When Being One in a Million isn’t Cool

Life Update & Prayer Request

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I'm Katelyn James Alsop, a photographer, educator and momma who believes any photographer can have a profitable AND purposeful business.


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There has been a lot going on in our life behind the scenes…beyond moving and pregnancy and gestational diabetes. Ever since I got pregnant in the early summer, I had noticed that my right index finger was a little swollen around the knuckle. It didn’t bother me at all really. I googled it… like every pregnant woman does and shouldn’t do… and I found that pregnancy induced carpal tunnel is very common in the joints, so I didn’t worry about it. It continued to get worse, and I did wonder why it was only happening in one joint when all of the cases I had read about online were in the wrists, ankles or entire hands and feet. 

It didn’t really affect wedding days because that finger is my trigger finger and doesn’t hold any of the weight of the camera. However, once I passed the 7 month mark, the swelling was noticeable and there was some pain. I typically have a high tolerance for pain and so I would wince when people shook my hand, but it wasn’t unbearable. I finished wedding season with no problem at all, and we looked forward to December because that was the start of our DOWN TIME!!! …. Or so we thought.

One night in early December, I was opening the fridge and holding a glass pyrex dish with my right hand. The door caught the dish and forced my index finger to pull away from the other fingers abruptly, and it was painful! I sat on the couch in tears for 10-15 minutes and then the pain subsided. Michael told me to get an X-ray at Patient First just to make sure it was ok and so I did that the next day, and the X-ray was abnormal. It didn’t necessarily tell us anything except that my entire knuckle was dark while the other bones in my hand were not. This was the one appointment that Michael couldn’t go to and so naturally, I walked out of the doctor’s office and googled “dark bones in X-ray” and bone cancer was the first thing that popped up. Cue the tears.

Obviously my googling had to stop. It wasn’t helping! So I scheduled an appointment to see an orthopedic hand specialist. He told me it was probably a cyst that was swollen and to just wait it out until after pregnancy. His bedside manner was less than desirable and it seemed he treated us like we were just a young couple overly worried because we were pregnant. He didn’t even look us in the eye when he was talking to us (if you can’t tell, I wasn’t impressed!). So we listened to him and left with no real diagnosis or treatment….. just wait and see.

Fast forward 4 days later and it’s 4:30 am on a Saturday, and I’m in excruciating pain. Michael finds me in tears and doubled over on the side of the bed. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It felt like a knife was being stuck into my knuckle and twisted around. Michael has known me my entire life and has never seen me in pain like this, so I jokingly said maybe this was God’s way of preparing me for labor! Well, the pain got worse and the joking stopped. We headed to the ER and they couldn’t do anything because of the pregnancy… eventually the pain was so bad that I didn’t want to eat and I couldn’t sleep. 12 hours of crying from excruciating pain can be super stressful on a baby and so even though I didn’t want to, I had to take Percocet just to experience some relief. We made it to the following Monday and the same orthopedic doctor told me I had an infection and gave me an antibiotic. We asked him for an MRI and he recommended an ultrasound of my hand instead. So we got that done…. only to find out that the radiologist thought my case was severe enough to order a rushed MRI. They did the MRI two days later… which is pretty fast for an MRI… and we had to get creative because you’re supposed to lie on your stomach and being 8 months pregnant, that wasn’t possible!

After 7 days of leaving multiple messages, with no response from the doctor (again . . . not impressed) we finally heard back that I needed to see a hand surgeon who is also an oncologist. Keep in mind, this was ALL happening the week of Christmas while we were MOVING, and my sister had a baby on Christmas Day and she lives 6 hours away. Little Micah entering the world was actually a perfect distraction from all of this craziness! It was a Christmas to remember for sure!!

So that leads us to this past Monday. There are only two hand surgeon oncologists in the state and because I’m almost 9 months pregnant, I got an appointment fast! We’re so thankful for that! We met with the surgeon and it was a different experience than what we had been through the last 3 weeks. He showed us the MRI, took a new X-Ray and then proceeded to thoroughly explain what he thinks is going on…

We’re HOPING that I have a giant-cell tumor in my index finger knuckle that is benign. If this is the case, I would be one in a million pregnant women who this happens to. What probably happened is this tumor has been growing the last 8 months because of the growth hormones from pregnancy, and it has slowly been weakening and eating away at my bone. This probably caused a fracture with the fridge incident, and the excruciating pain I experienced was the tumor pushing through the fractured area into the soft tissue. Yikes. So what does all of this mean???

First of all, my brides don’t need to worry… I’ve already taught myself how to shoot using other fingers and I’m a pro at it! No need to be alarmed. But in this current season of our life… all of this does mean that we’re left with a lot of unknowns. I’m having hand surgery under a nerve block on Tuesday and we’re praying for the best. The worst case scenarios are honestly very scary and hard to think about…none are life threatening…but they could be life altering. I’m about to become a first time mom in a matter of weeks with an aggressive tumor growing in the hand that my career is dependent on. We didn’t plan on this or expect this outcome. It’s not something we want to be going through and we’d be lying if we said we weren’t scared. I’ve had my fair share of meltdowns and because of normal baby appointments, gestational diabetes appointments and now hand appointments… we’ve had more than our fair share of doctor’s visits as well.

We’re asking for prayer for my surgery on Tuesday. We know that God has a plan and a purpose for all of this even though right now we just feel like we’re being given a continual wall of obstacles right before one of our biggest life transitions. We’re praying for peace, no cancer, a simple surgery and for the tumor to be smaller than the MRI shows! We’re also praying for a fast recovery so that I can hold our baby girl and take care of her the way any new mom would want to.

So if you’ve been wondering where the blog posts have been and where the educational emails have disappeared to and why we’re extra low-key… it isn’t just because I’m 9 months pregnant… or because we just moved…. it’s because all of this is going on. We believe in the power of prayer and so we’ve spent two full days texting friends and boldly asking for prayer. This isn’t something I love sharing with the internet, but we know that a lot of you will join us in prayer and we’re so very thankful for that. We serve a big God who isn’t shocked or surprised by anything that is going on with my hand. There is a purpose behind this season and we know that in time, we’ll see it and we’ll be thankful for it.

So while potentially being “one in a million” isn’t cool in this situation, we are hopeful and we’re thankful to be surrounded by friends and covered in prayer!

Ps. We’re also thankful for awesome doctors! We’ve experienced awesome doctors and not-so-awesome doctors throughout this experience, and we’re currently in the hands of a guy we really like and trust, and that’s a huge blessing!!

Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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