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Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Four

Mom's Health History (Part 1)

After giving it much thought, I decided to include my medical history for my children and grandchildren. Doctors often ask for a family history of illnesses and this may help you in some way, especially when it comes to any condition that may be genetic.

I have to admit that this is a bit embarrassing because it looks like I'm a hypochondriac or something with everything I've gone through over the years. But, I promise I'm not and I certainly don't get any satisfaction from going to the doctor or having medical issues!

The events listed are in story form, not just the facts. I thought sharing events would be more interesting if details were included. Anyway, here it is from the beginning.


Back in the day (ahem!) it was customary for preschoolers to have their tonsils out, especially if they had been ill a few times. To my knowledge, the only illnesses I had up until Kindergarten, other than simple colds or flu, was the German measles, mumps (I had these together) and chicken pox. I remember when I had the measles/mumps and our family doctor, Dr. Rankin, came to the house to give me a shot. I was in my parent's bed; he came in and set his black doctor's case on the bed and opened it exposing some simple instruments, bills and vials of medicine. I remember the glass of warm gingerale on the nightstand by the bed, mom's go-to remedy to prevent dehydration. I remember Dr. Rankin and Mom talking about my periods of delerium with a high fever. Obviously, these are some of my earliest memories but they were significant enough to be imprinted in my memory bank!

So, Mom and Mrs. Stevens (a neighbor who had two adopted daughters, Jill and Pamela. Jill was my age) made arrangements with Dr. Ranking for us to have our tonsils out at the same time so we wouldn't be alone and scared in the hospital. We shared a room though we were in separate cribs. I remember the sun shining in through the blinds making the room very warm. Mom and Dad brought me a gift of "pop-beads" to keep me busy. But I was jealous because Jill's mom and dad brought her a Ginny Doll with some new doll clothes! The jealousy stung my tender heart!

The morning of the surgery came and Jill was taken to the OR first. I remember them bringing her back into the room in her crib and she was crying; this scared me so much that I began throwing a fit not wanting to go through what Jill just did. Needless to say, my pitch-throwing episode got me nowhere!

I remember laying on the table and the nurse put a mask over my face and telling me to breathe. I remember the dizzy feeling before I fell asleep. Of course, I have no memory of the procedure but DO remember waking up and crying. I remember throwing up big clots of blood. It wasn't a pretty scene! We were discharged the following morning and headed home separately. That's the end of my memory of my tonsillectomy!

Pilonidal Cyst

When I was 15, I developed a very sore butt! Scared to say anything to Mom, I decided to make up a story explaining the reason for the pain so she wouldn't make such a fuss. I stuck to that story for quite a while until we all figured out what was going on. The story? I told mom we were in gym and we had to climb a rope. Once I was about half-way up the rope, I fell on my butt which caused the problem on my tailbone. It was a good story but once Mom took me to the doctor, the story lost its impact and all attention turned to the cyst.

Dr. Rankin sent us to a surgeon (Dr. Russell) who lanced the cyst and put a drain in it. This was the morning of Halloween. Nice timing, Mom! All my friends from the neighborhood came trick-or-treating and I was hold up on the couch in pain, unable to enjoy the night we all looked forward to. Dr. Russell then scheduled me for surgery and, again, Mom chose to have it done during a significant holiday – Christmas! As soon as our school went on Christmas break, I was in the hospital having surgery. I spent ten days in there, unable to barely move for the first 3-4 days. There were no private rooms in the hospital so I was in a ward with three other beds. The toilet was down the hall so there was no option but to use a bedpan for the first few days. Not fun!

I lost a lot of time from school that year between the cyst and the surgery. I didn't have a tutor to help me keep up so I fell behind in algebra and biology in my sophomore year producing red "F" marks on my report cards. I had to retake both algebra and biology the next year. For the introvert that I was and still am, it was a most embarrassing time of life for me!

Ovarian Stenosis

Not long after the pilonidal cyst surgery, Mom decided she needed to get down to why my periods were so erratic and painful. She took me to her OB/GYN who decided I needed to be seen by specialists at Cleveland Clinic. After several days of testing, they told us I had ovarian stenosis and would never have children since my ovaries didn't produce eggs. I also had endometriosis which was the cause of much of the menstrual pain. They ordered darvon (no longer available due to the risk of fatal heart arrhythmia and addiction) to help me cope when I had a period. It was kind of the go-to pain killer for people back then. Anyway, this diagnosis went on my medical charts and became the reason why the OB/GYN wouldn't even give me a pregnancy test when I thought I might be pregnant after we married. He insisted there was no possibility. Little did he know!

D&C x 3

We were married less than a year when my doctor decided to do a D&C in order to help with issues related to my periods. It really didn't make much difference, if any. He explained it was just a routine procedure to clean things out but I continued to bleed profusely when my body decided to have a period.

By the time we moved to Norwalk, I had a suspicion that I might be pregnant. I was sent to the hospital for a blood test since it didn't appear possible that I might be. Dr. Davies wanted to be certain one way or another. I remember standing in the dining room and answering the phone ... it was his nurse. She had unexpected news. I was so excited but she told me to calm down because the numbers weren't quite where they should be but it was definitely a positive test. She told me the doctor just figured I wasn't quite as far along as we had suspected. She literally told me to stop jumping and to take care of myself because of my history.

The next few months were filled with anxiety but unbridled excitement. We were having a baby! But, then it happened ... I began bleeding. It was just a little at first but by the time I got to the hospital, there was a flood and heavy clotting. I had lost the baby. I stayed in the hospital for several days because I needed rest and they had to give me blood. Finally they scheduled a D&C to clean out any tissue that might still have been left behind. That did the trick ... I stopped bleeding and as discharged. That was D&C number two.

Not long after that we went on a long weekend trip to a conference with Bob and Betty. We were excited to go since we hadn't been able to spend much time with them. I had started my period right before we left so I was prepared with plenty of feminine items. By the following morning, however, the bleeding was so heavy that it was making me sick and light-headed, feeling like my insides were falling out [sorry for being so graphic]. I couldn't use enough protection to catch it all. I was tired and shaky and had lost my appetite. My clothes were stained and I was devastated!

By the time we got home the next day I was so weak I could hardly walk. I was pale, cold sweats and in so much pain. I asked my husband to take me to the ER (this was a Sunday). By the time I arrived, I passed out. They ran the blood work and immediately gave me blood. When the doctor checked me, he was shocked with the amount of blood that had pooled just from the short time I was at the ER. They took me in for an emergency D&C to try to stop the bleeding and admitted me. The next day, however, I began bleeding again ... the uterine artery had ruptured and I was losing too much blood. They gave me blood once again and did another D&C trying to keep from doing a hysterectomy. This time, the bleeding slowed and finally stopped.

I was in the hospital at least a week (hard to remember) when the doctor informed us that if that happened again, they would have to do a hysterectomy – the artery couldn't be repaired again. He said it would be dangerous to get pregnant and recommended we use birth control. It was at this point we moved to California to seek the care of an infertility specialist only to find out I was pregnant with Andrew.


Dana was born prematurely at 31 weeks (you can read the story here). Because of pre-term labor and the fact that I showed signs of losing my third pregnancy, Dr. Harrison (Danville OB/GYN) diagnosed me with an incompetent cervix. In order for my pregnancy to continue to term, he did a cervical cerclage. The drawback was that I would need a C-Section at term instead of a vaginal delivery. I'm convinced that Dr. Solana in California (my OB/GYN) damaged my cervix during Andrew's delivery which led to Dana's prematurity and nearly losing Debbie.

Sunday morning, March 4, the day before I was scheduled to have Debbie, my water broke. Dr. Harrison had me go to the hospital that morning and get prepped for the C-Section. After church, he came in and delivered Debbie. It was uneventful except for the fact that I had another beautiful and healthy baby girl! I was thrilled!

What Dr. Harrison failed to tell me was that he did a bladder suspension procedure when he tied my tubes as a precaution preventing me from having incontinence problems when I was older. The fact that he didn't say anything should have been no big deal. But, it could have been. Thank God He was watching out for me!


By the time I was in my late 30's my menstrual cycle was extremely irregular and, once again, the pain was intolerable. I was referred to a special OB/GYN in Lexington who immediately scheduled me for a hysterectomy. We discussed the vaginal versus the open surgery while at his office and he felt rather strongly that the open surgery would be best considering my history. Once he opened me up, he realized that a vaingal procedure would have caused multiple problems since my uterus and bladder were tied together. Because I was full of scar tissue and endometriosis, a vaginal procedure would have ended up being an open procedure for the complete hysterectomy requiring extensive repair. I truly believe God intervened and kept me safe.


I was diagnosed by Dr. Rita Egan in Richmond with fibro after a few years of chronic widespread pain, accompanied by fatigue, and cognitive symptoms. I had been to orthopedics who diagnosed me with arthritis but this was different than the swollen joints. This was tenderness and pain and extreme tiredness without relent.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Dr. Egan began to investigate skin lesions on my hands, lower arms, and knees but it wasn't typical psoriasis. I was referred to a dermatologist for a consult. They admitted that the lesions didn't look like typical psoriasis so they did biopsies which confirmed psoriasis. But because I had moderate to severe arthritis, the official diagnosis became psoriatic arthritis, something for which I'm still being treated. I haven't had a major outbreak of psoriasis for several years but still get patchy areas on my skin at times.

As a teen, I had horrible psoriasis on my scalp and on my knees. The dermatologist had me go through sunlamp treatments and prescribed a special shampoo and ointment to help clear it up. It seemed to take forever. It made me more self-conscious than I already was. At the same time, I also had acne which was treated with the sunlamp as well. I looked like I had a sunburn all year long. The yearbook from my senior year has a caption they put under my picture: "Has a Continual Sunburn" or something similar. Ugh!

Enlarged Heart w/Heart Murmur

For years I had been told I had a heart murmur. When we lived in Grove City, Dr. Bloch determined I needed to have an echocardiogram to see what was going on. I was told I had an enlarged heart (the walls of the heart were thick and stiff) which, along with a valve problem, produced the heart murmur. A referral to a cardiologist never materialized and I just dismissed it. In my goofy mind, they were telling me my heart was big because I was overweight. I had no way of knowing exactly what everything meant so I just dismissed it. The last time I saw Dr. Bloch, he told me I had anortic stenosis and would likely need to have my aortic valve replaced. That wasn't good news but, again, I dismissed it. But, I'm getting ahead of myself ... back to my medical history timeline.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

August of 2003, just before I was to make my first overseas trip with the Potter's House Choir, I woke up with a horrible headache, sore throat, fever and worsening rash all over my body. Dr. Bloch had prescribed Bextra (valdecoxib NSAID) to help with the inflammation in my joints but apparently I had an adverse reaction. It has since been rewithdrawn from the market due increased risk of cardiovascular events (including heart attack and stroke) in patients taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and safety concerns of an increased risk of rare but serious skin reactions in patients taking Bextra.

I finally went to the ER and they treated me for an allergic reaction to Bextra but also warned me to stay away from all NSAIDS because of this reaction. They also said that my kidneys had been affected and have left me with chronic kidney failure. Thankfully, they were able to treat my symptoms so I would be able to go on our scheduled tour.

A side note ... Dr. Bloch then prescribed Neurontin (Gabapentin) in large doses to help with the joint and soft-tissue pain. However, I didn't fare very well on it during our trip. Neurontin is typically prescribed to treat seizures and to treat nerve pain but it messed me up horribly. I was in a daze and felt out of the loop for most of the Europe trip. So, I just stopped taking it when I got home which triggered a horrible withdrawal. Never again!

Gall Bladder

Lesson learned ... Taco Bell is greasy and really not fit for human consumption! We were living in Grove City and had gotten Taco Bell for supper. Suddenly, I felt like I was having a heart attack! My husband rushed me to the hospital. Although the waiting room was full, it was obvious to them I was critical. However, they ruled out a heart attack and discovered my gall bladder was full of stones and infected. I was scheduled for surgery the next morning. After a three-day stay, I was discharged without any complications!

Left Total Knee Replacement

By the summer of 2005, arthritis had done its job and ruined the cartlege in my knee. The joint was "bone on bone" and needed to be replaced. Dr. Bloch referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. He did all the routine procedures – draining my knee, doing cortisone injections, etc. Finally the total knee replacement was scheduled. But, because I was 54 at this time, he hesitated. I was too young; he warned me that the prosthetic would probably have to be replaced within 10-15 years. Surgery was in October 2005, just a few days before we lost Aunt Lu.

Laminectomy / Spinal Fusion

No one had ever mentioned scoliosis to me but you can plainly see it on the image below. Debbie recommended Dr. Larry Todd who had done her back surgeries so Dr. Bloch made the referral. Surgery was scheduled for May 17, 2016. It was more complicated than anticipated due to the curves in my spine. He said he had to literally chip away at bone in order to align everything. Recuperation seemed to take forever. Now, years later, my back is as bad if not worse than at the time of the surgery but with so many other things going on, it's not a consideration. I doubt I could handle another surgery even if it was advisable. I don't think my heart could handle it.

Mom's Health History is continued in Part 2.

Chapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter Six
Chapter SevenChapter NineChapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve
Chapter ThirteenChapter FourteenChapter FifteenChapter SixteenChapter SeventeenChapter Eighteen
Chapter NineteenChapter 20Chapter Twenty-OneChapter Twenty-TwoChapter Twenty-ThreeMom's Health History