Thursday, February 25, 2010

What Does It All Mean?

Why did I escape death and severe disability so many times in this health episode?
For what purpose?

"Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers that cannot be given you, because you would not be able to live with them, and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."
Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanks Giving for a Series of Miracles

This is all from Linda!


Thanks Giving for a Series of Miracles

For all your kind thoughts and prayers, thank you. They worked!

I don’t have memory of what happened at the early and middle stages of the aneurism, brain surgery, and recovery, so I’ve been learning from this blog created and kept by my family. Here are some of the things I know about and am thankful for, at this time approaching Thanksgiving. It seems like I’ve been through not just one, but a series of miracles. Warning: this is long – there were a lot of miracles!

I am thankful:

* That I am still alive in the world to serve and see what happens next

* That after the stroke, my brain and mind work well, that I am not paralyzed on one side of my body, that I can speak normally.

* That the aneurism (with no previous warning signs) “just happened” to occur at work and that my office mate “just happened” to promptly find me unconscious on the floor, with difficulty breathing. If the burst aneurism had happened at home, I probably wouldn’t be around to write this.

* That co-workers promptly called 911 and checked on me. It “just happened” that the ambulance responded quickly and the hospital was nearby. I was difficult to intubate, which can happen with people with severe obstructive sleep apnea. My kids were told that I was without oxygen for 12 minutes. Since people can go only 3 to 5 minutes without oxygen without brain damage, either the 12 minute estimate was wrong, or there really was another miracle regarding my brain.

* That a tracheotomy done in emergency at the hospital allowed me to breathe.

* The saying goes “it isn’t brain surgery” –but wait, it is in this case. It “just happened” that Dr. Alexander Mason became my neurosurgeon. He was with the Cleveland Clinic and later as part of a fellowship did 200 aneurysm surgeries in one year. I’ve heard that some surgeons don’t want to do aneurysms because the fatality rate is so high, and those who survive surgery are “never the same.” He spoke frankly with my children, who were responsible for deciding whether to agree to surgery. (I had filled out legal papers previously.)

* I showed no movement on my left side and the prospects for recovery from future surgery didn’t look promising. When my kids returned to the hospital and asked how I was doing, the staff said “she’s writing!” Because of the trach, I couldn’t speak. Apparently I was in and out of consciousness and “just happened” to respond to questions by writing answers. That was enough for my kids to make the decision to agree to surgery.

* Throughout, my sons and daughters-in-law made wise decisions, ran interference with the hospital and my treatments, and were loving and supportive, visiting frequently.

* The surgeon and his team clipped the burst aneurism, and “just happened” to treat another one in even a more difficult place, that looked like it would burst in the future. I’m so glad for Dr. Mason’s skill.

* There is a risk of potentially deadly vasospasms particularly for 21 days after surgery, but I “just happened” to avoid one. ICU went well. I’m glad I don’t remember being on a ventilator. I was sedated for weeks. When I finally woke up and stayed awake, I found tubes everywhere, which were eventually removed as I became more functional.

* Almost all hospital staff who interacted with me said “you look great.” Good thing I didn’t see my swollen state after surgery! A couple of healthcare professionals called me a miracle. As the ICU aide wheeled me to rehab, he said excitedly ”we don’t send many people directly to rehab!”. Eventually I was able to speak with the trach, and eventually the trach apparatus was removed and the throat opening healed. Eventually my voice became more like its former self.

* After 6 weeks, I was finally able to leave the hospital. I was home for a weekend but awoke on Monday morning with a swollen, sore leg. It “just happened” that I had an appointment with my family doctor that day. She promptly sent me to Imaging for an ultrasound, and I was promptly admitted to hospital Emergency and then the hospital for several large, potentially deadly blood clots. She said a couple of times that she was so glad I saw her that day. Me too. See what I mean about a series of miracles?

* I completed at-home visits from a home healthcare service providing nursing and more physical and speech therapy assistance. Follow-up visits with the neurosurgeon, pulmonologist, cardiologist, and family doctor were scheduled. I graduated from a walker to a cane to good balance. I’m daily regaining muscle strength after being confined to a bed for six weeks.

* The hospital bill alone is almost $300,000, not counting doctors, radiology, labs, and the ambulance. Just one CT head scan is $4,000 and I had several, with one more scheduled soon. I’m grateful for healthcare insurance from work and Medicare.

* Your caring and love, cards and flowers, brightened the experience and still are very encouraging and treasured.

Thank you, God! Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just a quick update!

Linda was released from the hospital for the second time on Wednesday and is home and doing well now!

Davin was up there yesterday doing some minor errands and he says she's been able to stop the shots she was receiving to break up the blood clot in her leg, and is able to take oral medication instead. What a relief!

Also, he said that she's getting around better inside her home, and needs the walker less than she did even at the beginning of the week. Every day is a little better, which is especially amazing considering that some people with her level of complications at the beginning might still not even be conscious yet. It seems like it's been a long time, but it's just over six weeks since her stroke. We are definitely counting our blessings!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Linda Back in Hospital

Dear Faithful Readers,

Linda was discharged from the Boulder Community Hospital rehab center on Friday, Oct. 23. The transition home was fairly exhausting for her though she did sleep some 14-16 hours within the first 24 hours of her return. This was very relieving to her since she had experienced significant difficulties getting sleep in the hospital. Saturday was spent mostly resting though she did have a visit from one of the home care nurses who walked through some minimal physical tests and paperwork. Supposedly, Linda is to have fairly regular visits from a nurse with this service to monitor her progress along with several therapists who will visit each week, several times a week for occupational, speech, and physical therapy. On Sunday she was able to get up more often and was able to get a few things for herself, take her medication, and be generally more ambulatory. She was still fairly easily fatigued as it is definitely a different story to function at home vs. the hospital. It's definitely going to be a process of healing though she is definitely remaining strong, positive, and trying to become more and more active. However ....


On Monday, we took Linda for a routine follow-up with her family doctor. Her doctor identified what she believed to be a blood clot in Linda's leg. We immediately went down to imaging for an ultrasound and the results proved that she indeed had a large cluster of blood clots. Then, on the advice and instruction of her doctor, Linda was admitted to the hospital via Emergency so that she could receive treatment for the blood clot. Originally, she was only to be there for about 24 hours, but we received news this afternoon that the doctors are worried about her blood sugar levels and want to continue monitoring her reaction to the blood thinner. So, please, prayers that she makes it over this hiccup in her recovery process. We will keep you posted when more information becomes available.

PS>Brian and I are still here at Linda's so if you need to get her a message, you can call her home and we will relay. She has really appreciated all the cards and well wishes!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's the Day!

Barring any more delays, Linda should be home today! We are so grateful for the prayers and well-wishes. It has been an amazing journey so far, and we have all been blessed by all of you.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Linda's coming home!

This is the news everyone, including Linda, has been waiting for: she's coming home! Linda will be home this Thursday - that's right, in two days. She will be able to do most of what she needs by herself since her recovery has gone so well. There will be some tasks Alicia and I will help with at first, but Linda has already handled this healing process so well. She will still be working with a therapist for the foreseeable future and her physical mobility is still a work in progress. But, she seems to have not let everything that has happened slow her down any more than it had to. And, she's been motivated and active in doing therapy, along with having enough patience to give herself the time she needs to heal. I'm so proud of her for handling it all so well! And I'm just excited for her to be back home. She so deserves it. See you soon, Linda!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hello, Linda!

We had a very special reader today, as Linda was able to log in from the hospital and catch up on her back story. Hey there, Linda!

Hopefully she'll be able to log on soon and put in some updates of her own :-)

Until then, she wanted me to let you all know that she is getting some practice in with using her cane instead of a walker, so she can be done with that soon. They're having her work on going up and down stairs and try to use her CPAP machine at night, all in the hopes of (drum roll please) sending her *HOME* late next week. Can you believe that?

There is still a lot to be done before she can come home, but she's making great strides in rehab. She's walking much better than she was on Sunday when I saw her, and I was surprised then by her ability. Things are changing fast!

Also, we brought Scruffles up for a visit for the first time, and they were quite happy to see each other. We're praying that it won't be long until they're back together full time.