Possible Bowel Obstruction

For the past few days, Patrick has had a really swollen, sore belly. A lot of it has to do with his spleen and how big it gets when he’s sick or when he gets a transfusion. He’s had both this week and so his spleen was really big.

However, with a yeast infection, there’s a chance of the infections building up inside an organ and causing similar symptoms. So, yesterday Patrick went for a CT scan. The findings weren’t fungal balls or absesses.. in fact, they weren’t what we expected at all.

Yesterday afternoon a doctor came to tell us that they’d seen evidence of a possible bowel obstruction. He then went on to describe findings that were kind of confusing to us. Basically, he explained that Patrick’s intestines were very dilated before an obstruction and very narrow after it.. kind of like when you blow up one of those long balloons and the air doesn’t go all the way to the end of the balloon.

The reason this confused us is that it sounded exactly like a description of the problem of a narrow colon that we’d discovered after Patrick’s ostomy was taken down. We didn’t know if the findings were new or if they were just telling us what we already knew.

Yesterday the GI attending and the surgeon, Dr. Rollins, who’d reconnected Patrick’s intestines back in September sat down and looked at the images together. In the end, the decision was that Patrick’s small intestine is much more stretched out than it previously was and that the place where the small and large intestine were sewn together is still very, very narrow and probably is the cause. (Like if you were to pinch your long balloon so the air can’t pass through all the way to the end.)

Now the question remains if this is something new or not. It’s possible that the surgical site has scarred making the connection even more narrow and unflexible.

Tomorrow morning, they’ll do another study where they put contrast into his belly and watch it move through to his intestines. If they find that the opening is about the same size at it was after surgery, they probably won’t do anything about it right now. However, if they find significant narrowing, then Patrick will probably have surgery tomorrow night or sometime Tuesday. They’ll take the scarred section out, taper down the small intestine to make it a better fit to the narrow colon, and sew the two back together.

Both the GI and the surgeon are saying that they think it unlikely that this problem is completely new or that Patrick will need the surgery. However, they want to prevent bigger problems in the future for him, if they can. So – they’ll do the study and then we’ll talk about it.

Either way, Patrick should be able to get a new central line in the next couple of days. They’ll try to put in a “double lumen” meaning that two tubes go into the vein, instead of one. The double access will make it easier to give antibiotics and antifungals and might make it possible to help prevent them by treating the unused lumen with medicines to prevent infection.

I’ll do my best to keep you updated here as we find out more.

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