Disclaimer: I have to check my phone-notes to update details properly—there are some medical terms that I may or may not spell correctly.
Vernon’s Dr. Dan sent me a text yesterday…something to the effect of: “Vernon’s edema is back. Can you get me in contact with his most recent surgeon, as per his suggestion to give Vernon C-T scan for venous stenosis.” Now, I doubt many of you get to use that in a sentence as easily as I just did! Up for the challenge? Someone give this woman a crossword puzzle already!
Amazingly, I found the surgeon’s name: Dr. Peck. Thank goodness I never organized and put away those growing stacks of bills and hospital notes….it was right near the top! “You are so good,” said Dr. Dan, and I smiled at my deception. If he only knew how badly I usually keep track of these things…well, good thing he doesn’t! I can’t even remember why he is allergic to Heparin (which I get asked about every time he goes to the hospital.)
Anyway, when I got to dialysis this morning, the nurse told me that Vernon’s arterial pressure was too low and his (new) central veinous catheter was beginning to clot. They would have to hold off on dialyzing him until they got the OK from his Nephrologist to give him a dose of Activase. When they finally did, it was time for me to drive back and pick up Justine. I understand he lasted the session without me. Excellent news. I did notice he was back to his closed-eyed mutterings and flopping from one side to the other out of discomfort, so I sure am hoping that all of this is connected and will soon be solved.
In the meantime, I’d been updating Dr. Dan and discussing with him whether these things were all connected. He told me that he had already talked to Dr. Peck (the Surgeon) about the situation. Dr. Peck told him that he had put a balloon in one of the arteries near the port, which had allowed Vernon’s swelling to go down in his face and left arm and hand. But when the vein had re-shrunk, the edema came back. So he would indeed need a C-T scan to find out if there are trapped veins elsewhere. By the time I got home, there was a message from one of the social workers at Mesa: “Vernon has to get this scan done before a dialysis session, so what mornings are good for you?” I told her, and she said get back to me in an hour or so.
When she called back, she told me we had an appointment for November 2nd. “Next week? Nope, can’t do it. I’m out of town and the plans can’t change. I told you my days for THIS week. This is the only week I can do. I never expected you were talking about NEXT week…isn’t this serious?” It was true.
Happily, she called back to say they’ll have a spot for him first thing tomorrow morning and he’d do dialysis just afterward, depending on how quickly he comes out of sedation. I should have used my excuse much earlier, if it works that efficiently. Note to self….
Now, on the subject of visiting the hospital (Hoag Newport, again) I’ll announce Vernon’s other big plan for the week: he’s going in for another Videoflouroscopic Swallowing Study on Thursday afternoon. Beyond the satisfaction of collecting a rare crossword-puzzle clue, its good to think that people will be praying for the best outcome for Vernon’s progress. If this study has positive results, Vernon might be able to receive some more Speech Therapy, which will help him with his swallowing skills and move him toward drinking and eating. When he is eventually off the feeding tube, he would be more eligible for discharge from the care home. (I’m not rushing the discharge, by the way: I am well aware of my deficiencies in nursing care…though I am slowly learning.) My least hope is that I’ll be able to legally feed him water without the fear that I’m slowly killing him.
So it looks like a lot of hospital time this week. I think back to another recent “hospital week,” and I recognize that I’m dealing with these things much better this round. Guess we toughen up. I have some theories on that that have nothing to do with “being tough.” These weeks have been a different kind of hard than before. When I figure how to sum that up, I’ll let you know. Rest assured, I am working on it.
On a gratitude note: I didn’t end up fighting with Justine this morning over what she was going to wear. It took a long time, but we worked through it without either of us losing our temper. I was exhausted by 9:30, but this alone was enough to give me a good day. Also, Maki has been playing Radiohead on repeat. These are some things make me blessed among women.