Tonight my son asked me if I was a teenager… He’s only five, so he doesn’t really know what a teenager even is. But I happily responded, “Why, yes. Yes, I am a teenager, Zane.”
His cousin Toby is visiting. He is a teenager, so that’s probably why Zane asked, but it still made me happy!
Oh, the good old teen years…back when I thought I was the bomb and everything was possible. Back when things were physically easier to do. Back when things were mentally more difficult. Back when life revolved around me and my problems only. Back when my sister and I would drive 90 mph on the way to school on curvy little two lane roads (and I was always late… some things never change). We were invincible! Back when the most difficult thing was the stress of putting together a gymnastics routine with my friends (so fun!) or trying to memorize something for Biology five minutes before the test (so not fun!). Or being annoyed at a dumb boy I did or didn’t like. Back when I cared what people thought about me. Too much. Is my friend mad at me for being friends with someone else? Oh the stress. Making friends for life. Daring to dream. Fighting with my parents. Wanting freedom. Not knowing it’s meaning. Ugly braces. Curly permed hair. Ha, ha. Oh the good old days…
This March we are planning on going to my 20th high school reunion at Ozark Adventist Academy. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and walking through my old campus. I’m imagining it will be so surreal to walk through the campus with my hubby and 4 kids!!! The good old days don’t even seem that long ago! How is it possible that this new life exists? Yet I can’t imagine it not existing.
This month I had a lady come in who had a terrible problem for 20 years. Every time she drank water, it went straight through her and directly on the floor. She had total urinary incontinence after a difficult delivery. It was quite difficult to get her story because of the language barriers. I finally found a paper that she had been consulted with back in 1997! I was like, hey, that’s when I graduated from high school! Back in 1997 someone diagnosed her with a vesico-vaginal fistula in the capital.
I think they did a couple of attempts to repair her, but I’m really not sure because every time I asked a question, I got different responses. The same question, no less.
So on Wednesday, Dad and I did a drastic surgery.
She had a huge vesico-vaginal fistula. It was at least 4 cm, right on top of her cervix and not far from her urethra either. Seriously 20 years she had had this problem!
We did a laparotomy, hysterectomy, opened the bladder and did bilateral ureteral stenting. The ureters were sticking out right at the edge of her fistula (bladder edge and vaginal scar tissue). But there was just barely enough bladder tissue to help those ureters come out inside the bladder and not outside. It was quite tough. We closed the bladder. Stuck the stents out through to her abdominal wall like drains. And then repaired her vaginal tissue from below.
Well folks. So far it’s two days and she’s still dry! Please keep her and three other women in your prayers. All these women are currently post-op from their fistula surgeries and still dry. (One is two weeks and I’m too chicken to pull her stents yet, the other two were this week.)
20 years is a long time for many things. It’s long enough to go to college, go to medical school, go to residency. Grow up a little. A little, I said. Find a husband and have 4 kids. We are truly blessed. And I am so blessed to be part of this hospital team to be able to help these women with life-changing surgeries. Twenty years is a very long time to be leaking urine. This woman is my age (although she seems older to me). Hopefully now she can begin a new chapter in her life. One that involves being dry.
If any of you are looking for a personal project, last year several people sent me money to buy dresses for my cured fistula women. Thank you. You know who you are! It was so fun giving them their brand new, non smelly, outfits when they were ready to go home. Home, clean, dry, and smelling nice. You can also help out with providing a salary for a job (watering flowers or cleaning up trash outside of the hospital) to those waiting for a fistula or their family members who are taking care of them while they are here. Sometimes it doesn’t work the first time and they can be here an extended period of time. They usually stay a week or two pre-op and a month post-op if all goes well.
Also when you support AHI, you support these women. Every fistula surgery is free for these women at our hospital! It’s truly more rewarding to give when it’s such a life-changing result!
Update: I haven’t been able to post this blog as can’t get on the site. She is now 12 days post-op and still dry! I plan to keep her foley in for a month. Prayers appreciated!