Vicki Varner's Volition - Mom / Wife / Friend

My best friend is terminally ill. My best friend is my mom. 

The term "terminal" has no timetable. Death could be hours, days, weeks, months or years away. Terminal just means the ailment one has will directly or indirectly cause the story to eventually end. 

Mom in the last week is already a statistical outlier. She survived four invasive surgeries including one with a "50/50" survival rate. She broke-free from ICU-related delerium and a breathing tube (twice). She is back to being sharp as a tack. She was moved out of ICU into a gastro-specialty unit as she makes positive advances. Getting out of ICU is no small feat -- many never leave the ICU.

We have hope. 

So... you may be asking yourself, how did we get here? What happened? 

Mom had ~90 percent of her small intestine removed as it died. It was unrecoverable. Dead tissue spreads like wildfire and removal was required to keep her alive -- perceived cause is a local blood flow-restricting clot. It is unknown how long she walked around without blood supply to her intestinal tract and doctors said one in this condition should be in immense; prolonged pain. Mom is a badass and likely walked around with this pain a bit too long in hindsight -- it is what it is. Chalk it up to stubborn strength and courageous confidence.

Vicki is going to Vicki. 

Mom's prognosis is complete reliance on TPN feeding (intravenously nutrition consumption). She no longer has the ability to completely absorb nutrition through digestion. She also no longer has the natural ability to pass waste. 

Alarmingly, it is believed through a recent CAT scan that she may have another blockage that will kill local tissue. This is located where her stomach and remaining 10 percent of her small intestine connect. It is also believed her colon is also failing.  One, even with TPN, cannot survive without a small intestine and a stomach. This more-or-less means zero ability to absorb nutrients.

The doctors told us her body is tired and a fifth surgery is unlikely survivable. Based on her present alertness, the gamble is just not worth it. 

Mom elected to stay on the present medication and not go back under. The hope is either the CAT scan is giving a false-positive or her body naturally unblocked the problem. Both of those scenarios are plausible. 

Uniquely, Mom's white blood cell count since the difficult non-operation decision naturally dropped from 8x to 2x the normal white blood cell amount. This may suggest her body unblocked itself. All are unsure why this is happening, but nobody is going to argue the results. 

Now the awkward segue...

As with many medical emergencies in this world, survival comes at an immense financial cost. Mom is insured, for now, but each day she survives longer than expected, the chances she is dropped increases. 

A long-term hospital stay, likely eventual residence in a specialized care facility and the high costs of the daily TPN required to keep her alive is a financial burden. It stinks, but there's just no way around it. 

My dad and I are asking for help. I strategically didn't say Mom is asking for help because we all know she would be pleasantly stubborn in the most endearing and prideful way... but she needs our help too. 

This is incredibly weird to write a GoFundMe about my mother. But, writing a GoFundMe asking for help with active medical costs vs. assistance with a wake is driving all of us forward. 

My best friend is not yet finished. 

Thank you for everything.

Steve & Travis



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Travis Varner 
Davenport, IA
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