A Coffee Chat: Home, Home is Best
Hello....It's been quite a while, I know. I just got home this evening and I'm a little overwhelmed with life at the moment, but I want more than any other thing to be back in a normal life routine. For a Saturday evening, that means just what I'm doing right now: watching Presley's Country Theatre, and typing a post. Normally it would be a menu post. I do need to do that, too, but mostly I want to chat.
John has done admirably well keeping the place nice. I came home to a newly mown lawn, a few clean dishes on the baking counter that he didn't know what to do with, little stacks of clean laundry. Truthfully supper was just beyond me this evening when we came in, but we stopped at Subway and picked up a sandwich. I hadn't had an afternoon cup of coffee in over a week. It was lovely.
I don't think this shall be a long chat but I wanted to let you all know how very very much I appreciate your well wishes, your concern and most of all your prayers. I desperately needed those prayers!
And because I know you're curious, and because I think perhaps maybe by sharing I might save someone else the grief of going through what I have, I want to tell what I've been through. It sounds like less typed out than it was, to be honest.
Monday two weeks ago, I was straightening the bathroom when I had a little spell of breathlessness. I started to cry, though it wasn't impossible to breathe, but I put it down to a slight panic attack and went on about my business. The little bouts of breathlessness came and went throughout the day, enough to make me just sit down and be still.
Tuesday I would have told you I felt better. John and I went out for a delayed anniversary meal. I confessed to him how very frightened I'd been the day before but told him I'd no idea why I was frightened. We stopped at the grocery to pick up a few items and the cashier pointed out that I'd gotten three boxes of soda and the fourth was free. I walked perhaps 20 feet away from the register, if that far, picked up a box of soda and was hit by another breathless episode. It was enough at this point to upset John but I stubbornly refused to go to hospital as he suggested. I put it down to panic attack, again...after all Katie's baby was imminently due and I'd been a little anxious over all the girls as their due dates and labor ensued. And Katie was, at that moment, in labor and delivery being induced.
Wednesday we drove up to Athens. I handled walking well, everywhere except in the underground parking garage. I had developed a very short brief cough as well. I saw the lovely girl and her lovely baby and cooed with grandmama and aunts over her. John and I headed home. I felt tired and not quite myself, but better overall.
Thursday morning, I still felt tired, more tired than our trip warranted. I made breakfast, and put off clearing up for a long time. In fact, it was after noon and the dishes were in the sink. I reluctantly dragged myself off to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher. I turned to look at the clock and noted it was 12:20 and I thought I ought to see to lunch very shortly. John came into the kitchen and was questioning if I'd ever before felt the way I had the past few days. I started to answer him and coughed, more deeply than I had at any point that week but not a hard cough by any means. I felt a wave of dizziness hit and then it was a full blown tsunami. I said "John..." and he caught me as I passed out. I came to gasping for breath. When John dialed 911, I didn't even begin to object.
When the EMS showed up they got me loaded up and first off tested my blood sugar. It was 473. Until that moment, I never knew I was experiencing diabetes II at all. I had had NO symptoms. But that was just the beginning. At the hospital, I passed out again. The doctor on duty demanded I go right away to have a CT scan and when I was in the ER once more, he came in and stopped the nurse giving me medication. He told her to get on the phone to a tranport service and send me straight to the cath lab in Macon, with direct orders to NOT 'stand on the wall'. That is a term for when EMS and patients are not given a room/treatment immediately. He repeated those same orders to the EMS when they arrived and assured them he'd back his orders to them if anyone even tried to make them wait.
The doctor then told John I had 'huge' blood clots in my lungs. John, being a paramedic, is familiar with pulmonary embolism and how dangerous it is. It happens that I was aware of how serious things were at that point but too sick to care and I mean that sincerely. I remember little of the lights and siren ride to the big regional hospital. I remember at some point feeling sick and saying so as the EMS moved me rapidly down the hallway at the hospital. There's a thing among EMS that they don't run. That is to instill calm in everyone. These guys were walking mighty fast that afternoon and that made me aware again of the seriousness of what I was dealing with. Someone in one of the labs in that area snatched open a door and thrust a handful of washcloths and a cup in my hands and told me I'd be all right. I soon had four doctors peering down at me and nurses who never left my side. My husband tearfully asked if I was going to make it...The doctors looked at him very soberly and said "She's here...and that's the best news today." I was sobered by their remark that they saw perhaps 6 or 8 a month...In a hospital of that size which is HUGE, that is nothing. It's like a .1000 percent of the surgery base probably, just a tiny amount.
I turned to John and managed to say, "Call Katie. Tell her to get on my Facebook account and post for all my prayer warriors to get busy." John said "She can't..." "Yes, she can. She'll use her phone right there in the hospital and it will be online in seconds." I didn't know until later that John had called all the other children except her, not wanting to upset her while she herself was recovering from surgery. John called her and told her what was happening and what I'd said. I heard a calm maturity in her voice as she responded to him, that I'd never heard before. It's quite a lot to have a baby one day and be told your mother might die the next. All of my children behaved admirably, but I was so especially proud of Katie at that moment. She, of all my children, understood the power of prayer and how very necessary it is to send them up to beat on the doors of heaven and ask for help.
I won't bore you with laborious details. I spent 3 days in CVICU and then was transferred to the main cardiovascular unit for follow up care, which is where I was until this afternoon. There's a ratio of blood thinner to ability to reverse it quickly should an emergency arise that has to be reached. I was responding fairly well but at one point my 'points' dropped instead of rising. I sent out an especial prayer request Thursday at noon and by 9pm I was at therapeutic levels, a far cry from where I'd been at noon. A friend had come by to visit and after the nurse walked out of the room we sobbed over God's great goodness in hearing prayers.
No one knows why I had blood clots. The doctors have settled on the trip to St. Augustine and back and one or two even suggested the trip to Athens, but I discount that one hard, since I was having symptoms before we ever went up to see Katie and Taylor. I am not convinced it was the trip to St. Augustine either but it's a good enough starting point I suppose. I never experienced any of the prior pain they asked me about and Doppler study didn't show any evidence of previous clotting in my legs either.
I will be on a blood thinner for the next 9-12 months, managed by weekly blood tests and increasing/decreasing the blood thinner medication.
As for the diabetes, blood tests show that my AVERAGE daily blood sugar was in the 250 range for over 3 months. I never experienced any of the symptoms we read constantly to watch for. At one point I questioned myself if I was just in such a state of denial that I refused to see it, but the truth is that the basic guidelines simply didn't present. I did speak to a woman during one of my tests who said her husband had the same exact 'unexpected' diagnosis. One of his co-workers who was being treated for diabetes, jokingly asked to test his blood sugar and he had a level similar to my own on the day of my emergency. They have now noted that when his sugars are high, his voice gets a little raspy. That's it, that's his symptom. I'm not sure what mine is.
I am medication sensitive and I'm leery of taking medicines overall because they don't always do what they ought. With the blood thinner and with the diabetic medication I asked to be started on the very oldest of drugs whose track record at this point has been proven with both normal and sensitive patients. It's still been a little tricky.
The diet at the hospital was sorely lacking in fresh salad and fruits although they were balanced meals of carb/protein and quite good. With that and medication I've had normal sugar levels, but one of the initial medications I was given lowered my blood sugar two nights running. The second night I had an initial high test at bedtime and when the nurse came an hour later to give me a shot of insulin I put up an argument. I demanded she do another finger stick on me to check my level and thank God! My sugars had fallen below 60. 70 is considered too low and has protocols for increasing sugars to normal levels again. I had NO hypoglycemic symptoms at all that night. The nurse was not in any error...she was simply following their protocol and I can't tell you yet, what made me put up such an argument with her. God watching over me is my best guess.
Eventually that med was discarded but my insurance will not allow me to have the medicine that replaced it at this time, so I am back on the not best med at present. My hospital doctor agreed only after I assured him I'd be taking it mornings and not at night and would be closely monitoring through more frequent finger sticks. As soon as I can get a doctor of my own (yes, I'd failed to do that too! but it will change immediately when Monday arrives), I will try to get another medicine pre-approved through their office and we'll go from there.
I also had pre-hypertensive blood pressure readings through out the week. Everyone is agreed stress alone could easily increase my normally perfect blood pressure but I was given a small dosage blood pressure med for now. That was hard for me to accept but John and the nurse gave me all the benefits and both assured me I was doing my body a favor at this time..I still felt a bit of a train wreck.
Until Thursday, May 28, I would tell you and anyone who asked, that I was healthy. Although I knew the diabetic guidelines, I did not have any symptom whatsoever. I had made dietary changes which the registered dietitian with the diabetes staff at the hospital said were good changes. What I do need to work on is balance in meals (less fat, consistent carb counts at every meal, regular meal times, and portion control). There will be no more skipping supper as I have in the past or forgetting to eat lunch.
Of all the parts of my current health situation I must deal with, diabetes does seem the most manageable at the moment. I was told that I am a good candidate for management with diet and exercise if I will follow guidelines now. I mean to do just that.
For all the trauma/drama there were many good things throughout the week. The staff at the hospital in every unit, from every department that touched me were so awesome. They were to a person kind, concerned, willing to stop and listen, helpful and reassuring. I've worked in a hospital and know how much more it takes for a hospital as large as that one to create such an atmosphere of care.
My children have been very involved in their own lives at present, as they ought to be but they all offered to drop everything immediately to rush to my side. My girls called in every prayer warrior they knew all throughout the ordeal. I was so grateful for that.
The number of people who reached out was humbling. So many of you, whom I've never met in person and likely never will responded here and on Facebook with your prayers and concerns. You all often tell me how helpful some little something I wrote was for you, but I can't even begin to impart to you how very much your prayers and concern meant to me. It was so helpful, too, in those moments when fear threatened to take my breath away.
My husband did go to work on his regular days and it was because I insisted. He was at hospital by my side most of every day he was off but he needed those days at work to have a sense of normal, something that I was grasping hard for and failing at finding. One of us needed to be connected to the world outside those hospital walls.
I don't know if I'm going to feel better right away or if it's going to be a process. I don't know what I'm going to feel like doing and what I won't. I do know that my medical care at present will be priority, so appointments and doctor visits and lab visits are going to become part of my normal for at least the next year. I might slow down posts a little or a lot. I just don't know at present. I have to find my new routine and make it all work.
Home never looked so good as it did today when we drove up the drive...When I came indoors I wept. I had been half afraid to believe I'd ever see the place again. Well I have. Now I'm ready to face whatever else life has to bring.