Monday, May 30, 2011

Oh. My. Lanta. (Part 8)

The next day, I felt awful.  Everything hit me like a mack truck.  It was the day after procedures, 2 blood transfusions, and just a day and a half past my fainting episodes.  My body was spent.  I had no appetite and felt like death.  I was assured over and over that it was just part of the process.  I hadn't really slept in days and when I had, it had been drug-induced...not exactly restful.  I was kind of a wreck. 

I really don't have much else to say about that day, so I will take time to talk about my roomates.  HIL-ARIOUS!

My first neighbor was Betty.  We got to our room just before midnight on Monday night.  Betty got up to use the bedside toilet 3 or 4 times in the night.  Mark and I were NOT a fan of the lights, the noises, the smells.  Ugh.  Betty was very hard of hearing and everyone had to yell to talk to her.  Middle of the night after the most traumatic experience of my life and there were people shouting at 93-year-old Betty.  I really don't remember much about Betty except for the repeat bedside bathroom episodes, but I do remember laughing (though it hurt like crazy) with Mark about things.

When I came back from my drain and blood procedures, she was gone and was replaced by Millie.  Oh, Millie!  She had no idea in her dementia state how much pain and agony she caused me as I laughed and laughed at things she did and said.  Any time one of our IV pumps would beep, she would start hollering for someone to answer the phone.  She thought that the nurse call button was the phone, so she repeatedly called the nurses in.  They would assure her that the phone had been answered and leave the room.  This probably happened 5 times within an hour.

That night, when they came in to take her vitals, she hit the nurse and said, "LEAVE ME ALONE!  YOU AREN'T DOING ANY MORE EXPERIMENTS ON ME!  YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!"  I laughed and laughed and laughed.  She, too, was hard of hearing, and it was another sleepless night with yelling, colostomy bag emptying, *shudder* and her trying to get people to dress her because 'her nephew was waiting outside with the car to take her home.'  There were many more funny episodes with her, but I won't bore you with them.  Let's just say that, though I didn't sleep, I did laugh a lot and enjoyed the time with Millie, though we never spoke or met due to the curtain between us.

The next day, I woke feeling somewhat renewed.  My cultures had returned and the infection showed a huge colony of yeast.  I had been on huge, heavy-hitter antibiotics and to this was added a yeast medication (fluconozole for any of you people who know drugs...aka Diflucan).  I felt better and minimally stronger.  I was pushed to start walking little by little...just to the door of my room.  Then, just around the nurses station outside my door.  Then, little by little, we did more.  It was a start.  What would really turn my days brighter was a visit from my babies (though it was emotional and tough, too) and being moved into a private room!  What a change and what a blessing!  Oh, they also started me on some anti-anxiety medication and it helped me sleep, which was a huge blessing, as well!

Oh. My. Lanta. (Part 7)

It was really no surprise to me when the GI doctor and his PA arrived instead of the transport team.  He said, "Well, I've cancelled the repeat ERCP.  You have no active bleeding."  I calmly said, "I can tell you why."  His face showed his doubt.  I said, "In Alliance, for 5 whole days, I was given torodol every 6 hours."  His jaw dropped in a cartoon-esque way.  He turned and gapped at his PA, who's mouth hung slack and then back to me.  "You're kidding me?"  I shook my head.  I then told him that, not 30 minutes before, the nurse had given me a shot of Lovenox (sp?) against my wishes, but it was "doctor's orders" from a different doctor.  He turned to the PA and told her to go investigate it immediately.

You see, when I had the stent placed, I was told no NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs).  I was to have no ibuprofen, no alleve, no aspirin.  Torodol is basically a mega NSAID.  NSAIDs thin the blood, thus making bleeding a lot more likely and a lot quicker of a bleed out situation.  Lovenox is a blood thinner that they give patients on bedrest so that they do not get blood clots.  In Alliance, I questioned my nurse about the torodol.  My dad questioned the surgeon.  They continued administering it to me just the same.

I'm just going to say that the medical knowledge of my amazing daddy and my own training as a chiropractic assistant and moreso as a medical transcriptionist really saved my life MULTIPLE times.

If you don't read anything else from my blog, please read this: You have GOT to have someone with you as an advocate for your healthcare.  Doctors and nurses do the best they can most of the time.  Even great doctors make mistakes.  You have to have someone on your team that is knowledgable and will be involved in your care whether the attending doctors like it or not.  PLEASE hear this and remember it for the future.  No one can trust healthcare professionals 100% of the time.  They are human.  They get tired.  They make mistakes.  Be your own advocate.  If possible, educate yourself thoroughly about your condition/treatment of things and be proactive!  Truly, it is by the grace of God and the wisdom of medical professionals in my family that I am here to share this tale.

Oh. My. Lanta. (Part 6)

The next day I awoke (ha...I hardly slept) feeling groggy and sluggish.  They had given me 2 units of blood overnight, but I still felt like I was running on empty.  I was on strict FLAT bedrest due to my concious issues the night before.  They told me that I had 2 procedures ahead of me.  One, a blood study in which they would radiate my blood and then I would lay under a scanner.  This was to look for the source of my internal bleeding.  I think that I failed to mention this.  I was bleeding internally...a  LOT.  We thought that it was from the stent that had been placed in my stomach area, but needed to confirm this.  I would also have a different type of drain inserted into my stomach into my abdominal cavity. It would be screwed into the tissues where I had an absess and lots of infection.

With great anxiety, I am wheeled down in my bed to the radiology dept.  They were to take CTs, locate where the drain needed to be, mark it on my skin, give me sedation, and then place the drain.  After it was placed, they would do more CTs to make sure it was just right.  Little did I know that my anxiety would increase and I would have to dig deep...really, really deep.  My pulse was high.  My blood pressure low.  A dangerous combination when you're talking about adding in sedation.  The dr said to me, "I'm not comfortable giving you sedation with your vitals being so unstable.  We need to get this infection out.  Do you think you can handle it with just local anesthetic?"  In a nano second, my mind was flooded with thoughts of, "NO WAY! I HAVE to get home to my babies!  I just HAVE to do it.  It's not POSSIBLE!  I am too much of a whimp!  I can DO it!  I HAVE to do it!"  It was a cacauphony of doubts, fears, bravery, and courage...perhaps those are 2 in the same, but each wave of emotion hit sure in hard.  With tears in my eyes, I said, "I HAVE to do it.  I have babies to get home to and I have got to get well."  Over the next few moments as they prepared to switch up the plan, I kept saying, "I can do it." to the nurse.  I'm sure she thought that I was delirious, and I might have been what with all of the pain meds.  The lidocane burned like fire as they shot it in once, twice, three times, four times, but each time was a little less...each time the fire died out a little sooner.  There was lots of pressure pain, but come on, I've had 3 babies!  You can't take the pressure pain away and this was minimal to delivering a baby!  :)

They finally declared the process complete and took the remaining CTs.  They declared it to be perfectly placed and sent the cultures that were collected out to be done.

I was taken to a different room where they extracted 5 mL of my blood.  I then had to wait 30 min while it was radiated.  They put it back in and put me under this huge camera box thing.  It was basically a camera that only picks up radiation.  I watched as thousands of little white specks went from my arm where my picc line was located and scattered across the screen as the blood made its way throughout my system.  It was very cool to watch.  However, I never saw it pooling anywhere and this set the medical side of my brain to whirling.  I would soon make a connection that would be pivotal (sp?) to my road to healing.  After laying there for an hour, I was taken back up to my hospital room and waited for them to come and get me for my repeat ERCP.  When they confirmed that the bleed was in that area, they were going to remove the stent, cauterize the bleeding, and put in a different stent.  So, I waited.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oh. My. Lanta (Part 5)

I just now got computer access again.  Donna, when I ended it that way, I didn't know that I would be too sick to continue.  :)

So, seriously, I almost died.  I was septic and was minutes or hours away from septic shock.  My pulse was in the 160s and my blood pressure was dropping.  I needed to go potty and the nurses ignorantly got me up to try to go rather than giving me a bedpan or something.  In hindsight, I'm sure they thought, "Duh!  What were we thinking?" 

Anyway, we get into the bathroom and I told them that I was losing consciousness.  I can't spell right now, so sorry about the errors.  Anyway, I don't remember a whole lot between then and when I woke up to 20 people standing over me, but I remember yelling out to Mark that I loved him and I remember telling the nurses that I had to get home to my babies, I couldn't die.

My eyes snap open to people yelling my name.  It was a strange experience that I cannot describe.  It was as if someone plugged me in or something, it was that sudden of an awakening.  They were asking me my name and all of that and I only interested in telling them that I loved that guy over there (trying to locate Mark) and that I needed to get home to my babies.  I was alert and oriented.  I knew who I was, where I was, and what had happened.  I also knew that I was in serious danger. 

From Mark's perspective, he thought that I died.  Apparently, they could not keep me awake.  I just kept passing out.  So, he watches them get me awake and me pass out...4 or 5 times.  They called in the Rapid Response team and my room literally had about 20 people in it.  I don't know what they were doing, what all happened.  I didn't want Mark to have to describe it to me because it was such a hard experience for him. 

I was put on telemetry, which means I had 5 heart monitors that connected to a little box and I was monitored 24/7 for the first 6 or so days that I was here.  My pulse, at this point, continues to be elevated, but not nearly as it was then.

I am just going to lay this out there to show the providence of God and the way that He works everything out.  All glory to Him.  If I had not been life-flighted that day, I would not be here to write this tale.  The hospital where I live would not have had the resources, the rapid response, etc. to save my life.  They just don't have the level of care that was necessary and that is the truth of the matter.  Jehovah Jireh is my favorite persona of God.  God. Will. Provide.  It is the name that Abraham used when God provided the ram so that he didn't have to sacrifice his son.  The Lord will always provide material things, wisdom, and guidance.

That night, I was afraid to close my eyes to go to sleep.  After what I had just experienced, I didn't want to risk it.  Neither of us (Mark, being the other) slept much at all that night.  We were emotionally shot and just kept reaffirming our love for each other and thanking God that we were able to.  He kept vigil over me as I did doze off and on.

I'm afraid that he'll have nightmares of what he watched.  I wouldn't wish my experience on anyone, but I do wish that I could trade places with him there and take those images out of his mind.  I just pray for peace for him and I pray that God uses the experience for His glory and also to cement our marriage even tighter than it was before.

The next day would be turning point number 1, a much-needed sigh of relief, and some things brought to light.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I am going to have to break off the story here and I am not sure when I will be able to continue.  Stay tuned.

In other news, Keaton has started crawling while I've been hospitalized.  I missed it.  *sob*

Oh. My. Lanta. (Part 4)

Friday the 6th brought a new day at home with optimism that the nightmare of pain was over.

BOY WAS I WRONG!!!!!!!!!

The nightmare was only beginning.

I represented to the hospital with severe pain on the other side of my abdomen.  Same type of pain...other side.  We never figured out what those pains truly were, but whatever the case, I believe that they saved my life because I was being monitored.

I was still under observation Sunday when Dad decided to go home.  He flew home with a heavy heart, but needing to get back to his clinic.  He called me when he got home to see how I was and I told him fine, but I had started spiking a fever.  That evening, things took a turn for the worse when my pulse began racing and didn't slow down.  It wasn't terribly high...110-125 give or take, but normal pulse should be 60-100 for me.  Well, it kept creeping up.

By morning, the nurses were concerned, the PA that was seeing me was concerned and the decision was made to lifeflight me back to the hospital 2 1/2 hrs away.  Lifeflight.  Not a word that brings warm fuzzies.  They took out my JP drain and away I flew.

The flight was uneventful.  The ER admission showed my pulse to be still high, staying in the 120s-130s.  About 3:00 in the afternoon, my dad and in-laws each started the 12-hour trek to get up here to be with me.

That night, I almost died.

Oh. My. Lanta. (Part 3)

I met with my surgeon who quickly accessed that it wasn't related to the fact that my gb had been removed.  He believed it to be intestinal in nature.  I screamed in his office.  I screamed in x-ray.  For 4 days, I screamed, cried, and begged for help.  They gave me Dilaudid, a drug stronger than morphine.  It dulled the pain slightly, but didn't take it away and I still cried.  They diagnosed me with constipation, much to my disagreement.  This part is a bit graphic, but necessary.  On Sunday, they did 3 enemas, 2 suppositories, and I drank 2 doses of MiraLax.  We worried that perhaps I was having a repeat of the condition that nearly took my life at 4 months of age (intucception). 

Standing up, rocking back and forth, helped marginally, but enough that I wanted to stay on my feet at all times.  I was already weak from surgery and lack of adequate food intake, but I needed to be up.  It was a catch 22, as they say.  I needed to stand, but I just couldn't for long periods of time.

FINALLY...much to my great relief...he decided to go back in on Tuesday to scope.  I was seriously screaming day and night from Friday afternoon until Tuesday when I went under anesthesia.  My poor hospital neighbors.

I again wake up to the normal hospital routines and am told that I have a JP drain coming out of my abdomen.  My intestines had adheased to the bottom of my liver and my abdomen was filled with bile.  Every time the intestines tried to function, it would tug the liver.  Remember the enemas, etc?  Yeah, they were forcing my bowels to TRY to function over and over and over, but they couldn't because they were stuck.  The injury to the liver was leaking bile into my abdominal cavity as was my cytic duct that once connected my gb to my stomach-ish area.

A lady came in and said, "I just got off of the phone with your insurance and got pre-approval for the ambulance."  I was still groggy and very confused as to why I would need an ambulance when I was clearly in a hospital.  Long part of the story short, I was transferred to a larger city 2 1/2 hours away (where I currently sit writing this) to have a stent put in that would allow the leaking duct to shut off.  It went off without a hitch.  I was told no NSAIDs (ibuprofen-type drugs) and was sent on my way back to my home hospital.

The next day I went home and thought all was well...except for those stinkin' gas pains!  I had now been inflated with CO2 3 times and let me TELL ya!  It was NOT fun!

Oh. My. Lanta. (Part 2)

Ok.  Now the real, less-dramatized story.  My parents dropped everything to come up for my surgery.  It was nice because we got to spend Easter with them.  Monday morning, I kissed my husband and babies good-bye and went under anesthesia.  I woke up to people telling me to take a deep breath, tell them my name, etc.  They said my surgery went well and that they repaired my umbilical hernia in the process. 

Tuesday, I went home.

It was all as routine as that.

I felt that I had just had surgery for the next few days.  It was pretty par for the course until the pains started.

I had been having the normal gas pains expected with a laproscopic surgery.  Since they don't open you fully up, they inflate you with CO2 gas so that they can see what they're working on.  It hurt, but with walking, deep breathing, and my incentive spirometer (a breathing apparatus), they would pass.

My parents had left Wednesday and Mark's parents arrived that night to take over with the kids.

I woke up Friday feeling a little blah.  We decided to walk around downtown and I just didn't feel quite right, though I couldn't put my finger on it.  Friday afternoon, I talked with my sister on the phone.  I was laying down because I had been having those stinkin' gas pains, but walking wasn't helping.  They were getting worse and worse and I finally said, "Dani, I need to let you go.  I am about to start moaning and screaming from these pains.  I won't really scream (I chuckled), but they really do hurt."

Thirty minutes later, Mark was taking me to the hospital because I was screaming with each pain.

Oh. My. Lanta. (Part 1)

I do not know how to begin this epistle.  I am going to write it in parts.  This is partially because of the enormity of it.  Partially so that my readers won't be so overwhelmed by it.  Partially because I shouldn't just sit here and type.  I need to type some and then get up and walk.  Type some and then get up and walk.

I am going to start at the beginning, as any story should.  It WILL be long.  That's the only way to fully tell the tale.  So, if you want to hear it, you can read it.  If you'd rather not, well, that's fine too.  It is a story of my nightmares in many ways and one that would cause nightmares now if it weren't for my great God above.

Let me be clear from this moment on that I will be shouting His praises and glorifying Him through every high and every low.  He.  Is.  GOOD.

The beginning is really back in Dec 2009 when I had my first gallbladder (gb, as I will refer to it from here on out) attack.  Then, I found out in February that I was pregnant with  my Keaton and the gb got ignored.  I would have attacks off and on over the next year or so, but they were completely random and not dependent upon what I ate.

At the start of this year, it seemed that the attacks were increasing in frequency and this annoyed me.  Number one, I didn't want to have surgery in the tiny town in which we live.  Number two, I have 3 little ones to care for and the logistics seemed impossible.  Number 3, who wants to have surgery?!? 

I had a particularly fierce attack on April 22 which sent me to the ER prompting a visit with a surgeon the next day.  I was shocked when he said, "Let's get you in Monday and get this thing out."

I had 3 days to prepare for surgery.  I had to coordinate childcare, Mark's schedule (since he works nights), and a host of other things.  This was only the beginning of the "adventure," however.  What was supposed to be a 1-night stay after a "simple" laproscopic cholecystectomy (gb removal through 4 small holes) has turned into the nightmare which I am writing about.

Ok.  I know that that was dramatic.  Give me a break!  I've been in a hospital bed for nearly 3 weeks!  :)