Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A short trip to "Sick Bay" (not to be confused with "Moonlight Bay")

After our busy, but fun, vacation in the midwest we returned home to usual - and not so usual - tasks at hand.  Dean was over due for his colonoscopy, so he had "that" to attend to at the beginning of August.  All went well, though they did remove a small (7mm) polyp.  He had polyps removed before but this time they put an actual "dot" tattoo of blue ink in the location!  So, while he may offer - do not agree if he asks you "Wanna see my tattoo?!"  Since neither of us have any tattoos we've had a good chuckle from this!  As many of you know, Dean has a mechanical heart valve which requires him to take Coumadin (a 'blood thinner') every day.  For his procedure he was off of his Coumadin, but still received anti-coagulation by way of Lovenox (a synthetic, injectable, Heparin type of medication).  It's not much fun having shots twice a day, but he's handling it pretty well.  We'll come back to his story in a moment....

My task at hand was addressing my need for cataract surgery.  I have developed cataracts over the past several years (yes, "younger" people do get them too!).  My April visit to an Ophthalmologist determined that my visual problems (halos, cloudy vision, rapidly decreasing night vision) was due to the cataracts and it was "time to take care of them".  While 100's of people have told me "it's a piece of cake!", I was still more than a little nervous at the thought of having eye surgery.

August 16th was the "big day".  I worked the night before and came home in the morning to get ready and go to the surgery center - my steadfast Dean at my side!  That piece of cake surgery -- not so much for me. There were some mishaps, and not nearly enough sedative or pain medication.  "The patient survived, but with two corneal abrasions and the requirement of one suture placed in the cornea".  In other words - my eye got scratched twice during the surgery, and the doctor had to put a stitch in.  Afterwards, she put a patch on my eye and sent me on my way with instructions to come to her office first thing the next morning.  It wasn't pleasant and I'm not even ready to think about having the other eye done.  So...home by lunch time that day - and all of that medication they gave me a bit too late was starting to take effect.  I slept for several hours, waking up about 6:30pm or so.  It was 'about' that time that Dean informed me (remember that colonoscopy 8 days previously???) that he had started "bleeding....and passing clots....."  We called the GI Fellow on-call at the hospital (per his post-procedure instructions sheet) and were advised that "if it should get worse, or you become symptomatic, go to the ER".  Dean assured me he was "fine" and I went back to bed to sleep some more.  Somewhere around 2am I heard him up and stirring - "What's going on?"...."Nothin'".... "Are you still bleeding?"..... "Yeah...."  "That's IT.  We're going to the hospital!!!"

August 17th - 2:30am found us in the UAMC Emergency Room.  Walking in they were looking at me - since I had a huge eye patch on, though we quickly straightened them out as to "who the patient was".  Several hours, several Residents/Med Students/Nurses later, Dean was admitted for "Observation".  Before he was admitted it was time for my follow-up eye exam a few miles away.  Since he was my driver we had to come up with "plan B".  That involved removing my eye patch, putting eye drops in (as ordered), and me driving very slowly through the back streets to my destination.  At my follow up exam they checked my eye pressure (normal) and applied a "bandage contact lens" to my eye - covering the abrasions and stitch.  That, virtually, eliminated 99% of the pain I was having - making me a little more "user friendly".  Knowing that I still shouldn't be driving, and having Dean in the hospital, it was time to "Phone A Friend".  My call for help went to our friend in Phoenix - Donna.  She had offered (previously) to come down to Tucson and take care of me after the eye surgery.  Of course we said, "No, no, no....Dean will be here..."  Thankfully she was able to rearrange her schedule and arrived that evening to care for cats, do the things at home that needed to be done, and "Drive Miss Daisy".  I'm still not sure how we can repay her!  She stayed 5 days, taking care of both of us when Dean was finally released from the hospital!

August 18th - After more than 24 hours of observation, the doctors decided that they needed to verify that the site of Dean's bleeding was the site of the polyp removal.  That being verified (this time, without sedation), they placed 'clips' on the polyp site and said "one more night of observation then home".  We celebrated by bringing him Zachary's Pizza in the hospital, with an "Edible Bouquet" sent to us by our friend, Erica!

Friday- August 19th - lunch time --  Dean was finally released from the hospital and the three of us (Dean, Donna, and me) were happy to GO HOME!

Finale-- Here we are, a week later, and doing much better!  Dean is doing well, though still on shots for his anti-coagulation.  He'll start back on his Coumadin in a few days - and will do both (with close monitoring) until his levels are where they need to be.  He's back to work full-time and "all seems to be working well".  Though my vision has been very slow to clear, I returned to work this past Saturday night (wearing my glasses with one lens removed).  I'm noticing that my vision is finally clearing more and more.  I will see the Ophthalmologist again on August 29th when she will remove the bandage contact and (hopefully) the suture still in my eye.  I'm hopeful that my vision will improve even more at that point.  Already I can see a huge difference in my night vision and in the halos around lights!

I hope this post hasn't been 'too graphic', and I'm betting you're glad I didn't include any pictures, right?

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