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Lives of Doctor Wives: Putting Family First

Friday, April 11, 2014

Putting Family First

Putting Family First
by: Trisha Stibble

The medical school-->residency-->fellowship-->job trek is a crazy ride. I never expected so many ups and downs, emotional breakdowns, and all nighters. And that's just what I have gone through. Adam has had to deal with many, many other obstacles and roller coaster rides.

At 22, I married the man of my dreams and left my hometown for the very first time. I would be lying if I said it wasn't absolutely horrible. I cried every night for at least 2 weeks-- my husband was gone nonstop, studying, making new friends, and enjoying his first step towards becoming a doctor. I was unemployed, friendless, and hating our apartment, the city, and everything else in life. Basically, I was the worst newlywed to ever exist.

Things got better. We made fantastic friends, I found a job (got fired, then found a better job :)), and at the end of 3rd year we found out I was pregnant!

Adam's entire life was planned out- he would match an orthopedic residency and we would have an adorable little baby. Fast forward a few months-- I gave birth to premature twin boys who fought a daily battle. They changed our life in more ways than one.

Adam’s dream was to be an Orthopedic Surgeon. July, August and September he did away rotations to increase his chances of getting a spot in a residency we wanted. In August, I had my first MFM appointment (when pregnant with twins, this is standard practice). Adam wasn’t able to make it because of his rotation, so my dad surprised me by driving 6 hours to go with me.

At that appointment, we got horrible news. Our twins had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). Baby B was giving all the fluid to Baby A, meaning he had little to no nutrition. They were Stage 4 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin-to-twin_transfusion_syndrome#Stages). Stage 5 is death. Most times, the doctor recommends surgery right away-- because of their size and the TTTS presenting so early, our MFM did not think surgery was the way to go. Surgery meant putting both babies at risk, and our only goal was to save Baby A. It was not believed Baby B would survive. We did amniocentesis (withdrew fluid from Baby A) to hopefully help.

My dream of being a mom to twins was shattered. While it was so great to have my dad there, I wanted my husband, and he was 3 hours away in some operating room. Thankfully, he answered on the first ring and I told him the news. He was so wonderful, and devastated that he wasn’t at home. He called our MFM right away because he had a million questions I couldn’t answer.

Miraculously, and not without a million prayers, both babies ended up surviving. Towards the end of my pregnancy, weeks 23-26, things finally stabilized. However, Baby A had a heart condition (mitral valve regurgitation) and Baby B had mild hydrocephalus.

At my 27 week appointment, things started to change. Both babies had a significant loss of fluid-- my doctor ordered an NST bi-weekly along with bi-weekly ultrasounds. My first NST was good, but the second NST was not-- Baby B’s heart rate dropped several times. I was admitted to the hospital and everyone thought I would deliver immediately.

Thankfully, it was 4 days before I delivered and I was able to get the necessary steroids. Then, Baby B’s heart rate dropped and just wouldn’t pick back up. An emergency c-section was performed, and my miracle babies were born at 1lb 10 oz (Sam) and 2lb, 6 oz (Jack).

Neither baby required oxygen and things were looking extremely good. However, on 11.9.10, Sam had to be transferred to Children’s Hospital due to a perforation in his small intestine. At that time, it was the single worst day of our lives. A surgery on our little baby, less than 2 pounds? My dad was still with us, and I can remember bawling into his arms as Adam left and went immediately to the hospital.
We were told Sam would almost certainly be intubated. No baby his size undergoing that type of surgery had not been intubated. Well, they hadn’t met Mr. Sam! He was not intubated, and didn’t even require oxygen.
On Thanksgiving, we had much to be thankful for. Our beautiful twin boys were extremely healthy, and it was just a matter of time until they came home.
Then, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 11.27.10 7:00am, we got “the call.” We were told that Sam’s o2 sats had been dropping to the 30’s (normal is 95-100). They were putting him on “high-flow oxygen.” We got up right away, and as soon as we saw Sam, I knew. I knew he was sick. I knew something was wrong. I knew that our little boy was slipping away from us.
Sam needed to be intubated. After drawing labs, we found out he had Group B Strep with Sepsis (GBS), late onset. Extremely rare, and usually fatal. The next few days were touch and go. And on 12.1.10 at 3:00am we got an even more horrific call- the nurses believed Sam had had a seizure. We needed to give consent for a spinal tap.
That morning we went to the hospital extra early and met with the doctors. They believed Sam had acquired meningitis as well. The battle our small son faced had just become a war.
Against all odds, our stubborn little boy LIVED.
Due to the meningitis, Sam’s slightly enlarged ventricles developed into hydrocephalus. He had a VP shunt placed on 1.25.11- their due date. We had come full circle.
Since then, Sam has had 5 additional shunt surgeries, a placement of a second shunt, and a g-tube. He only eats 45% of his calories by mouth.
When we were talking about Adam’s rank list for residency, he said something to me that I will NEVER forget: “What if I don’t rank Ortho? What if I change to Radiology?”
Shocked. I was absolutely shocked. This man’s dream was to be a surgeon. We spent a good 5-6 hours discussing this. He told me the boys had changed his life. While that is obvious for so many reasons, changing his specialty wasn’t one I had thought of.
When Sam was discharged from the NICU, we were 95% positive we would have a child with Cerebal Palsy who required special assistance most of his life. He could not justify leaving Omaha, where we had all of his specialists, and go to a random town to practice medicine that would keep him away from his kids for days.
Adam sacrificed his dream for us. We decided to rank two Omaha spots #1 and #2. This way, we were almost certainly guaranteed we would stay here for the next 5 years and Sam could receive the care he needed.
Match Day was a blur-- we were thrilled when it was announced that Adam would be at Creighton’s Radiology program. But I also know it saddened Adam a little that it was final-- he would not be doing Orthopedics.
It's funny how things turn out-- Adam is so happy doing Radiology and tells me often that he couldn't imagine doing surgery or Ortho. Things work out the way they are meant to. And Sam? The kid who wasn't expected to be "normal"? He is as normal as anyone. While he has a feeding tube, the biggest compliment I can get when people find out is them telling me, "No way! We would have had no idea!"

Residency has also had its ups and downs. My husband is gone A LOT. And right now is an incredibly trying time in our lives. The twins are 3 and they are boys. BOYS. Fighting, wrestling, throwing, you name it... Eli is 13 months and is into everything, and is beginning to get frustrated because he can’t express what he wants. He is also extremely dependent on Mommy.

We have no family here. Our friends are wonderful, but have their own busy lives. I can’t call someone to come over on a Monday evening and watch the kids so I can run to the grocery store without three little boys. Adam and I have had a handful of date nights in the last year. When our friends can’t babysit, my stomach gets upset thinking that I will have to pay someone.

But here’s the thing-- when you find someone you love, when you marry your best friend, it is all worth it.

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Blogger Kristin D said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 10, 2014 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Kristin D said...

Wow, this story is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing with us. I am glad that everything is working out for your family, and your husband still is in a career her loves.

From MM

April 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM  

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