Are you old enough to know who Gene Autrey is? Watch enough old Westerns to remember the song? “Back in the Saddle Again….” He had such a smooth voice, that Gene.
As John was driving me to the hospital last night to be admitted, that’s all I could hear, Gene Autrey singing, “She’s back in the hospital again…” in the style of his famous song.
Just goes to show that parents can indeed warp their children! My Dad was a cowboy at heart – and I watched a LOT of old Westerns with him. LOL!
So – yep. It’s true. I’m back in the hospital again.
Lord, what a week.
As I mentioned last Friday, since about 24 hours after getting out of the hospital the last time (8/23), my pain and symptoms have been increasing. Baby steps in the wrong direction each day.
I’ve been cautious.
I’ve been careful.
I’ve even been quite compliant.
I’ve stayed home.
Last Friday the Dr. Jamison let me know that I should report on Monday morning to Good Sam for a follow-up CT scan. Had to be there at 7am, drink the blickey contrast dye. I had a really hard time getting the stuff down – shudder – but I did my best. I had a call by afternoon saying no leaks visible (HOORAY!) abscess is there, but not horrible. Okay. He had me start two oral antibiotics. I just happened to have them on hand and started immediately – one three times a day, the other twice a day.
Typically, there’s some improvement within about 24 hours. He told me to give a call in a couple of days if there was no evidence of improvement.
Then Tuesday happened.
I’m convinced that when you’ve been sick for a long time and you’re tired and in pain and just generally all around weak, that you don’t always make the best decisions. Raising my right hand in recognition of this being true for me right now.
Tuesday was Preview day at the high school. This year Jessica is a senior (waaa!). We left the house at 11. Jonathan had to be there at 2:00pm. So – I scheduled accordingly.
Why did I not just drag Jonathan along and tell the powers that be I’m sick and they can suck it up and handle the details for both kids right NOW, darn it all?
Suffice it to say that I didn’t.
And that it was too much.
And John had to come get me cause I couldn’t walk or – obviously – drive. Words I wouldn’t have said a year ago: good thing Jessica is a driver now! LOL! She had to be at school for a leadership meeting and I was able to leave my car for her.
Went home, called the doctor, reported my boo boo. He had me take 50 mg of Benadryl before taking some Demerol (my only pain meds on hand, which have recently begun giving me hives all over my body). He told me to check in with him the next day. Now – I should point out that I’m a total panty waist – give me Benadryl and I am out for the count – like 14 hour nap time. Give me Demerol – I’m out for the count – 10 maybe 12 hours. Tuesday night? Stinking wide awake most of the night. Go figure
Wednesday afternoon I kept thinking – he wanted me to call back, Dr. Jamison that is. I was trying to figure out why exactly. I mean, what was I supposed to be reporting? Should I? John convinced me that I ought to. So I called. He told me Dr. Zelko was back in town, was reviewing my case, and they’d talked a bit – but in the meantime, he thought Dr. Swanstrom should probably re-scope me to make sure everything is holding up repair wise in the gut. He thought maybe Friday or Monday or Tuesday – that Dr. Swanstrom’s assistant would call me with details. He also ordered me to stay in bed. He told me to pretend I was sick with the worst stomach flu and I should just lie in bed, get in lots of fluids, and let other people take care of me. And then he told me to call if there were no improvement.
So – here’s the thing. When you feel so crappy and you know stuff isn’t right, and you wake up in the night because there is no comfortable position – none – because of your abdominal pain, and fever, and general feeling of unwell – you start wondering, “Am I just a wimp? Maybe it’s just in my head? Am I being stupid? Should I just buck up?” In the wee hours of the morning I was awakened because my heart was pounding – not really chest pains, just pounding. I thought, “Maybe I’m getting dry.” And got up and got some water and tried to get some more sleep. I lay there and thought, “Maybe I should have John just take me in to the hospital. At least there I could get pain meds.” But then I thought I should just buck up.
By Thursday my abdominal pain was outpacing the shoulder pain for the first time. It literally was impossible to get comfortable. Every body mechanic that involved abs – OWIE. I knew I had to call Dr. Zelko’s office. Spoke with Brittany, the wonder MA, and she said Dr. Zelko would get back to me.
I kid you not – no more than 4.5 minutes passed before Dr. Zelko called. He started the conversation with, “Dina, I’m just comfortable with how you’re feeling.”
Okay – I know – I’ve said it before.
THANK YOU GOD FOR DR. ZELKO! Thank you God for directing my paths. Thank you God for giving me this amazing, wonderful, conscientious doctor! THANK YOU!
He said he’d spent quite a bit of time going over my entire chart – old stuff, new stuff, results – comparing all of the CT’s, etc. He said his inclination at this point in time is to think that the bugs that couldn’t be addressed by an oral antibiotic had taken foothold again at the abscess site and that I needed to come into the hospital Friday morning at 7am for power PICC placement and a CT scan – with a hope that they’d just tap the abscess at that time.
He asked me if I needed to get admitted or if I could make it until the next morning. I faltered – and then said, “I think I can make it.”
Thursday progressed. Just felt like crap – but encouraged by the plan of action.
By early evening I started having that pounding heart thing again. A lot. Took my blood pressure and pulse – way too high for me. My pain was bad, too. And I was getting shakier. I told John that I needed to go in to the hospital. He knew. So I packed – called Dr. Jamison – and got the go ahead.
It was the right thing to do.
Why is it so emotionally difficult to do the right thing sometimes?
BUT – here’s my next miracle for the day – hold onto your hats!
Remember Skip? The wonder IV nurse? Who placed my fourth PICC line the night of my surgery a couple of weeks ago? You can read about it here. He’s – seriously – the BEST. Not a single moment’s pain or discomfort when he placed that PICC. I turned to John as we were coming into the hospital and said, “Maybe Skip is working!”
When I got to the floor there were no orders or anything yet, but I made sure to mention to my nurse and CAN that I was supposed to get a power PICC and my secret hope was that Skip was working and could place it.
Orders came – sure enough, an order for the power PICC was there.
The surgical resident came to talk – and as we were chatting I looked up and lo and behold – IT WAS SKIP!!! With a smile on his face! I literally stopped mid-sentence and said, “It’s Skip! Oh my gosh! I love you so much!” Everyone just cracked up.
Know what? He’s been on vacation. He also rotates between five hospitals. He’d just been back on the job an hour. Someone else would have been assigned to me – but he recognized my name, and saw I’d requested him – so he pulled some strings.
THANK YOU JESUS.
You never forsake me in my weaknesses. Thank you for the reminders of WHO You are. God of all. Kind. Compassionate. Loving beyond my ability to comprehend.
Long story short: I was WAY drier than I thought – dehydration is not good when one is as sick as I’ve been. I think that my ability to track just was hampered. It seemed like I’d been drinking enough – but when your pee is brown, yeah, not. They dumped a bunch of fluids in me (after my PERFECT, completely pain free power PICC placement) right away – and the pounding heart thing went away!
I was NPO, of course, since the CT was scheduled for the morning – no surprise there. No big deal.
I got dilaudid. Pain control is a good thing.
They started my oral antibiotics as IV antibiotics.
They gave me as much Zofran and Compazine as I needed.
All very good things.
This morning – since I was in-house and already had my power PICC – they just decided to work me in for CT. Poor John was here at 6:30 am to make sure he didn’t miss anything. Good thing he brought a good book! At 8:00 am they brought the CT contrast slime for me to drink. I asked for Zofran for BEFORE I started it – being that I was already having nausea. No problem.
The problem, however, was the fact that I had to get it down – but I simply was unable to keep it down.
The residents were stumped. I like them all – good kids – but they were to the point of getting ready to order an NG tube to get it down me. Um, no.
Then good old Dr. Ballard walked in and said, “We have to stop meeting like this!” I told him that I was having a horrible time getting the contrast down, and didn’t know if I could do it – and did I really have to? Wasn’t there a way to get away without it? He said, “I just passed Zelko in the hall Hold on!” As he went out the door he passed my nurse, who was arguing with the residents that she didn’t think an NG tube was a great idea – he told them, “Hold on the NG tube.”
Thank you God for Dr. Ballard. Really. Thank you!
Dr. Ballard caught up with Dr. Zelko; they compared notes, strategized, etc. A little while later Dr. Ballard came back and said, “We’re going to give you chemo strength anti-nausea drugs, some steroids, and then you’ll have a better chance at getting the contrast down.” He was right. It helped. I made it.
CT, as always, is pretty much a non-event. The really cool thing, though, was that since I have a power PICC, I didn’t have to have a peripheral IV for the contrast dye! The power PICC can handle the fast delivery of the IV contrast dye – cool, huh?! Oh – and lest I forget – the power PICC is WAY prettier – are purple, and the caps are red and purple with apple green caps! I love it! (I know – totally stupid, but I gotta get my joy where I can, people!)
Got back to my room, pretty much just had to hang until we heard results. Got a shower, got a fresh gown, walked the floor – said hi to all of my nurses from the other unit. It’s kinda telling when you check into the hospital, then arrive on the floor and the nurses say, “Dina! What are you doing back?” I know their names, they know mine, and we remember each other just fine! I’m in the part of the floor that I was on my first stay here in July. My stay in August I was on surgical specialties – basically around the corner – but different unit. So on my walk I went and saw the nurses on surgical specialties. My previous nurse Ellen said, “Well, you’re right on track. What’s it been? A little shy of 2 weeks?” Yep. That seems to be the pattern.
The regular string of residents came through, some had seen the CT results, and some hadn’t. Dr. Justin, the new resident that I met last stay – nice guy, by the way – but young and first year resident, so obviously not as experienced – came by. He’d seen the CT and wasn’t sure there’d be anything to tap, so he wasn’t sure what the plan of action would be. I asked him if he’d talked to Zelko. He said he’d paged him, but no, not yet. He didn’t know any of us would hear from Zelko – he’d been called into surgery at a different hospital, had patients booked all day long, etc. I said, we’d wait and see what Zelko said. He was okay with that.
I actually napped. I think that was good since it was well after 2am when I finally was able to sleep last night. I woke up right around 6pm – when Dr. Zelko walked in.
He told me he’d tracked down the radiologist who has reviewed all of the CT’s that I’ve had since all of this started. They went over everything together. The abscess is bigger. He wants it tapped tomorrow. I’m scheduled for 11am, so NPO until that, of course. He’s convinced the bugs that weren’t killed on the previous round of IV antibiotics need some addressing, so he wrote the order for Caspofungen to be started again.
I asked how long I’d be in the hospital. He said through the weekend at least. I’m okay with that.
And then he said something that I’d thought but not verbalized.
“And the other thing that keeps nagging in the back of my brain is this. You remember that mesh we put in your gut.”
I looked him in the eye with the stern Mom look.
“I know. I’ve thought about it too.” I confirmed. “Is there any way to tell if it’s infected on MRI or anything?”
“Nope. Only one way.” He acknowledged. And then said, “So, let’s kick this abscess’s butt and make sure that’s what the battle is.”
What we didn’t say out loud – for those of you who may not be in the loop on my very, very complex gut, is that I have a sheet of titanium mesh – from under each armpit – side to side; and then from under my boobs to my pubic bone. It is the mother of all hernia repairs. I literally have abs of titanium! Some surgical mesh has been recalled as faulty – thankfully, not the stuff that was used on me. However, if my mesh is infected, that will mean a HERKING HUGE MONSTER surgery. Think Dina gets filleted. The scars from the hernia repair? Twenty-one inches horizontally, eighteen inch intersecting vertical – making a very large “T” on my lovely belly-button less tummy. (That’s another story!) There were 188 staples in me to close those incisions. Needless to say – neither Dr. Zelko nor I want the mesh to be infected or for an open surgery to be where we end up.
So I will pray. I’ll let you join me, too – if you’ve made it too the end of this very long post! Sorry! That’s what happens when I don’t stay current on my blog! Well, now that I’m in the hospital and have time and the laptop and a good wi fi connection, I’ll try and do better, okay?
My song for the day? “You Are For Me” by Kari Jobe. Amazing!
THANK YOU LORD!