Sunday, May 01, 2011

I'm Back.

I 'm back. It has been a while since I last posted to my blog. I had some more health problems and took a break from blogging. My last two posts (Hospital, A Shocking Visit to the ER) were about my heart problems, and since then the health problems continued.

Last November 23rd, after days of feeling ill and having persistent high fevers, my doctor suggested I go to the emergency room. I am never thrilled to go to the hospital, but I knew that this was necessary. This had been going on too long and it needed to be taken care of.

I decided to go to UCSD/Thornton Hospital in La Jolla. Usually I go to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, which is the nearest hospital. But since I had been at the ER in Thornton Hospital earlier in the month for my heart troubles, I thought it would be good to go there.

My nurse, Ernie, drove me down to the ER. At the ER, they did blood work, which usually requires quite a few needle pokes to get blood from me, took a chest x-ray, and started an IV. The x-ray showed pneumonia in my left lung. They started me on a series of strong antibiotics.

But, the pneumonia was just part of my troubles. While in the ER my heart started to act up. I had rapid heart rate and atrial-fibrillation. A few times it converted to a normal rhythm by itself, but a few times they had to use a drug through the IV to convert the heart. They managed to get it under control for a while.

After hours of waiting, I was finally moved to a room in the ICU. I was transferred from the gurney to the much more comfortable hospital bed. The gurneys in hospitals are like concrete slabs. I wonder what sadist invented them. When the respiratory therapist suctioned my trach, my heart started acting up again, and it did it again when the nurses turned me. Through the evening I kept having heart problems. The next two evenings were no different. Finally, after trial and error they found the right heart medication, Fleccanide. and for the rest of my hospital stay, my heart stayed in a normal rhythm. It was a relief to go days without my heart acting up. Now, my only concern was beating the pneumonia. As a person with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy I understand how serious pneumonia can be if it is not under control. It has the potential to be deadly for people like me. In addition, they found fluid around my heart. The only treatment was to let it go away by itself.

Lucky for me, my hospital stay was only five days. Unfortunately I was there for Thanksgiving. It was strange not being home to celebrate with my family. This was the first time I had ever missed a holiday at home. I was feeling down that day. As I was lying in bed, bored and in need of cheer, a women brought a therapy dog into my room. The dog was a friendly golden retriever. The dog jumped up on a chair next to my bed and proceeded to lick my arm. It was like she was telling me that everything would be all right. That simple act made my day and lifted my spirits.

The next evening, my brother Bill surprised me by flying down from San Francisco and showing up at the hospital. That was a nice surprise.

During my stay at hospital , my mom, dad, brother, and sister took turns during the day being with me, and Ernie was there overnight. It is always nice to have someone there because the nurses are busy and can't always be there. Also, I am unable to push the buzzer if I need assistance. The nurses are very appreciative of the extra hands. I found the staff at Thornton Hospital to be pleasant and most had a great bed side manner.

On Monday, November 28, I was discharged. They sent me home on antibiotics. They thought the pneumonia was under control. I went home with the hope that they were correct. But, the fevers continued to plague me. One morning, while Ernie was trach suctioning me, he had trouble clearing the trach, and I was having trouble breathing. Since the ventilator wasn't giving me sufficient breaths, Ernie had to use the ambu bag to force breaths into my lungs. He had my mom call 911. The paramedics arrived and drove me to the ER at Thornton Hospital. They had to bag me the whole way. At the ER they took blood work, chest x-rays and started an IV. They diagnosed pneumonia and started me on IV antibiotics. I would have to be admitted. They had no room at Thornton, so they were going to send me to UCSD Medical Center which is farther away. Instead of going farther south, I decided to be transferred to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, which is much closer to home. Scripps is a very good hospital and I have been there many times over the years. I was taken by ambulance up to Scripps Hospital. Once I arrived I had to do more waiting for a room to be made ready for me. After waiting hours there, I was finally taken to a room in the ICU. It's always a relief to get off the gurney.

The last time I was here was in 2006. It was a like a reunion, since many of the same nurses and respiratory therapists that treated me back then were there. I received very good care while I was there, as I did the other times I was there in the past.

I was in the hospital for five days. As usual, my mom. dad, and sister took turns spending time with me during the day, and Ernie stayed the nights. They treated me with IV antibiotics and had to wait and see. I responded well and it seemed like the pneumonia was again under control. On December 23, I was discharged and sent home on antibiotics. It was an early Christmas gift to be home in time to celebrate Christmas with my family.

It seemed like the pneumonia was gone. But, after I had finished ten days of the antibiotics, the fevers returned. I went back to spend two more days in Scripps Hospital and received more antibiotics. They sent me home without antibiotics. At the end of January the fevers returned. I saw the doctor, and he put me on antibiotics for ten days. This last regimen got rid of the last traces of infection and I have been in great health since.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow John I am so glad you have made it through all of that. I can't wait for Thorton to open it's bigger ICU. -Molly

Alan said...

John, thanks for the post. We have been following your struggles over these last 6 months and keeping you and your family in our hearts and prayers. It is very encouraging to see you posting again. We all admire your spirit. The Watson Family

scribbledwords said...

Glad you made it through. I look forward to hearing about your recovery process. You obviously have a strong spirit!