Taking One Step At A Time

My name is Jessica Wolfe.  I am the wife of an incredible man and father. He and I have been together longer than we have been apart. We have two sons, one is 16 and the other is 11. My vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery was on June 16, 2016. The whole surgery went well. But later that year I started getting pneumonia and it wouldn’t go away.

After seeing a Pulmonologist, I was directly admitted into the hospital where my surgeon ordered a barium swallow test. This test showed that I had a fistula that went from my stomach to my lung. So everything I ate or drank ended up in my lung.

After several procedures to try to correct the problem, the head surgeon of our hospital chain in my state decided that an open total gastrectomy was the only option left. So in March of 2017, they removed my entire stomach.

Things were going well. But then I noticed a lump on the left side of my belly button. It was along my belt line so it was causing pain. It turned out to be a hernia. Thankfully, my doctor did a hernia repair on it because when he opened me up, the muscles under the lower 2/3 of my 9″ scar from my open total gastrectomy were separating. This resulted in them having to use the largest piece of mesh they had. It took eleven incisions. Now, I have been diagnosed with a siding hiatal hernia and it is causing aspiration pneumonia. You can see it here in this photo. The circled part is not supposed to be there.

My surgeon has basically washed his hands clean of me because my case is so difficult. But my pcp is doing everything possible to help me through this. I saw a Pulmonologist today. She can treat the pneumonia but not the aspiration. She is concerned there is just too much damage to my lung from having stomach acids in it. But, she is willing to work with me to treat the pneumonia.

Next week, I see a Gastroenterologist. My pcp made personal calls to GI specialists in our area to find one who would be willing to take on my case and found one, thankfully.

I’m feeling a little defeated at this point, but I don’t have any other choice but to keep on moving and trying to figure out how to survive with these complications. It’s been rough, but I can get through this with the love and support of my family.

Time hasn’t been good to me. I’ve seen loved ones die and I’ve seen people whither away. It makes me question my own mortality. With all of these problems, will my life span be affected by all of this? I don’t know. My pcp says that I can’t worry about that right now. We need to take this one step at a time. And today, I need to start yet another round of antibiotics for aspiration pneumonia. That’s all I need to focus on. What comes tomorrow will be dealt with then.

I am often asked, if I had it to do all over again knowing what I know now, would I still have bariatric surgery to start with? The answer has always been one that I’ve really struggled with. But now I can tell you without any doubts that no, I would not have had surgery. Bariatric surgery is always looked at as the easy way out. And in some ways that’s how I looked at it. I figured I could have it all by just having one little surgery. But I’ve almost lost my life. I’ve looked a doctor in the eyes and said, “Will I survive this surgery?” Only to be given a shoulder shrug. An honest, “I don’t know.”

Looking back at everything I’ve had to go through has given me more perspective on what is truly important. My family, my health, MY LIFE. If I could do it all over again, I’d take the “easy way out” and lose the weight through diet and exercise.


If you are interested in reading Jess’s blog head to https://curvyfitfabuloss.wordpress.com/

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