The nurses came in to reassure me, and Chris kept reminding me of God’s perfect timing, but it took awhile to shake the disappointment. OHSS stands for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome and can happen after eggs are retrieved. The empty follicles fill with fluid and the fluid can leak into the body.

So what does that mean? We won’t be able to transfer in 5 days and we will not be getting pregnant this month. I have to start a medication tonight to hopefully prevent getting OHSS. I’m supposed to take it easy for the next few days and eat a high salt and high protein diet.

Right now, we won’t know how many embryos we have until tomorrow. 28 seems like a lot of eggs, which it is, but not all eggs are mature and not all will fertilize. Over the next 5 days they will be watched carefully and then frozen to use in the future. While, we are a little disappointed we won’t be able to do a transfer this month, we are very thankful for the eggs we were able to collect and are really looking forward to the next steps.

How can you pray for us this week:

1.) Pray against OHSS. It usually is pretty mild, but can become severe which would mean a hospital stay with drains. Not fun.

2.) Pray for our embryos! For God to breathe life into them, for his protection and his perfect plan.

3.) Pray for our hearts this week. Infertility seems like there are more disappointments than triumphs, and the news we got today of more waiting was hard. We do trust in God’s perfect timing and are hopeful of what is in store for us.

 

IVF update 1/25/19

This morning, I had another scan in the office. Everything went great and the nurse said I was responding well to the injections. It’s looking like our egg retrieval could be as early as Monday or Tuesday. I’ll go in for another check on Saturday 1/26 where they can pinpoint when it will be!

Overall, this process has actually been fairly stress-free on us. The appointments are really early in the morning, so worrying about care for Lexi hasn’t been an issue. Also, I am feeling so much better now that the dosage of Lupron has decreased. I’m still having some minor, much more manageable headaches and also hot flashes! I am so, so excited to have hot flashes. If you know me, you know I am ALWAYS cold. It could be a sunny 75 degree day and I still need a sweater, so this is a very welcomed side effect.  Currently, I am on 3 injections a day, and I am quite used to them at this point. After the retrieval, it will decrease.

This is another short update, and will update again once we have a date for our retrieval!  Until then, please continue to pray that everything progresses as it should! We are praising God for another great appointment this morning and so thankful for the support and encouragement!

Katie

January 2019- Katie

As most of you know, we have started injections already. I’ve been on 10 units of Lupron since 1/12. Its funny because in my last update post, this is the very drug that doctors use to treat endo pain that I said I would never take. Now I know why. The side effects are intense and I’m basically a walking zombie. I’ve had a constant headache since started and am also dealing with some crazy brain fog. However, when talking to our current doctor, starting this medication before starting stims gives women with endometriosis a greater chance of success with IVF. Whatever it takes, I’m willing to try!

 

My first appointment will be tomorrow (1/19) where they will do a baseline scan to measure follicles and a blood draw to start tracking my initial hormones. I will also start stimulation injectables tomorrow and will have follow up scans every couple of days until our retrieval. Usually its about two weeks, but it all depends on how my body responds.

 

Chris and I want to thank our friends and family for your support during this process. A lot of you have asked us how you can support us through this time. Honestly, IVF is new territory to us! There are tons of appointments, and med schedules to keep track of. We appreciate your encouragement, your understanding if we can’t make something and most importantly your prayers. We will continue to update you all as we move forward. If you have Instagram, follow us on @stepping_into_grace where I post quick, daily updates of our journey!

IVF Update – Chris

On Thursday, we went into our fertility clinic to discuss our IVF plan. He laid out the plan for us and told us the first injections could start as early as mid-January. At this point we are waiting for a pre-authorization from our insurance company before the medication is ordered. We are very hopeful that this is a quick and painless process so nothing is delayed! I know a lot of our readers have gone through this process before, but many have probably not and might have questions about it and our specific plan.

Katie will take injections for several weeks with the purpose of producing more eggs than a normal cycle. She will be monitored really closely during this time to make sure she is not over-stimulated and to track when the ideal time to retrieve the eggs will be. When the time is right, she will be given a trigger shot and 36 hours later we will go into the main office for the egg retrieval. The egg retrieval is a pretty quick procedure that Katie will be under anesthesia for. The doctor tells us that she should be back to normal within a couple days. While the procedure is going on, I will be keeping myself busy producing the semen. Once her eggs and my semen are both retrieved, the eggs will be fertilized with the semen.

After five days we will go back for what they all a transfer day. One of the embryos will be placed into Katie’s uterus much like normal conception. Around ten days later, we will know whether or not it worked through a pregnancy test. We are very thankful and were very intentional about using a doctor that only placed one embryo per cycle. The other embryos that are created will be frozen and will be used in later cycles when we are ready to try for another child. If the first egg retrieval goes well, we will hopefully never have to go through it again. This sounds like a foolproof, almost guaranteed process, right? I wish with everything I have that it is. IVF increases our chances of getting pregnant, but it is not a guarantee. God will need to play just as big of a part as he does in natural conception and we are placing our trust fully in Him.

We are very excited to get started on this process! We have approached our infertility very prayerfully and really feel like this is the path that God is calling us to. I’ve talked about it a lot before, but as a husband, it’s so easy to try to get our hopes up. I’m doing my best to balance trusting God and having that hope, without getting our hopes too high if something doesn’t go well. I think it’s easy to view something like IVF as unnatural and removing God from the equation. Katie and I have talked about this a lot, and we’ve come to the conclusion that any life is truly a miracle from God. The conception and birth of our daughter was truly miraculous. If God blesses us with a child through IVF, that child will be just as special, just as miraculous and only because of the grace of God as our first. We are so blessed that we live in a world where science and medicine has advanced to this level where a once incurable disease like infertility, can be treated. God’s hand is in every single step of the conception process whether it be natural or IVF. We firmly believe that God will knit our child together in Katie’s womb according to His will and we are so incredibly grateful for that!

We know that the next few months will be filled with excitement, anxiety and hormones. We’re so grateful for the community we’ve found online through this blog and Instagram. The constant encouragement we receive from couples going through the exact same thing as us is invaluable and something that we couldn’t do this without. We are also very thankful for our friends and family for being along side us every step of the way. The first time we went through infertility, we were not open about it at all. We were on an island, and that isolation made for an incredibly lonely journey. This time around has been made so much easier by sharing our struggle with those closest to us and we are so thankful for the prayers, encouragement and practical things like baby-sitters that we get on such a regular basis. This isn’t going to be easy, but we can’t wait to go at it with everything we have with God and our community behind us.

December 2018 Update

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a month since Chris finally got the procedure he needed and is feeling so much better. We were so excited that he was able to eat Thanksgiving dinner and we are really looking forward to Christmas. During those months that Chris was sick, we obviously had to put our baby journey on hold. It was not ideal, I was sad that we lost some crucial months after my surgery, but our first priority was health and healing in our family.

Now that Chris’ illness is behind us, we have excitedly started our journey back up. At the end of November, we met with a new reproductive endocrinologist. We talked over my new diagnosis of endometriosis, what that means for our journey, and some new tests that he wanted to have done. Most of them are blood tests, but also a Sono HSG under sedation which I had today (12/5). This is a test that looks inside my uterus to rule out polyps, fibroids and abnormalities. Honestly, I completely expected him to come out of the appointment saying I was clear, but he ended up finding a polyp at the top of my uterus. I’ll need surgery to remove it, which is scheduled for December 20th. Once we are done with this additional testing, Chris and I have some big decisions to discuss as far as treatment. We’ve been trying to conceive for 2 years now. I’m done with being in severe pain each month and I’m ready to do something to treat my endometriosis.

Options

After my surgery in August, I did everything I could to educate myself on endometriosis and what I could do to manage it. In my update post after the surgery, I wrote that we were finally relieved to have a diagnosis, but the more I learned in the following months, the harder it was to cope with. There is no cure, there are no pills I can take, and the surgery I had wouldn’t last that long before it starts growing back. The treatment options are even worse. The least aggressive option would be birth control pills or a hormone based IUD. These come with their own set of side effects and potential problems. Next would be hormone shots to put your body into a state of menopause. These shots may take away the pain temporarily, but make you feel so terrible. It has many awful side effects from bone loss, to depression. Its something I would never consider, even if we weren’t trying to have a baby. The next option is a hysterectomy. This option doesn’t always take the pain away and some women still report lingering pain. Again, not an option at this point in my life. The last option is to have a baby. Many doctors will actually tell their patients that the best thing they can do is to get pregnant. It can be hard to hear, especially if you’ve been trying for awhile, because most women with endometriosis can’t get pregnant. Basically, if I don’t manage my endometriosis, it will continue to grow for the rest of my life. My pain will continue to increase and it even increases my risk of cancer. It’s been really hard to deal with this reality and honestly I’ve cried a lot over it. But now, I’m at a place where I’m at peace with it.

For whatever reason, the window of opportunity after my surgery for Chris and I to try on our own was reduced. Knowing our options, and considering all of the things we have already tried in 2017 and 2018, we have decided that IVF is the next best step for us. I’m actually really excited about this option, because not only does it give us the possibility of one more baby but several! Chris and I are hoping to start the process as soon as we are able, but we just don’t know what my next surgery will do to our timeline. We will keep everyone updated when we know more! For now, we could use prayers over the upcoming surgery and with the decisions we will need to make in expanding our family down the road.

September and October 2018 Update

September/October Update

This is a hard update to write. We’ve been really silent on the blog, and not because we wanted to be, but because we’ve had a really crazy couple of months.

At the beginning of September, Chris got really sick. When I say sick, I don’t mean a cold or even the flu, it was unexplainable, excruciating abdominal pain anytime he would eat. He spent almost 3 weeks in two separate hospitals and had a ton of diagnostic tests done, all which had come back normal, even though he was in severe pain. We had to do our own research and search for a doctor willing to treat him based on speculation. Finally, we did, and thankfully he’s feeling better and better every day. Chris and I have been talking after this whole ordeal, and we can’t get over how surreal it feels. In the beginning of September, Chris spent most of his days in bed, in horrible pain anytime he would try to eat anything. After several ER visits, he was admitted to Wentworth Douglass Hospital for almost a week. They didn’t find anything, and sent him home where he continued to get worse. We decided to seek help elsewhere and drove down to Massachusetts General Hospital and Chris was admitted for two weeks. Still, they couldn’t find anything major, told us his organs were just sensitive and discharged him. Finally, after a very long fight, we got the procedure we had been requesting for over a month and it worked! During this time, I was definitely in survival mode, trying to care for Lexi and make sure things were ok at home while also trying to be with Chris as much as possible. Now that Chris is home and recovering, we are starting to get back into our normal routine.

I wanted to go into a little more detail of everything Chris went through. With so much going on, we had a hard time keeping all of our friends and family in the loop on every detail. On September 6th, Chris woke up suddenly in the middle of the night in severe pain. We couldn’t explain it. He waited all night and by 6 AM, caved and decided to go to the ER. At the ER, the found nothing and sent him home. The next day, the pain was still excruciating, so he went back to the ER. Again, unable to explain it, they sent him home. Chris wasn’t improving, but instead was getting worse. He waited a day and then went back to the ER and this time he was admitted to the hospital..which also happened to be my birthday :(. Chris spent 4 days in our local hospital where they ran a whole battery of tests and couldn’t find anything obvious. They concluded that Chris was experiencing muscle spasms and sent him home with antispasmotics. The medication seemed to be working in the hospital, and we were really hopeful that it would just take a few days to get into his system. Instead, over the next few days, his condition worsened. Chris couldn’t eat food without having severe abdominal pain and spent the following days in bed. We ended up going back to the ER a final time because he was in so much pain. That was the worst experience I have ever had. The doctor basically acted as though he was there seeking drugs and suggested that he speak with a therapist. In the following days, I felt constantly sick. I didn’t know what to do for him. The hospital, the many doctors he saw, had all failed us and Chris was getting worse.

Up until this point, I had been pretty hands off with Chris’ care. I even brought sewing projects for Lexi’s winter clothes to work on while I sat in his room. I was fully trusting that the medical system would diagnose him and treat him. After 4 ER visits and a hospital stay, I started to realize this was not the case. For the next week, I made it my mission to figure this out. My nights were spent researching conditions that matched Chris’ symptoms until around 2:00 AM, then sleep for a few hours, wake up, take care of Lexi and then repeat. There was no way I was able to sleep anyway, as my husband, who also was unable to sleep, writhed around in constant pain. I spent a lot of my research focusing on the upper right quadrant of the abdomen which contains the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and biliary tree. I knew that he had his gallbladder taken out in 2016 and had experience very similar symptoms to what he was experiencing now. I requested all of his records from two years ago and started combing through them. I found that after his cholecystectomy in 2016, he also needed an ercp and sphincterotomy because he had a back up of bile and sludge. Finally, during one of those nights of researching, I found something. I was so excited! Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction matched Chris’ symptoms identically. And, even better, his experience from 2016 also matched. My excitement over this discovery was quickly subsiding the more that I learned. Basically, there are 3 types. Types one and two have clear findings on lab and tests results. However, in type three Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction, all test results come back normal and the only evidence is right upper quadrant abdominal pain. Because of this, doctors only treat the symptoms with medication and some doctors don’t even think the condition exists. Unfortunately, Chris was falling into this elusive type three category. Every test that he had had up until this point was normal. I knew we would have a lot of barriers to overcome in getting correct treatment for Chris, so I started researching doctors who had experience with this condition. We live in New Hampshire, and there were absolutely no doctors in our area. However, we also live extremely close to Boston, and I found one doctor specifically with experience in this condition. We knew we weren’t getting anywhere with Doctors in New Hampshire, so we decided that we needed to go out of state.

On Tuesday night, September 23rd I drove Chris down to Boston in the pouring rain. Once we were in the ER, a doctor examined Chris and went over everything he had been through the past month. I explained that he had his gallbladder out in 2016 and went through the exact same thing. Then the doctor said something that made my mouth drop. He said “yes, we’ve seen this before, sphincter of oddi dysfunction is rare but can happen. Lets keep him over night and get the GI doctor in to examine him.” I couldn’t believe it, first they knew about this condition and second, he was finally going to get correct treatment! The ER at Mass General was a crazy experience. Once your examined by the ER doctor, you are then sent to observation, which is basically just a giant waiting room that all the patients sit in together. Some are getting IV’s, and some are laying in beds anywhere they could fit. We happened to be sitting next to a woman who had quite obviously just taken drugs. She kept picking up the phone, calling her mom to cuss her out and then abruptly hanging up on her. We spent almost 40 hours in the ER before finally being admitted.

Finally on Wednesday, Chris saw the GI doctor but unfortunately, it was not as easy as the ER doctor made it sound. She was not interested to hear our thoughts on what we thought was wrong with Chris. They admitted him, and ran a ton of different diagnostic tests. During the two weeks he was there, we asked for an ERCP many times. Each time, we were told no because Chris’ test results were all normal. Also, during that time, I found out the doctor that we specifically had come to Mass General for was now with a different hospital. We came to a point where we realized that Chris was not going to receive the treatment we wanted him to get. He was still so sick but after being there two weeks we decided that it was best just to be discharged from the hospital and come home, where we would keep searching for a doctor to treat him. The hospital diagnosed him with visceral hypersensitivity, which was so absurd, and put him on a bunch of different antidepressants and neuromodulators. The medications didn’t help, they just made him feel like a zombie all day long. Chris was still in pain and unable to eat.

Once Chris was home from Mass General, the plan was to see one more local doctor, and if that didn’t work, we were planning on traveling to Indiana. Chris just couldn’t function on the medications he was prescribed and the pain was debilitating. The doctor who we scheduled the appointment with was actually the same doctor who did the procedure in 2016. It was our last hope to get the procedure we had been begging for. Before the appointment, I was so nervous and so fearful that he would brush off our concerns like all of the other doctors we saw. Once we were in the room with the doctor, all of our fears vanished. The doctor briefly went over his notes and then said “I spoke with Dr. Chung on the phone and they weren’t sure what else to do with you. I agreed to do the ERCP. I don’t know if it will take your pain away, but we’ll see.” We couldn’t believe it. We didn’t even have to ask for the procedure, he just agreed to do it. At checkout, we scheduled the procedure for exactly a week later and waited anxiously.

In the few days leading up to the procedure, I became filled with doubt. I wondered if I making the wrong decision by pushing so hard for this procedure. The reason that we couldn’t find a doctor to do the procedure was that it is really risky. I’m not a doctor, and since his test results were all normal, we pushed for this procedure based on our own theories. If Chris experienced any of these complications, it would be my fault. However, my gut kept telling me we had to at least try. The day of the procedure finally came and we were so hopeful. We checked in and Chris was taken back to pre-op. The procedure only lasted a half hour and afterwards the nurse came in the room and told me that the doctor found papillary stenosis and stenosis in his bile ducts. He preformed a balloon sweep to expand the ducts and preformed another sphincterotomy. Once he did that, bile came spilling out. I was so relieved I wanted to cry!

The next few days after the procedure, it was hard to tell if the procedure was successful in providing him pain relief. The gas that they pumped into his chest was really painful and it took a few days to dissipate. It has been about a week and a half now, and Chris is feeling a lot better! He can eat again! Chris is still having a little bit of pain in that area of his abdomen and we are hoping that his body just needs more time to heal. We have a follow up in a few weeks with the doctor and I cant wait to find out the doctor’s thoughts on the whole ordeal is and what the official diagnosis is.

Honestly, the past few months have been really hard to process now that we are on the other side. It feels surreal to think about everything that Chris went through. This past week, we have been focusing on getting back into a routine and getting Lexi a lot of one and one time with Chris. We’ve also had lots of family dinners – something we haven’t been able to enjoy in 2 months! Not only are we following up with the GI doctor, but we are also working with a naturopathic doctor and a nutritionist. What I have learned about this condition is that it’s chronic, and unfortunately will probably be something that Chris will have to manage for the rest of his life. We are focusing on prevention and hoping that by following an optimal diet and lifestyle that we can somehow keep this condition at bay for a long as possible. It is still so baffling to me how Chris’ medical history was so blatantly overlooked at both hospitals by so many different doctors. Its also amazing to me how flippantly his condition was taken as well. Chris couldn’t eat food and was in extreme pain, yet it was acceptable to send him home and advise him to see a therapist? As his wife, who had lived through this experience with Chris nearly two years earlier, the problem was obvious. The medical system is not what I thought it was. The lack of compassion that we experienced was very disheartening. These two months were such an eye opening experience to what so many people with chronic conditions go through.

I wanted to end this update by thanking all of our friends and family. Both my parents and Chris’ parents sacrificed so much time to take care of Lexi, and stepped in to help me with daily household tasks that were falling behind. So many of you visited Chris in the hospital, and if you couldn’t make it in person, texted him to check in or just encourage him. I knew we had a good family, I just didn’t know how good!