Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

So Thankful Tonight

Video Sharing on Facebook Right After Surgery February 2010

As this day draws to a close, I am so thankful for life and that I am here to enjoy it! You may think that strange…what did I do? Almost get hit by a truck today? Nothing of the sort.

This morning I went to the hospital for an ultrasound on the arterial bypass I have in my stomach. What?! Your stomach? Right, who has ever heard of such a thing? Let me take you back.

Five years ago, I was living with unbearable stomach pain. It was most severe after eating anything. Since I had trouble starving, it was hurting me lots of the time! I was finally diagnosed with celiac artery disease…something no one has every heard of. I certainly never had. Ligaments from my diaphragm had wrapped around the celiac artery  which feeds the digestive system choking the blood supply. In fact, it is the main artery bringing blood to the stomach, digestive system, liver and spleen and it ligaments were strangling it 98% closed. This was working the other two minor arteries that much harder and putting a terrific strain on my system. The result was giving me horrific stomach pain after eating and finally all the time.

It took the doctors a year to diagnose it, a year for me to put it off, because the risks were high and the outcome very far from guaranteed. I was finally operated on January 28th of 2010 by 4 vascular surgeons. The team was led by Dr. Mark Meline of Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park, Minnesota at Methodist Hospital.

It was a complex surgery and I came through it well. Afterwards, for some inexplicable reason my brain started to swell. I had to be trached and put on a ventilator. I almost died. Another brilliant doctor and the power of God pulled me through. I am here to tell the story. I am very grateful I came through it.

The next fright I was the anesthesia from the surgery had made me delusional. This is a more common occurrence. But that was little comfort. I went through a terrifying two week hospital recovery before finally coming home.

It was a long way back from the surgery. I was walking in the apartment halls to get my strength back. Three surgeries followed, all minor by comparison and only one on my stomach: a double incisional hernia surgery to repair hernias which developed around incisions from the stomach surgery.

I know, you’re beginning to wonder why I am so thankful. Well, because I shouldn’t be here. It was a miracle I was even diagnosed ~ it was such a rare condition. It was a miracle the surgery worked. My team presented it as a paper to the enter GI department afterwards. The patient was famous, but anonymous! Only a handful of surgeries of this kind had ever been performed and certainly not all successfully.

It was a miracle my husband and I had the courage to go ahead with it, guided by faith in God, my loss of ability to deal with  much more pain, and our confidence in the surgeon.

It is an even bigger miracle that three years post surgery ~ I am healthy. I am 30 pounds thinner. I take less medication for ailments because everything is absorbed better by my body. I am off all cholesterol medication.  And the bypass has held beautifully. That brings me to today. The state of the art bypass in my stomach has healed and holds beautifully allowing me not only to live, but to thrive.

So every April I will have an ultrasound to check on and report on this living miracle in my body. And I will give the glory to God. My surgeon does. So will I!

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4 thoughts on “So Thankful Tonight

  1. A long journey begins with a single step and I think its grand that I have been able to encounter you on that road .. grateful that I will be around long enough to enjoy your company for a while anyway! 🙂

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    • Joe you are a great friend and we have so much to learn from each other. I know we’ll be able to know one another at least long enough for you to get sick of me! LOL That, as you may guess, is a very long time! 🙂

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