The sun will come out…. tomorrow…. if we can just hold on till tomorrow….

August 6th, 2007

INR is now 1.7 so we are hoping to get parolled tomorrow.  Doc has been in. Nothing new.

I had my doc appt as well, and am on official blood pressure watch and must record 4 times a week and come back in 3 or 4 weeks for final decision.  Reprieve!

Anyhow, check back for the hopeful end to this chapter of the ongoing saga tomorrow…..

~amy~

DON’T cross me

August 6th, 2007

SO I finally get in to the hospital around 10:10 this morning and I hear Jim on the phone with the nurses station. He is requesting his pain meds.  I sit. We chat. We discuss that the xanax does not seem to be working. He lays there. I read the ENTIRE paper.  He calls the nurses station again at 10:45.  At 11 I go out to the desk.  Say I, “Is there a problem in getting the pain meds to Mr. Fox?  He called at 10:10 and 10:45.”  They scurried about. They figured out who his nurse is. They say they will send her immediately.  Our tech nurse mouths to me “be sure to ask her why when she shows up”. She comes in a few minutes later and begins to do his pain meds.  I ask why it took an hour and two calls and a visit to the desk to get this med.  She says she got no call. She implies we didn’t call. I assure her we did. She gives a lengthy explanation of being in some other room who called three times.  She got those calls.  None from us blah blah blah. She leaves.

I call the charge nurse and she comes in to see us.  We explain the story, and ask that she find out what happened, and make sure it does not happen again.  She assures us that will be done. 

Don’t TICK ME OFF or my high-blood pressured head may explode all over you.  (BTW – I have a doc appt at 3:30 so you can all lay off me).

Grrrrrrrrrrr.

And so the Mama Bear awakens….

August 5th, 2007

I was texting my friend Susan (nurse extraordinaire) who said that I should definitely be bugging the nurses to get the doctors to do SOMETHING to ameliorate Jim’s last hour before drugs twitchiness. So I did.  And lo and behold, the doc has prescribed xanax to see if that will help.  Now for three days now they have all observed the agonizing hour Jim would spend before the drug time arrived but NONE of them offered a Possible solution? I assumed since I had asked similar things before that there was NO solution.  Susan responded to my ire with this text: “He was under-assessed as in didn’t assess thoroughly enough…. not just symptoms but how those symptoms have impacted quality of life – basic nursing 101”.  I am withholding my response till I see if the stuff works.  WHEN I know that, in about an hour, I will begin to compose my response, which, in the interest of continued care for my hubby, I will withhold until we are discharged. BUT BOY OH BOY WATCH OUT THEN.

To Air is Human

August 5th, 2007

Jim is still relaxing and I am still watching his hair grow as we await his blood to thin to appropriate levels. He did have the leg doppler this morning so we hope to be unchained from the bed by this evening which will help with the fidgets. Doppler didn’t seem to show anything to the tech, so we are optimistic on that one.

INR reading (for those of you in the know on thin blood) was 1.2 and we need to be between 2 and 3 to be released so we figure at least Monday and maybe into Tuesday before they set him free.

Jim’s roommate is more alert and now using the TV. Add noise and stupid shows to the list of irritants while being in the hospital.

The cats are mad at us for being gone.  It doesn’t stop them from accepting the food I put down, but they do it in a very offended manner. Can’t keep everyone happy.

Jim’s parents have called, so I think word has trickled out to all who need to know.

So here we sit… watching him breathe… in and out…. in and out…

Breathe easy, friends romans and countrymen

August 4th, 2007

Jim had as good a night as anyone does in a hospital (except for them slamming a breakfast plate in front of him at 8 a.m. despite his apparent asleepedness.

 The admitting doc was in about 10 and gave us a wealth of information.

Jim now officially has pulmonary artery thrombotic disease (may be spelled wrong). When I asked how that is a disease, he said it means he gets lung clots. I personally would call that a condition, but I digress.

He further says to expect coumadin for life and that it is a “benign” drug that has only the side effect of causing you to bleed like a stuck pig (what IS a stuck pig, WHY did someone stick it, and WHO thought this was a pleasant idiom?).

He said Jim has a “massive AVM” in his chest wall. When I questioned him on the “A” since we have been told all along that Jim does NOT have artery involvement, he assured me that he DOES. Further, the lung clots are ARTERIAL. Well.  Ok then. This is not likely the cause, he feels, of the clots but it is worthy of note. I did ask if these clots put him at risk of heart attacks or strokes and he said no.  The blood that comes through the right side of the heart and then goes to the lungs travels through large plumbing so it is not likely. Further, he noted that Jim’s assorted weirdness and clots etc. and very very rare (which we knew) and not generally seen outside of medical research centers. As always, Jim is one of a kind.

Jim’s current clots will dissolve in 3 – 6 months and he is NOT on bed-rest so much in fear of those, but in fear of future ones until the blood thinners are at proper levels etc.  After they Doppler his legs sometime today, he will likely be taken off bed-rest and will greatly relieved. The Doppler is simply to be certain there is nothing going on in his lower extremities. Being able to move more will relieve some of his fidgetiness associated with his pain drugs so maybe he can cut back a little.  THAT is the least of our worries.

They are taking him OFF the heparin drip and putting him ON twice daily shots of lovenox (again, spelling is in question). This will eliminate one of the daily blood sticks for testing AND will allow them to use the IV port maybe for his blood draws for testing which may be reduced to only once daily.  His bruised hand would like that.  We still anticipate 3 – 5 days in the joint.  Time off for good behaviour is not an option.  Time off for good blood is.

That is it for now.  Jim’s parents are incommunicado in Idaho at class reunions or some such so they don’t know anything yet, but I have left messages for them, as well as his brother and sister. Bet those are great phone messages to get  – “Hi, It’s Amy and everything is fine BUT Jim is in the hospital again…..”

 Anyhow, th-th-th-that’s all folks!

~amy~

Breathless with excitement

August 3rd, 2007

Thursday night Jim and I were out late (for us) so it was no surprise I was having trouble getting up Friday morning.  Jim, on the other hand, had to go to work (someone has to bring home the bacon…). Jim was tired too but he dutifully set off for work.  I, again, on the other hand, dutifully set out for a little nappie on the couch.

 Rudely, someone rang the phone about 30 minutes later.  I ignored it.  Another 15 minutes later.  I grumbled… and ignored it.  Heard my cell phone next.  And ignored it. Fourth call to the home phone, I tried to answer it and missed the call.  I did check the cell phone for caller ID and found Jim had been trying to reach him. Seems he was short of breath as he walked the warehouse, a very unusual occurrence. Then he tried to call me and got no answer so assumed that my current high blood pressure problems (don’t even ask) had caused me to die so I couldn’t answer the phone.  He was glad I was alive.  I was NOT glad he was short of breath and so off to the emergency room we went.

In an eerily familiar dance, they tested him, confirmed blood clots (small ones this time, bilaterally, base of each lung) and we finally got to a room about 4:30 I guess. Per the usual drill, he is on heparin to thin his blood, and coumadin to keep it thin, and every four hours they stick him to see how the blood is doing.  Altogether, not a lot of fun. Added to that  is the fact that he has been weaning off the many many drugs for pain etc and so often has the “fidgets” that he must walk off.  Sadly, he is on bed-rest so cannot walk off anything.  Hence, he is getting drugs and we will start the detox all over again when this is all under control. We are happy to be on the telemetry ward (heart monitored) so I know he is being monitored 24/7. I am less happy about the abomination they call a guest chair. NICE and uncomfy to be sure visitors don’t stay long.  Too clever.

Pulmonary doctor’s concern is where from and why these clots are showing up. He will have them ultrasound the legs (which are asymptomatic) to rule that out, and there is a huge battery of blood tests going on to see if some funny predisposition is causing it all.

So he lays there, staring, until he gets fidgety and I massage his neck and shoulders until they give him his pain meds.  Dunno if they will find a cause or if we just accept lifelong coumadin.

No progress on a prosthetic arm and such, although I suspect this latest news will set us back on that one as well.

He is in room 2106 in Arlington Memorial Hospital.  Despite regulations to the contrary, I am carrying my cell phone if you wanna chat with him or me. Or just wait for the blog updates.  That is probably easier.

Stay tuned… (You knew it was too quiet, right?)

~amy~

A Limb-Rick

July 2nd, 2007

There once was a request for money

To an agency by me for my honey.

Said the man with alarm

“But he still has one arm!

He wants TWO? Why that ain’t even funny!”

The agency is working through some financial worksheets with me before they can tell me if they can offer aid. The limb-rick is born of the gentleman’s comments as we conversed.

“Does he need an arm to continue or obtain employment?”

“Well, no, they won’t fire him if he doesn’t have one.”

“So, does he really need it?”

“Well, having two arms would let him do…..er… twice as much as having one.”

“We gave help to a man who doesn’t even use the prosthetic at all now. We don’t want that to happen.”

I did not tell him that 70% or so of upper limb amputees do not continue to use prosthestics. I mean, how could I possibly predict that for him?

Anyhow, we are hot on the trail of our prosthetic solution.

Going out on a limb here…

July 1st, 2007

I am thinking Jim may be milking this whole amputation thing…  NOW he wants me to do the lymph massage that his therapist does for him.  In his defense, the therapist seemed to assume as well that I would do this on non-therapy days.  Lymph massage helps move the fluid that is currently pooling a bit along his side. Personally, I think he has taken a page from the cat’s book…

However, he is doing really well. The arm continues to heal and the scar is completely closed and looking good. His therapist is working on neck stretches to get 40 years of constriction to relax.  She also works on strength isometrics for the residual limb (yes, that is the “PC” term for what everyone else calls the stump…). In my absence last week Jim was completely self-sufficient and ace-bandage wrapped his arm himself.  Not even sure HOW one does that.  He continues to amaze me, as always. (Why this amazing man chose me is a mystery that I do not dwell on too much lest I discover I truly am NOT worthy.)

We are finding out that cost information about prosthetics is hard to come by and that our insurance will only pay for the mechanical type.  This is the oldest technology where the wearer has cables that are hooked to a harness that crosses the wearer’s body and is operated by shrugs and the like. I am working on obtaining information from a couple of sources about other funding options and finding out if our insurance would pay up to the cost of that arm toward the myoelectric arms that we are going to have (emphasis mine and intentional). My initial estimates of arm costs seem to have been low. The electrically controlled arms may be in the $50,000 range and up, but I cannot for the life of me find a cost on the mechanically operated ones.  Assumption being they run about $10,000. Most of the data I can find says that an arm generally does not need to be replace for 10 – 15 years, although consistent users tend to replace sooner to take advantage of the new technological advances.

Anyhow, the ITCH UPDATE is that they went away fairly quickly following ye olde shot in el buttocks.  Usually I am stricken for two full weeks before the waning in the third week. This time I was healing by the end of the first week so travelling with my sister and family was basically itch-free. The upshot is, sadly for the yard, I am NOT weeding gardens until I can find the stuff. Doesn’t matter a lot though as I am leaving for a three-week college stint in Colorado in a week so some lawn service will be dealing with the yard in my absence.

I get therapy and Amy gets a break

June 19th, 2007

Last week we noticed that my left side was swollen and the doc said come in and we’ll take a look to be sure everything is OK.  We got to the doctor’s office early and was quickly taken to get an ultrasound done on my left side. It showed everything is open and flowing good and PT should help develop muscles and tone up the area and reduce the swelling.

Speaking of PT  Monday was my first visit. It was mostly paperwork and evaluating me.  I start Thursday and will treatments twice a week to work on my shoulder and side.

This morning I dropped Amy off at the airport, she flew to Charlotte to meet up with her sister, niece and nephew for a drive to New York to see Mom & Dad. They made it as far as Baltimore tonight and will visit the Aquarium before they continue the trip.

I would like to apologize to everybody that tuned in for Amy’s updates and got mine, she is a great wordsmith and will return in a week. I know you can’t wait to find out how her poison ivy and chiggers are healing or maybe she will find some poison ivy in NY, who knows.  We’ll have to wait and see unless she gets access to a computer.

Armed with info….

June 16th, 2007

The nasty chiggers that have feasted and rained down misery upon me are not inclined to succumb to the many folklore remedies… NOT that I haven’t tried a good bunch of them.  But, for those of you who care, and admittedly this is not really a Farewell to Arms entry, here is a good link about chiggers:  http://mdc.mo.gov/nathis/arthopo/chiggers/