Time to Exhale: Hospital Update

Hospital-BedThank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you all for your words of encouragement, support, and compassion. It was super appreciated and really helped to cheer me up when things seemed a little touch and go, if you know what I mean.

Staying in a hospital for more than a few days is UNREAL.

You can’t help but be drawn into the complex interpersonal dramas on the floor  —  with staff AND the rest of the patients.

We have been here 24/7. My DIL and I took turns spending the night with my son so that he’d never be alone. We stayed in a hotel that was close to the hospital, a place to take showers and catch a few hours of sleep.

My son recovered from surgery on the trauma floor. Motorcycle crashes, auto accidents, thyroidectomies, as well as those injured performers from the circus. You prob saw it on TV, right? The human chandelier circus performers who fell forty feet in Providence, Rhode Island? They’re here, being treated for some really horrific injuries.

It was a total media frenzy scene that caused the hospital to go CRAZY. News vans were EVERYWHERE — Fox, CNN, all the big names plus local news.

And then there was the doozy of a roomie — you will NOT believe this is for real, but I swear it’s the truth.

A guy we’ve named “One Tooth Tommy” (for obvious reasons) was the victim of a horrific car crash. He was in the passenger seat, but the driver was running from the police — and ran smack into a telephone pole. The driver escaped unharmed, but his passenger ended up with two smashed legs, two smashed hips, a cracked pelvis, broken arm, broken ribs, and a rod in his back.

It became painfully obvious to us that Tommy’s own long standing personal relationship with drugs made it impossible for a normal amount of morphine to have any effect on his pain. He was only twenty-six years old yet he looked not a day younger than forty.

So…in addition to selling drugs from the hospital room, his girlfriend decided to take matters into her own hands and reduce the pain all by herself by giving him Xanax and probably a cocktail of other things — and almost ended him, too.

I walked by his bed and noticed that he appeared comatose, and not that I wasn’t grateful for the cessation of his swearing and screaming for more drugs, but his “self-medication” seemed to have potentially become PERMANENT, if you know what I mean.

I flew out of the room and flagged down his RN. She rushed in, attempted to rouse him and couldn’t, but she tried asking him all kinds of questions; “what’s your name”, “do you know where you are”…basic stuff that we all need to know, I guess. Right?

When her attempts failed, she flagged down a doctor who was able to rouse him and again attempted to ascertain any lucidity and level of compos mentis. He didn’t know his name or where he was, which caused another level of response to the situation.

The doc immediately shut-off all IV pain medication and he slowly started to become more alert; well, as alert at One Tooth Tommy probably ever is…if ya know where I’m going with THAT.

The nurse had a stern “chat” with the girlfriend about how it wasn’t a good idea to take matters into her own hands because it was unsafe for her boyfriend and it could have killed him.

We’re not sure how much she comprehended, as she had also medicated herself quite liberally, and was slurring her words and weaving up and down the hallway.

You would be absolutely correct if you figured that my son was removed from that room faster than the speed of light.

The room he moved to was shared with an ex-Marine who was a welcome and awesome change — a real gentleman as well as a hero. His reason for being in the hospital? He was stabbed several times in his back and liver because he tried to intervene and break up a fight at a restaurant. A real-life hero.

I’ve got a zillion bizarre stories like this; I should write a screenplay for sure.

But for now, I’m just happy that hell week is drawing to a close and we’ll be going home tomorrow. I can finally breathe. Yay! Pop the bubbly!

 

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That Dreaded Call at 3:00 A.M.

free_wallpaper_of_baby_a_cute_baby_holding_a_teddy_bearThey are always our babies, no matter their age, ya know?

Right now, things have calmed down a bit. Fingers crossed, we’ve avoided a crisis of nightmare proportions…

…Monday 3:00 a.m., the incessant ringing of my cell jolts me awake.

I can’t find the damn phone and it stops ringing only to start again.

This time I found it buried under a pile of clean laundry.

When I saw my daughter-in-law’s name on the screen, I almost didn’t want to answer it.

Nothing good comes from a phone call at 3:00 a.m.

Nothing.

And not this time, either.

With a bad connection and dropped words, trying to hear/not wanting to hear, she told me that my son, Angel Boy, was taken to an ER in Rhode Island because of excruciating stomach pains and vomiting.

“What?” That’s all I could say. She had to repeat herself a few times and talk slowly. I wasn’t comprehending.

The pain was worsening and his belly had become distended and was filling with fluid.

The first thing you think of is appendicitis or even a burst appendix, but the tests were inconclusive.

There were other diagnoses floating around but none of the tests pointed to a specific diagnosis: gastritis, diverticulitis, colitis…

The pain was overwhelming and not responsive to morphine.

There seemed to be no other alternative than to admit him and prepare for more invasive testing.

A surgical team was hastily thrown together as exploratory surgery seemed to be the only option.

We’re in California. I’s 3:00 a.m. What do we do?

My tugboat man and I were able to get a direct flight out first thing in the morning and we arrived at the hospital in time to discuss Angel Boy’s medical condition.

Whatever it was, was serious, and needed immediate intervention.

Or. Or I won’t say, but you get the picture. OR is NOT good.

Because his belly was continuing to distend as it filled with fluid and the pain was increasing, there seemed no alternative than a laparascopy with a camera.

The head surgeon speculated about what he might find: a possible bowel obstruction AND something with his appendix.

We gave him the go ahead to fix what he saw, no matter what he found.

We all kissed him goodbye as the first pre-op drugs entered his body and the surgery commenced at 8:00 p.m.

At 10:30 the surgeon came out with a smile.

Apparently, my son had a congenital defect we were never aware of — because up until then it had never caused a problem.

An abnormal sac or pouch that develops at a weak point in the intestines is known as a diverticulum. In some instances, people are born with a diverticulum in their intestines. This condition is called Meckel’s diverticulum.

Meckel’s diverticulum develops between the 5th and 7th weeks of fetal growth.

Because the condition is present at birth, it is classified as a congenital health issue. Although it generally remains silent, life threatening complications may arise.

And they did.

It was a perfect storm of a worst case scenario.

He had a massive bowel obstruction; intestines were strangulated and all knotted up. By the time the surgery started, two feet (24 inches!!!) of intestine had lost blood supply and died, all within a time span of twelve hours. The surgeon removed the necrotic part, did a resection, including eight inches of colon and removal of his appendix.

Without this life-saving surgery, there is no doubt that this Mother’s Day would not have been. It’s anticipated that he’ll have a rapid recovery — he’s already walking around around due in large part to his overall good health and fitness level.

Now, as soon as he’s released and we can fly him back to SoCal, my Mother’s Day will be spent caring for my Angel Boy and nursing him back to health.

His future is as bright as it ever was; this was just a brief course change in a life full of joy and adventure.

My tugboat man and Angel Boy have plans to surf the south swell in SoCal this summer and that’s the best Mother’s Day gift I could ever imagine.

P.S. The surgical team at Rhode Island Hospital were/are AMAZING. We lucked out with a guy who clearly enjoys what he does, who knew his way around this type of surgery, and explained it all to us with intelligence and humor.