ANSONIA — Darcy (Stump) Buckingham is hoping the new year will be better than the last couple of years have been.
“I can’t wait for 2020 to get here…when I can start feeling better and hoping the nightmares are past us,” she said.
She appreciates the prayers and learned that grandson Kayden even prays at night that she gets better.
“I have my good days and my bad days,” said the Ansonia mother/head volleyball coach who was diagnosed with pancreatitis in January 2018. “That was when I was technically diagnosed. I had not felt well in December 2017.”
She said her symptoms were jaundice and extreme pain in her side.
She was taken to Wayne HealthCare, where she works as a phlebotomist, but was transferred to Good Samaritan in Dayton.
“I was in there a month and spent a week of that in ICU,” Buckingham said. “They did an ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography) to open up and put a stent in my common bile duct. My pancreatitis was one of the worst cases that the doctors have seen. There is no rhyme or reason what causes it, but it spiraled downhill from there. I was not allowed to eat and was put on pancreatic rest. I had a nutrition replacement running through a pic line.”
ERCP is diagnostic procedure used to examine diseases of the liver, bile ducts and pancreas. It is usually performed under intravenous sedation rather than general anesthesia.
“The doctors at IU (Indiana University Hospital) are amazing,” said Buckingham.. “My surgeon, Dr. Michael House, is world renown. I am beyond blessed to get in touch with him.”
Her recent surgery took place last month at IU.
“They did a biopsy of a mass and removed it,” she said. “It was not on the pancreas. They have only seen two other cases of this mass. It was not malignant.”
In taking a look at her pancreas and liver, doctors found a sizable collection of necrotic (dead) lymph notes. Thus, it was decided not to remove the pancreas and spleen as originally thought.
“It was taking the blood from my bowels and intestines.” she said.
Buckingham got out of the hospital four weeks ago, and has been staying home for the most part. She has gotten to see a couple of her children’s games and even watched the recent Ansonia Lighted Tractor Christmas Parade.
Since she’s usually a go-getter, that is a downer for her.
She has been in and out of the hospitals and doctor’s appointments since her diagnosis, and is now on medical leave since last month from Wayne HealthCare, where she has worked for almost 17 years.
She and husband Shane have been together 19 years and have two children together and he also has two sons, and now there is also a grandchild in the mix.
Buckingham, who was recently named head varsity coach for volleyball at Ansonia High School, was elated to receive that distinction. That’s what she wanted.
“I coached this season and had amazing support,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, they wore socks bearing the words and now the team motto, ‘Coach Strong’ to let me know they were playing for me.”
Coach Buckingham has been battling health issues but did not allow the obstacle stand in the way of her coaching duties during the 2019 fall volleyball season.
“I told the team a while ago I have some health issues I am fighting through,” she said. “They chose to say that ‘if coach can fight through what she is fighting through, then we are going to fight for her’.”
The 2000 graduate of Ansonia High School met her husband after she graduated.
“He’s had two years worth of vacation days by spending them in the hospital or doctors’ appointments with me,” she said. “He’s never gotten a real vacation.”
In addition to Wayne Hospital Foundation supporting her, she has also got “huge support” from the family and the community.
“They had food here for the kids when I was in the hospital,” she said. “The Mom in me worried about them.”
She continues to do what she can around the house, but she tries not push her limits more than she should.
“The doctor acted like when he took the mass out it would be a fix-all,” said Buckingham, who is limited to soft, foods. “I feel confident with the doctors, with what they’re saying. It took me two years to get doctors who know their stuff and are very good.”
Before she opted to go through the recent surgery, she wanted to make sure she did not miss son Hunter’s ball season, and glad she didn’t, because he was named homecoming king. She also didn’t want to miss her volleyball season.
“I wanted to support the kids,” she said. “I waited till volleyball season was over.”
Buckingham is glad she went into the medical profession.
“I love what I do and the bonds I make with patients,” she said. “Some have contacted me.”
She went on, “I have had my challenges definitely. It knocked me down. Someone used to tell me, ‘fake it till you make it.’ I still don’t have all the definite answers. Medical decisions are tough. Hospital stays and procedures have to outweigh the benefits.”
In the meantime, she is on a smaller feeding tube (her third one), hooked up to her for 12 hours a day for awhile because the doctor wants her to gain some weight.