Today I'm (Dylan) taking over the blog! While up at Mayo Clinic, I had time to process a few thoughts. I mentioned it in my last post that Katie is my hero. I have been thinking about that more and more. I thought I would attempt to put words around it. I have had this written for a few months, but just hadn't shared it.
Hero: A person admired for achievements and noble qualities.
Reason #1 - Family
Let me go back a few years. In 2018 the TV station Katie worked for decided not to extend her contract. Even though she just received a glowing review a month prior. When Katie asked for a reason for their decision, they didn't provide one. So Katie spent a few months as a stay at home mom. I will be honest, I didn’t know how she would adjust. I was concerned, because she loved her career. Much to my dismay (kidding), she LOVED staying home with our boys. That is the first reason she is my hero. I admire her for putting our kids before her career. I am in no way saying that all moms need to be stay at home moms, some of them need to work due to their personality or family finances (I totally understand that). A few years later, Fox Kansas asked Katie if she was interested in the News at 9:00. Katie said she would do it part-time because she wanted to be home with the boys. The news director at that time said he needed someone fulltime. Katie said respectfully declined the opportunity. A week later, the general manager called back and offered her a part time position. Again, Katie put her boys before her career and once again I gained admiration for her decision. Today she gets to be home with the boys, but also work in a career she dreamed about since a little girl. You can watch her on Fox Kansas News at 9:00.
Reason #2 - Fight #1
The past two years have been very different that the previous eight years of marriage. The last two years seemed to be full of health challenges and have shown me what a fighter Katie is.
Last year in January 2021, we went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for Katie because she was having health concerns that her doctor in Wichita wasn't fixing. We knew something wasn't right, she was losing weight and had no energy. We didn’t feel we had time, I called Mayo, and the first appointment was at least a month away. Katie was losing weight way too fast, we couldn’t wait. We drove up to Mayo Clinic and we were considered "checkers". A checker is someone who goes to Mayo and doesn’t have an appointment and sits in the waiting room until someone is able to see the patient. Long story short, she ended up having an undiagnosed CDIFF infection on top of an ulcerative colitis flare. The doctor told her, 'your body had a lot of trauma and it will take time to get back to normal.'
Fast forward a few weeks/months and Katie is back at work, but not without challenges. Here are a few things she dealt with:
Half of her hair fell out due to the trauma her body went through. She got hair extensions to make her hair look decent for TV, but with her thin hair, it was hard to style and hard to hide the hair extensions. I think this would be hard for any women, let alone having to go on TV every weeknight.
On top of not feeling good about her hair, TV viewers would email her and tell her that her hair looked awful. One person had the guts to call her and tell her over the phone. Can you image how hard that would be to read those emails or get a phone call like that?
Her skin wasn’t normal. It was dry and dark around her eye sockets.
Her feet were swollen for months.
I don’t write all this to brag about her, but to let her know that I recognize all these things and probably didn’t tell her how proud of her I am of how she handled everything.
Reason #3 - The Fight Continued
On Sunday March 6th, 2022, Katie evicted her colon. Yep! Her colon is gone. I am so proud of how she handled this big decision. She has shown so much strength, faith, tenacity, and humility.
After a 20yr battle and multiple complications with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), she finally suffered her last flare. That in itself is a huge relief, but that relief didn't come without a mental battle we weren't prepared for.
It all started on February 21st. Katie started getting symptoms of a UC flare. The flare started as a normal flare and then it turned for the worse. This wasn't like a normal flare, this flare was a beast with symptoms she has never had that included nausea, vomiting, dry heaves, no appetite, stomach discomfort, and more. She lost 10lbs in 6-7 days and I sat there and watch my wife not be able to get out of bed. We thought she had another UC flare with a CDIFF infection (the same thing she had about a year ago that Mayo clinic was able to help her with).
On the next Monday February 28, Katie had a previous scheduled doctors appointment. Her doctor ran several tests, stool sample, blood, urine, and 20 different bacteria tests, including CDIFF. All the tests came back negative. That was good news, but left us with unanswered questions.
That same Monday night, I took Katie to the ER in Wichita because she couldn't keep food down and she was dehydrated. We left the ER that night and Katie looked pretty good, but Tuesday morning, she couldn’t get out of bed again. Tuesday wasn't any better.
Wednesday I was messaging her doctor in OKC and said something needs to be done soon because she isn't eating and can't keep fluids down. He recommended driving down to OKC and admitting her to the ER and getting admitted into the hospital until her scheduled colonoscopy on Friday morning. So that is what we did. Katie's mom and dad made the 400 mile trip to watch the boys while we searched for answers.
Thursday she had a CT scan, and it showed her colon was inflamed but all organs were normal. This was a sigh of relief, because my mind kept thinking something else is going on and to know the other organs were good was a positive.
Friday's colonoscopy results were in, but before I get to the results, I have to tell you a funny story of her coming out of anesthesia.
Katie was wheeled into the room where I was, and I said, "Oh she is still out." (her eyes were closed)
The nurse said, "I saw her eyes open, so she is coming to."
The nurses continued talking about her scope.
Katie eyes open wide and in a loud Katie voice, "I LOVE TALKING ABOUT SH*T!" Then her eye closed as she went back to sleep. The door was open and her voice echoed down the hallway. I wish I had it on video. Oh, the funny things people say when coming out of anesthesia.
Back to the results, the doctor came in and said "I am not going to sugar coat this. Your colon is extremely inflamed and I don't know how you are functioning". He gave us three suggestions/options on what he would do next. He educated us on each option and we decided to meet with the surgeon.
After meeting with the surgeons we discovered Katie would need to get used to a new lifestyle of having an ileostomy. At that moment, I saw my wife's face go blank and holding back tears, and the mental battle started. We had many ups and downs in the next 24hrs as we realized surgery was necessary. We ordered a shirt that said, "still rollin with no colon" and had a good chuckle. Then 10 minutes later reality would hit about her new life style and tears would follow. Katie asked me, "Do I tell people about it? or do I just try to keep it a secret?" I told her she will have to make that decisions on her own & I will support her either way. We spent time reading blogs and joining Facebook groups. We realized many people live with an ileostomy and are very self conscious and not many never tell others about their ileostom. After hours or reading & research, Katie looked at me and said, "I'm going to be an advocate". She said, 'I am going to live a normal life with an ileostomy.' That is what she is doing! If you talk to Katie today, she feels the best she ever has and is in amazing health. Just ask her!
For these reasons and thousands more, she is my hero. As I fight my battle with Multiple Myeloma, I can look to her for strength, humility, and stability.
I love you Katie.