Sunday, July 13, 2014

Happy to Be Home from the Hospital!

After six days of being poked, pricked, and prodded, it was wonderful to wake up in my own bed this morning.  I had slept for 11 hours when Gerald came in to wake me so we would have time for him to give me the scheduled Lovenox shot before the home health nurse would be at our house right after lunch.

Last Sunday, I realized I was not only feeling much too tired, but I was also having trouble with breathlessness.   Brought back memories of 2008 when I was hospitalized in Barnes in St. Louis because that was where we happened to be for an appointment with Gerald’s heart doctor.  I still feel bad that I stole his appointment time and his doctor sent me to the hospital, where clots in my leg and heart were treated.  The doctors there were convinced the clots surely developed because three weeks before we had taken a trip to Georgia.  (Gerald suspected it was all my hours surfing and writing on the computer, and I was inclined to agree with him.)  But regardless, I got well. Mary Ellen was living in a suburb there, and she came to visit me every day until I was released with a prescription of warfarin to keep my blood thin. 

Gerald built me a little box for my feet under the computer to shift my legs onto, and I tried to remember to get up and walk around once in awhile.  However, the truth is that one reason I enjoy writing and surfing is that I go into some kind of brain zone that blocks out the world. The concentration is very pleasant to me, and when I could, I often sat for hours without realizing how much time had passed.

I continued taking warfarin, but after a few years, my primary doctor assured me I could go off the drug if I wanted.  We were getting ready to take a trip to Oklahoma City for the softball world series and on to my sister’s in Amarillo, so I turned down the offer to go off.  From then on, at my annual check-up, my primary doctor would tell me I really would not have to continue taking warfarin. I would sheepishly answer that I must be psychologically addicted to it to give me a sense of security. 

But as our daughter Katherine’s health worsened and I spent more time with her, I found it more difficult to make time for the regular INR check-ups that warfarin requires.  I began to feel silly that I was choosing to take a drug I was told I did not need.  So at this year’s annual check up, when the doctor told me I could go off, I hesitated wondering what would result if we took a trip (which we probably cannot do).  She assured me I could temporarily take a new drug and have that security for the trip.  I went off warfarin and felt free as a bird.  No more trips to get my blood checked.  No feeling bad when I got home so late it was really the next day before I actually took my supper pills including the warfarin, Taking only three pills (two of which were over-the-counter) instead of five made me feel so healthy!  

However, I continued to feel (as I had for a year or so) tired after 9 or l0 hours of sleep when I was able to get that much, but I figured that was part of being 80.  So the week before last, when I felt a bit more tired than usual, I did not think much about it.  It was not until the weekend that climbing the stairs was making me extremely breathless.  Fearing something was wrong with my heart, I decided last Sunday to call my primary doctor the very next morning.  Since I had taken no trips and I did not need warfarin any more, I did not worry about blood clots. 

The doctor’s office quickly made me a work-in appointment at 2 on Monday.  I ran into town to pick up a thyroid prescription waiting for me at Kroger.  I’d been too tired to go by for it after I had finished a shift at Katherine’s on Sunday afternoon because an aide was sick.  I got the prescription and some bananas that Gerald needs daily with one of his meds and which I have been trying to eat daily in hopes of avoiding the leg cramps I sometimes have.   Someone had suggested that Katherine might need a milk-free yogurt rather than one that might be causing her trouble.  So I ran a new supply of that yogurt by her house and offered to give her morning pills since there was no aide that morning.  By the time I had adjusted her and given her pills with juice and yogurt, I was breathing heavily enough she was noticing it as she had the day before and urging me to go home just as she did the day before.   I did not think she was as well as usual, but I was pleased an excellent aide would be there for the afternoon; and I knew if I made my appointment, I had to leave. Then the faithful and competent aide, who never misses and is always five minutes early, phoned that she was having to take another client to the hospital and might be late or not there at all.  (When I had time to call later that afternoon, I found out she had made it after all and had made sure the night aide would be there by seven.  However, she did not think Katherine was as well as usual.  And the next day Katherine was taken to her doctor and admitted to the hospital in Carbondale.)

With Gerald’s help, I made it to my appointment.  For the first time in our lives, he went in and met my long-time doctor and listened for me.  I was glad he was there because I was not thinking well and did realize that my doctor meant me to go directly from her office to the hospital for the CT scan.

All is well that ends well, I’ve heard, and all is essentially well here at the farm. Tests showed no heart damage.  The second CT scan (which was actually only over the lower half of my body although I did not realize it) was not to see if the clots were gone as I supposed, but rather to make sure I did not have the kind of cancer that could cause clots in the lungs.  The hospitalist, whom I liked very much, had already arranged for an oncologist to come if the tests showed cancer.  They did not. All this had taken place, and I had no knowledge or worry about it.  Isn’t that great?   The doctor was puzzled since there were no clots in my legs.  He asked, “Where did the clots come from?”  Blood tests sent off and already returned have so far given no answer, but I believe he said some were still out.  He did not want to expose me to an unnecessary CT scan since the thinner blood will eventually be at the right balance and the body will destroy the clots. 

Katherine was released from the hospital on Friday.  Her aide Katie, who lost her brother in a tragic accident so recently, is helping Katherine again.  Am I worried about her?  Terribly, but I cannot do much about it.  In fact I never could. Advanced multiple sclerosis progresses as it chooses weakening and destroying the body of the one it inhabits.   Do I believe in prayer?  Yes, and I am grateful that all over the nation people have and do pray for Katherine.  Long ago her friend in Nashville became angry when a prayer meeting she arranged did not stop the disease.  My cousin rode his motorcycle all the way from California to apply oil and pray for her recovery. I am grateful.  We allowed him to come if he promised not to get angry.  I really believed his prayers might bring about a remission or recovery.  Instead the disease continued to grow worse.   Many believing praying cancer victims die of their disease.  I did not even know I might have cancer causing the clots and uttered no prayer against cancer, and I got the wonderful news I was cancer free.  Life is not fair by human understanding. The writer of Hebrews tells us some get their promises fulfilled here on earth and some do not, but all are fulfilled.

That is where faith is helpful. Faith helps you to know when the answers you want are not given to you, perhaps there are reasons beyond human understanding.  Things that are seen are not the evidence of faith.  Rather faith is the evidence of things not seen.  So I believe and ask God to help my unbelief. 

Jesus taught us that pain is redemptive.  The two young girls hurt in same accident as the one that took Chris Williams’ life are recovering. The orange ribbons still deck the nearby church yard fence beside the highway. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) have prayed; and  just like the girls’ parents, the community is so grateful for the prayers and for the continued healing. Will something good come from the awful pain the wreck brought?  I believe so.

So right now I am home bound.  I am feeling pretty good, and I think the Vitamin B-12 shots given me are helping me with the fatigue I’ve had for a year or so.  Maybe being 80 is not the cause. That too is good news!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of your ailment, Sue. Prayers for Katherine and your family. Love, Tossie