Sunday, November 04, 2018

A guest post from Reid (to appease the masses)

I totally stole this from his blog, which can be found here.

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When I got back to my computer screen Sunday morning, the website for the Mountain View Hospital in Payson, Utah's was still displaying. It was right where I left in, at the bottom of the Contact Us page showing the phone number of the hospital.

I called that number less than 24 hours ago and just now got back to my computer.

I called on behalf of Karen, my wife. But to understand why we need to go back in time a few days.


Sunday, October 28

Karen had been burdened with an infrequent cough and mild muscle aches. It is the beginning of flu season had she had recently received her flu shot, so she thought it was just a persistent cold that would go away on its own.

So she declared that she was sick.

We all pitched in to minimize what she needed to do for the next couple of days. Nancy, our daughter-in-law, did all she could to remind the five grandchildren to “leave grandma alone so she can rest.”

While such instructions worked well with Rachel and Miriam, who are older, Benjamin, Zoe, and Alexander didn't quite understand the concept of “leave grandma alone.” So Karen did not have the most peaceful of recovery time, but how can resist a visit from a grandchild?


Wednesday, October 31

There was no demonstrable improvement in her health Monday or Tuesday. On Wednesday evening we had tickets to see a live show of Lore, a podcast of spooky, semi-historical stories at BYU. She was concerned she was not going to be able to make it to the show. She really wanted to go. So she pumped up on non-drowsy medicines and had a purse-full of cough drops.  We went to the show. She was fine during the performance but I could tell the event had drained her strength so I was glad to get her home as soon as possible

For the past few months, she has struggled going to sleep. Her biggest fear was to lay in bed and not be able to sleep. Part of her sleeping problem stemmed from the constant pain she suffered in both her feet from diabetes. A while back, she was prescribed a painkiller for her feet that has the uncanny ability to put her to sleep in a matter of minutes.

This has created a series of comical sleeping experience. On many occasions, I have found her sleeping on her keyboard in her office. When she was up late making birthday cakes for three of the grandchildren, she fell asleep at the kitchen table. So, on several occasions, I would roam the house looking for where she had fallen asleep.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, she took a cough medicine to help settle her lungs before she went to bed. This cough medicine included a powerful sleeping agent. Now she was taking two sleeping agents at the same time. This significantly decreased the time it took for her to fall asleep and greatly improved her quality of sleep.


Thursday, November 1

After taking the medicine on Wednesday night, she once again fell asleep at her computer. I heard her come into the bedroom around 3:30 a.m. and thought little about it. Then I heard an odd crashing sound and a series of deep moans. Interspersed in the moaning I could hear my name.

I got up to find Karen face-first on the tiled bathroom floor in an expanding pool of blood. She had fallen on the floor with only their nose and cheek to break the fall. The amount of blood was deeply concerning. It was gushing from her nose and neither of us had any idea if she had a head wound as well.

After a matter of minutes she was cleaned up and we were glad her bleeding was restricted to her nose. She had avoided a serious head injury. But her face as seriously swollen and she looked like a boxer who suffered a beating in the ring.

With the bleeding stopped and the bathroom cleaned, she got into the recliner near the bed and put ice on her swelling face. Despite the shock and pain she had suffered, she was asleep in minutes, which, in my mind, was the best thing for her. I knew she was going to have a black eye and major bruising on her face when she awoke.

I was right. As bad as her face looked just after her fall, it looked much worse in the morning. We joked that she should stay in the house lest people would think I had beaten her. Then, because we live in the era of social media, she took a selfie and showed the world the result of her fall. Comments of concern came pouring in and I inserted myself in the conversation reminding the Facebook world that while she was injured, I cleaned up the blood. (Sometimes you just need validation…)

As you can tell, none of us took this injury seriously. It was now another story we can add to our collection of strange places Karen fell asleep.

By mid-afternoon, Karen grew concerned she may have broken her nose or her cheek bone and ribs on her left side were really hurting her. Remember, she was sick with a severe cough and each time she coughed, she said it felt she was being stabbed by a million daggers. So, she reluctantly called the doctor and made an appointment.

By 3:30 I drove her to the doctors and he said she needed a CAT scan to see if there was damage to her face bones and a chest x-ray to see if she had broken any ribs. So we made our way to the Emergency Room (ER) at the Payson hospital. Here, as in the doctor’s office, she had to explain how she got injured. I could sense the female nurses having a few doubts about her story and looking at me suspiciously. So, I did my best to blend into the furniture and look as innocent as possible.

When they took her back to the exam room, I declined to go with her. I figured they would inject a series of needles into her body and I dislike that part of medicine. But after about an hour, the nurse came out the door and asked me to come back. Neither of us suspected this ER visit would last this long. Karen was tired of lying in the ER room alone. So, I sat by her side.

Within minutes the ER doctor came in and explained her ribs were not broken but they may be cracked or bruised. There was nothing they could to for the ribs except treat the pain, they also said here were no broken bones in her face and that the bruising, while painful, would eventually go away. But they did find that her left lung had mild pneumonia.

That explains the persistent cough. For the past few days she had been fighting pneumonia. So they ER doctor gave her an IV of a strong antibiotic to control the infection in her lungs and gave her several doses of morphine to treat the pain. They also took several blood samples to test in the lab.

They considered admitting her over night for observations. But when the initial blood work came back, the doctor was confident she was well enough to go home. We needed to go to the pharmacy first to get her prescribed antibiotics and painkillers.

We were Payson and the pharmacy was in Provo — a 20 minute drive. It was 8:30 p.m. when we left the hospital and I was determined to get the pharmacy before it closed at 10:00. So rather than take Karen home first, we went to Provo together.

We made it to the pharmacy with time to spare and were told there would be a 20 minute wait. Neither of us had eaten anything that day. So we found a Subway nearby. When I got back with the food, we both decided to eat in the car before we went back to the pharmacy.

We got home by 9:30 p.m. and Karen was exhausted from all the needles and IVs in the ER. She was able to walk out the ER unassisted and to walk from the garage to the house when we got home. She walked around the house as well. We had all indications that while battered and bruised, she was going to be fine.

I encouraged her to go straight to bed but she hadn’t finished her Subway salad and wanted to relax watching Survivor. She told me she only had two episodes to watch. I suggested she only watch one and she said she would consider it. She watched two and came to bed well after I was asleep.


Friday, November 2

I typically get up much earlier than Karen does. When I arose, I was glad she fell asleep in bed and not on the floor somewhere. She was in a deep sleep so I went downstairs to my home office. A couple of times during the day I would make my way upstairs to check on her and she was still in a deep sleep.

Around 5:00 a kind neighbor had called Karen and said she wanted to visit with her for a few minutes. Karen was glad for the visit and she was able to shower and get dressed. But she was quite lethargic. Her walking was unsteady. But I attribute that to being extremely tired. She visited with her friend and then sat in the family room for a few minutes and promptly fell asleep.

She had to be exhausted because Rachel had two friends over to add the five children already in our home. They were eating waffles and the joy of breakfast for dinner raised the noise level quiet high. Still, Karen slept on.

When I finished eating, I woke her up and told her to go to bed. This time there was no argument. She walked back to the bedroom. Got ready for bed. And was asleep in minutes. None of us were alarmed at this. She was sick and needed rest. So we proceeded with our regular Friday night activities unconcerned about her health.


Saturday, November 3

I got up Saturday morning ready for my normal bike ride. I was considering my two hour ride, but felt I should not be away that long as Karen was sick. So I did my 45 minute ride instead. When I got back, I tried to awaken Karen, but she seems quite unresponsive. She was breathing fine but I could not wake her up. I tried to get her out of bed. In fact, I had her standing up and walking towards the bathroom.

She complained that she was about to fall, so I got her back in bed. I was getting concerned that she could not wake up and was unable to walk on her own. She has a deep dislike of hospitals so I “threatened” her that if she did not get up I would call 911 and have her taken to the hospital. She shook her head no and feel back to sleep.

I promised to give her a few hours to wake up on her own, so I went on with my Saturday chores. Three of the five grandchildren wanted breakfast and were being less than patient with poor Miriam who was trying to get them fed without bothering their mom. So I helped Miriam get her and her siblings breakfast.

The fall leaves from our trees had littered our front and back lawns. We don’t own a rake, but our lawnmower acts and an effective leaf vacuum. So I cleared both lawns of leaves.

When I was done, I checked in on Karen and she was still in a deep sleep. This time when I tried to awaken her, she seemed confused and couldn't make a simple sentence. I was now more than concerned. So I went downstairs to my computer to get the number of the hospital seeking their advice on what I should do.

After describing her symptoms, they said we should get her to the hospital as soon as possible. By this time, Nancy had called Karen’s friend who had come on Friday and she came over with a blood pressure kit to measure Karen’s blood pressure. Andrew was out shopping with Zoë so Nancy contacted him to get him back as soon as possible.

We could not get the blood pressure device to work but it really didn’t matter. I was going to get her to the hospital regardless of the results. When Andrew got home, Karen’s friend left the bedroom and stated she could not get a reading on Karen’s blood pressure. Andrew was unaware that the machine had failed and was convinced his mom had just died. I quickly explained the problem was with the machine and not Mom.

The hospital asked if we needed ambulance and I declined. I was sure she was not that sick and I was concerned about the cost of the ambulance. We called Linda, Karen’s sister, who lives nearby. Her husband, Trevor, is disabled and they have extra wheelchairs and a van equipped to transport someone in a wheelchair

I had Karen dressed and sitting up on the edge of the bed as we waited Linda and the wheelchair. Karen was awake but she was not lucid. She struggled remembering her name and how many children she had. When she tried to speak, words like Payson Hospital came out “Monson Popsicle”. She was obviously not in her usual frame of mind.

When Linda arrived we got Karen into the wheelchair and I asked them to get her into the van while I changed my clothes. I was still wearing my ridiculous biking clothes and I didn’t want to be wandering the halls of the hospital looking like that.

When I was done, we decided I would drive the van with Karen and Andrew would take Linda home and then meet me at the hospital in my car. This way Andrew would take the van home once we were done at the ER and I would have a car at the hospital.

By the time I got to the hospital, successfully disconnected the wheelchair from the van, opened the van door, and lowered the ramp (sounds like it should all take be a few minutes, but it was a bit more complicated than I thought) Andrew was at the hospital. So we entered the ER together.

When we got back to the ER room, there seemed to be a number of people ready and anxious for Karen’s arrival. They were anxious because late Friday night they got back the lab results on Karen’s blood. She had sepsis!

This word, sepsis, alerted both me and Andrew. Five years ago, my step-mother died very quickly from sepsis. Once this massive blood infection permeated my step-mother’s body, her organs shut down and she died. So I had a conversation with the ER doctor explaining our concern with the diagnosis of sepsis.

They explained that the sepsis was the result for her pneumonia.  (At this point, I apologize in advance to any reader who has more medical knowledge than I do, which would represent 99% of the world’s population, for the misstatements I will make throughout this narrative of all things medical.) Typically the kidneys filter the blood of such infections. But because Karen was so dehydrated from sleeping so long, her kidneys were failing and the poison in her blood was killing off the cells.

One of the more dangerous chemicals is potassium. We were told that a high potassium count can lead to heart failure. Her count was high, not out-of-this-world high, but high enough to keep the ER team concerned.

After about an hour of inserting IVs and pumping her body full of numerous clear fluids, Karen respond positively. She awoke from her deep sleep and was entirely coherent. We explained to her what had happened and she could only remember bits of pieces of what took place over the past few days.

Because of the shock to her system, the doctors decide to admit her to the hospital and send her to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where she could get all the attention necessary. She was awake and aware for the rest of Saturday evening and the doctors were very pleased she reacted so well to the treatment. She was weak, very weak, but she was progressing.

Sunday, November 4

Before I left the ICU, I made sure the staff was okay with me not being by Karen’s side 24/7. They assured me that while she was seriously ill, she was stable and what she really needed was rest. So I gave them my cell number and went home.

When I awoke Sunday morning, there were no calls or texts from the hospital, which was comforting. By 10:30 a.m. I was at the hospital and Karen was sound asleep. It is a deep sleep and no one has been able to awaken her to hold a conversation.

At this point, her kidneys have not yet started. So her blood his not being cleansed. As a result, they will put her on dialysis temporary until the kidneys reboot. They are extremely hopeful that she will make a full recovery and she will not be a permanent dialysis patient.

Also, because her kidneys are not functioning her liver is reacting poorly. So the dialysis should allow her liver to settle down enough to do what it was supposed to do.

At this point, you are all caught up on this unfolding drama. Things will change rapidly for the next 24 hours but then should calm down. I will add updates to this blog as events warrant.

4 comments:

  1. Love and prayers for you all. I remember meeting Karen at Rachel's baptism, and she was such a sweetheart. I've been praying for her body to heal. Thank you for updating us. Praying for you, too, as I know it's tough seeing a loved one sick.

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  2. Susanne, you are a good friend to Nancy. I appreciate that.

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    1. I agree! Thank you Susanne for always being so aware of our family!

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    2. Awww, thank you, Myrna and Nancy. :)

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