Sunday, August 10, 2008

I See You in I.C.U.

We have finally made it to Sunday...tomorrow begins a new week. This past week has been very trying for the family. With the start of school looming over us, nationals just 2 weeks away and Darling Hubby's car still not working (despite the $200 part) all of this paled in comparison to what lay ahead.

Wednesday morning, about 2:00a.m. D/H awoke to a nasty bout with "the big D" (and I don't mean Dallas) only to find that it signalled the possible return of our old adversary The Bleeding Ulcer.

He called in sick to work and sent me on my way to work in the one car we are currently sharing. The children had orientation that night and he didn't want us to miss it. The plan was to call the gastro doctor and see what he should do. He promised to have either his brother or our oldest carry him to the emergency room should things worsen. I told my boss what was happening, just in case I had to leave work early. Having not heard from D/H, I assumed that everything was fine.

Why is it that men can hear the plan, agree to the plan, but never execute the plan?

Needless to say, the kids and I sped through orientation (which was completley unnecessary because both had attened the school the previous year and were sufficiently oriented!) and then rushed home to carry D/H to the emergency room. We arrived about 7:30pm.

At 11:00pm it was decided that he could indeed be suffering from another bleeding ulcer, his 3rd, and that he was to be sent to ICU and given blood because his blood count was 26 ( around 40 is normal), a procedure that could have been avoided had he remembered "the plan" and come to the hospital earlier in the day. It was agreed that I would go on to work Thursday, because while he was in ICU, I would only be able to see him for 15 minutes ever 2 hours. I could be more productive ( and less worried) if I were focused on my work. He was taken to M.I.C.U. and the first of 2 units of blood were started.

I came home, arriving about 11:30pm and unable to sleep because darling hubby was not in the house, watched t.v. and played a bit on the internet. I thought about the conversation I'd had with Heath just last Friday, after our company benefits meeting that outlined the insurance changes effective September 1st. When I got in the car that day, I'd joked "If you are going to be sick again, you've got to do it before September 1st" Little did I know he'd take me up on it! I drifted off to sleep just in time for my alarm to wake me just in time for the first day of school.

Traffic the first day of school in our little town is bedlam. There is always a traffic jam and at least one wreck, which happened this time at the end of our street. I made it to work almost 10 minutes late, but still managed to find a parking place in the same zip code as the building.

I sent an email to my boss asking to work through my lunch hour in order to leave early. Most of the day, I had to defend our choice for me to come into work, rather than sitting around the hospital, wasting time and wringing my hands. I was focused on my work which made the time pass quickly and productively. I kept hearing ..."well, if it were me..." and I felt like I would explode. I felt bad enough without everyone trying to make me feel more guilty! But I knew that I was following my husband's request and that we'd made the best choice.

As once mentioned before, one of my aunts has been a nurse for over 40 years (most at the very hospital my husband was in). It is a well known fact among our family that she will NOT visit the hospital unless specifically summoned. I always thought it was because she spent enough time there already, however, after my grandmother had summoned us both specifically to the hospital, she explained to me her reasoning.

"People come to the hospital to be well, not be entertaining" she had said. "They do not need a lot of people hanging around. That is why visiting hours are limited like they are. Patients need to rest. For some reason, people think they need to be at the hospital all the time, but really, unless they have a medical degree, there is nothing they can do for the patient that isn't already being done. They can do more harm than good, getting in the way of the staff and needlessly stressing out the patient. I know what it is like trying to care for a patient and having to deal with the family. When the care team thinks you need to be there, they will tell you to be there."

I had never really given that much thought before, but it made perfect sense. And coming from a seasoned medical professional, I took it as the general attitude of other seasoned medical professionals and my attitude toward hospital visits changed considerably. Many could benefit from this sage advice, including many a hospitalized loved one.

I tried to be light-hearted and joke about why I was not at the hospital, only to be told later that I hurt some people's feelings. WHAT?!?! As if I didn't have enough on me already, I , the wife of the patient, who had enough guilt and stress as it was, had yet one more thing to worry about! How sophomoric! Did anyone ever stop to consider what I was going thru?! I was immediately hot, flushing from my chest to the top of my head. I had a melt-down and had to excuse myself to the ladies room where I leaned against the cool, metal wall of the stall and cried.

I arrived at the hospital that afternoon. D/H was ill from the liquid-only diet and had commented on how many restaruant commercials there seem to be on t.v. He had just finished his 4th unit of blood in an effort to stabalize his counts. We did not get to see the doctor but the nurse told us the endoscopy was clear. An ulcer was located in the same area as the previous two, but it was not bleeding. No other source coudl be found in the upper digestive tract and that a colonoscopy would be performed the next day to check the rest. The Go-lytely arrived soon after. Anyone who has had Go-lytely knows that whomever invented it had a sick sense of humor because you are far from "going litely!" I left D/H to the evening task and again found myself unable to sleep.

It was again agreed that I would go to work on Friday, but it was harder to do given the previous days events. Hardly anyone asked about D/H and that helped me stay focused on what I was doing. I had planned to work through my lunch as before, but soon found myself unable to concentrate and asked to leave at 2pm instead. When I reached the hospital, I found D/H enjoying his first solid meal in 2 days. I settled in to wait for the doctor.

The actual gastro doctor never came, but the doctor in the unit read through D/H's chart and gave us the high points. The colonoscopy was also clear, which meant the only other place to check was the 25 +/- feet of small intestine. There are several options but the most interesting seemed to be the "camera pill." We were to wait for the final word from the GI lab, but in the mean time D/H would be moved to a regular room.

After a visit to Cyn's I arrived home, but was still unable to sleep, despite the the wave of exhaustion that was sweeping over me and a belly full of carbs (Cyn knows a double order of hashbrowns all-the-way is a surefire sleep aid for me) . The thought that they were unable to find the cause that resulted in loosing nearly half his blood volume kept me staring at the ceiling fan for several hours.

Saturday I was unable to function from lack of sleep, but I did manage to get up and head to Nancy's. I had been putting off gown fittings since I missed the first one Wednesday evening. While at Nancy's (where the gown is taking shape quite nicely) D/H called to say he'd been released!

By the time we crossed the threshold here at home, I was out, sleeping soundly for several hours.

We still do not know the cause of the bleeding, but D/H's upcoming doctor appointment should shed some light on that.

Thank you all for your continued prayers.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual.

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