Infection, Pregnancy and Everything Else

So much has happened over the summer, mostly related to my health.  I had posted a few things about it back in June.  So I’ll briefly recap and then start where I left off with a fairly brief explanation of what happened and how I got to where I am today.  Followed by a few bits and pieces from the rest of the family.

In September of 2017 I had a breast reduction and tummy tuck.  I healed very well from it, recovered and returned to normal activity fairly quickly.  In March of 2018 I noticed a couple small lumps in my right breast.  I made an appointment with the surgeon who did the reduction, and he believed at that time it was just unsettled breast tissue from the reduction.  A month later, I had an unrelated infection of my tonsil.  It was treated with strong antibiotics and steroids and went away just fine.  And so did the small lumps in my breast.  I thought it was just a cool coincidence and went about my life.  But when the antibiotics and steroids were all out of my system, the lumps in my breast came back with a vengeance, and I ended up making another appointment with my surgeon.  He prescribed me a few different antibiotics to try over the course of a month.  The lumps continued to grow.  Then in May, he aspirated some fluid from the area of swelling.  When he got the results back he had me come back in to explain it was a serious bacterial infection in the family of tuberculosis, but in the soft tissue of my breast.  He said it would take months of heavy antibiotic treatment to cure it, and told Jarrod and I to stop trying to get pregnant immediately.  This was on May 30th.  On June 3rd we got our positive pregnancy test.  I was referred to an infectious disease specialist.

So all together, my OBGYN, surgeon, and infectious disease specialist (and home care nurses) have been collaborating to make sure I’ve had the best care for both me and baby for the last few months.  I’ve had two debridement surgeries, and I’ve been on several IV antibiotics, switching every time I develop a reaction or allergy.  I had a PICC line for 6 weeks until I could no longer handle it physically – my body was pushing it out (which the nurse said she’d NEVER seen that happen before).  Once I hit my 2nd trimester I was able to start taking stronger (more risky) antibiotics.  But with that, came a referral to start seeing a perinatologist for the rest of my pregnancy to make sure baby handles it okay.  So… so that makes 4 doctors on my team.

But it seems to all be coming to an end…. FINALLY!  Just this week I was released from seeing the surgeon because I have healed so well since the 2nd surgery, and now that I’m on the proper antibiotics.  I see the infectious disease specialist again in a couple weeks, but I expect he won’t want to see me too often, maybe even just a couple more times, because the surgical open wound will likely be closed by then and the infection truly seems to be extremely minimal if not just about entirely gone.  And once I’m finally released from this illness, I can finally focus more on this joyous pregnancy!

E56B4DCA-96AA-490A-B132-91542CABFCB2Speaking of the pregnancy, everything has gone fantastic despite the infection and antibiotics.  I got a Sneak Peek mail order blood test at 9-10 weeks and they gave us the result it will be a BOY!  Then when we went to see the perinatologist at 16 weeks along and the ultrasound confirmed its a BOY!!  I am currently almost 18 weeks along.  Jarrod and I have a name chosen, but we aren’t telling anyone until he’s born.  We have a detailed anatomy scan coming up around 21 weeks along.  I’m trying to arrange a VBAC, but with the baby’s due date being in February, and my only doctor and delivery center would be 45 minutes away in good weather, I don’t know that it will be a possibility.  But I’m still going to try.

Unfortunately, my health issues kept us from doing much of anything as a family this summer.  Having a PICC line and an open surgical wound all summer kept me from doing anything involving water.  And being pregnant kept me from going on amusement park rides.  The antibiotics have made me feel very weak and nauseated.  So pretty much anything that anyone wanted to do, I was not up for.  Jarrod and I went ahead and let the kids who had the opportunity, go do things with their friends.  And I insisted that he take his girls to the Iowa State Fair without me.  All summer I felt like such a spoil-sport, a wet blanket, and nuisance and inconvenience.  I must say it’s probly been my worst summer ever because of all the guilt I’ve had from keeping the family from having fun just from being sick.  Of course it’s certainly not like I chose to be sick.  I was very much looking forward to going to Adventureland, the Iowa State Fair, and other summer festivities.  I very much hope next summer is much more fun for us all!

There are a few other things that happened this summer too…
– Autumn and Willow moved in with their mom in a town about 90 minutes away.  But they still visit every other weekend.
– Evan went to a residential psychiatric facility to get treatment for his anger and impulse control issues at last!  I’ve been trying to get him help for years, and I’m so very glad to report it’s helping so far!
– Andy is a few short days away from getting his jaw surgery to extend his lower jaw and improve his overbite.
– Jarrod has lost about 60-70 pounds in the last year and has been visiting the bariatric/surgical center that can do excess skin removal – his surgery is pending insurance approval.

And finally, I must say my husband is amazing.  Through all of this illness, all of the bullshit, he has stood by me and supported me through it all.  He’s been my rock, my best friend, my encouragement, my caretaker, and my reason to keep going on.  Thank you so much for everything Jarrod.  I couldn’t have made it without you.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Privacy

Over the last many years I’ve personally participated in social media, for the vast majority of my experiences, I have been a pretty public person.  I enjoyed the attention, and even strived for more followers/friends/connections.  However, nowadays, it seems the more public I am with my life, whether it be good or bad experiences I’m sharing, I get negative feedback.  Mostly from strangers.  Sure, I get good feedback too, mostly from long-time friends… and I truly appreciate it.  But the bad feedback I get hurts.  And honestly, I have enough going on in my life that I don’t feel I have room for the any of the negativity.

There are extended family members and exes of both of ours that have nothing but negative to say about our life together, and us as individuals.  I know a couple that follow us just to badmouth us.  And ya know, people are all entitled to their opinions.  But when they feel the need to share those opinions, or intentionally start rumors about us that are so obviously not true, just to hurt us in one way or another… well it’s incredibly unnecessary.  If those people are so miserable in their own lives, I don’t see how it’s going to make them feel better to try to bring us down.

My point here is, I’m done playing the game.  I’m done publicly fueling the fire.  From now on, my posts will be private – shared only with those I know, and who I know care about us for more than their bitter amusement.  I am choosing to surround myself with a positive circle of people, and no one else.  Jarrod and I are pretty happy in our little family bubble, and anyone allowed into that at this point should consider themselves fortunate.  My personal Facebook and Instagram will be private from now on, and my personal blog is being closed.  Anything I post HERE from now on will be password protected, and the passwords will be given to those I choose.

Even to me this seems like a pretty drastic step to take, but I’ve been simmering in it for a while, trying to decide which path to take.  And I think closing out the negativity, and the public, is the best way to go.

Commitment

I truly don’t think people understand or trust in the commitment Jarrod and I share.  Perhaps from an outsider’s point of view it could seem pretty early in our relationship to really know how permanent we will be.  The kids all seem to think we will split, and almost expect it from what I’ve observed.  Our other family members and friends (on both sides) seem to be waiting to have to pick up the pieces of another failed attempt at a relationship.  Jarrod and I have both dated quite a bit in our pasts, with bad results, so in our loved ones’ eyes maybe they don’t trust our permanence together.

Speaking from my own personal experiences, I have been in a few long-term, crappy relationships that were very unstable and obviously ended.  Ended badly, even.  Rumors, destruction, hurt feelings… all the bad things that result from a breakup or divorce.  However, I went on, believing I’d one day have to either stay alone or settle, not believing I’d find “the one” that clicked with me so very well.

As cliche as it may sound, I found my soulmate in Jarrod.  As everyone knows, we met at work, we talked quite a lot during our shifts together, and became friends.  I was in an abusive relationship, so it didn’t go any further until I ended that abusive relationship.  And again, yes, we moved VERY quickly.  Putting the impression out there to people that we were being foolish and rash, that our passion would fizzle out.  But what no one knows is what went on (and continues to go on) behind closed doors.  What no one knows is the deep, cosmic, almost unbelievable connection Jarrod and I share on every level of our existence.

You see, Jarrod and I have spent countless hours talking.  We have talked about the connection we share, which neither of us believed was even something that could exist.  We have talked about our pasts.  We have talked about our experiences with family, friends, work, and EVERYTHING in between.  We have talked about just about every topic there is to talk about, no matter how bad or embarrassing.  We have spent nearly 24 hours together every day for the entire last 10 months, and we never shut up when we’re together.  If we run into something we don’t agree on, we may take a few hours to collect our thoughts, but then we talk that out too.  And the passion…. well it has not only stuck around, but it has gotten stronger.  He and I both feel like we found the other half of ourselves, and as co-dependent as it may be, neither of us can imagine what life would be like without the other.  We are each other’s best friend.  We are a true match for one another.  And personally, I cannot imagine being even a fraction as happy with anyone else by my side.

So when people are lingering, watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop, I have one of two attitudes at any given moment.  Either I think its ironic and funny, and I know we will prove everyone wrong one day by staying together until we are old and feeble… and die.  Or I get annoyed and almost hurt that people don’t understand the commitment we share.  I don’t know how I could expect anyone to see it I suppose, after all, nearly no one really takes marriage or monogamy seriously anymore.  But hear me and really believe me when I say: there is no way on this earth or any other that anything will tear apart what Jarrod and I have together.  We are in this together forever.  Divorce isn’t an option for either of us.  Being with anyone else physically or emotionally isn’t an option for either of us.  And even though neither of us are religious people, there is some deeper, spiritual reason for us to be together.  We both felt it the moment of our first hug.  We sort of melted into each other, and that feeling has only gotten more intense over time.  Our “potential mate” radars have been shut off, because they are no longer needed.  We found each other after what seems like an overly-extended waiting period, and we are making up for lost time.  Our quickness to be together, to get married, to have babies together… it all comes from the fact that we believe we were meant to be together all along, and we just missed it somewhere along the way before last year.  And now that we found each other at long last, it all fits together.  He is my everything.

The point is, there is no need to wait and see anymore.  There is no need to expect the worst.  There is no worry of rocky roads ahead or divorce.  Sure, we will disagree on things from time to time.  But we are close enough, love and respect each other enough to know to just give each other time, and we always work through it.  We are each other’s top priority.  That will never change.  Never.  So rest easy dear loved ones, just as we do, that this is a permanent commitment.  Our hearts and lives are so filled with love, we could not imagine or desire for anything different.

Special Announcement!

In my last blog, I wrote in some detail about our trip to Oklahoma and the vasectomy reversal surgery I had while there.  In the opening stages of the surgery, Dr. Wilson looked at a fluid sample and informed me that my sperm had heads, but no tails.  Not a huge deal; such things are to be expected 3 years after having had a vasectomy.  After the surgery I could again start producing healthy, mobile sperm that were able to get where they needed to go, but it would take approximately 3 months for everything to be at full capacity.  The chances of getting pregnant before then would be fairly slim…after all, without tails, the sperm can’t really go anywhere.  Armed with this information, Shauna and I returned home and figured we’d be able to start actively trying to get pregnant around September or so.

That was on May 16th.  Flash forward to June 3rd.  I had gone to work that morning at 8 AM, and left Shauna in bed sleeping.  On days such as this, I return home around 9:30 to pick Shauna up and we both go back to work to finish getting the store open.  On this particular day I was going about my business at work when Shauna texted me and asked if I would have a few minutes to talk when I went to pick her up.  I said I would, then went and finished whatever task I was working on and headed home.  When I pulled up, Shauna was sitting outside on the steps waiting for me; my assumption was that she wanted to vent about one of the kids or something.  She, in fact, did want to talk about one of the kids…the one that’s growing inside of her.

You see, she had taken a pregnancy test that morning and it was very, very clearly positive.  I was not surprised at all that she was pregnant; I always assumed that, even with the decreased odds because of our surgeries, we’d have good luck.  I was quite blown away, however, at how fast it happened.  Conception occured 5 days after my surgery.  It’s almost as if the universe took a good long look at me and said “you know, there just needs to more of THAT around, and I don’t think anyone should have to wait for it, either.  I’m gonna give the people what they don’t even know they want, and I’m gonna give it to them now!”  And with that, I was able to impregnate Shauna months before any medical common sense would have dictated that I’d be able to.  She was pregnant a week and a half before I was even medically cleared to begin attempting intercourse, for crying out loud.  The surreal, mind-exploding QUICKNESS of it all was pretty much the only thing I could think about, not only that day but for several days afterward.  It honestly seemed a little too good (and fast) to be true, so we decided that we would wait to tell anyone until Shauna had an ultrasound confirming that it was a healthy, viable pregnancy.  We sat on this bombshell for 2 weeks until finally, today, we went to Shauna’s ultrasound appointment and got the news we were waiting for:  the baby is right where it needs to be and is right on target as far as growth.  We were even able to see the heartbeat today.

With this confirmation, and with now having told the kids, we are now able to officially announce to the world that we are indeed pregnant.  We’re both extremely excited, but it still seems strangely unreal.  Shauna and I have both the spent the last several years thinking that our days of having babies were over, and even though we’ve went to considerable effort over the last several months to make this happen, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.  Again, we knew we’d eventually be pregnant…but not after 5 days!  I’m sure it’ll become more real as we go to more appointments, begin to acquire more baby stuff and get prepared for The Arrival.  One thing is for sure: this baby is already as loved and wanted right now, today, as it will be on the day it is born.  I’m beyond excited to be a dad to a baby again.  I’m good at it.

And now for some good news…

I may have tested negative on Wednesday, May 30th when I needed to start those heavy meds for my infection….. but on Sunday, June 3rd, when my period was due, I tested positive!  WE’RE PREGNANT!!

The morning that I tested, I didn’t really have any reason to do so.  I just woke up, thought it was weird that my boobs were more sore than normal, noticed I wasn’t bleeding yet, and figured why not, since we had purchased a 3-pack of tests.  So I went into the bathroom and tested.  The positive line came up as quickly as the test line and immediately I was a little freaked out.  Not because I was pregnant – that was EXCITING!!!  But because I had started those antibiotics that I was not supposed to take during pregnancy.  Jarrod had already gone to work that morning, so I texted him and told him to come to get me a little early so we could chat first.  He showed up about half an hour later (but it seemed like I waited for HOURS).  I told him some other random stuff that had been going on around the house, and then handed him the pregnancy test from my pocket.  He was so happy, but also a little hesitant to be happy because of my infection issues and medications.  He couldn’t stop looking at the test in awe as we continued to discuss everything on our minds.

It was entirely unexpected, unpredicted, and highly unlikely to happen so soon.  I mean really, I ovulated only FIVE days after Jarrod’s vasectomy reversal.  And to quote Jarrod, “The recommended healing time before attempting “relations” was two weeks, and I don’t mind telling you that we have stuck unyieldingly to that medical advice, being the responsible adults that we are and whatnot.”  So I don’t know how that could have possibly happened.  Hahaha!

Like the doctor said, those sperm must’ve been waiting at the gates like racehorses, just waiting for the reversal to be done.  And BAM, pregnant!  But we’ve waited to tell anyone because first of all, the test was positive on the actual day of my period being due.  Which would have made me only 1 day short of being 4 weeks along.  That is very early to know for certain there will be a future for this tiny life.  Also, with my tubal reversal, there is a higher chance of ectopic pregnancy, and we wanted to wait until we had all our early testing and viability ultrasound done before we even told our kids and the rest of our family, let alone going public with it all.

 

hessebaby1-jun18-2018

Well, today I am officially 6 weeks along, and we got our ultrasound to make sure baby is where he/she is supposed to be, and all is well!  And with that information we were able to tell the kids and other family members…. and now share it with the world!  We are so excited that this happened, especially so quickly!  Baby is due February 11, 2019. There will be plenty of updates along the way!  So stay tuned…

Not The Boobies! (part 2)

….to continue this infection “adventure”…

I went to the Infectious Disease specialist, Dr. Kumar, and he noticed right away how knowledgeable I was, and how much research I had done on my own.  In a way, I think that helped him communicate with me.  He was showing me scholarly articles that I had already read on my own to better explain my situation.  Jarrod and I both agreed it would have been a bit more encouraging if he had just been able to tell us the information rather than site articles, though.

Between Dr. Kumar, Dr. Coster, and another doctor, we worked up a plan to get rid of the infection the safest, hopefully fastest way.  But it won’t be pretty:  After showing improvement with the 2 antibiotics, it was decided to bring it down to one for safety, removing the Cipro.  I continue to see gradual improvement with just the one, and it has been a week since it was changed.  Next Thursday (a week from today), Dr. Coster will surgically open and debride the infection, removing all fluids and infected tissue, and then leaving the wound open to heal from the inside out.  This is to eliminate the environment where the bacteria are thriving, and make the single antibiotic as effective as possible.  (Don’t worry, I won’t post photos.)  Once the open wound has healed entirely, and the infection is 100% healed as well, Dr. Coster will then surgically remove the scar tissue and make my breast cosmetically correct again.

My estimated treatment will be approximately 6 months long.  I’m hoping though, with the slight improvement I’ve already gotten, that I won’t have to be on meds that long.  I hope it heals faster than that.

Another piece of this puzzle won’t be figured out for a few weeks yet either.  We know I have the rare atypical mycobacteria infection, but we don’t know which strain or which medication it is most sensitive to.  Those tests take about 6 weeks to get results back.  Once those results are back, perhaps I can be on the one antibiotic that will knock this out the fastest… still hoping for a quicker recovery.

But I know these things take time.  I’m trying to keep myself out of the intensive research and anxiety, keep my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel and the wonderful man supporting me, and remember this too shall pass.  I have a great team I’m working with, and this will get better.

Not The Boobies! (part 1)

As most everyone knows by now, I had a breast reduction on September 1, 2017.  It was a pretty drastic reduction, but was deemed medically necessary because of the pain it was causing my back, shoulders, neck, skin, etc.  I was excited to get it done!  The surgeon, Dr. Coster, assured me he wouldn’t go too small, since I felt it was a part of my identity.  However, immediately after the surgery I was extremely unhappy with the results.  The pain from having large breasts was gone right away, but I felt he went WAY too small.  He again assured me that with healing, they would settle and be exactly what I wanted.  I had no choice but to take his word for it.  As the settling of my breast tissue progressed, it felt lumpy and bumpy and sometimes painful.  But overall, it wasn’t a terrible process.  I must say though, still not too thrilled with how small he went, I would have been happy with about another cup size larger.  But there’s really nothing to be done about that now but accept it and move on.

Fast forward to 6 months later, in March of this year.  There was a painful lump about maybe the size of a large marble that was not going away in the top part of my right breast.  I made an appointment and talked to Dr. Coster about it, and he told me it was still settling breast tissue, and not to worry too much about it.  But it didn’t go away.  And it continued to be painful.

In April I had an unrelated illness, a tonsil infection, for which I was given 3 weeks of antibiotics and steroids for the inflammation.  To my surprise, the lump in my breast went away as the tonsil infection went away.  I really didn’t think much of it until the steroids and antibiotics were done.  About a week later, the lump in my breast came back.  I made an appointment, and in the 4-5 days it took until that appointment date, the lump quadrupled in size and became much more painful.

Still, when I saw the Dr. Coster toward the beginning of May, he told me it was just settling breast tissue, and I explained what happened with the course of treatment I had for my tonsil and stressed the pain and concern I had.  So he gave me some stronger antibiotics.  They did no good, so after a week I was prescribed the same antibiotics I had been on for my tonsil.  So another week later, the antibiotics had not worked, and he did an ultrasound.  He found a pocket of fluid, and aspirated some of it with a needle (NO fun at all, I say!!).  He sent me home with more of the same antibiotic and low-dose steroids.  It started to do a little better with the steroids, but as the dose decreased, the swelling increased again.  No relief.

1 day before my next appointment I got a call from the nurse saying the fluid they aspirated had been sent to the lab and cultured.  The nurse said the result was a super-rare bacteria in the same family as Tuberculosis.  She said to keep my appointment and the surgeon would explain in more detail and discuss treatments during that appointment.  So yeah, if you know me, you know I want as much information as possible for whatever new thing happens to me or a loved one, medically.  Science and medicine fascinate me.  So I scoured the internet for information about TB-type infections of adipose tissue (fat tissue).  I found a large number of options of what the infection could be, looked up case studies, and went to bed that night knowing this would be a very long process.

The next day at my appointment, Dr. Coster told me this was a non-tuberculosis atypical mycobacterial infection.  That is basically a long way of saying this is a very, very stubborn and medicine-resistant infection that will take anywhere from 3 to 12 months or more to heal with the proper antibiotics and the potential for surgery to remove infected tissue.  Seems it has a slightly rising occurrence in post-surgical patients, but usually with breast augmentation rather than reduction.  No known cause other than just environmental exposure.  He had only ever seen one other case in his entire career, and he’s a pretty experienced surgeon.  He also said NO PREGNANCIES because nothing about the treatment is pregnancy-safe.  He gave me two antibiotics which have some pretty severe possible side effects – Ciprofloxacin and Clarithromycin, and this note.

IMG_2777
It says: Go ahead with Clarithromycin, Stop trying to get pregnant, Once you have a negative pregnancy test, add in the Cipro.

This was on Wednesday, May 30th.  Jarrod and I had been actively trying to get pregnant, so there was a very small chance that I could have conceived during the 2 weeks since his vasectomy reversal.  I took an early-detection pregnancy test that day, being only a couple days from my expected period, and it was very clearly and plainly negative.  So I started taking both medications immediately.

As of today, 6 days later, there has been no improvement.  The lump is a little bigger, and now takes up about 1/3 of my entire breast.  It is painful, and I can no longer go without wearing a bra to bed, which is miserable for me.  My skin is discolored where the lump is, and without the medical knowledge of this possibility, I am concerned this infection will come through the skin.

I have an appointment with a specialist at the Center for Infectious Disease tomorrow (Wednesday), and hopefully he will have answers as to what medications will certainly work.  Hopefully the lab culture results have come back to show what medications this bacteria is sensitive to, and we can hit it hard and kill it!  At this point I am open to anything, even surgical, to get this gone as fast as possible.  Neither Jarrod nor I want to wait an entire year or longer to get pregnant, considering our ages and the financial and emotional investments we’ve made in our reversal surgeries.  But I know being healthy first should be my first priority.  I just want this bacteria out of my body!!!  It’s not welcome here, dammit!

It is also very important to mention here that Jarrod has been amazing through this all.  In our 9 months together, he has been there for me through my tummy tuck and breast reduction, a couple nasty tonsil infections, of course my tubal reversal surgery, and now this.  Seems I just can’t stay healthy these days.  But he is absolutely amazing, supportive, helpful, and always listens to my rants and anxieties, and puts up with my ridiculous amount of intensive research that is admittedly entirely excessive.  He’s the absolute best husband and best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without him by my side.

To be continued in “Part 2” once I have some more answers, and perhaps some progress in the right direction…..

The story of the family of Jarrod & Shauna Hesse…