Sunday, December 09, 2012

Getting Acquainted with the Modern ICU

 Since Thanksgiving, I have been away from home many days or nights at Katherine’s house. I have always dropped in to help some, but lately aides have had doctor appointments or other problems causing them to need to be off and we haven’t been able to get subs.  The night aide, who was coming at 12:30 a.m. after she got off of a full time job has had to quit, which I certainly understand. She would go home to take care of four adorable children after her two jobs were over, and I worried how in the world she was able to stand that schedule very long.

On Thursday, Katherine had what she thought was an asthma attack. She continued to have trouble breathing and was wearing her oxygen supply.  During that night she was aching all over and I finally decided she must have the flu.  Although I had heard a home health worker weeks ago say she would give Katherine a flu shot, I just found out that day that had not happened.  I don’t know why. That was a difficult night.

Her morning aide phoned both her primary doctor and the home health agency, and both said Katherine should go to the emergency room, where she spent the rest of the day getting tests, and then they admitted her to the ICU upstairs when they found out she had blood clots in her legs and lungs.  She was soon wired up with cords and monitors all over her, and those wires grew in greater numbers yesterday.

Needless to say, it has been a scary two days as they did a procedure with medicines to blast the clots and also put in filters to prevent any more clots going from her legs to her heart.  The plan today was to do a scan to see how successful they had been dissolving  or lessening the clots and to repeat this procedure if necessary. We received good news this afternoon when the scan showed much progress. The second “blasting” would not be given...At that point Gerald came on back to the farm.  

So then the nurses were to take out something they called slips from yesterday’s procedure and they gave her a pain pills to prepare her as they were to press hard for 30 minutes to stop  bleeding after the removal—and Katherine was to rest for three hours afterwards.  I started to go to the ICU waiting room when that started, but Katherine said she would rest better knowing I was going home to rest.  Since it was already getting dark and pouring rain, I was glad to do so.

Often when it rains at funerals, I comfort myself that nature is grieving.  As I drove home through the downpour today, a heavy rain which is so welcome to the farms and rivers here, I felt nature was joining in the celebration that we had received good news.
I was amazed at the freedom and liberality of visitation in the modern ICU.  I thought in ICU that family was restricted to 10 or 15 minute visits every two or three hours. (Maybe they still are for some conditions.) From the first, they allowed two visitors throughout the entire day with us leaving when asked because nurses had to give meds or other care.

Her three high school girl friends were there Friday when they moved her in and they let them all three stay!  After being up the previous night, I had gone to the farm to take a nap as I planned to spend the night since the hospital allowed people to stay during the night when she had been admitted there before. 

However, that was the one thing ICU did not allow, but very nearby was a quite comfortable ICU waiting room with rest rooms and lockers, coffee, and coin machines. The chairs pulled into beds and were being well used.  I did not sleep there, but I had to spend enough time there to get acquainted and feel comfortable. When her girl friends brought a beautiful bouquet matching the lovely lavender gift bag, the flowers could not be taken into her room.  Leah told me to take the arrangement home, but I suggested we leave it there so all of us and the others in the room could enjoy that beauty. (The gift was a sweet singing angel with three blue birds on her shoulders.  Leah laughed that the three birds represented her three bird-brained friends.)

I could not have disagreed more that those three young women were bird-brained.  They were my three angels throughout this weekend—making Katherine laugh and helping to adjust her arms and feet and comforting me in the ICU waiting room.   (We had told our daughters not to make the long trip down yet as we might need them more later.)

Anyhow that is why I have not been on the Internet.  So I decided I better blog tonight while I could. 

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