Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hospital Vent

Well, for a heart ward, they sure don't seem to be concerned with stressing the Mr. out! The schedule goes like this:

12:00 am vitals/meds
2:-3:00 blood pressure
5:00 vampires draw blood
6:00 vitals
6:30 EKG
7:00-8:00 breakfast
10-11:00 Dr. visit
12:00 lunch
12-1:00 vitals and meds
2:-3:00 blood pressure
5:00-6:00 vitals/meds/dinner
8:00 blood pressure
10:00 meds

Add in the linen fairy, the personal chef, the housekeeper, the financial assessment, the specialist, the HOSPITALIST ( I did not make that up, this person is a Dr. that oversees the whole care plan) and the visitors.

With every person comes a knock of varying degree to the door and I have noticed the following pattern:

Visitors knock softly and lightly, pushing the door open slowly.
Non-medical personnel knock once loudly and announce.
Doctors knock once and come in.
Nurses don't knock.

I try not to intimidate but I am recording every name and event on a laptop that stands open on on of the tables in the room. I have about googled myself to death. Ask me anything about myocardial infarction. I have quizzed the staff to no end.
I have had questions answered such as "Why is there a Mcdonalds IN the hospital?".
Answer: A very extended contract was granted well before the movie 'Fast Food Nation' came out.

I have asked why is there only CRAP in the vending machine on the HEART floor?
Answer: There ARE some Snackwells in there.

I have asked why patients in revealing gowns are allowed to travel outside the hospital to a smoking are and further their suicide ( what with liability being what it is these days) ?
Answer: We cannot stop them.

Means more income for the hospital, i guess.

On a serious note, Mr. is doing better, looking at a long, detailed recovery. Thrice weekly cardiac rehab ( excersize, diet control and support groups since so many people cannot seem to shed their bad habits even after seeing the white light) is on the agenda as well as a steady stream of meds for some time, and at least one med for the rest of his life.

We hope to behome by Wednesday.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Update on the Mr.

We have been moved to a private room. All indications are that he has some damage to lower ventricle and it is only pumping 20% of capacity.

We have been assured that the heart CAN heal itself to some degree so we are now waiting to see how that goes.

Still waiting for Dr. to come by.

Will post more when we know more.

What next?

At our family gathering last night (Christmas Eve), we were happy. Light and breezy, if you will. We laughed, we opened gifts and there was no lamenting over sick family members, everyone was present or at least accounted for.

The Mr. played his guitar in the background while the little ones ate too much candy and danced around amongst the wrappings. Talk of Christmas day plans for the cousins included more in-law gatherings as I professed that I would catch up on sleep. I mean surely I could program myself to sleep past 6:00 if I had no pressures remaining, no children to run around, no more shopping, no more required baking. I bragged that since it was going to rain this mission would be easily accomplished.

Oh how quickly the serene can become nightmarish.

I was awakened by the horrible sound of retching by my wonderful husband at 4:00 am. His major complaint was "acid reflux, vomiting and extreme burning in the chest". I know i was scowling as I scolded his overeating the excellent dinner, or maybe he snuck out one too many times with the guys for a nip. After a few minutes he insisted on a trip to the hospital to which i said , sure, they'll give you a GI cocktail and fix you right up. I really thought he had just overeaten, overstressed, overdone it. On the way to the hospital his demeanor changed as he seemed to get weaker and added a new complaint that he was having trouble talking. I took the crown vic up to 90 MPH on the state route with no resistance at this time on Christmas morn. As we entered the lobby of the E room, he obviously met the requirements to go straight to gurney/EKG. One min on EKG and they were on the phone; while summoning further equipment, he began to sieze. They took off down the hall as he began posturing and soon after he coded. They brought him back with CPR and two bouts of the Defib. He was having an acute heart attack right then and there. Ten minutes sooner and he would have been doing it in the car. Five angels were roused from Christmas slumber to save my husband: a heart cath team and a heart surgeon. They were all incredibly confident and did their best to comfort me. After a heart cath and stint installation in the LAD artery (one of the bigger ones) he was sent to CICU.
No bypass for now. another special person was called from their family to remove the cath which involves 30 minutes of pressure at the site to assure clotting ( what with the gallon of blood thinner he had been given). He was finally stable.

I say that to say this: He never once said his chest was "tight", or that he felt "pressure", words that are normally associated with a heart attack. I have known for some time that persistent heartburn can be a sign of heart problems but his came on suddenly and hard. Looking back he was oblivious to the fact that it could be his heart. One year ago he had an entire workup, cardio and neuro, and was found to be completely healthy.

Seems that, as elusive as cancer can be in detection, heart problems are fairly hard to detect without angioplasty and they need more warning signs to do the aforementioned angioplasty. He may have had several small attacks over the past two years that were just gone undetected because he was otherwise healthy. He even wore the heart monitor for 48 hrs with no problems found.

To say that everyone is shocked is an understatement. I have told the story 20 times today and I thought I would therapeutically tell it one more time to testify that everyone should read up on symptoms of a heart attack.

I ponder if a formula such as

( family history + eating habits) (bad habits - excersize habits)
(awareness of symptoms - level of dr ineptness)(% chance that routine test reveal problem)

= % chance you will have a freakishly surprising massive myocardial infarction

Maybe this will give someone heads up of they fill in just a few of these variables and solve for the rest.

He is in CICU for now and I have been booted until 5:00am visiting hours. We hope for a move to private room on Fri afternoon. After an echocardiogram, we will know more about damage done and possible further blockages.

Posting may be even more sporadic (snicker) than usual or maybe I will take the laptop to the hospital and continue this experience online.

I will include what appears to be the longest list of symptoms from the following link:

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

Angina: Chest pain or discomfort in the center of the chest; also described as a heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness or squeezing feeling that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be indigestion or *heartburn.
Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
Sweating or "cold sweat"
Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like "heartburn")
Nausea or vomiting
Light-headedness, dizziness
Extreme weakness or *anxiety
Rapid or irregular heart beats

Women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men and may report symptoms before having a heart attack, although the symptoms are not typical "heart" symptoms. In a multi-center study of 515 women who had an acute heart attack (MI), the most frequently reported symptoms were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. The majority of women (78 percent) reported at least one symptom for more than one month before their heart attack. Only 30 percent reported chest discomfort, which was described as an aching, tightness, pressure, sharpness, burning, fullness or tingling.
[Reference: McSweeney J, Cody M, O'Sullivan P, Elberson K, Moser D, Garvin B. Women's Early Warning Symptoms of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation. 2003; 108(21):2619-2623.]

{The items in red are the ONLY signs that this 46 yo man had. He has been diagnosed off and on for unexplained anxiety for 2 yrs, always refusing the meds because he felt it was not anxiety, but rather he thought he had a neuro disorder.}

Please pray for a quick recovery.

Posted at 2:20 am, Gawga time, not sure what is up with post times listed.....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How did i?

How did I become the resident feathered friend expert?

Mini-me calls from the local saturday night auction to ask "Can I get ONE hen chick to raise up for Mama Jan [my mom] ?". After 10 minutes of wrangling I agree to ONE chick ( knowing it's true odds, i was willing to gamble). She came home with this:

Clearly not one chicken in the bunch. She had purchased not 1 but 5 ducklings. I ranted for 30 minutes but was drowned out by their incessant squeaking. We spent the balance of Saturday night cramming on duck care ( as 2 passed into the night) and I watched her eyes grow bigger with each new discovery, such as " They need water ALL the time??!!!". To which i wondered aloud if they would survive in the hawks and coyote to live in the cow pond below the house........ NOT, she said. These are HOUSE DUCKS! So she proceeded to prove her point by finding stories of ducks as family pets with proper care exlained. While she did this I reached deep into my cabinet to find some powdered bird mash that we had used to raise up a baby pigeon ( displaced by some bridge rehab) several years ago. Another experience I should document sometime. The ducks were not interested in this at all. They survived a day on tomatoes, boiled eggs and apples until she found their pellets at the local feed & seed.
I am off to buy the smallest kiddie pool I can find.
I guess it was my grandmother who instilled this love for birds as we sat and watched them through her picture window with binoculars and the books close at hand to identify them quickly. It is not something I have ever professed or even thought to list in my portfolio of things I know something about, but nevertheless it has happened. I have had birds in the house for most of my adult life. Currently house a lonely male cockatiel who lost his mate over a year ago, and I don't think he's over it it yet.
My husband took up this affinity when we moved to the country. We spend hours in the summer and spring watching/identifying the birds in our yard.
My brother is a fountain of information with his wildlife degree, he has studied them throughout Georgia. Luckily he will know what where these ducks might want to live when they become too much for the house!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving shenanigans

Since the maternal grandparents have been gone we have gathered at Mom and Dad's for Thanksgiving and tradition has evolved to include tobboganing on the treacherous leafy slopes in the woods by the house. With a quick change of clothes Minime quickly went from this demure creature ....

to this.....

The middle generation tries to get involved but usually ends up like this:

Did i mention there is a creek at the bottom?


Monday, December 1, 2008

Random updates

Was reading my own blog and thought I would update some previous story lines.
The hen I delivered to my parents is surviving and has been named "Cat" or "kitty" for her anti-social behavior.
My mom is gaining hair back at light speed. She wore one of brothers awful wigs to greet thanksgiving guests, only to happily reveal her fuzzy growth! Her spirit is unbeatable!
Mini-me is coming home next semester to trasfer to local state college and commute.
To quote the director of housing when asked 'How does one get out of a housing contract?',

"Unfortunately I hear this a lot and simply put, it takes money to attend college."

Thank you captain obvious. I would not have called except we are middle-middle class and foolishly thought we would qualify for some sort of financial aid. I did submit the form and letter in tripiclate explaining the recent loss of job in the family and even played the cancer card but only get out of housing contract if you trasfer, so here we go. AT LEAST she has decided on a direction: Spanish major. YAY!

After turkey three ways (fried, baked, smoked), i am ready to go back to work and get some exercise.

Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now yeah....