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.


Pattie Buffenbarger said...

Angela, you are one of the strongest women I know. I wish the best to you and your family.

Angela and David said...

Your dad and family are in my thoughts. How horrifying. I don't know how your mom and you are keeping it together.

BriGaal said...

oh my gosh, Angela, I had no idea it was this bad! I have no idea how you are able to do everything you do with this and the move and Tim being gone...and you email ME to see how I'm doing?!