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!


Margaret said...

I'm so glad he's home and feeling better! My husband "nightmare" started in early December--and is also an on-going thing. We have lots of appts and BILLS. OMG, you can't believe how much it costs. We reached our stop loss though(easily) so the insurance appears to be paying 100% for most things.

Donna said...

There's not much worse than having a sick husbands. Men do NOT make good patients! It's some sort of ego thing, I guess. Wow, that was some high blood pressure! He was a stroke or heart attack waiting to happen.

snugpug said...

Oh. My. You've truly been put through the wringer. I'm glad that Hubby's home. Y'all get through this. Sending you both love, good thoughts and get well vibes. It'll come to pass. I just know it. Like the aneursym years ago. Like you guys seeing L through with your prayers.

Now take two Schnauzers and go to bed. Both of you. :)