The intro may be long, but it's a journey worth telling.....by Debi Heck
On July 23, my mom, took her 88 year old neighbor to the ER about 4:30 in the morning. While waiting for her friend, nausea took hold and mom began violently vomiting. She was shortly whisked to an ER bed and then admitted to ICU, with diabetic keto acidosis and her friend, Ms. Jo Geisler, was released and going strong. After 3 days, mom was released, seemingly doing well, although now relegated to insulin in order to manage her blood sugar.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and a few medical tests later. On August 15, her doctor called and requested she head to the ER, as mom's liver enzymes were elevated and a CT scan showed her gallbladder was enlarged. David & I had been in town for a long weekend and were to leave that afternoon. David left, I stayed. After a battery of tests and a lot of waiting, late in the afternoon on August 17th, we heard those dreadful words that feel more like a punch to the gut than anything else, "there is a mass on your pancreas and surgery is not an option". Terrified and shocked, we called upon her church friends and within a couple of hours, 15 people were in her hospital room, praying and singing. This provided the strength and courage needed to take on this devastating news. She was released Friday afternoon, with a pending appointment 8am Monday at MD Anderson, Sugarland.
Monday's appointment was a basic consultation, with all the next steps to be scheduled in the coming weeks. Tuesday morning, August 22, I decided to get some exercise.....so mom's dog, Rex and I, took off for a long walk. After 30 minutes or so, I received a phone call. It was my mom and she said she had fainted and I needed to get home quickly. Rex and I greatly picked up the pace and raced home. After a couple calls to the oncologist we had just met the day before, I was instructed to take mom to the MD Anderson ER facility in the medical center. We were admitted and the next round of tests & scans began.
Because mom had fainted, they did a complete review of everything. Cardiac, brain, along with additional tests for the known pancreatic mass. Once the all clear on everything but the tumor was confirmed, she was able to undergo the necessary treatments for the tumor, including a bile duct stent, tumor biopsy and a chemo port insertion. All of this action was accelerated due to being inpatient AND the fact, hurricane Harvey was slowly encroaching on Houston. Mom was released Friday evening, August 25, as the height of the storm was quickly approaching.
We made it through the initial storm....but then came the flooding. We weren't overly worried, as her neighborhood has a levee that protects it from flooding, but on Monday, August 28th, it was compromised and a mandatory evacuation was put in place. I moved the antiques upstairs and did what we could to secure the house and headed to our dear friends home, Jeff & Missy McClellan, which was out of danger. By the 30th, the levee was no longer a worry, but now the Brazos was going to crest higher than ever before and access to the neighborhood would be limited, if accessible at all for the near future.
The unknown of access to her neighborhood, the known devastation and extremely long recovery Houston would have to endure, and the blessing that Community Health Network, in Indianapolis, has MD Anderson certified docs, can access all mom's medical records, and could get us in September 5th - sealed the deal; Indy or bust. So on my birthday, August 30th, about 6:30pm we began the 1100 mile journey: mom, myself and her dog, Rex.
I'm pleased to report we made it safely to my home, greeted with a lot of love from my husband and son, and my dog Rex (yes, we now have two dogs named Rex in the house), after 2.5 days of driving. Mom will begin chemo tomorrow, Sept 6, and we will be able to care for her in our home, while still getting the absolute best cancer treatment in the world.
We fully believe that God's hand has been in this journey every step of the way, as there is no other explanation for how all of this has come together. And we have full faith that He will continue be with mom, her family and friends as we all walk this journey together. I ask for your continued prayers, love and support as we now fight the storm from within. Harvey, the tumor, will be terminated!