What started in early summer as moderate ( mystery ) stomach pain for my mother recently took a sharp turn we could never expect.
On November 29, our mother, Joanne Inglis, became acutely jaundiced. Seemingly overnight, she went from stable but painful, being managed by her gastroenterologist- to requiring immediate surgery to place a biliary stent. After they placed a stent in her bile duct, we thought our battle might be over- that the source of her pain had been found and resolved. We drove her home, where she was instructed to rest for 10-14 days.
However, 2 days after returning home, she became extremely ill- we rushed her to the hospital, and were informed that she was septic. Infection was ravaging her body, but the source was yet unknown. For 4 days, doctors ran innumerable tests and scans to try to identify the culprit- during their search, they confirmed that we are also fighing another monster- a pancreatic mass. During this second admission to the hospital, my mother declined steeply. She became uncontrollably painful not just in her abomen, but throughout her entire body. As her abdomen swelled, she became less and less aware of her surroundings, and terribly weak. Finally, on the 4th day, Dec 14, at 5 PM, the surgeon spoke with my sister and I, and we decided to take a large risk- to perform an abdominal exploratory surgery. The risk of complications was high, and the chance of survival was low. At this point, however, she was approaching death * without* surgical intervention.
The doctor emerged from surgery to inform us that our mom had survived surgery- but that incredibly, her gallbladder had necrosed ( died) and perforated ( ruptured) sometime after having the stent placed in her bile duct. She likely sat in her hospital bed experiencing the pain from this condition for 4 days. Her gallbladder was removed, but unfortunately, the portion with the stent in it was not able to be removed safely due to the amount of inflammation in her abdomen. They were also not able to obtain a biopsy of the mass in the head of her pancreas- also due to the inflammation. ( And the fact that this was an emergency procedure.) These findings not only explained the extraordinary pain she was in, but also the infection ( sepsis) throughout her body. Her belly had been full of bile. She recovered in ICU, on a ventilator, full of drains, central lines, an arterial line- you name it. She spent just over a week in ICU before transferring to " stepdown", where she spent Christmas. After some time there, came the rehabilitation facility. She learned to walk on her own again, and eventually gained enough strength to return home, a staggering 51 days after this all started.
After being home for just a few days, the pain in her abdomen and back became severe again- afraid to go through another episode like the last, she called me ( Sarah) to take her back to the hospital. After speaking to her surgeon, we were instructed to go immediately to the emergency room for bloodwork and an emergency CAT scan. Test results show that her pancreatic mass had not only progressed, but that she was * dangerously* dehydrated, and that we were facing sepsis again, with her white blood cell count being through the roof...... again. As I write this, she is spending her 4th night back in a hospital bed. More lucid than when she was admitted, and finally adequately hydrated, but still terribly painful. A procedure will be done tomorrow ( Jan 29) to get biopsies of the pancreatic mass, as we cannot fight this battle without knowing our enemy.
The reason I've started this GoFundMe is that we are headed into very dangerous financial waters already, as my mother has not been to work since Nov 28, and a snag with Disability means that there are absolutely no funds coming in- just tremendous medical bills, health insurance out of pocket, mortgage, utilities, etc already starting to pile up. .. and regardless of what this pancreatic mass is, we have treatment ahead of us, with no idea of what it will cost. My sister and I have missed large quantities of work, having to care for our mother and be her advocate when she is confused and exhausted, and unable to speak for herself.
My mother is one of the most hard working people I've ever known. She has dedicated nearly 2 decades to her current job, and has rarely missed a day due to anything other than approved vacation. She is without a doubt, the most ( stubbornly) independent woman I know. Being so helpless is devastating to her.
We appreciate ANY help that you can offer. Even if it's as simple as passing on our cry for help, or offering a prayer. The road ahead is a long and scary one, but we're ready for the journey. We've gotten this far, after all.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support. <3
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