The Past And the Present
Recently, Autumn had a complete bowel obstruction on November 3, 2018.
Year ago, I started Walking Worthy as a way to communicate about my 5 year old daughter’s illness and the miracles of God’s grace in our lives. As we started on that journey, many people would write and say they were praying. At the time, blogging was not really a “thing”.
All we had was dial-up, so the updates were few and far between. However, in 2006 when Autumn’s illness intensified to the point of causing us to have to make a decision about removing her colon...more and more people around the world began to pray for a little girl they barely knew. We were humbled at the outpouring of love from God’s people--that’s when WalkingWorthy.org officially began.
After two years the hosting service we used was going to be shut down. Quickly, I copied everything off the site, put it in a word document, transferred it to the site we now have. For you who have never read her story it starts over here.
Over the years, I have shared our joys, sorrows, heart-aches, and praises.
I have not really updated about Autumn because she is now 23 and her story is not always mine story to tell.
Today with permission, I tell her story again.
Autumn called me that Thursday morning from College with extreme belly pain. Based on her symptoms, I believed she has a partial bowel obstruction. She had intermittent pain radiating out of her belly since noon. The symptoms were the same she had when she was put into the hospital a year ago.
Carissa (Autumn’s sister) and Abby Graham (Autumn’s dorm Superintendent) took her to the ER around 4:00 pm—both girls did a great job of being assertive in getting Autumn care. However, the ER was extremely busy, so she suffered in the waiting room for about 5 hours.
As soon as she got the CT scan it was confirmed what we already guessed: complete small bowel obstruction.
I am so thankful for the 3 busy mama’s that showed up to be there for Autumn when I was still scrambling for a flight: Miss Joanna, Miss Beverly, and Miss Sally. They loved on her till 2am. Then Miss Sally took over until I arrived the next day.
Autumn was admitted to the hospital in Milwaukee with an NG tube, IV fluids, potassium, and pain meds...we were praying that she did not need surgery.
I left at 2:30am to catch a 7:15am flight out of Cleveland airport to fly into Milwaukee. Michael drove me up. We left the children with Timothy. As he dropped me off, I was concerned he would stay awake for the 2 hour drive home. He arrived safely at 8am.
As I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight, a young man was being wheeled up next to me. I could tell right away that he must have just had surgery. As we started talking, I discovered that the young man had just had a J Pouch surgery (this is the same surgery Autumn had in 2006) in Cleveland Clinic from the same doctor Autumn will be going to in December.
Bless his heart, he was literally 7 days post Op. and was on his way home to Milwaukee. What a blessing it was to pray with him and be able to share the simple truths of salvation through Jesus.
I got into Milwaukee at 8:30am. It’s the first time that I stayed up all night for a loooong time.
Some dear friends, John and Linda Hohl picked me up and dropped me off at the hospital in Milwaukee.
As I walked into the room, memories of past times in the hospital with Autumn came flooding back.
As Friday progressed, she was in less pain with the NG for decompression. Many were praying that the obstruction would clear.
She had one emotional moment because of the NG tube—bless her heart. After that, she slept the entire day on Friday, waking only for vitals.
I sat and watched and waited—sometimes waiting can be hard when she's the one suffering.
I had one emotional breakdown that night. I cried into my pillow for no reason except I was exhausted after being up over 36 hours. After a good nights sleep (which is the best cure for emotional times) 😂 I felt so much better the next day.
As I sat and waited watching Autumn sleep, I opened my Bible and started to read Lamentations. When I finished chapter 3, I stopped and re-read it again and then again.
I was like that fellow: "My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord:"
Remembering mine affliction and my misery,
the wormwood and the gall.
My soul hath them still in remembrance,
and is humbled in me
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul;
therefore will I hope in him.
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him,
to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
Life is never easy and I have told myself frequently to be encouraged because my hope is in God‘s goodness... not in my circumstances. I need to learn not to just trust in what I can see, but to trust in God’s promises.
She started to pass gas and some stool by 5pm Friday night... and the pain continued to dissipate.
The doctors told us that the opening of her J pouch is narrowing causing these partial and full obstructions.
We were told this would need to be surgically corrected. Thankfully we already have an appointment at Cleveland Clinic with the J Pouch specialist DR. Bo Shen in December.
Saturday morning confirmed that the obstruction cleared. The X-ray came back clear. However, it showed a small narrowing at the entrance of the pouch. They told us that they will mark her chart...if she has trouble before school is out, to come back to the ER. They did a phenomenal job. We were so very grateful for the wonderful care Autumn recieved.
Autumn was dismissed 3 days after being admitted.
I flew back home to Ohio Monday morning.
She saw her New Doctor in Cleveland Clinic over Christmas Break. He was AMAZING! He wrote an entire book on the J Pouch. He trained under the surgeon who created the J Pouch technique. We are privileged to live in Ohio and have access to such a wonderful Doctor. God has been more than good to us.
Dr. Shen scheduled 3 tests to help us figure out why she was having so many bowel obstructions. One, she was able to do over break. Because she is attending college in Wisconsin, she had to miss classes to fly in for two procedures at Cleveland Clinic.
The results showed that Autumn has been diagnosed with anismus which is the failure of the normal relaxation of pelvic floor muscles when she tries to eliminate stool. The rectal muscle freezes up. This can cause obstructions.
Her anorectal manometry results showed paradoxical contractions. This can also explain her back pain. Dr.Shen's treatment is Biofeedback Therapy for 10 sessions in a row (Monday thru Friday x 2 weeks.
This therapy is done by a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction. The orders have been placed for both a physical therapy consult and Biofeedback Therapy. This will avoid surgery. A repeat manometry may be needed to assess if it’s working.
Apparently, the pressure to eliminate stool is causing a prolapse in her pouch which causes more obstruction issues.
The doctor was pretty adamant that she needs this now. The best PT for J pouches is a lady up in Cleveland Clinic...so...she will be missing a week of college in March and spending the next week of spring break driving two hours to Cleveland Clinic and 2 hours back home every day for 10 days.
However, throughout all these days, God has been so tremendously good to us even when life is not easy. I can always look back on my days and literally see God’s hand on our entire life: Guiding, pushing, educating, training, and teaching me every day new ways to trust Him.
I have been studying Hebrews for several months in my own personal Bible reading. I love this passage when I am at my most needy...I can come with confidence and with boldness right to the throne of Grace!
”Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”- Hebrews 4:14-16
God reached down in love and rescued Cassandra from her sin at the age of 21: changing her life, purpose, and focus forever.