Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where, Oh Where, Have I Been?

I'm promising myself this will be brief--otherwise I could be here all day filling you in on pages and pages of info you'd probably care less to read.

So--succinctly as my verbose nature may allow--my husband (with me driving/assisting) have visited 4 different hospitals (including a few trips to 3 different emergency rooms) since May 3. He's doing well while sporting (under the skin beneath/below his left collar bone) a whiz-bang computer/battery combo that regulates his heart beats to 70/minute and will, if/when necessary, ZAP his ticker to establish/re-establish proper rhythm in all chambers . . . I think. IF he's had any zapping, it's been the mild kind. The Doctor said it will, when necessary, ramp-up from mild, to medium to MAJOR zaps to keep his heart from "running away" with itself. Apparently (Who would figure? *note heavy sarcastic tone*) one's heart isn't particularly efficient in passing freshly oxygenated blood to his body--which is rather essential for continual life processes--so the device is essential to life. His life. --when it's running at 280 beats, or so, per minute. Funny how that is! (I edited since that little bit seemed to mess up the possibility of understanding what I was really trying to say. My mind . . . Oh Where, Oh Where has you gone, honey?) I'm so grateful that the technology is available and our health insurance is SO good--and that they (technology, doctors, hospitals, etc.) are available--even if they may be 160 miles round trip away.

He's doing a little better each day. Trying to get used to the 4 heart meds and all their weird side effects. I'll continue to do what I can to encourage him and support him and take care of him.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Hospitals and Doctors

Wow! Tonight, I'm tired. My husband is tired.
Saturday we had a trip to the ER (30 miles away) to check out the swelling near the heart-cath insertion site. ER doc said: Most likely a lymph node.
It was larger yesterday and today, so called back to the Doctor's office (the one who performed the hearth-cath) to report in. His Physicians Assistant said "come now" for an ultra-sound of the site. That hospital/out-patient center is 80 miles from home. When we go there and the ultra-sound tech first saw everything, she was afraid she was going to be viewing a pseudo-aneurysm. Not a good thing, I learned, but treatable.
Since my husband was feeling all kinds of "weird" things in his chest, etc., we asked about seeing the cardiologist. The answer from the heart-cath doctor's nurse: you should probably go home and call the other cardiologist about making an appointment.
Well, we were hungry so we called our daughter who lives close by and went for lunch. Then, after, at her apartment, we called the other cardiologist to see about getting worked in today--since we live 80 miles away and didn't want to have to do the 160 mile round trip later. AND we'll be traveling down again on Sunday for the study on Monday.
They were very kind to work us in.
This doctor, excellent reviews from the first doctor and other people we know who've been treated by him, scared the begeebers out of us . . . as he commented on what could have happened to my husband 9 days ago.
With the way your heart was doing, you had three different morphologies going on, a heart rate of 280/minute . . . if your heart weren't in as good a shape as it is, you'd be dead now.
Nothing like that to put the frosting on the cake and give you a huge sigh of relief! Or more likely the anxiety-city my husband is feeling. Not to mention the definite realization of the serious fragility of one's mortality!
Then, as this doctor answered our questions about what will happen next Monday when he does the "EP" study--I believe the EP stands for "Electrical Pathways", he's going to try to get my dearly beloved husband's heart to repeat the bizarre behavior of 9 days ago. The very A-typical heart behavior this doctor has never seen before. So my husband asked, in blatant curiosity of his chances for survival, Won't I then be at risk for my heart stopping all together?
Well, quite frankly, yes.
But I don't want that to happen, you know!
But you need to understand, there's not a better place on the planet for your heart to stop than in that hospital EP study room. There will be staff and equipment to fix that situation.
So, you'll have to zap me?
If your heart stops, yeah.
Won't that hurt?
You probably won't be totally awake, so it shouldn't bother you.
That's when I ante up and mention: Better than the alternative, I think!
So, I'll be sedated?
Well, a light sedation. We don't want you too deep because we won't be able to get your heart to repeat what it did the other day if you're too sedated.
Then the discussion went into the defibrillator/pace-maker implant he will much more than likely have to insert into my husband's chest with electrical leads into his various heart chambers.
My husband is taking this all so calmly. Kind of like we did when we learned he had prostate cancer two years ago and all that implied. I'm so impressed with his ability to be so calm through the whole thing, even when he was in the hospital with the horribly fast racing heart, talking to me a thousand miles away--literally--and telling me he's fine and doesn't want me to worry about him.
Then, the whole thing really kicked me in the teeth today, when after leaving the Doctor's office, and getting him another medicine we were driving close to where our son was at work. Since it's a retail store, I asked, Do you want to go by and see Andrew?
He said, Yeah, let's do that. I would like to see him.
And we did. Andrew was glad to see his Dad, too. Somewhere in there I said something about I thought he'd want to hurry back home--we'd been gone most of the day by then--and this was the part that really caught in my throat--he said,
You know, thoughts keep going through my mind, if I don't see him now, this might be the last time I get to see him.
You can't see the tears in my eyes right this minute, nor feel the wrench in my heart, but I, too, have considered how close he's come to that point of leaving mortality. And, I'm not ready for that. I'm not sure any of us are ready to give up a spouse--or other dearly loved family member or friend.
I believe that it wasn't his time to go. And, perhaps the prayers of his family and friends and his little grandchildren (who at 4 and 5 are earnestly praying each day for their Grandpa without being prompted to do so) have found place in the Lord's heart to lend him to us for more time here in mortality. I know for sure that God hears and answers our prayers, but He still has a plan that may not include all that we desire and pray for and He expects us to prepare for whatever may come our way.
I'm just grateful He's blessing my husband now, and each of the rest of us as well, to have more time together. I pray it's many years, if it is His will.
And I'll keep praying and trying to get my life in order.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Traumatic Few Days

  • I'm home.
  • Things have been really weird since Sunday.
  • Some weirdness began Saturday.

My youngest grandson had infected ears--with tubes in--that drained beginning on Tuesday (last week). Then Thursday, the middle youngin, another boy, woke around 1:30 AM with a very hurtful ear. I had a developing cold/cough. Saturday I called my husband to talk with the youngest who was a wild man most likely due to his discomfort with the ear aches. When this little one knew "Gampa" was on the phone, an immediate grin replaced the grumpiness. "Gampa" then mentioned that when I had a minute could I please call him back; he needed to ask me about something weird he was experiencing. I told him: Tell me now!

The "experience" included "reflux" type of discomfort, the upper thorax pain radiating up to his jaw, and a tingling kind of sensation in his chest, like you might feel in your foot when it was asleep and waking up. And it was occurring over and over again. I tried to urge him to get to the ER immediately, but you know how guys are: I'm invincible. I'm tough. I can handle this.

Somehow, I did manage to convince him to at least go check his blood pressure at Walmart. After he agreed, and left, I realized that driving himself to Walmart might NOT have been one of the wisest things I've encouraged. So I called a friend and asked if he could be on stand-by in case somebody needed to go to the ER 30 miles away--where his heart doctor was. This wonderful friend, was more than willing to do so--at least until Tuesday, when his own wife was scheduled for surgery.

Sunday, a severe storm raged through our town. Trees went down around 7:30-8:30 AM, and with them, of course, power lines. My husband tried to drive to church. The roads to there--not far from the house--were blocked by fallen trees/limbs.

Then, the chest pains began again, and were more intense. He finally was convinced he needed to get to the ER. So, he drove himself. The friend who was so willing to drive him, was totally blocked in his own house by a huge fallen tree. Two other families from our Church had trees fall on their homes--one which was demolished 45 seconds after they got out! It was the result of a twister.

He, my husband, did make it to the ER under his own steam--and that of his truck, of course--probably in the nick of time. His heart rate was recorded as 200 beats a minute!!! The doctor tried to stabilize him and planned to heli-flight him to another, larger hospital that's a one-and-a-half hour's drive from here, but due to weather, all flights were cancelled.

About the time he made it to the ER, my daughter and her husband made it home from their trip and I tried to arrange a flight back home to be with my husband. I was in touch with my husband off and on all day. How his cell phone battery lasted without a recharge, I don't know, but it was great!

The transport to the larger hospital, via ambulance, was a wild ride, I heard. They made the trip in about 45 minutes, lights and siren going!

I did fly to the city where my brother-in-law lives--three hours from our home. He picked me up, drove me to the hospital where my husband left his truck, we went to the house to pick up a few items for my husband and booked it down to the hospital where he was undergoing a heart-cath. We got there about eleven pm. That was Monday.

Dear husband was released yesterday, Tuesday--to wait for a heart study to be done later. Got the word today that the Cardiac Electrician (as he's referred to) will do the "study" on the 18th and depending on the results, may insert at defibrillator. Fun, right?

More bad weather is forecast for this coming weekend. My friend (who had surgery yesterday) is doing well. Spoke also to the friend whose home was demolished, and she's doing well--though she said the whole thing is still surreal. I'm thinking of baking some bread and a chocolate, fudge drenched cake--which is one of her husband's most favorite desserts--and going to see them tomorrow. With said baked items, of course!

My cold/cough is getting better, but my head--especially my ears are very congested and things sound weird. My voice, I'm told, is sounding more and more like normal. (When I called our son on Sunday to let him know about his Dad, he was about to leave for work and had no idea who called him to tell him about such bad news. Finally, it apparently dawned on him who I was and he was able to somewhat put the pieces together. The things we never realize, sometimes about how we sound! Our oldest daughter thought I was her brother when I first talked with her that day! I must have sounded BAD! I do have a bit of a low speaking voice, I guess, but it must have been way down in the basement on Sunday!) My ears, however, still hurt--the plane trip was painful on the descents--and I want desperately to de-congest! My chest isn't as tight as it was for the first several days--mucus is breaking up (I know you really wanted to hear about this) and I'm coughing up yucky stuff, finally. So I must be getting better! I've had so little sleep for the past few days, especially, that I fell asleep this afternoon on the couch.

I am grateful, however, to have been with my grandchildren for almost two weeks! I miss them already. I'm grateful my brother-in-law is such a great guy, I'm grateful that my two children that live in the town where their dad was in the hospital were able to be off work in order to stay with him till I was able to get there. Grateful HE is home now--and stable! Grateful we had no trees fall on our house or in our yard--like three years ago! Grateful for friends and family who've been praying for us. Grateful for good doctors and all that worked together so that we have a good result at this point!

Now, I'm probably going to go to bed and to sleep. In my very own bed. In my own house. With my husband. Life is good!