It has been nearly 2 years since I wrote a blog post so I am very backed up. I do have a good reason though, 2021 was a really rough year.
I left off planning to write about our time in West Yellowstone in the summer of 2020, I still plan to do this once I look back on what we have done and where we have been over the last couple years. Side note, we are back in West Yellowstone Montana right now and here until the end of September 🙂
In between our time here in 2020 and now we had a lot happen. Christmas of 2020 was our 2nd Christmas on the road alone and we decided to spend it in Savannah Georgia after Korey ran a Christmas Tree Lot in Vidalia Georgia. We had a really nice time and enjoyed our vacation (since we were both not working during our time there). After Christmas we headed south to Punta Gorda Florida for what was scheduled to be a week.
2 days after arriving in Punta Gorda we went kayaking on Sanibel Island (it was beautiful!) and Korey started having some pretty bad abdominal pain so that afternoon I took him to the emergency room. He has a history of diverticulitis and after multiple scans and bloodwork it was decided that he had a diverticulitis flare up and was sent home with pain meds, antibiotics and a steroid. Over the next 24 hrs his pain progressively got worse, not better so back to the ER we went. He was admitted for IV antibiotics and he stayed there 9 days on those antibiotics with zero improvement. The colorectal/bariatric surgeon who had Korey in his care decided that he could not wait any longer, it was time to schedule surgery.
Unfortunately this surgery to remove the infected intestine resulted in the need for a colostomy bag. This was not expected and was a serious blow for Korey, and for me it was scary to learn to help clean his wounds (change the colostomy bag and pack the wounds from where his abdomen was cut open, it was not a laparoscopic procedure). He was in the hospital 18 days before being released and a home healthcare nurse was sent a few times a week to help with his care.
Since we were scheduled to be there only 7 days the folks at the RV park were amazing and helped get me into a spot where we could stay for a month. I also found someone to help me move our fifth wheel into this new spot. I know all the steps to pack up, hook up and go but I have never actually tried it myself. Even if I had, this spot was very tight and just parking the truck was tough. Korey’s amazing Dad flew out to Florida from California about a week after he was released from the hospital and he got us safely to Texas.
The drive took 5 days with stops all along the way, including getting to see the white sand in the gulf coast in Alabama. We will be back for sure, the beach was beautiful! Korey was able to relax the best he could being a few weeks post op, just getting his staples removed while his dad took care of getting us to Texas and settled in before he flew back to California. Both of us chose Texas because we did not want to stay in Florida where it was really hard to find parks in the area and definitely wanted to get out of there before hurricane season. One of my best friends lives in Texas so I knew we would have help and Korey would not have to sit in the truck from Florida back to California where his parents live. We are so very grateful for Steve (Korey’s dad), he absolutely made us both feel more at ease after a scary time with Korey being so sick in the hospital. Plus just not being alone in that time was the best! Definitely one of those times when you want family around and he came to the rescue!
Once settled in at the RV park we have stayed at when visiting my friend in Weatherford Texas, Korey got busy making phone calls to find a new surgeon and establish care with a primary care and pain clinic doctors. He 1st saw his new Primary Care Dr who recommended a pain clinic Dr so they could start the laser and massage on his abdominal scar tissue then shortly after he found a new surgeon (he saw 2 and picked the 2nd). The Dr in Florida said that while it will be difficult due to the amount of colon and intestine that was removed that if he finds a good colorectal surgeon that there is absolutely a chance to reconnect his colon and remove that colostomy bag. Korey of course was on a mission to make this happen but he had to wait until June or July 2021 for this surgery giving his body a good 6 months to heal.
Surgery #2 was scheduled for June 2. His Dr was able to successfully reconnect his colon making the colostomy no longer necessary but it did not happen without complications. Korey had so much abdominal scar tissue that his surgeon spent about 4 hours removing adhesions before he could begin the colon reconnection. While removing the adhesions his bladder was punctured, so this needed to be fixed as well. It was unavoidable with the amount of scar tissue he had.
On June 3rd he still had not normal colon functions and was dealing with more than normal post op pain. On June 4th it was to the point where it was unbearable pain so they decided to do an abdominal xray where they saw free flowing air – NOT GOOD. His blood work also made them make the decision to call a sepsis code, Korey was rushed back into surgery in the middle of the night because his surgeon was concerned that the colon reconnection site was leaking.
It was not only leaking, it had come apart at the incision site. This meant that Korey would now need an ileostomy and a 2nd colon reconnection within 48 hours. His Dr explained that his colon tissue from the surgery in Jan 2021 and the scar tissue causing damage made it like wet tissue paper, it was very difficult to get the colon reconnected. The ileostomy was a short term solution to allow for his colon to heal and he said that he could plan for 3 or 4 months out for this surgery.
Korey was in the ICU for a few days and then back to a normal room where he stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks. He had to be opened up, had a 2nd sepsis scare, had open wounds that needed packing at the incision site, a failed drain that required another procedure to add a new drain because he had a lot of fluid, a catheter from the bladder puncture and due to being septic he was on a PICC line for his IV antibiotics. He had that catheter for another 3 weeks after being released from the hospital (they could not remove it until they knew by CT that the puncture had healed), and the PICC line with IV antibiotics for 12 weeks post op. TWELVE WEEKS! He was so sick and we both are so very fortunate for how well he is doing now.
Surgery #4 was in Oct 2021 once he no longer needed the PICC and IV antibiotics and the barium xray showed nothing is able to get thru the colon incision. He was very sad when the 1st study showed that he was not healed and he had to wait another 2 weeks to have that test again. When they told him that he is fully healed at the colon incision site, no more fluid, then that drain was finally able to come out and Korey was in tears with happiness. The wait for that last surgery felt like forever where they rerouted the intestine from the stoma site where his ileostomy was back to the colon. He was in the hospital for a few days this time with full colon function back and he was sent home on the road to recovery.
It has been 9 months since his last surgery and he still struggles with pain from remaining scar tissue (they said he should wait at least a year to give his body a chance to try and break it up before another surgery to manually remove the adhesions) and he really feels it when it is cold. BUT he is pretty much back to his old self now and doing so well that I surprised him for his birthday with a sky diving trip 🙂 His parents and friends of the family came to West Yellowstone for vacation so I booked it when they were here. (watch his jump on YOUTUBE (our channel is followourfithy) – https://youtu.be/RrACW2LHcLE )
We have also now been to 31 states since hitting the road in 2018 and plan to finish up the lower 48 by next year. I will share our adventures up until Korey’s year of surgeries and after to get caught up. My goal is to be caught up within the next 2 months. We will get to add 5 more states to our list by the end of this year as well as returning to Florida since our last trip did not go as planned.
Cheers to new adventures! and so very grateful for Korey’s health so we can resume our travels.