Memorial Day weekend at the hospital

In a recent twist of events, my mom is residing at St. Mary’s hospital while they run a variety of tests to determine what is wrong with her pancreas.

Mom suggested that I post updates to this website so her family and friends can stay appraised of her condition.

On Thursday afternoon (May 26), Mom made a doctor’s appointment because she was experiencing blood in her urine.  After running some tests, they determined it was kidney stones (which she’s had at least once before).  However, when they ran the tests (doppler ultrasound) to diagnose the kidney stones, they found that there are other problems and they admitted her to St. Mary’s Hospital for further testing.
On Friday night, they ran a contrast catscan and identified a blockage in her pancreatic duct.  See here for a diagram of the pancreas.
Also, here’s one site (of many) that describes the function of the pancreas.

This afternoon (Saturday the 28), doctors did a cool-sounding procedure (to me, but I’m odd like that) called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) where they ran a tube down mom’s throat, through her stomach, and to the doudenem.  Here’s a nice website describing that procedure.
Unfortunately, the endoscopic tools were not able to clear the mass that was blocking the tube leading out of the pancreas.  As a result, we’re now waiting until tomorrow when doctors will try a different procedure.

At this time, Mom says she feels just fine (besides having been in the hospital for the last couple days, being on a liquid diet, and having an IV).  Her potassium levels are very low (probably as a result of her pancreas not being able to secrete its enzymes, and I think she has slight jaundice.  Her bloodwork has shown abnormalities (which is why they found all this in the first place), her gallbladder is enlarged with possible gallstones and her liver apparently has fatty deposits.  It’s quite likely that these are related symptoms, but the doctors still have some work to do to find out what is wrong.

Tomorrow, the plan is for doctors to use a needle to come at the pancreas from the side.  I’m not sure which procedure this is, but the word from the doctor was that they were hoping that using this technique that they’ll be able to clear the blockage, insert a stint into the currently blocked pancreatic duct, and get a biopsy of the offending mass.
I think it’ll probably be a few days then until we hear back about the results of that test (being Memorial Day on Monday).  Doctors have ideas about additional tests to run on Tuesday, but I don’t have any details on that yet.

That’s a rough description of the situation over the last couple
days.  Maretta came home from college last weekend, so all four of us kids are home, and between us and Dad and Terry, we’re keeping Mom well-occupied.  I plan to update this site as we know more.
All the best,