Sunday, January 18, 2015

Survived Another Round!

Some of you might have noticed I've not blogged in a couple weeks.  I've got a pretty good reason - was an inpatient at the University Medical Center here in Tucson for 5 days!  While I can sometimes check my e-mail from my "smart" phone, I've yet to try dropping a blog post with it, and am unlikely to try!

It all started out by sharing a cold that Melinda had developed over the holidays.  Mine took a more-serious turn with severe sore throat and fits of coughing, that developed into severe chest pains.  After a couple visits to a local urgent care center over a couple days, after 3 nights of no sleep, Melinda took me to the Emergency room this last Monday morning.  They seemed happy to admit me, and did a good job of  balancing my blood thinner (I've got an artificial heart valve) with the strong antibiotics and pain killers they gave me, keeping up my fluids, trying to get me some sleep, and try to bring my appetite back, which had totally disappeared.  I had some strong symptoms of pneumonia too, and had to work on clearing my lungs using my incentive spirometer.

After a trying morning, all my lines getting tangled (IV, oxygen, oxygen monitor, then the phone ringing), most of my tray went flying across the floor. My nurse Dedra, a large black woman, came into the room, immediately drew a face on a new spirometer and said "This is Melinda.  I DO NOT want to see Melinda on the floor!  You will keep Melinda in bed with you and you will use her and have her within reach at all times!"  With the tone of a Drill Instructor, I had no excuse for her, but thought her drawing and story would be blog-worthy...  Her artwork is shown at left, and at right, I'm still practicing at home.

Of course, any time you get strong pain killers at the hospital, especially if you've not eaten in days, you tend to get constipated.  They will give you the first phase of correction, stool softeners, at the drop of a hat.  That quickly developed into Milk of Magnesia a couple times a day as more serious medicine.  Then I woke from an afternoon nap to see the note at left on an otherwise unmarked Styrofoam cup.  Not knowing its source, I had no intention of complying, but found out later that the above same Dedra had left it for me - the 3rd phase of treatment.  But while my appetite had returned, nothing seemed to aid in the constipation.  They weren't going to release me without my being off oxygen and having that BM.  Finally my release seemed imminent on Friday, off O2 and walking around the floor first thing in the morning,  and was finally able to meet the second criteria for my release by late in the day.

So I'm home, trying to be quiet - but it is hard with bright comet Lovejoy high in the sky making a nice appearance, and with company in town.  Interestingly, the most impressive thing about me right now is the bruising.  Starting just about the time I went into the hospital, I must have been doing a lot of subcutaneous bleeding as about 30% of my total skin is covered with some impressive hues.  As shown at left today, some yellows and purples have joined the palette.  I almost resemble an Arizona sunset!

I still have the sharp abdominal pain, perhaps some swelling, still have trouble sleeping, though up to about 5 hours now, mostly limited by chest and abdominal pain.  Hopefully I'm through the worst of the recovery and these symptoms will fade as I work through the last of the antibiotics.  Thanks much to my buddies Erica and Roger who filled in with errands and care when Melinda wasn't able to come by and care for me - she has new chemo drugs of her own and wasn't able to come in several days.  But my buddies and other visitors kept my spirits up and got me feeling like I needed to get home and act as caregiver  to Melinda too...

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