31 May 2012

The last 3 weeks

So from Saturday May 12th until May 26th, it had been a continuous uphill climb for dad.  He had been acting more like himself every day as the medications have changed and he's gotten back on his regular medications.  He was down graded again at the hospital in Greenville to a general room.  Mom and Trudy had been trying to get him transferred to Duke for two weeks,where all his heart doctors are and so that he would be closer to home.  Mom and Trudy had been staying in the hotel across from Pitt Memorial the entire time, so being closer to home would be nice.

You wouldn't believe the amount of red tape that has to be cut in order to transfer a patient.  Basically, if there is no medial need, the current hospital has all the facilities and equipment to provide the proper care, then insurance companies will deny claims from the new hospital.  So we were turned down by 3 hospitals in our area for the transfer.  We finally got a plastic surgeon to agree to take dad and he was transferred to Duke on Friday May 25th.

The leg is healing very well, but he's going to need extensive physical therapy.  The skin grafts actually started today and they won't know how many he may need.  We're all hoping it will just be this one.

I've been taking care of all the house "repairs" that the buyers requested and I've been trying to survive taking care of the kids without Tim here.  The housing market in Colorado in the Boulder area is totally a sellers market.  Houses are only staying on the market for a week or two and then it's typical for multiple competing offers...wish that had been the case here.  Although I can't complain because in the end our house went under contract after 4 weeks on the market.  We've lost 5 houses that we wanted, either with them going under contract before we could get ours in, or getting out bid.  We have just put another offer in on a 6th house yesterday and are still waiting for final signatures.  If this one works out, we would close around the 28th of June.

After having a teacher conference with Ryan's kindergarten teacher, I found out that he's actually reading and writing at the first grade level and that he's been working on first grade sight words for the last 2 months.  Math seems to be the same story.

So everything is getting better, settling down and less of a roller coaster.  Now here's to people on the mend, lives better adjusted and being more prepared for mass chaos that seems to rear it's ugly head in our lives when we feel there is no more room for such things.

27 May 2012

It was getting better

Sunday May 6th (continued): Tim and I spent the day getting some running around done for Brayden's party while his parents watched the kids.  I showed up late to my son's party, and he didn't even notice.  There were several people there already and all the kids were playing.  I tried to enjoy watching Brayden "ham it up".  His party was over at 6:30, we went home to put the kids to bed and then I drove to the airport to pick Trudy's husband up.  His plane arrived at 10:30 (I think) and then we drove to Greenville to be with mom and Trudy.

Tim stayed at home; we had planned on leaving the next day to make the drive to Colorado for a house hunting trip.  It was supposed to be a mini "vacation" for us, sort of the last hoorah before we were grandparentless.  I wasn't going with him.  I was going to stay until dad was stable.

It was at this point that we received on offer on our house.  So Tim and I tried to communicate while I was in the ICU waiting room  trying to concentrate on my dad, and we ended up settling with this offer.  Given the same offer under different circumstances, these people would not be buying my house...we settled merely to get the house off of our plate of things to do.

Monday May 7th: Dad's vitals were rocky all day Sunday and most of Monday.  His kidneys were starting to function on their own again, but he was still on the respirator.  The only good thing about that is that he was initiating all of his own breathing and the ventilator was only helping to make it easier once he did.  His blood pressure was still unstable and his heart was back in afib.  It was jumping from 90 bpm one second to 130 bpm next second and then right back down...literally in a matter of 5 seconds the beats were fluctuating that widely.

They were keeping him heavily sedated and on the ventilator until they were sure they didn't need to do another surgery.  I went home Monday night so I could see the kids, but didn't get there to see Tim leave.  I was told that it was an emotionally charged good-bye.  Brayden was sad daddy was leaving, Tim didn't want to leave for numerous reasons and his mother was also there saying good-bye.

Tuesday May 8th:  When I got back to the hospital, they had "woken" dad up, or should we say they had decreased some of the medications so that he was conscious. I saw him and he was still on the ventilator and trying to talk around the tube in his mouth.

They started weaning more meds so he was becoming more and more aware.  And as they did this, the more anxious he got over the situation.  He couldn't communicate with us and you could tell he still didn't understand.  He was taken off the ventilator and again decreased pain meds.  He tried talking with little success.  The infectious disease guys came by ( I can't remember if it was Tuesday or Wednesday) and said that they believed the infection was no longer in his blood stream but they were going to test one more time.

Wednesday May 9th: (mom's birthday) I decided that I would fly out to CO and meet Tim to look at houses for a few days.  Dad was stable but completely unaware of anything going on around him.  He was hallucinating badly and one moment would look at us and know who we are and ask what happened and where he was; and the next moment looked me in the eye and said "would you please go get my daughters Angela and Trudy?"  "Dad, it is me Angela", "No, my daughter Angela and Trudy".

I thought it was better for me to go while he wouldn't recognize that I was gone and then be back in a few days when he was more himself.  As I was leaving the hospital, Trudy's husband Chris got a phone call from his relatives in Indiana that his grandfather had been taken to the ER with "heart problems".  Chris said it was a common occurrence and his grandfather was in his late 80s.

I got home around 12:30, quickly packed, stashed Gabby in the car and Chris dropped the two of us at the airport.  She was a trooper on the flight but when we got there, she was running a fever, not eating and very fussy.

Thursday May 10th (Brayden's real birthday): So Thursday, after looking at houses all morning, we ended up at an Urgent Care to find that Gabby had a virus causing ulcers in her throat.  Then Bowden (Tim's dog- for those of you wondering Tim is a die hard FSU fan and the dog's name reflects as much) was peeing blood, so we took him to a vet.  Thankfully Bowden only had a scratch in his nether region and it was nothing serious....well you know what I mean.  We got back to the apartment where Tim is staying and got on Skype with the boys so we could sing Happy Birthday to Brayden.

Later that night, I got a call from Trudy that Chris's grandfather had passed away and Chris was flying out to Indiana for the funeral...at this point, I'm emotionally exhausted and wanting a "do over" button which would reverse the universe by 8 days where I could tell my dad that I wanted him to stay in town and hang out with me and the kids; so that maybe  90% of this would have ended differently.

Friday May 11th: More house looking in the morning, cranky baby and realizing the real estate market in Colorado is completely opposite of NC.  We went into Boulder and surrounding areas just looking around and I had a few hours of excitement of the upcoming move...a few hours of looking at snow capped mountains from every turn and being able to imagine what it's going to be like to live in such a beautiful place.

Nightly call from my sister revealed that dad coming off his medications was not only causing major hallucinations, but was causing him to have some rage and anger.  The Dr's were very quick to explain to everyone that everything they were seeing was normal for a person of his age (68 years) and considering the medications (both the strength of and number of) and strain his body had been under the last week.

Trudy also sent me pictures of what his leg looks like.  I took gross anatomy in college and was familiar with cadavers and skinning small mammals of all kinds...but when it's your own father, it was a little more unsettling. 

Saturday May 12th:  Tim and I looked at more houses in the morning and then I was back on a plane with Gabby.  I got home at 9:30 Saturday night.    The best news I got was that dad was finally downgraded from the ICU, to the intermediate care unit.  They had changed his pain medications, so he was starting to be more himself  and was asking questions about the accident.  

26 May 2012

It can only get better

This post is going to be most effective as a "calendar" by date.  This will most likely be 2 or 3  posts since it's going to cover the last 3 weeks worth of events.

Wednesday May 2nd: Dad left with a friend of his to go to the Pamlico River fishing for the weekend.
Thursday May 3rd: Around 11:30 pm, dad felt something bite his leg in bed and simply swatted his leg and went to sleep:
Friday May 4th: Around 12 noon, dad noticed a small red spot on the inside of his right leg. I'm unclear as to whether it was before or after this, but at some point my dad and about 3 or 4 others went net fishing in the Pamlico river.  After a trip to a local fire department, dad was told to go to the local ER and tell them he had either a brown recluse or black widow bite and needed antibiotics.  My mother was supposed to be coming over after work to help me get stuff ready for Brayden's birthday party  (set for Sunday May 6th).  I got a call from mom at 4:45 expecting that she was saying she was on her way over; instead it was a frantic call that dad was going to the ER.  I told her I would go with her.

We made the nearly 2 hour drive and found dad in a wheel chair in the ER waiting to be seen.  The spot that started out the size of a dime was now spreading like a rash and covering nearly 3/4 of his calf with spots creeping toward his inner thigh.  When they finally got him back in the ER, the pain for him was at 8 out of 10 and they were not giving pain meds.  I can only say that he appeared to be in the kind of pain I was in with labor for each child (consider I did them without any medication) and I was getting concerned.

The doctor finally came by to evaluate him, by this time it was nearly 8:30 pm and he had been there since 5.  The Dr. didn't say much, just poked a little at the leg and said pain meds were coming and he needed to quickly call some other Dr's to look at this.  I left thinking it was still only a spider bite and brought my dad's friend home.  After I left, dad developed worsening pain, fever, chills, and blisters covering the entire infected site.

Saturday May 5th: 6:30 am, call from mom said dad was "doing fine".  She'd call later when more was known, they had admitted dad to the hospital around 11pm the night before and didn't start antibiotics till then (nearly 24 hours after the "bite).
8:30 am, call from mom said dad was "doing fine" again, but that she might need me to go by their house and pick up a list of his current medications that Duke had just sent them a few days before.
From 9 to 10:30 I decided to go get a workout in at the gym with the kids.  When I got in the car, I had 4 missed calls.  My mom had called twice and Tim had called twice.  Both wanting me to get the list of dad's medications immediately and fax them to my mom.

When I talked to my mom at 11, things had suddenly turned extremely bad.  The "infection" had spread to the top part of his right leg, there was fluid in his lungs, his blood pressure was bottoming out and his heart was going crazy.  My dad has a long history of heart disease (open heart surgery in winter of 95, several cardioversions over the last 5 years, and most recently 2 heart ablations in July 2011 and 3 weeks prior to this incident).  I faxed the papers to my mother and then called my sister to let her know something was wrong and she should probably get to NC as quickly as possible (she lives in San Francisco).

I talked to my mother again at 11:30 and now my dad's kidneys were beginning to fail and they weren't able to stop the infection from spreading.  They called their infectious disease department and now believed that the infections was being caused by the bacteria vibrio vulnificus (http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/vibriov/).  They  needed to do some tests on the fluid from some of the blisters to confirm and that would take a few hours.

Tim's parents came over and helped with the kids and with getting stuff ready for Brayden's party, which I just couldn't bring myself to cancel.  How could I cancel a party he had been looking forward to for so long, it wasn't fair. 

Trudy got on the first flight out of SF and landed at RDU at 9:30pm.  Tim and I picked her up and started the 2 hour drive to get to mom and dad.  While in the car on the way there, mom called and said they needed to get dad into surgery now because the infection was stopping and all of dad's systems were failing.  For the first time since his open heart surgery in 95, I got an empty feeling in my stomach and couldn't breathe.  Flash backs of seeing my dad so lifeless on the life support after that surgery were creeping in and I felt like I was 18 years old again, not knowing how to deal with my dad's possible mortality.  I remember just sobbing and asking Tim to drive faster.  We were trying to get there before they took him into surgery and we made it with barely enough time to see him.  He was highly drugged and the mood in the room was very somber.  We left for the waiting room and just sat, empty staring at the walls.  They had told mom that it was at this point a life or death situation and if they had to amputate his leg to save his life, they would do so.

Sunday May 6th: at 2:30 am, the surgeon came into the waiting room; they were able to save the leg.  they had to take 70% of his leg tissue and skin from the knee to the ankle.  As they cleaned out that part of the leg, the infection that has started in his upper thigh cleared up.  They bandaged him up but would have to go in again later on Sunday to do a second surgery and removed more from his ankle and foot.  After 2 surgeries they believed they had gotten it all.  Trudy stayed with my mother and Tim and I drove home so we could be there for Brayden's party.  We got home at 5:00 am and were able to sleep for 2 hours. 

Now the waiting game and another set of emotional turmoil was set to begin.