Life after surgery

Its been a while now since we have posted and it’s because we really just needed some time to get all the facts straight. It’s been a wild ride since October with many complications coming after the transplant. So what does our future look like now? Well, we saw Lisa’s specialist and her blood work has returned back to normal which is very good news! He also said that a typical day for Lisa, for the next few months, will involve a lot of bed rest, sometimes even half the day or more but with time she will get better and back into a normal sleep pattern and regain the ability to get up and out more often.
One thing we have found out is that they are NOT going to offer her chemotherapy just yet. There is nothing showing on any scans to suggest there is cancer still. Time will tell if she is in fact cancer free. If she can go 5 years without having the cancer come back then they will deem her cured due to surgery. Until then we will hope and pray that future scans will stay clear!!
For the time being we will slowly return to normal living. I had my appendix out yesterday so I will not be returning to work for another few weeks. Lisa will recover as long as she needs to (up to or more than a full year). She has some amazing ideas and plans for the future that we are excited about including finally the potential for us to start a family (with humans, not just animals haha).
Please respect the fact that we both NEED TO KNOW if you think you or your children are sick before coming in contact with us. Getting viral or bacterial infections are Lisa’s biggest enemy right now. We know we can’t guard against everything but we appreciate everyone’s cooperation with this.
Now how do we even begin to say thank you….We are surrounded by the most caring, generous, loving friends and family. Opening your hearts, the countless prayers and helping us financially has really been uplifting and is what keeps us going everyday. We will need your continued support on what we are hoping is the home stretch here!!!
The Husbands ?

Everyone is happy to be home!

Everyone is happy to be home!

 

 

 

 

Homeward Bound!

 

It’s official! Lisa and Benji are home and the liver transplant was a success! We are very happy to be back! No offence Edmontonians, but southern Alberta is home for us!
Lisa continues to receive IV antibiotics from home care and from November 30 it will continue for 4 weeks!
Besides their insisions coming open a couple of times everything has been great as of late. It’s amazing what they can do at the University of Alberta hospital. I have personally watched as patients came and went from the ward. The medical staff involved on the ward have earned my highest respect!
I don’t have a clue as to how to thank everyone as they prayed and sent well wishes. Words can’t describe how grateful we are. Lisa’s sisters got them a deep freeze and filled it with pre-cooked meals so Benji and Lisa didn’t have to cook. Not only did they fix the meals but they also cleaned and sanitized the house so it would be ready for Lisa. A huge thank you to Jenny, Joni, Patty and friend Val! Rosie was kind enough to house sit for them and Errol made sure Lexi was taken care of. Ash and Collin, from next door, kept in contact for the two months and that travel basket was appreciated Ash!
Lisa and Benjis journey now will continue in Calgary starting tomorrow with a check up with Dr Eksteen. From there they will do follow up concerning the cancer that was found in Lisa’s gallbladder.
But as of right now we are happy to be home with family and friends! I, for one, have been looking forward to seeing my friends at work , and not to forget Sandy and Adam! It was so much fun visiting and laughing during the entertainment on the Holiday Train that stopped at Pincher Station!
If I don’t get a chance to see everyone before Christmas and New Years I want to wish everyone the very best for Christmas and in the coming year!

Come Back

 

I know it’s hard for me to put into words everything that happens to Lisa. I might not know the terminology or I don’t understand. I resort to the Internet often because it’s tough to explain to Lisa the severity of how sick she was! And I find that unless you’re prepared with questions and you happen to be there in the room when the doctor visits,  information isn’t forth coming. I sit in her room for hours visiting or watching her sleep in hopes of seeing a doctor. That doesn’t happen very often.

She went for a heart ultrasound this am, so we await the outcome of that. She’s still pale and weak so I know she’s still sick. Her appointments in Calgary are in limbo right now but I’d like to see her go from hospital to hospital. I, for one, would feel reassured to have her in and around the medical specialists.

http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/sepsis-septicemia-blood-infection

IV line

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Trying to stay SANE

I’m writing this at 3am, Monday morning, the morning of our move out date at the Galen Lofts. Some might think yay, homeward bound! We were almost there……
Almost 4 weeks to the date of surgery Benji is really on the road to being healed. His mom, Loreen, has made it safely home to Dauphin, Manitoba. Lisa was released November 25th but it’s been a rocky road for her. Saturday I remember her shivering before I went to bed. I warmed up some apple juice for her and layed with her while she sipped it. I hugged her firmly to keep her from shivering and she fell asleep. Early morning, 4:00am, I awoke to Lisa being sick to her stomach. This had already been going on for a few hours before I woke up! So here we were on our way back to the hospital except this time it was the ER. Because she was recently transplanted it took no time to get her in and an IV hooked up and blood samples taken. She was severely dehydrated and after determining that her new liver was good and nothing unusual showed up in her blood work, Benji wheeled her back across the street to the apartment. We ate leftovers for supper and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to get them to wear my ugly Christmas sweaters the answer was NO! So they quietly watched hockey on my TV while I cleaned and packed up their little home next door.
Morning was usual, Benji had made an excellent bacon and egg breakfast sandwich and then went off to Timmies for coffee and Booster Juice for Lisa.
As the day progressed Lisa became lethargic and very pale. But we kept her temperature recorded and a couple of times called the transplant coordinator for advice. All was fine until the confusion set in. My sister Cheri and son Justin came in from Edson for a visit. We were sitting at the counter eating supper and having fun with Cheri’s “evil” Elf on the Shelf and we noticed that when Lisa was awake she would say something way off the wall, totally unrelated to what the conversation was about. One more call to the coordinator and Benji was wheeling her back to emergency and Cheri and Justin slipped silently out the door.

Lisa had gone septic. I can’t imagine what Benji went through as every hand was on deck! All he could do was hold her. Her blood pressure dropped, her heart rate increased to compensate and her kidneys were shutting down. She was shaking uncontrollably. Benji was there with her from 7pm until midnight while I kept cleaning and packing my apartment to keep my mind occupied. I finally decided to go to the hospital around 11pm, the cleaning and packing would have to wait! I was lead into the ER and met Benji in the hallway. He was looking a wee bit unravelled. Calmly he said, “Don’t freak out when you go in and see her” but I think I was already there. He explained what was happening and he kept his head straight, something I probably wouldn’t have been able to do. He told me what the nurses and Drs were doing and how they were helping her. I turned the corner towards Lisa’s bed and Benji pointed to a desk full of doctors and nurses and said “See all of them? They’re helping lisa! They are all here for Lisa. She’s in the best hands.”

I looked at her and she was still shivering so bad. And white as a ghost and when her eyes were open she was so wild looking. She couldn’t carry on a conversation and we would try to keep her calm, Benji holding onto her hand, her head in mine. It’s an awful, awful feeling. By midnight Benji needed rest himself. His body was telling him, give me some rest, I’m not completely healed yet! Reluctantly he left while I stayed with his wife, my daughter.

I watched the ICU Drs come in regularly to monitor her and the transplant team also arrived. She went for X-rays and CT scans. It’s the first time for Lisa to have an IV line put into her foot as her arms couldn’t produce a vein, although they did get one in her arm but it could disappear at any time. I could see improvement in Lisa. She had stopped shivering and was a bit more relaxed. They were concerned still with her kidneys as they weren’t producing urine. After about 2 hours it seemed as if a cloud had lifted. Her heart rate slowed, her blood pressure stabilized and all of a sudden there was urine! Lots of it. I was sitting and watching the vitals on the monitor that Lisa was hooked up to. I know the exact moment that everything became “better”. Not that it was perfect but it was better. The vitals made a dramatic up/down, straight, uneven bounce for a minute. It scared the hell out of me! But as I watched the screen and then watched Lisa I knew something happened. At precisely that moment the ICU entered, followed by Jessie. (The very best ER nurse in the world) they looked at the monitor and did a double take. Even her kidneys were functioning! I can tell you I breathed a big sigh of relief. I’m sure her blankets are still damp with my tears.

Because we have to move out of the Galen Lofts this Monday morning I got reassurance from Jessie that things were looking a lot better but she would be hospitalized for a few more days. I kissed Lisa on the forehead and thanked God for helping to make sure she was alright. I turned around and walked back through that hallway and out of the ER doors.

The air was crisp but fresh. I got home and the first thing I did was write a note to Benji stating that Lisa was doing better. I slipped it under his door so that it would hopefully be the first thing to see when he wakes up. I could easily go crazy here!

Tough Cookie

Well, I think maybe Ol Man Winter finally found his way to Edmonton. Snow and a bitter cold wind but I suppose this is to be expected, it is the end of November! Our 2-3 km walks may have come to an abrupt halt.
I’m sure that everyone has been awaiting updates. The truth is that we’ve all taken somewhat of a hiatus from posting. That’s not a bad thing, we have just focused our energy on Lisa and Benji. I can honestly say that it hasn’t been easy at times. It’s quite a dynamic when we have five of us trying to make decisions but with that said it’s also been a learning curve. I know the moms have learned boundaries and if you think it’s a cup of tea living with us moms, think again! But we mean well.
Benji has recovered really quickly and is quite independent. If you looked at his scar today you wouldn’t believe what he did 4 weeks ago. Walking, and now working out at the gym will put Benji right back in the drivers seat in no time!
We knew in the beginning that Lisa’s recovery would be harder. It’s trial and error with medication to find the right combination. She’s had high fevers, nausea and her body has a tough time healing due to the immune system being suppressed. Physio almost daily helps with some severe muscle pain. I have to say that the transplant team is a group of dedicated, professional, individuals that all work together to ensure the best of care.
Our stay in Edmonton is going to be shorter than anticipated. From here we’re heading to Calgary to be followed by her medical team there. A couple of procedures have been booked for December 8th, just around the corner. To be closer to home will make everyone feel better also. Loreen will be heading back to her family in Dauphin and three little grandsons will be overjoyed to see grandma in person, but FaceTiming has been second best! I have been fortunate enough to share some of Loreen’s meals with her and Benji. Dauphin is getting a great home cooking business. I wish I could be a patron! ?
So rest assured! We haven’t forgotten about all of the friends and family, co workers and friends of friends. We think about you daily and are so grateful for helping us through a tough situation.

As we start our next phase for Lisa in Calgary she will have another medical team following along with dr Eksteen. During transplant of a liver the gallbladder is removed, standard procedure.
I remember walking into her hospital room, mid morning, like I had previously. Benji was there and they both looked at me at the same time and Lisa said, come sit here mom. She patted the side of her bed. I’m sure I had that confused, what’s going on look. I sat down.
The Drs had been in to see her early and they brought devastating news.
When Lisa’s gallbladder came back from pathology it was positive for cancer…………..silence, did I just here that right? I was in shock, we all were! The doctor said in their history this has only happened maybe 4 times, very rare! I can’t imagine how Lisa felt sitting there in her hospital bed with a nurse and two surgeons invading her room to tell her that her gallbladder and a lymph node tested positive for cancer. Before everyone jumps to conclusions we know that this wasn’t seen by the surgeons. It was very small. As far as we’re considered, here in Edmonton, the cancer was removed. Another miracle to this is that if she didn’t have the transplant when she did she would be at home not knowing anything was wrong. Another thing to keep in mind is that Lisa was screened for cancer before the transplant and if detected she wouldn’t qualify for transplantation.
So we passed through one hurdle and hit another one. Mentally this has been a tough one. This was the beginning of a new life for Benji and Lisa. He’s strong and she was supposed to be better. But one thing we do know is that that’s “One Tough Cookie”. Lisa can do it and we will stay with her for however long this next step takes! We shall kick chemotherapy in the ass!
We await the outcome from the specialist in Calgary and will keep you updated.

http://www.bidmc.org/Centers-and-Departments/Departments/Transplant-Institute/Liver/The-Liver-Transplant-Operation.aspx

 

 

Road to Recovery

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Benji, morning of surgery

Benji, morning of surgery

Husband, wife recovering after liver transplant

BY VILLENEUVE, MELISSA ON NOVEMBER 6, 2015.

Melissa Villeneuve

Lethbridge Herald

mvilleneuve@lethbridgeherald.com

A husband and wife who underwent surgery in Edmonton

to save one’s life are on the road to recovery.

Benji Husband donated 60 per cent of his liver to save his wife Lisa’s

life on Oct. 26.

Lisa Husband (nee Davis) was only 17 years old when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Due to the severity of the colitis, she developed Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a degenerative liver disease, which

left Lisa fighting for her life.

Lisa and Benji Husband were married on July 9, 2011.

Through multiple illnesses and surgeries they’ve been by each other’s side, giving constant love and support.

In January, Lisa learned she was finally on the list for a liver transplant and needed to find a donor. They were incredibly surprised to learn Benji was a match, which is extremely rare, they explained.

Benji and Lisa were reluctant at first to believe they were brought together for a reason, but this incident has renewed their faith that their love was meant to be.

The two checked into the University of Alberta hospital in Edmonton on Oct. 25. They visited together the night before. In the holding area right before surgery, their beds were put side by side. Benji surprised Lisa by jumping out of his bed to give her a passionate hug and kiss.

“He was so happy to see her before he went in,” said Dawn Davis, Lisa’s mother.

Both surgeries went well and Lisa was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit within 24 hours. The doctor said Lisa’s new liver is “functioning perfectly.”

“The kids did amazingly well and the doctor said for Lisa to do as well as she did was wonderful,” said Davis.

While surgeries are a regular occurrence for Lisa, it was an entirely new experience for Benji. Now both will work tirelessly to recover.

“Lisa’s been through a lot of surgeries, and I’ve never seen her come through a surgery as well as she did this one,” said Davis. “To see her laughing and talking with all of her brothers and sisters, it was so rewarding because she’s doing so well.”

Now Benji and Lisa are in the same ward, with rooms right across the hall from each other.

They will need a minimum of three months recovery time, with Lisa remaining in hospital and Benji unable to work at his job as a finishing carpenter. Both will undergo physiotherapy. Davis is staying close by in an apartment across the street from the hospital.

“We are so ready for them to come out of the hospital yesterday,” said Davis. “As long as they just keep doing well, that’s the main thing. I’m absolutely positive that’s going to happen. There’s a little bit of a long road yet, but it’s going to be a much easier road.”

A fundraising dinner was held on Oct. 2 to assist the family with expenses during recovery. The Husbands said they are grateful for all the support from family and the community.

“Thank you isn’t enough. All of the prayers, all the positive thoughts, all the support from family and friends… I still have people from the Maritimes and Vancouver calling me. If it wasn’t for all that support……….

I’m so grateful for all of that because it means so much,” said Davis.

 

 

Life begins in Edmonton

It is now In October 30, 2015! Where has the time gone! It seems like yesterday Sandy and I were planning a float for the Pincher Creek parade this past August. Two months later we are all relocated and on the road to recovery! We have settled in nicely to our new life in Edmonton and the weather has been fantastic!

Lisa checked into the U of A Hospital on Sunday, October 25 and Benji followed the following Monday, the 26th at 5:30 am. They met in the “holding” area right before surgery, Benji being there a few short minutes before Lisa, long enough to hold her hand and then, to everyone’s surprise, jumped out of his bed and gave her a passionate hug and kiss! I wish they would have allowed pictures as a picture is worth a thousand words! Every eye in that area was on them.

As we thought Benji’s surgery went well. Being the strong, fit, young fellow that he is was in his favour. Let me tell you that even minutes after a big surgery he kept a sense of humour, giving Lisa’s brother, Wade Davis, heck for messing with the Toronto Blue Jays! But this was a big surgery and it’s not as easy as we may think. He was opened up completely and two thirds of his liver cut out! Can we possibly imagine the pain that he must have and is still enduring!? It won’t be a process that is over in a couple of weeks.

Lisa’s surgery was considerably longer, as expected. She came out of surgery approximately 7:30 pm. Considering how sick she was, and has been, for a long time, this was a pleasant surprise! Complicated cases may last into the late evening. She arrived in the ICU on a breathing tube and so many other life lines it was a maze! I can tell you that family is priority for medical staff at the U of A, in these situations because they allowed twelve of us into her room at one time, as she laid there. I really hope I never have to see a family member like that again. But with all that said the Drs said she did great, no blood transfusions and if not for a wee bit of a pickle with some of the “plumbing” it was a perfect transplantation!

So we are now on the road to recovery. Luckily Lisa and Benji are on the same floor, in the same ward. Loreen and I urge them out of bed for walks every day, and once they spot each other the walk is theirs to take. Benji will work tirelessly now, replacing the muscle that he donated to his wife. Lisa will work tirelessly to get healthy. But it is so rewarding when the surgeon comes into her room and announces ” your liver is functioning perfectly”. That’s something we haven’t heard for so long it sounds alien. You have all walked with Lisa and Benji as they travelled this road, and hope that you walk with them as they take new steps!

 

 

Lisa, morning of surgery

Lisa, morning of surgery

Benji, morning of surgery

Benji, morning of surgery

 

 

More from the fundraiser….

Lisa and Benji have now moved to Edmonton temporarily, as planned. We are directly across from the hospital and it’s just a short jaunt down the block and we’re there!
Things moved really quickly after the fundraiser on October 02, so I am just getting to post pictures now and thank you Shannon for sharing yours as I didn’t get any!

photos courtesy of Shannon Robin, Shootin the Breeze

Lori Kole speaking to Lisa

Lori Kole speaking to Lisa

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Maverick took the stage!

Maverick took the stage!

Hazel stole the show!

Hazel stole the show!

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Dancing to Take Part of Me

Dancing to Take Part of Me

 

 

Take Part of Me…..the song

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to this song at our fundraiser its your day today! Lori and Barry wrote this song especially for Lisa and Benji after hearing their story. This song is so powerful to me , I want to listen to it over and over but it makes me cry every time. It’s hard to believe that complete strangers could get that kind emotion into a song. Lori and Barry absolutely nailed it and I couldn’t be more grateful for all they have done!

https://soundcloud.com/user-370358144/01-take-part-of-me?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=facebook

A tentative date…..now confirmed!

We have a date! Liver transplantation will take place on October 26, 2015 in the University of Alberta Hospital, in Edmonton. As mom I have so many different feelings, relief, fear to name a couple. As the days grow nearer I can honestly say fear is the prominent. This is such a big surgery and it isn’t one, but two, going into separate operating rooms, at the same time. Benji and his family in one part of the hospital and Lisa and her family in another part, maybe only a corridor separating them but a world apart. It’s hard to imagine the process that will take place as Lisa is prepped to receive a portion of her husbands liver that will save her life. And if I feel like this I can’t imagine what they’re feeling.

So now we all prepare, pack, get ready to make the temporary move up north. This Thanksgiving will be etched in my memory forever. So many friends, family and even strangers stepped forward and all helped to make sure that these two kids (they’re still kids to me) would be able to focus entirely on their recovery. For that I am so thankful! I found myself cooking a complete thanksgiving turkey dinner today, and the funny thing is, is that there wasn’t anyone here to eat it. I packed it all into TV dinners and I’m delivering it to Lisa and Benji tomorrow. Because Lisa’s immune system is basically nonexistent its critical at this time that she doesn’t get sick. It could mean cancellation of surgery. Right now I suppose Lisa and Benji are feeling like hermits, but I know I won’t take the chance of dropping off a cold or flu bug. So I’ll deliver turkey dinner to them. The only thing missing will be moms, (Loreen) pumpkin pie with pecan crumble top. They’ll have that next year.

All in all I know that I speak for Benji and Lisa and all of their families when I say Happy Thanksgiving. We love each and everyone of you!

 

 

A VOW TO LIVE

Lisa-and-Benji-herald

© Lethbridge Herald photo by Tijana Martin Benji Husband will be donating a piece of his liver to his wife Lisa Husband who developed primary sclerosing cholangitis, a degenerative liver disease. The two are set to undergo surgery in Oct. 19th and are holding “Take Part of Me,” a charity fundraising event at the Lethbridge Lodge this evening.

Husband donating part of his liver to keep wife alive

Melissa Villeneuve Lethbridge Herald

mvilleneuve@lethbridgeherald.com

For better or for worse takes on a deeper meaning when one spouse is fighting for life. In the case of local couple, Lisa and Benji Husband, there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for one another — even if it means Benji donating 60 per cent of his liver for Lisa to live. Lisa Husband (nee Davis) was only 17 years old when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.

As a teenager, she said she was embarrassed by symptoms of uncontrollable bowels and bleeding, so she didn’t want to tell anyone. “When you’re in high school . . . you think you’re on top of the world right, and then all of a sudden it was an embarrassing disease. It was a gross disease. I didn’t want to talk about it so nobody really knew at all,” said Lisa. Eventually she told her mother, and the doctor told her she needed surgery to replace her large intestine with a J-pouch. She ended up on antibiotics every other month, at first taking more than 32 pills per day. Due to the severity of the colitis, she developed Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a degenerative liver disease, which has left Lisa fighting for her life. “Crohns and colitis, once you get to a certain point, you’re pretty much waiting to die,” said Lisa. “A lot of my friends, if they didn’t know the details, they were very confused. They would look at me and think ‘You look fine.’ They don’t see me when I’m at home sleeping for weeks straight or in the hospital. A lot of people don’t think you’re dying just because you look OK.” Lisa said it contributed to issues within the emergency room at the hospital because she looked well on the outside but was sick on the inside. At first her medical file was flagged as a “drug seeker,” she said, but letters from her doctor fixed the issue.

Lisa and Benji Husband were married on July 9, 2011. Five months after their wedding, Lisa underwent another surgery to remove the J-pouch and replace it with a permanent ileostomy. After the surgery, there were a lot of complications, and she stayed in the hospital until March 2012. “That was a pretty tough time for us actually,” said Benji. Lisa’s doctor told her to be prepared for Benji to leave, because what she would go through wouldn’t be easy for many to handle. However through every struggle, they have been by each others side.

In January, Lisa learned she was finally on the liver transplant list, and needed a donor. They began the process to find a match, and were surprised to learn Benji met all the criteria. “It’s extremely rare,” said Benji. “Really the fact that her and I even met is also rare, because I grew up in Manitoba. There are so many factors . . . the odds were definitely stacked against us. Luckily we did find each other.” When they found out Benji was a match to donate 60 per cent of his liver, everyone was “shocked.” Benji and Lisa were reluctant at first to believe that they were brought together for a reason, but this incident has renewed their faith that their love was meant to be. “That was a really emotional ride for us, but ultimately we were so relieved to find out that I was a match. We’ve done everything together. Our life has been very much together. Maybe that’s what drew us together, we have a really strong connection, and I’m a lot more sappy than she is,” said Benji, as Lisa rolled her eyes. “I call it true love, and I think that’s exactly what it is.”

Benji and Lisa are extremely grateful for all the support they’ve received from everyone. “We can make a plan for the future, because we really couldn’t before,” said Lisa. “Things are finally looking up for the Husbands,” said Benji. Both will undergo surgery on Oct. 19 in Edmonton. They will need a minimum of three months recovery time, with Lisa remaining in hospital and Benji unable to work at his job as a finishing carpenter. A charity fundraiser is being held tonight to assist the couple with finances while they both recover from surgery. “Take Part Of Me” begins with cocktails at 5 p.m., followed by dinner, an auction, and a dance. There will be live entertainment with Canadian country artist Lori Kole & Hillbilly Arms. Lori Kole has written a song for the couple titled “Take Part of Me,” which she will perform at the event. Tickets are $50, and can be purchased by calling 403-627-8397 or email to husbandsfundraiser@gmail.com. For more information, and to read more about Lisa and Benji Husband, visit http://www.takepartofme.net or visit “Take Part of Me Charity Fundraiser” on Facebook.

 

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