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I’m very happy to relate a glimpse of hope for reducing the amount of pain Lea has suffered through for the past several years. Our long time primary physician has tended to Lea’s medical needs, and has seen her discomfort continue to increase as the scar tissue surrounding her ventral hernia has thickened and made her breathing more difficult.

In the last three or four years the scar tissue has begun to calcify and become increasingly less flexible, making it hard for her to take a deep breath. The ventral hernia is covered only by a skin graft, requiring that she wear an elastic binder 24 x 7 to protect and support the area. Since it has to wrap all the way around her body, it holds in body heat and is hot and uncomfortable.

Complicating the abdominal pain she experiences from the hernia is the recent appearance of gall stones. We knew she had sludge in her gall bladder before we went to vacation in Maine. in 2005. In fact, our primary physician had run some tests on her abdomen due to frequent abdominal discomfort, and said, “Some day your gall bladder will get bad enough you’ll ask me to take it out. But, for now, it isn’t necessary.” A few months later she spent six months in Hartford CT hospital with acute necrotizing pancreatitis, and given a 15% chance of survival.

Over the past two years we have consulted a few Austin surgeons to see if there was any way to remove her gall bladder, but to no avail. The remarks we got were, “Only as a last resort,” and, “Only in an emergency.” Meanwhile, her pain and discomfort continued to increase. She was prescribed meds for the pain and for the chronically ill depression. She no longer has bouts of pain; it is constant debilitating pain, and she struggles to be active.

Our family doctor recently¬†referred us to a surgeon of his acquaintance who specializes in difficult, sometimes leading edge, high risk, surgeries that most other surgeons won’t consider. We soon met with him, and he told us that he felt optimistic that Lea could get some relief from reconstructive surgery. As he examined her abdomen, he gently pinched and lifted the skin graft to confirm that there were spots where it was not latched to the bowels.

Completing his examination, he stated that he is proposing a 5+ hour reconstructive surgery that would include removing the skin graft to expose the bowels so they could expose the gall bladder so it can be removed. He estimated that would take about three hours, with skin graft removal taking up the first two hours. Then the reconstructive surgery to reattach the bottom edge of her ventral hernia to the lower ribs would take another two or more hours. It is that lower part that contains her erectile muscles, so the reattachment will require a couple months of physical therapy to get those back into use.

All of his proposal hinges on the agreement of a particular plastic surgeon he would want to assist with the surgery. He stated that this particular plastic surgeon does excellent work on reconstructions, and that he is likely to see this surgery as one he would be interested in undertaking. He cautioned that this would be a high risk, major surgery, with Lea under anesthesia the entire time, and that they would reserve the surgical suite for the entire day in case they need extra time to complete the procedure.

With our approval, he set up a consultation with this second surgeon later this month. And, with that, we got a glimpse of hope, a little lifting of the spirit, and a cautious feeling of some pending relief. We know this is all part of God’s plan for our lives, and we pray for strength, patience, and peace that His plan for us will enter the next chapter. Life with Him is a page turner!

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ABOUT HARTFORD LETTERS

Experience the Miraculous Healing and Recovery of Lea Vaughn, and the incredible spiritual journey of her husband during 180 days in Hartford Hospital. Read his original daily emails in "Hartford Letters" above. ____________________________

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For Dave
Praise: Lea
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