Monday, April 1, 2013

Lauren Is One Tough Cookie!!

Hi Everyone,

Happy Easter!! I am trying to type this in the dark in Lauren's room. The last week is such a blur, but I will try and remember.

Surgery day was Tuesday at 7:30 am. We had to be at the hospital at 5:30 am.Lauren got up at 3:00 because she had to take a shower with antibacterial soap. We got to the hospital and there was a line of people registering for surgery. They gave us a pager to use and paged us whenever they would relay a message to us from the OR. They have 28 ORs in the main hospital and it is very busy. We got called back to the pre-op area where Lauren had to change into a gown and get her IV hooked up. They could not find a vein, so they used her port for surgery. Her anesthesiologist came back and introduced himself. He is a friend of Kristen's and was so nice to Lauren. We are so thankful Sis and Bruce work here and know so many nice people. They needed us to leave so they could put an epidural in Lauren's back and we went to the surgical waiting area which is a long hallway with different seating arrangements. We got a nice, big square area od couches to relax on. My Mom, Dad, and sister, Linda came a little later. Bruce, Sis, Gio, Mark and I were also there. Kristen's anesthesia friends gave us two gift bags. One for Lauren and one for the family. Our bag had bags of snacks and all different kinds of magazines. Lauren's bag had lip balm, lotion, flip flops and a bunch of magazines including bridal ones. I thought that was the sweetest gesture. We took turns going to the cafeteria and Bruce took my dad on a big, long, fast walk to see what good shape he was in. My Dad is 81 and is in better shape than most 50 year old men. I always wear a necklace with a picture of Lauren and a St. Peregrine medal (Cancer saint). I kept my hand on both of those through most of her operation and kept praying and praying. At around 4:20 they paged us and wanted us to go back into a conference room. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown about then and I think Sis was about as bad. I was so scared to hear what Dr. Sonnenday was going to say. He came busting in with a smile on his face and said it was a tough surgery, but he was really happy. He had taken pictures of Lauren's insides when he was looking around laparascopically and gave us copies. He removed Lauren's gall bladder, cut out the tumors on Lauren's left side, and divided her liver in two. The left side is supposed to regenerate quicker when this is done. He said she did great and only needed two units of blood. He also removed six of her lymph nodes. He said the tumors he removed on the left were all dead. Her liver looked kind of mangled from all the chemo she has had, but her tumors were dead! He said she will have a CT on Wed. and the second surgery to remove her right lobe will be on Friday. Kristen and I practically skipped back to our waiting area to tell my Mom, Dad, and Linda the great news. I think all of us were crying in the consultation room. The news couldn't have been better. We got to go back and see Lauren in the recovery room. I think it is called the PACU. She was very groggy and complained that her shoulders and arms hurt really bad. She couln't feel her incision because she had the epidural. She had so many tubes coming out of her, I couldn't believe it. I will see if I can remember them all. Arterial line in her neck, IV in port, blood pressure line in wrist, drain on right side of abdoman, bladder catheter, oxygen and epidural. She was taken to the SICU, mainly because she couldn't be on a regular floor until her arterial line was out. They took the IV out of her port because of risk of infection, so the arterial line was being used for blood draws and meds until a PICC line could be put in her upper arm. The SICU is very strange. So many buzzers and beeping. It could drive a person crazy!! They do this thing where every hour or two they come in and raise the bed and roll you and prop you up on the opposite side you were just on. This hurt Lauren so much and she would cry out every time they did it. I felt so bad. They only had two chairs in a room so poor Gio had to sit on this little toilet. I was happy Lauren when was moved to a regular room.

After that every day kind of blends in to the next. Lauren gets better each day. She has already had two different roommates come and go.Her pulse ox was low for a few days, so she has been doing this little machine called an IS that mesures how much oxygen you are taking in. She is getting better at this. She complains a lot of shortness of breath, but that is probably because of pain. She got all of her lines out, the epidural is gone, catheter is gone. She has been going to the bathroom with no problem. She has the drain and the PICC line.

Lauren has not eaten much at all. A few bites here and there. She is just not interested in food. She is really puffy from fluid. She has her legs wrapped with ace bandages to help with the swelling and is taking lasix. She is getting shots of Heparin to prevent blood clots.

Lauren wants peace and quiet at all times and does not want to be asked any questions. She gets really mad if you ask her anything. I had to use tough love yesterday on her because she did not want to do any of her exercises or get up and walk. She got so mad at me and was crying. I told her the only reason I was acting this way was because I loved her and wanted her to get better. Kristen had to get tough with her today and told her she was being so mean to all of us and really needed to get up and get going. Lauren was furious with her, but she got up and walked four times today!! We also told the nurse about her and she must have told the next nurse, because they are telling her to get up instead of asking. Lauren is so stubborn and headstrong that the tough approach is the only thing that works. This is also why she has done so well with chemo treatments. She is tougher than anyone I know. So, I must sit in silence and only talk when she wants to talk. I can't be mad at her for more than a second because it hurts her to breathe and she is so frustrated. I can only imagine how cranky I would be.

Kristen and I helped Wo get a shower yesterday. They have a shower right in her bathroom with a seat for her to sit on. She sat and we soaped her up, washed her body and hair. Kristen even shaved her legs. It was so hot and steamy in the bathroom that our hair got all frizzy and curly. So much for straightening my hair!! I think she felt so much better. Kristen has been so helpful and I will never be able to thank her enough. If she wasn't a doctor, she would have been a super nurse! Bruce is great too. They always come to see Lauren before and after their shifts, and sometimes on breaks. I was so happy Ryan was able to come back with Gio this weekend. He had a very calming effect on Lauren and she really seemed to listen to him. Mark could not come this weekend because he threw up on Friday and had intestinal problems all weekend. He didn't want to risk making Lauren or anyone else sick. He sent Lauren a picture of her buddy, little Penny. She is confused about why we aren't at home and constantly stands up by Lauren's bed to see if she is up there. That broke my heart and I had a good cry because I love my dogs like they were babies. I have a big list of instructions for taking care of them on a door in the kitchen. I think they will be ok.

They want you to get up and walk a lot after surgery. Lauren had a slow start to that because her blood pressure was too low, her heart rate was too high, and she was too drugged up. Sunday was the first good day of walking. She did it four times. Twice around the big square and twice up and down the hall. I'm sure she will do a lot today. My Mom and Dad are coming to visit today. That should make Lauren happy. I'm going to ask today if a therapy dog can come and visit Wo. I think she would like that and it might lift her spirits.

I will try and update more. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I took some pictures when we were in the surgical waiting area. Until next time...

Love, -Pam

Bruce and Mark.
Sis and me.
Sis looks like she is doing yoga. Haha. Grandma Tommie, Bruce and Gio were deep in conversation.
Three amigos. Bruce, Gio and Mark. Couldn't ask for a better son-in-law and future son-in-law!
Aunt Linda and Papa Ron. Linda was having a hard time and kept crying. She loves Lauren so much and is the best aunt!! I am so happy to have such a caring family. We may be a small family, but the love is HUGE!

Gio trying to occupy his mind. He has been so wonderful and really shows Lauren the true meaning of love.



  1. Oh much emotion in that post. I was happy and crying all at the same time. Your tough love is what will get Lauren through this. Being a caregiver might be one of the toughest jobs there is other than being the patient. It's so tough on the people who love the patient watching them go thru the pain and yet also trying to make them do the right thing to get better. Hopefully this will all be over soon and everyone can get started on the healing process.

    Thank God for your family support that you have. How would we survive without that. You are blessed in so many ways Pam.

    I am praying for healing to happen quickly for sweet Lauren. And for some of that crankiness to fade. And it will...I promise!!! I love you guys and praying for you constantly. Especially you Pam...the momma. Your poor sweet daughter going thru this. You are an angel for everything you are enduring.

    Give Lauren my love...



  2. I had tears in my eyes as I pictured you guys helping Lauren with her shower. Love to all you guys! I feel such a good feeling about her surgeries! Go Lauren! Lori Vogt

  3. Oh Pam, what a week you all have had - what great news with Wo though!!!! She is beating this and I couldn't be happier for all of you!!

    Sending you a big hug -

  4. Pam~
    Bless your whole family and may God keep his hand on Lauren as she heals. Bless you, the caregiver, as I am sure the long days will slowly become the best days as she heals and feels like talking!! Lauren gives alot of CC patients hope....she is lucky to have found Dr. Sonneday! HUGS~ Patty in Illinois

  5. GREAT NEWS!! I have to feel for Lauren, since I was the patient and "VICTIM" of tough love!!! LOL!! My recovery would have been bad, {I would still be in bed) if it wasn't for Jeff, Cates, and my sisters (my one sister is retired miltary, ouch!!)Keep up the good works she will thank you profusely later! (tell her to call she will get lots of sympathy from me LOL!)
    Lots of prayers, love and hugs-Cathy

  6. As I read through this post i can feel the love you all have for each other just pouring out of this page. What a great support group Lauren is blessed with. I'm so happy to hear how well her surgery went. I'm sure she will recover well with the love and support from all her friends and family and none without the healing from our wonderful Lord Almighty. I love that you helped her with her shower! Stay strong Lauren, keep listening to those who love you and take your daily walk. Hugs, Mary Shrewsbury

  7. Pam,
    Thrilled to hear Lauren received wonderful news from the surgeon! I know it’s an ordeal, but keep her walking and get her through the next phase of surgery. I’m praying this leads to a long and happy life for Lauren and your family.
    Everyday new medical techniques and treatments are made…stay strong and steadfast in hope and faith.
    The U of M salads were pretty good (along with snicker bars from the candy machines).
    The other Cathy ~ whose daughter had a liver resection at the U of M