Maiden Name: Kristine Rump
Location: Mahwah, NJ
When you are newly married and your whole life is falling into place for the first time, sitting across the desk from a doctor telling you, you have about eighteen months to live, is not what you expect. But, that is what happened to to me in the spring of 2004, and this is my journey. I am Kristine and this is my story. It was severe stomach pain that started this entire medical mess. In 1997 I had my first major surgery and had my gall bladder removed. Apparently that was not the underlying problem, so I had to have a procedure called a whipple done after that. Without going into the gory details, they removed the head of my pancreas, part of my stomach, a bit of bowel and rerouted my digestive system. Beyond all this, it left a nasty scar! Being a big fan of bikini’s and still a young single woman, I worked tirelessly on my crunches and attained abs of steel.
Unfortunately, I also gained some embarrassing and restrictive digestive problems. Let’s just say this put a damper on my desire to date. Most of the time, going out was a chore filled with anxiety and worry. I would never want to go out to eat because I would have to plan when I was going to eat, giving myself anywhere from a hour to 3 hours time to relax (lay down) to overcome the pain of digesting (trying to digest) my meal. The other huge fear was if there would be a bathroom accessible to me (private of course) This was a big thing and usually the deciding factor of whether I would go out or not……most of the time, I would stay in because the fear was so overwhelming. It was difficult enough coping with these fears at my job as a real estate agent.
Dating seemed out of the question. Then I met Dan. I was sure he would run away as fast as he could. Why would any man want to be with a woman who had such limiting fears, quirks, and unusual needs. I guess there’s some truth to “Love conquers all”. Dan became my bathroom scout, making sure wherever we went I didn’t have to worry. He became my advocate, always trying to make me feel better, both physically and emotionally. And in September of 2001, Dan became my husband. I would like to say that everything turned out just fine and we’ve lived happily ever after, but even with my high tolerance for pain, it kept getting worse.
We worked together ( he is also a successful real estate agent and entrepreneur ) and helped each other become the top performers in our area. But the pain grew worse. By 2004, after many tests, I was told I had Auto Immune Cerousis of the pancreas , that is, my pancreas was calcified and needed to be removed along with my spleen. The night before the operation, the nurse came in my room at midnight to take all water / beverages away from me; since the shift just changed she was new and asked me what I was having done in the morning. So I told her, “I am having my pancreas removed and she laughed and said you must be having a piece of it removed, for you cannot live without a pancreas”. My husband and I just looked at each other.
That morning of the operation changed my life forever. When I woke…… I was now a severe diabetic with no real control of my sugar level. My sugar would range from 30 to 800 all in the same day, several times a day. I began having seizures with the low sugar levels and was always in danger of suffering a stroke with the highs. I could no longer digest food properly because I did not have enzymes to break down the food or absorb any of its nutrients.. I went down to 88 lbs. We had so many doctors giving their opinions until one sat me down and said I would need a feeding tube soon and that I had about 18 months to live…He then described how I would spend my last few months, Dan and I went home and turned off the phones and didn’t answer the door. We didn’t want to talk to anyone , we just wanted to think and digest ( no pun intended) the information given to us………I personally wanted to crawl up and die right then…….but I couldn’t do that to Dan….it was not fair…… The next day we called the surgeon and told him what we were told by the specialist. My surgeon told us to come into the city(NY) right away. When we got there, he walked us over to a Dr. Hector Castro (a Critical Care Specialist) and said he would be over seeing my care, he felt that all the different doctors were not looking at the whole picture and were not working together, they were only concerned with there area of expertise…….not the end result of me feeling well. Dr Castro was going to be the captain and oversee the other specialists.
Well, I’m still here. Although, life has changed tremendously- Because of the constant chance of seizures or blackouts, I have totally lost my independence. I have to be with my husband all the time. Something as simple as going to the store for a gallon of milk has ended for me…. no driving. I can’t work, which is extremely hard to accept…..especially after being a top real estate agent for more than 19 years. I am now just Dan’s helper. It is a horrible feeling. The sad thing is, as much as my life has changed, so has my husbands….he has a monkey on his back all the time.
I stopped going to the pain therapist, the pain medication made me a walking zombie, constantly falling asleep if I stood still for more than 5 minutes….. I slowly started to eat more and put some weight on ( mal – absorption is always an issue…..and always will be) every day is a major struggle. I feel like a human pin cushion, between sugar checks and insulin shots. And I’m a walking medical device. Between my monitor, which of course has been denied by my insurance and my insulin pump which is $100.00 every 2 days, I would think my body alone could solve our country’s recession!!! But I’m still here! When the doctor told Dan and me that he felt I had about 18 months to live, the next morning we started doing our own research on line, to see what options we had, if any. We looked for other people that might have the same problem. How were they dealing with it? It was frustrating……You can Google things and get the definition or diagnose but it wasn’t that easy to fine another person that was in our same position. After a few days of searching medical and healthcare websites we gave up… Eight years later it is very exciting to be able to write daily and to hope that this blog will help people with related problems. Whether from the perspective of the patient, or, for the care giver dealing with a love one. I wish there was a blog when I was diagnosed. But at least I know that others will not have to deal with what I had and experienced alone. Over the past 3 years I have had over 150 diabetic seizures, spent over 110 days in the hospital and have to test my sugar over 30 times a day by finger stick. With all this said I still find a way to enjoy my days as best I can and to the fullest I can. I will be blogging on followkris.com each day to help, comfort and inspire others.