Jeannene Zimmel | CaringBridge

Jeannene Zimmel

First post: 2/7/2017 Latest post: 3/24/2017
Mom has had a long hard journey already. It all started in mid-November when mom turned the color of Marge Simpson. She was admitted to the hospital and they were trying to figure out what was going on.

They did a procedure to check her bile duct and it was blocked. First they did an external drain, but that was a disaster from the get go. She had pain that was fairly constant. They put her on pain meds that made her act like a zombie. Mom not being talkative is definitely not like her. Even with the pain, they had her go to a rehab center to get stronger and feel better. After about a week, we got her back into the hospital where they placed a stint in the bile duct. The pain was gone as soon as the drain was out, but she went back to the rehab center for another couple weeks to improve her strength. She finally got some strength and came home after a few days.

We were all over for Christmas Eve and we got a great photo of grandma and grandpa with all of the grandkids, which was wonderful for everyone.

As the weeks went on she was still pretty weak, but had PT and OT at the house a few times a week. We were thinking that give it a bit of time and she will get stronger. But just after the New Year she started to get sick and was not able to hold food down. Another trip to the ER and another procedure to take a look, this time her small intestine was closed down. Another stint was placed and she came home again.

With all of this she has had very little appetite, not that she had a large one before, but one of the biggest concerns was she wasn’t getting enough calories to get her better. So we all began pushing eating sweets, even the doctors encouraged it (how many of us get to have the doctor tell you to eat cake and ice cream anytime you want?)!

Every time she had the procedures, they were taking biopsies to see if she had cancer, since she was showing very classic symptoms, but every time they would come back inconclusive. We were optimistic that she was in the clear.

Well that brings us to end of January, she was getting sick again. Dad took her back to the ER and they did a CAT scan and procedure to check the stints.  From the scan they could see that the first stint in the bile duct was blocked and the one in the small intestine was about half blocked (after only a couple weeks).

The doctors said that opening the stints was very temporary, that it was not going to last long, and that something more had to be done. She was looking at a bypass, so that food could get through and so she could start feeling better. When they were doing the surgery they would also try to get good biopsies to get some definitive answers.

The surgery was set for 9am, and as things so often go with doctors, mom had to wait in pre-op for 5 hours (there was an emergency that the surgeon had to deal with first). So we waited. Dad and I noticed that her heart rate seemed fast, but she was waiting so long we didn’t think much of it.  Surgery took longer than expected, but in the end the surgeon had answers for us.  What we didn’t want to hear, but I think we all knew it was coming, she does have pancreatic cancer.

The surgery went well, and now it was time to start recovering. She was up in the ICU because of the fast heart rate. Meds were started to help and after a day or so she was out of the ICU.  She now was healing, but with the fluids that she was being given, her body wasn’t flushing them out. Her breathing was getting hard and she needed to have oxygen to help and even a CPAP machine to help. With more IVs than we even want to count she was making an incremental recovery every day.

The IVs are now dwindling, replaced with pills. She is making progress every day. You can tell she is feeling better because she will roll her eyes at the nurses and the PT staff. She is looking forward to getting out of the hospital and to rehab. Her journey is far from over, there still so much to live for and to see. 

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