Most of you know that I had gastric bypass in 2005. I had amazing results and never had any complications until 2009. A month after I got married, I was rushed into the ER with a bowel obstruction. From there I went the next year being unable to eat anything. When I say anything, I literally mean anything. I started at 180lbs. and within 1 year I weighed 127lbs. I was being kept alive by an IV.
In April of 2010 a doctor did a surgery that had never been done before and gave me a 10% chance of living through it. Well, not only did I live through it, but I thrived. They found that 6 feet of my small bowel had twisted and died. Once they cut that out, I could finally eat. It was amazing to say the least. Ever since then though, I've had to go in for an endoscopy every 2 months to have the opening of my stomach that leads into my small bowel, stretched. It makes it stay open so I can eat. It's worked great for the last 8 years. It's worked great until about 3 months ago.
For the last 3 months I've been slowly unable to eat. It started with big things at first, and now I'm unable to keep any food down. I can still keep liquid at times, but mainly IV's are keeping me alive. I've dropped down to 114lbs. when I started at 155. They've done an endoscopy once a week for over 2 months now, but nothing has helped. My stomach just won't stay open, and food isn't moving through. The next step from here is surgery.
I'm terrified of surgery for a lot of reasons. When they initially did a bowel resection in 2009, it made everything worse. It's when things started to get really bad. It's what lead to them doing 12 surgeries in 1 year. It was one of the hardest years of my life, but I had obviously forgotten how mentally, physically, and emotionally draining, it truly is. These past few months have been hell. I throw up between 20-30x a day. I keep losing weight no matter what I do. I'm more dehydrated than I thought anyone could be, and I'm more exhausted than I've felt in a long time. It's okay though, because I'm alive. As long as God will keep letting me open my eyes, I'll keep fighting. I can deal with my crap, it's just watching those around me suffer, that make this so hard.
I forgot how emotional people get when they see someone they love, dying. Some of my family members saw me for the 1st time since December yesterday, and they broke down into tears. Every time someone see's me that hasn't seen me in awhile gets this look that only shock brings on. I'm starting to get used to it, but it still scares the hell out of me every time I see it. I haven't gotten use to people hugging me, and breaking down into tears because they can feel my bones poking out. You see, when you're sick, you get used to the way you look. You get used to being skin and bones, and not noticing when you've lost another 5lbs. All you notice is that your size 0 clothes are no longer fitting, and there's not anything else you can do. More than anything though, I forgot how draining it is on my sweet husband. I tell him all the time that I wouldn't trade places with him. I mean it too. I don't think I could sit back and watch him die. He's the strongest person I know for this, and so many other reasons.
Last night I was running to the bathroom to throw up, when I couldn't hold it any longer. I threw up in the hallway. I collapsed to the ground, and cried. I was crying out of frustration, anger, and because I was so weak. Without me even hearing him, he scooped me right up into his arms. He cradled me, took me to the bathroom to clean me up, and then picked me back up and carried me to bed. He does this all the time. It's the norm for Dave now to hold my hair back while I vomit, hug me in a giant bear hug as I cry when I'm done, and he's constantly cleaning out my "throw up bowl." I don't know how I got so lucky to have him, but I'm so grateful he's mine. I couldn't fight this without him.
So what are we supposed to do is what I'm sure you're asking yourself. We're asking ourselves the same thing. The question of, "What do we do now?" is a constant theme in my home. It looks like our next step is surgery. We've tried everything else we can think of, but it looks like we have to start taking drastic measures because I keep getting thinner, and weaker, with each passing day. The dilemma is the same as last time. The doctor doesn't know what's going on because from what he can tell, everything should be working. That means it'll be another exploratory surgery. One where we hope we can find the problem, and figure all this out. Until I can pay for that surgery, I'll just keep living by the grace of the IV that gives me enough fluid to survive each day, but not much more.
I'm letting you all know this because I need to ask for your help. Surgery, my IV therapy, my endoscopies, and frequent hospital visits are costing more than my insurance will cover, and more than I have. We've done everything we can, and we're doing our best, but it seems like our best just isn't good enough. The hospitals want to be paid in advance before they work on me because of my situation and because of the bill I've already run up.
This is something we never thought we'd have to do again, but we're once more asking for your compassion, and grace. Asking for help is something that doesn't come naturally to most people, and as badly as I wish I could afford all my medical treatment, there's just no way. Our family has helped so much, but they've done all they can. For me to get the help I need and to continue living, we have to ask for help from strangers.
Dave and I have set up a "Go Fund Me" account to help cover the costs of my medical treatments and surgery (April 3rd) in the fight to help me live. Anything you can give is appreciated. If all you can give is prayers and good thoughts, then we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for that. We understand that money is tight for a lot of people, and that most of us just don't have any extra to give, but if you could help us cover the medical costs of my upcoming surgery(ies) we'd be so grateful.
The last time we went through this ordeal we asked for $25,000 which we were so lucky to raise. Your kindness meant more to us than you'll ever know. We learned from that experience that the surgery actually cost a little over $65,000. That wasn't including the hospital stays etc. which is why I make a monthly payment to the hospital, and probably will for the rest of my life. That's okay though, because I'm alive. As long as I keep getting to wake up each day, I'll try my hardest to not get frustrated by things that are out of my control.
This time we are asking your help to raise $49,000 to cover all the costs that it will take to cover my journey back to health. However much you can give is so appreciated, and we can't thank you enough.
Dave and I know we'll get through this, just like last time, but in the meantime we'd be so grateful for your good thoughts, prayers, good energy, love and light, etc. We just can't do this alone, so all the help we can get is so appreciated. Here is the link to our Go Fund Me page:
Jilly's Go Fund Me
Jilly's Go Fund Me
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments below. Thank you again for all your love and support during this really hard time.
All our love,
Jilly and Dave Strasburg