It's been quite a while since the last thorough "Corrie update" via blog. If you're beginning to get tired of reading about hospitals and surgeries and setbacks, I assure you that we're all getting pretty tired of living it. However, if you'd like to get caught up on everything that has gone on in the past few months, I've tried my best to summarize everything below.
When we left off in mid-May, my sister had just been discharged from the hospital following surgery number two and was going to spend the first half of the summer recovering before her third and final surgery in July.
And that's sort of what happened.
Corrie returned to the hospital early on the morning of July 1 and had her "takedown surgery," as it is referred to in the medical world. Despite the rumors, Corrie did not get a "new colon." She has no colon; she will forevermore have no colon. However, the third surgery made it possible for her digestive system to function as close to normal as possible without a colon. After living for nearly nine months with an ostomy, Corrie was able to say goodbye to stomas and bags and Eakin rings and everything else ostomy-related.
The procedure was the shortest and least-invasive of the three, which thankfully led to a shorter-than-usual hospital stay. Corrie was discharged from UNC Memorial Hospital in the late afternoon of July 4 (hence the patriotism oozing in our photos below).
On Monday, July 28, Corrie had her final post-op appointment and was cleared by her surgeon to finally begin college after putting school (and life, essentially) on hold for a year. Everything checked out fine, and we couldn't have been more thrilled.
Just three days later, however, Corrie was rushed to the emergency room with terrible pain in her abdomen. What we initially thought to be something related to her gallbladder (let's see how many organs we can remove in a year!) turned out to be yet another post-surgical abscess just like the one she had in December 2013 following her September 2013 surgery. While these infections/abscesses are rather common, they typically occur in the weeks following the surgery... not one to three months later!
On July 31, with fifteen days until Corrie was supposed to begin college, we found ourselves in an all-too-familiar situation. This time, however, the abscesses appeared to be caused by a small fistula. The doctors treated the abscesses with drains and antibiotics while Corrie remained in the hospital for ten days. Determined to make it to her college move-in day, Corrie opted to be discharged with a drain on August 9 and continued antibiotic treatment at home.
On August 15, Corrie moved to Boone to begin her freshman year at Appalachian – oh, happy day! She made a whirlwind trip back to Winston-Salem three days later to have the drain pulled before her first day of classes – what we hoped would be her final doctor visit for a very long time. We knew the following months would be "wait and see." If the infection/abscesses did not recur by Thanksgiving, then the fistula would have healed itself and everything would finally be well. However, if the infection/abscesses came back, Corrie would have to undergo yet another surgery to close off the fistula.
As life would have it, the infection/abscesses came back in no time at all. Four days later, Corrie was back in the emergency room, and on August 24, she had her fourth surgery in less than a year – not to close off the fistula, but to enlarge her wound site to allow the abscesses to fully drain. This most recent hospital visit lasted four days, and although she had a doctor's note to miss her second week of college, Corrie returned to Boone two days after her surgery, determined to move forward with her freshman year.
So here we are – still in "wait and see" mode. Corrie has a follow-up appointment next month to determine what comes next. A fifth surgery? A clear scan? Another month of "wait and see"? All are possibilities, and after everything Corrie has been through, we've learned to brace for the worst and hope for the best. In the meantime, Corrie is settling into college life: making friends, going to football games, and occasionally asking her big sister for help with math homework ;) If you'd like to fill her college mailbox up with love, you can write her at:
ASU Box 07250
Boone, NC 28608
Thank you to everyone who has loved on Corrie and my entire family during the last year. Spending over 100 days in a hospital room over the course of thirteen months is exhausting, discouraging, and downright soul-sucking at times, but we're so grateful to those of you who have supported us as Corrie fights through yet another setback. You make the not-so-great days a little bit better, and we're looking forward to celebrating some really great (i.e.: healthy) days with you in the future. Xo.
ps: All Corrie + ulcerative colitis-related posts can be found here.