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Whipple Procedure

© by Darlene Buckel, July 31, 2005

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My name is Darlene.  I'm am a 55 year old familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)/Gardners Syndrome patient.  I had my colon removed in 1986 and was told I had taken care of my FAP and there was no follow up necessary since I didn't have a colon.  In Oct. 2004, I had polyps growing on my stoma.  I thought it was a hernia, but I did go back to my surgeon.  He immediately ordered an upper GI and they found polyps growing in my duodenum.  

On Dec. 29, 2004 I had my Whipple surgical procedure.  It is a tough surgery.  For several days I just wanted to die,  not because of the pain or surgery but because I knew I was going to have to deal with this disease forever and it  really depressed me.  I spent 4 days in ICU, only because it was over the New Year holiday and the surgeon didn't want me on the general floor over the holiday.  I had a morphine pump for the pain which worked very well.  I had an NG tube for 4 days and not even a drop of water for those 4 days.  This gives the stomach and other organs time to heal

After 4 or 5 days, I was taken off the morphine pump and given Vicodin for pain.  My body tends to heal very quickly, and in 6 days I was released from the hospital.  I was amazed at how quickly the human body heals and adjusts.  I had no trouble with any food I tried.  My ostomy worked just fine.  I would have been able to go back to work within a month, but unfortunately got a staph infection during surgery.  That wiped me out for 3 months.  I had my incision cut open 3 times and ended up with a wound vac for a month.

One of the complications from the Whipple is pancreatic duct leak and biliary leak.I had a pancreatic leak and was given a shot that shuts down your pancreas (90%).   Between the shot, the antibiotics, and the infection my appetite was 'AWOL'.  I lost about 30 lbs. in the next 3 weeks.  I couldn't eat anything even remotely sweet.  I was eating only enough to survive.  Once the infection was gone and the shot wore off (2 mo.) I got my appetite back.  I have even managed to put some of the missing weight back on (not that I wanted to).  I was actually down to my desired weight.

The only physical complaint I have 7 months post-operative is a vague pain across my abdomen that is helped by keeping something in my stomach.  It comes on before hunger pangs even.  I don't know why and the surgeon has been unable to explain it, but it's there.  My stomach muscles have not completely healed yet.  I try not to overdo it.  I rest when I get fatigued and baby myself when necessary.  Update 8/27/05: The vague pain across my abdomen, that only went away when I ate, turned out to be an ulcer where they sewed my stomach to the jejunum.  I am on medication for 4 months to heal it. 

Life is beginning to feel good again!