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Ann's Story: A busy mom learns to prioritize her own health


Ann Casaday is a lot of things to a lot of people. She's a wife of 31 years to husband Kelly, a busy mother of five, a pharmacy technician, a volunteer in her church, schools and community; the list goes on and on. So, when Ann was admitted to the emergency department with severe abdominal pain and was told she needed her gallbladder out, it was second nature for her to put off surgery for a few months. According to Ann, "It was just until my daughter's wisdom teeth were out and I had a few other family details taken care of."

Four months later, just five days before her surgery date, Ann found out that her pancreas was in serious trouble. Her gallstones had blocked the usual excretion of digestive juices or enzymes, which subsequently started attacking her pancreas. This left upwards of 80 percent of her pancreatic tissue necrotized (dead). Not only was Ann in extreme pain but her inflamed pancreas was pressing on other vital organs, threatening to damage both her liver and spleen. Her pancreas had developed a cyst that, if ruptured, could have become life threatening.

After spending nine days in ICU to get the pancreatic inflammation under control, Robert Glasgow, MD recommended and performed surgery to drain the contents of the pancreatic cyst directly into Ann's stomach. This procedure, a cystogastrostomy, eliminated the possibility that the cyst could rupture and allowed her body to naturally expel the tissue without causing damage to other organs. Today, even though Ann's pancreas functions on about 20 percent of normal tissue capacity, she's able to eat a regular, healthy diet and feels no lingering effects from her disease or surgery.

And of course, since her surgery, Ann is back to her regular pace. She's working again (both at the pharmacy and at home) and has been able to join in family vacations to Delicate Arch and San Diego. Ann and Kelly don't skip a beat when discussing how grateful they are for the remarkable care she received at University of Utah Health—from surgeons to attending physicians to PAs to nurses and lab techs. As Kelly says, "Every single person we encountered bent over backwards for Ann's care." Another area where Kelly doesn't skip a beat? Letting Ann know how happy he is that she's still around and thanking her for still being here and being in his life, every single time he sees her.