A couple of days ago, in the afternoon of May 16th, Ashtyn threw up after eating a small lunch… a pretzel with cheese dip. I thought it was odd. She had not thrown up or been nauseated since February when she was extremely sick with mucositis. Thankfully, her stomach has tolerated chemotherapy quite well. I was puzzled by why her stomach was not feeling well at this point. The next day she had her scheduled clinic visit at the hospital. While there I told the doctors that she had thrown up her lunch the prior day. She also attempted to drink water but was unable to keep that down either. In clinic she was given 800 ml of IV fluids to rehydrate and was sent home with an order for me to give her 800 ml more of IV fluids during the night. Her blood work showed an elevated level of liver enzymes and bilirubin. The thought was that she had a viral stomach flu that would hopefully start getting better. She was also given a prescription for a medication that would enhance her appetite. Over the past two weeks she had lost five pounds. The threat was there that if she continued to lose weight a nasogastric tube would need to be placed into her nose down to her stomach to give supplemental calories. Of all things, Ashtyn refuses to have to deal with an NG tube and was willing to do what it took to eat the needed calories. On the way home she decided to get an In and Out Burger strawberry shake because they are packed with calories. She tried her hardest to eat it but felt extremely full and sick to her stomach. A few hours later she threw up the small amount of shake she got down. The rest of the night she didn’t attempt to eat anything other than sips of Gatorade. Throughout the evening her temperature was taken every hour. I knew something wasn’t right, I just didn’t know what it was. If there was any sign of fever, I was ready to take her to the hospital.
The following morning, after giving Ashtyn her IV antibiotic and an IV dose of a medicine that helps with nausea, I left to take her sister to a birthday party. Twenty minutes later, as I was heading back home, Ashtyn called me and asked if it would be OK if she threw up. “Will they put an NG tube in if I throw up?” I reassured her and told her to throw up if that’s what she needed to do. I stayed on the phone with her as she dry heaved over and over into the bowl I had left by her bed. When she was done throwing up I was nearly home and told her I was going to call the doctor. “Ashtyn, I think you need to go to the hospital and figure out what’s wrong.” I called the hospital to speak with the on call doctor, which happened to be Ashtyn’s primary doctor she saw the day before. I explained that I felt Ashtyn was getting worse. Her stomach wasn’t handling food, water, Gatorade, or even an empty stomach. The doctor agreed that the best thing to do was for her to be in the hospital and to do tests to find out what was wrong. Of course Ashtyn was upset she had to go to the hospital. She was angry at her body. She was nervous about the unknown. I expressed my feelings that I really felt it was the right thing to do. I think she knew it too.
I was told to bypass the Emergency Room and just go directly to the 4th floor oncology unit to check in. Having previously been on the oncology unit for 70 days, it feels like our second home. Walking into the unit, we received such a warm greeting from staff. They wished Ashtyn didn’t have to be in the hospital but they were so happy to see her. Her blood work showed an increase in bilirubin from the day before. Her white blood cells had dropped to practically nothing. The red blood cell count had also dropped quite a bit from the day before. Ashtyn was given IV fluids to quickly rehydrate her. She was taken down to have an ultrasound done of her liver, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, and kidneys. The result showed gallstones in the gallbladder and at least one or more stones blocking her duct that goes from her liver and gallbladder into her intestines. It was quickly apparent that surgery must be done to remove her gallbladder. After taking the gallbladder out, the surgeon plans to flush her duct with dye and hopefully cause the stones to pass from the duct into the intestines, eliminating the blockage. If they are unable to clear the duct of the stones then another procedure would be planned in the next couple of days where a tube would be placed into the intestines and up into the duct to clear out the obstructing stones.
After the ultrasound, Ashtyn returned to her room, the blood transfusion was started, and she was given IV morphine for her pain. Once the pain medication kicked in Ashtyn was finally pain free and feeling good. Apparently she has had stomach pain for several days but never told me “because you’d freak out.”
The remainder of the evening was spent talking to the surgery nurse practitioner and attending, oncology resident and attending, techs, and nurses. What an amazing team!!! Once Ashtyn’s pain was gone she was able to socialize and feel comfort. She sprayed the tech with water from a 60 ml syringe. His retaliation got me right in my eye and face. I had to get him back. We also had a warm talk with the nurse who got tears in her eyes several times as she talked about her amazing job and the love she has for Ashtyn. We played Go Fish with a tech and said goodnight to her siblings over Facetime. Ashtyn’s grandpa and uncle visited and gave her a priesthood blessing. Ashtyn mentioned several times how much she loves the spirit and feeling that is at the hospital. I agree.
Ashtyn posted this quote on her Facebook page tonight:
“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.” Marjorie Pay Hinckley
Looking back on the day, I wouldn’t wish it away. I enjoyed being with my daughter. She enjoyed feeling the comfort of her friends on staff and seeing the support she receives on Facebook. Life really is enjoyable after pushing through the unpleasant.
“So often we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
***Please pray specifically that Ashtyn will be cared for in whatever way needed and that she will be free of infection and inflammation when the bone marrow transplant is to take place.***