Well, here we are again. 2014 was supposed to be a BETTER year; but, so far, I am unimpressed.
Dave’s recovery has been slow. It is entirely possible that we brought him home too soon. The first several days were tough, indeed. There is a lot to be said for nurses, interns and caregivers in general. There is an intimacy to taking care of someone when they are sick and hurting. Inhibitions are forgotten, and privacy has gone out the window. When you have been married for as long as Dave and I have, one would imagine that there is not much that we haven’t shared. One would be surprised to know that isn’t the case. Dave is an incredibly private person. His hygiene habits are impeccable and they are something we both take care of out of respect for each other.
We had several late nights when Dave first came home. There were things that he couldn’t do for himself, and it pained him to ask for help. It’s funny. I can’t stand watching the blood and guts movies that people watch, and just talking about cuts, or stitches makes my stomach roll. When I’m in the moment, though, and something needs to be done, I can change dressings, empty drain ports, clean up wounds…anything that needs to be done.. It’s afterwards that I fall apart and cry in the shower.
They gave Dave oxycodone, for pain, after leaving the hospital. For a man who BARELY takes aspirin, and will only use one kind of cold medicine, regardless of the indications or symptoms, this was like giving your neighbor’s kid acid. Poor Dave. He started hallucinating. If he tried to sleep, he’d have horrible, grotesque nightmares. By the time we got to the surgeon’s office that Monday before Christmas, Dave said the floor looked like bubbling tar, with alphabet noodles floating in it.
There had been so many things that Dave just couldn’t do for himself during those first couple of days that the hallucinations and physical discomfort were wearing us both down quickly. Dave begged first the resident who came in, and then the surgeon, to please, please change his medications, and I nodded vigorously. The resident said, “You know, people pay a LOT of money to get their hands on that stuff.” Good for them, jerk. Give us something else…something less trippy!
After Dave got his drain ports out, ten days after surgery, we thought that he would start recovering…slowly at first, and then there would come a time when he’d turn a corner and recovery would speed up exponentially. It did start out that way; but, soon, we were three weeks out from surgery, four weeks out…the corner was still a long way off. Dave was getting way too tired with even the least bit of activity. He started getting chills and his heart would race, even when he’d been napping. He’d also developed a weird cough.
Dave had talked to a nurse from our insurance company about a week after he got home. She had reassured him that some of the stuff he’d felt initially was normal. He hadn’t talked to her again, and wasn’t interested in calling. I began pushing to get him to at least consider an appointment with our family doctor, and had convinced him this past weekend to let me call and get an appointment.
On Sunday, we went to watch the Broncos game with my parents. Dave was exhausted from the short trip we’d made to the grocery store the day before. By the time the game was over, Dave started getting chills, and his temperature was climbing. When we got home, he stretched out on the couch and took a nap. He woke up again just as I was getting ready to go to bed. His temperature was 102. That did it. I insisted we go to the ER. I was worried he was developing pneumonia.
The hospital across the way from us has a busy emergency room, and Sunday night at 11:00 was no different. It took hours for them to get blood taken, scans done, or a doctor to come in. They determined that Dave probably had an abscess, and that they needed to send him back to Good Sam to be treated by his liver specialist. It took until 6:00 Monday morning to get a bed, and get him into an ambulance. I followed behind, only getting separated when the ambulance jumped into the carpool lane.
At Good Sam, more tests were done, and we saw three different doctors over the course of eight hours. At about 3:00, in the midst of a flurry of activity for Dave’s roommate, a team showed up with a gurney to take Dave down to put in drains. Dave flipped out, I flipped out, we were both sobbing, sloppy wrecks. I made it abundantly clear that Dave wasn’t going anywhere until we spoke to a doctor. I was perilously close to pulling a Shirley MacLaine, “GIVE. MY. HUSBAND. A. SHOT!!!!” Dave was adamant that whatever they did, he be sedated. I needed to know WHAT they were going to do. The idea of drain ports had made Dave nearly inconsolable. The poor intern who’d come in with the transport team and had said the word, “drain,” looked panicked. I’m sure she hadn’t expected that sort of reception.she paged the doctor, and we got to ask several questions. I had to apologize to her later. She was quite graceful about it.
We calmed down, they took Dave downstairs, and put him under. They inserted a small, different type of drain, and cleaned out the area that was infected. An hour and a half later, Dave was still flying, with pupils like marbles. He was babbling to the girls that brought him back up, and said, “Tell everybody downstairs I had fun!”
As soon as he was settled, I took off for home. I fell into bed by 7:30, and was dead to the world until my alarm this morning.
Dave was still running a fever throughout the day today. I would imagine he’ll be there until at least Thursday, maybe Friday.
His mood is fragile. He’s very disappointed, and I think that the seriousness of all of this has finally hit him. This is a set-back, in his mind. Combined with finally being vulnerable to all of the emotions of this past year, it has hit him hard.
With all of this, my mother had a close call a couple of weeks ago, too. She’d been feeling off for about six months. She finally got some new blood work done right before Christmas. We’d attributed the low energy levels and general malaise to depression. Her doctor discovered abnormalities in her blood. What’s more, her kidneys were shutting down and she was in Stage 4 kidney failure! She was immediately hospitalized and it took a couple of days to figure out what was going on. Turned out that she was experiencing side effects from her blood pressure medication.
The good news is that they’ve figured it out and I don’t have to see if I’m a donor match. The bad news is that it takes a while to recover.
I’ve decided that 2014 is one hell of a hangover from 2013. I couldn’t wait to get into the new year and onto to happier healthy friends and family. Now, I just want to get out of this stupid month.