Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Fickle Finger of Fate
Then over the first weekend in March Hubby got what we thought was a case of the "24 hour flu" -- lots of intestinal distress and long spells hanging over the toilet. It hit Saturday night and continued through Sunday. Meanwhile we had a snowstorm with ice covered streets. Monday Hubby requested sherbet and orange juice and he managed to get a workman over to shovel out the driveway. If you know me, you know I NEVER drive in snow but I maneuvered the car through the nasty weather to retrieve the necessary goodies and we waited for him to feel better.
But he never did. Instead he got a pain in his upper chest that grew more intense as the day wore on. I suggested around 5 p.m. that we go to the emergency room but he have nothing of it. At 11:00 he looked so ashen I insisted. We entered Research Hospital at 11:15 Monday, April 3 -- and thus began the long, intense and awful saga of the Gall Bladder attack.
Here's the synopsis because no one wants the full manuscript:
1. After six hours in emergency, Hubby was sent to the 3rd floor, the surgical floor of Research where they sent him for a C.A.T. scan of his chest. The dyes used for the scan showed his gall bladder very inflamed. He was running a temp of over 101 and the pain in his chest was increasing. I got the report from his doctors when he was returned to his room and went home at 2 p.m. to walk the dogs who had been left since 11 p.m. the previous evening.
2. When I got back to the hospital Tuesday at 4 p.m. Hubby had had an extreme allergic reaction to the contrast dyes used in the C.A.T. scan and to the morphine used to block the pain. He had attempted to leave the hospital and he was in deep fugue state.
3. We were immediately transferred to the 4th floor, the heart floor, where he could receive 24 hour monitoring. Initially we thought he had had a stroke but that was quickly ruled out, as was a mass in his chest or an obstruction in his belly. His kidneys were failing, his breathing was erratic and he was still irrational.
4. Sometime Wednesday afternoon Hubby began to approach normal. I managed to go home around 9 p.m. -- poor dogs had been alone since 4 p.m. the previous day.
5. A nephrologist and a neurologist were both added to our list of doctors. I got up early Thursday morning to get to the hospital to meet them and the car wouldn't start. I called Hubby's mechanic who came and got it started but told me they all knew the battery had a dead cell and would have to be replace -- Hubby was just waiting for better weather to do it. When I cried, they told me they would get the car going so I could go to the hospital. All I needed to do was call them when I wanted to go home and they would see to it.
6. I missed meeting all the new doctors but I did see our GP and the surgeon who had decided it was not safe to operate and remove the gall bladder at this time. Thursday afternoon Hubby was sent to radiology where they inserted a tube into his gall bladder to drain it. They used a lot of pain deadening meds to get the tube in -- and Hubby immediately went into a deeper fugue state than previously.
6. Thursday night was god-awful. Friday morning did not improve things so Haldol was administered and now Hubby was quiet -- in fact, he went to sleep and would not wake up. He stayed this way until Friday morning.
6.A. The mechanics came and got the pink Lincoln and installed a loaner battery in it -- as well as topped off all the fluids so I could safely get back and forth.
7. Friday brought more tests. The fugue state persisted, on and off, with more or less intensity all throughout the day. Saturday was more of the same.
8. On Sunday Hubby was deemed improved enough to move him back to the surgical floor on three of Research. The surgeon still was in doubt whether surgery could be safely performed.
9. All during this time Hubby had been either NPO (nothing by mouth) because surgery was imminent or on a clear liquid diet only. He was growing weaker by the day. His IVs would blow and his veins became impossible to locate. Finally a main line was inserted in his shoulder. He claimed the tubes from the IVs and the tube in his gall bladder hurt and repeatedly tried to remove them. He wanted to go home but barring that he wanted cake and he never would forgive me for not supplying it. At one point he suggested our relationship was over if I wouldn't bring him some lemon cake and milk.
10. On Monday the surgeon felt Hubby was strong enough for surgery but now it was no longer an emergency. The gall bladder drain had taken away most of the poisons in his system and he was no longer running a fever. Surgery was scheduled for the next week (because the OR was booked solidly through the week) and we were released.
11. Throughout all this, Hubby's heart was never in danger. His blood pressure would go up but never dangerously. His oxygen intake was always normal; his heart rate stayed a steady 60 beats. His kidneys, though not working as they should, never completely shut down. Even his diabetes never was out of control.
We spent eight days worrying that very serious repercussions were about to befall us -- but they never did. Still, it was terrifying. Those two long spells of fugue states were absolutely the worst days of my life. I NEVER want to relive them. Even coming home, Hubby was still a bit bewildered at times -- the first night I worried about the drain constantly. Then I realized that he had never seen it -- and he couldn't remember it being inserted. So I got a big mirror and showed it to him -- and that was all it took. We've never had a drain problem since and he's guarding it quite carefully himself now.
Each day shows a bit of improvement. He has driven the car which gave him back a modicum of control over his life. He is exhausted in a way I've never seen - but then he didn't have any food for eight days and he was stuck in bed, tethered to IVs and drains the whole time.
Of course, I'm terrified that surgery drugs next week may bring about similar problems but our surgeon has already said, that though now he will be having an "out-patient" procedure to remove the gall bladder, they will keep him overnight, just as a pre-caution.
I cannot tell you how wonderful Research Hospital has been through this process. They were so gentle with Hubby and so kind to me. The nurses moved heaven and earth to help me through the awful nights. They kept doctors informed -- on Thursday this was hourly -- and they kept my home phone number close at hand so I didn't have to live at the hospital. Hubby has been very sick but we are hoping that now he is on the recovery road.