Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Little More Time

Hubby's doctor's appointment was successful but we still have a number of hurdles to jump. We were there two and half hours, lots of consultations with senior staff, lots of talking just with us, lots of joking with Hubby.

His blood levels are close but not at the levels we need them to be, so subcutaneous injections will continue for the time being. Hubby has no problems at all with that. Everyone expects I'm giving the shots but the one with manual dexterity and no fear of anything sharp and bloody is Hubby. He gives his own shots every morning with no problem at all. He also does the total maintenance of his meds, though I'm still at the "maternal" state of "helping" him set them up for the coming week. It's a lot of medication, after all.

Pulmonary tests are underway. Current supposition is that Hubby has become asthmatic. Or his windpipe is narrowing. Or . . . something else that is affecting his breathing. We're going to find out this time around.

We are still very happy with our newest doctor. Hubby's blood pressure is a bit high for a "normal" person, but for him it's in the normal range -- around 130 over 94. We're okay with that. His heart rate is staying under 100. All that is very, very good. His color has once again become rich and creamy, not ashy and gray. He has lost 12 pounds (and his pants are falling down around his ankles, frankly). He sleeps all night long, not waking up to clear his head of congestion. His voice sounds more and more normal, not like a man with a severe cold.

We are back on the road to normality, I'm praying. Except that I start grad school this coming week -- six long, hard hours. Papers t0 write. Tests to take. Six hours of class attendance two nights a week. Text books to read. My life will become a horribly long succession of forcing myself to complete work I have no interest in doing. Gah!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We're Off to See the Wizard

Okay -- not to see the wizard but to visit the new doctor and get even newer doctors. If everything goes well, Hubby will be settling into a new regime of meds but with a much healthier outlook for the future.
He's sleeping regular hours again. That's a big plus from the the past four weeks. His breathing when he's sleeping is much improved. He sounds almost normal. His daily schedule is already beginning to approach pre-illness activity levels.

All is good around here -- now if only the doctor will confirm our "unofficial" progress! If the heartbeat is in "acceptable" range, if the blood coagulation is approaching the proper levels of anti-coagulation, if the wheezing in the lower back has abated -- then I can finally go back to work, leaving Hubby to handle his own medical complications and the newly assigned doctors. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tough Times

It's been a hard week around our little household. Hubby went to Houston over Christmas with what we thought was a bad cold. He came home with what I began to suspect had actually been the flu. And he never got better.

Tuesday of this past week he called his internist for an appointment. Of course, they were booked solid for a week -- and gave him an appointment for a week from Thursday.

Wednesday, my first day back in school after the holidays, he finally admitted to me that maybe we should go to the Urgent Care clinic. But he dithered. Finally, he decided that he would just go to the Walgreen's Walk-In Clinic, see if he could get a script that would get him over the miserable chest congestion that had caused him to sit up for the last two nights in a row -- without sleeping. I said I'd go along and he said, seeing that I was exhausted, "Naw. I'll just sit around for a bit at Walgreens and then be right home."

He finally came back home a 7:30 p.m. Walgreen's had sent him straight to the ER at the Brookside campus of our local hospital. Of course, he never bothered to tell me. His blood pressure reading had been 217 over 114. His heart rate was so erratic the ER had tried to admit him -- but, of course, being Hubby and stubborn as a mule, he had refused. Instead, he had agreed to go back in the morning, because then "things would have settled down."

I called the sub office and missed the second day of the new semester. His internist called him at 7:30 on Thursday and said they had been notified by Research Hospital of a problem that Research Hospital was very concerned about and they would see him immediately.

Off we went, meeting a new doctor at the Clinic -- because Hubby had not liked the last doctor he had been assigned to and had refused to make regular appointments with him. Luckily, I liked the new doctor and Hubby was not getting all "stubborn and resistant" with him. He was open, honest, and pro-active -- and very good with a difficult, unhappy patient.

The upshot was that the heart-beat was still so erratic and the blood pressure so high that no one much cared how sick Hubby was with the "cold" that had sent him off searching medical care in the first place. An ambulance was dispatched and Hubby was hauled off (under great duress and angry glares at me for allowing this to happen) to the Research Cardiac Care unit. Both the new doctor and I stood our ground -- Hubby was going to be treated, even without his complete agreement. He knew, though, that he was "not right" so he would cooperate on a limited basis until we had reached "his limit."

Tests. Eco-cardiograms. IVs. More tests. EKGs. More IVs. Medication by the bottles full. Even more tests. "I'm going home today," was repeated more than once. Placation on my part (and a lot of errand running) and some very good doctoring by his internist kept Hubby at the hospital.

The nurses were fabulous, also. They joked and laughed with him. They made him feel important and part of the processes going on around him.

Only one doctor (a little self-important white guy, of course) caused us some real consternation with Hubby getting so angry he began refusing all medications and was furious with me for trying to soothe things over as they rapidly deteriorated. But then our internist showed up and we complained and we were promised that the "little nasty white man" would not come back. And he did not.
A diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. Hypertension. Diabetes mellitus. Hypertrig-lyceridemia.
And interesting, still little concern about the initial problem of congested chest, rotten cold symptoms, and inability to sleep.

We've spent the last couple of days in the hospital. Hubby's home now, thankfully. And after not sleeping, except in small spurts while sitting in a chair, he slept like a log last night.

We have more medications than a normal person could reasonably keep track of. We have the day meds and the night meds. We have had to create an Excel spread sheet to keep track of the various meds -- and their generic names which differ from the names the doctors told us about. We also have a day and night pill container and we have counted out the various meds for each day for the first week. We have a pharmacy bill that would shock a normal person. We are also doing sub-cutaneous shots at bedtime. We have videos that explain the potent nature of all the drugs he must now take. We have videos explaining the nature of the problems -- which are serious and probably life-long now -- but still not life threatening if we take good care and follow doctor directions. I'm sure his insurance company is also in shock -- at the testing bill, the hospitalization bill, and the prescription bill.

But he's home. His heart rate is once again in the "normal" range -- meaning under 100. His blood pressure is back where it's supposed to be. His blood sugar is once again at the acceptable range. He has slept. And he says the "cold" is better than it's been in the past month (we also have an inhaler now for his lungs).

The next week is full of doctor appointments. Because he is now on Coumadin he must have a blood draw weekly -- then monthly. The new doctor, because I keep insisting that the congestion problem must be solved, is also recommending a pulminologist. A cardiologist is also in the works.

The good news, of course, is that we dodged a very serious bullet. Without the "cold" we would never have realized that Hubby was headed for either a stroke or heat attack. We are correcting the problem and warding off potentially deadly heart problems. And finally, Hubby is feeling better than he has been in the past month.

Now I need a month on a beach in the islands, with frothy rum drinks with umbrellas in them and handsome, nude guys to do my bidding . . . instead we are getting snow and freezing weather. Still Hubby's home. I can take anything!