Sunday, February 24, 2013

The day everything started to change, part 2

You may want to read part 1 first.

Today's update: Gery is having trouble maintaining his blood pressure and respiratory rate.  He has pulmonary embolisms and is on blood thinners, which carries a risk of more bleeding in his brain, but his lungs need to be functional to make his brain functional.  Gery is DEFINITELY more awake and aware, and he has the capacity to move his right side.  Yesterday, when I walked around to his right hand, it was laying on the pillow, clenched in a fist with only his middle finger extended.  He is unhappy, and while I don't want him unhappy, I am so glad to see that my stubborn fighter of a husband is there.  He calms down when I sit with him, and I'm just waiting to be allowed back in now - the nurses usually ask me to leave for shift change.

Saturday, January 26, 2013, continued

As the ambulance arrived, so did our friends who were picking Sarah up, so I took her over to their car with her car seat and coat, and wished my friends luck.  As it turned out, Sarah was totally happy and fine with them until my brothers got to the Children's Museum to be with them, and once they were there, she had a blast.

Gery, on the other hand, was agitated and frustrated and starting to become a little defiant to the paramedics.  Since he was conscious and capable of moving, they wanted him to stand up out of the car.  He seemed to think he was being pulled over, and kept saying, "I already gave it to you," and "I'm not getting out for any f***ing Australians."  I finally said to him, "You're not in trouble, they just need to see what's underneath you," and he stood up.  I've never seen two men move so quickly - they had Gery on the stretcher and restrained in seconds.  I know it was for his own protection, in case he had another seizure or were to become physically aggressive. 

The ambulance then sat there for about 15 minutes.  During that time, an emergency response truck from the ambulance service came, too, driven by my brother's boss.  My brother is an EMT in Erie, though he wasn't working that day.  My brother's boss explained that even though we were a few blocks from the hospital, they were giving Gery some Ativan and assessing his mental state.  Later I was told that he gave the correct latitude and longitude for Erie in response to the wrong question (he didn't answer "Do you know where you are?" with that).  He says he doesn't know the latitude and longitude for Erie. 

Finally, the ambulance moved and when I started following it, I thought the car was shaking really badly.  I was sure I needed a tire and an alignment.  The car turned out to be fine and I was the one shaking.  When I arrived at the hospital, of course, I couldn't just go in with Gery.  I had to do his registration paperwork and wait for him to be settled into a room.  My brother (the EMT) arrived at the hospital to be with me at about the same time my other two brothers were arriving at the Children's Museum to be with Sarah, and while I was waiting to be let in to Gery's room, I called his parents' house to let them know. 

At this point, I was certain that he had diabetes and had a seizure related to blood sugar.  He's a big guy, diabetes runs in his family, and he had been irritable and complaining of short term headaches that were intense and didn't respond to anything but went away in seconds to minutes.  Diabetes totally made sense.  But my first question to the ER doctor was, "What's his blood sugar?" and when she told me, it wasn't high or low enough to have caused a seizure.  I said that, and she said, "That's why he's going to CT next."  (This is a trend that has continued.  I am always a step or two ahead, mentally, than the doctors are telling me to be.  Gery's neurosurgeon laughs at me a little bit but humors me, and I appreciate it.)

After Gery's CT, the ER doctor came in and said that there was something "interesting" (a word I have come to hate) on the films and that neurosurgery and neurology would be in to talk to us, but he would be admitted to the hospital for the night and we would be "sent to Pittsburgh," which made me laugh and say, "I do want to go home, so that's good!"

Gery remembers none of this.  He remembers the odd smell and then he was in the regular room at the hospital.  Nothing of the ambulance or ER, and most of the hospital is fuzzy and vague for him. 

TO BE CONTINUED (again)... I get to go in with Gery now!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The day when everything started to change

I know I haven't blogged in a few years, but it's time to re-activate.  Life is dramatically different than it was even just a month ago, and certainly different than the last time I wrote.

My baby Llama is not a baby anymore - she'll be five years old in six weeks.  Her real name is Sarah.

My sweet husband, Bucket, is in ICU after surgery to resect a brain tumor and complications.  His real name is Gery.  And I'm going to tell the story here, because as much as I love texting (and I do love texting!) I am spending more time texting than time with him or with Sarah.  Time is the one thing I have never had enough of and now it's even more precious than ever before.

I'll start at the beginning, tell chunks of it as I have time, and update daily or close to daily.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gery and I took Sarah to gymnastics and got in the car (my new car - the first I'd ever bought for myself with financing) for a quick weekend trip to Erie.  The Thursday before, we'd decided to go up, visit the Children's Museum with friends, take my brothers to dinner, stay at a new hotel with a lake view, and I would go out to the bars for a few hours with my high school and college friends while Gery and Sarah swam around in the fancy hotel pool and bounced on the fancy hotel beds.  What can I say?  We're easily pleased.

We got close to Erie and stopped for lunch at McDonald's.  We bribed Sarah to finish her chicken nuggets with the promise of getting to play with her friend Claire-Bear at the Children's Museum in a few minutes.  Everything seemed okay, even in retrospect.

As we were getting off the Bayfront Highway onto State Street, I gave Sarah a piece of gum and offered Gery one.  He said, "No, that smells like... disgusting.  Like solvents and... garbage!" and put down the window to try and get the smell out of the car.  I thought he was being ridiculous.  Gum?  Seriously?  It's the same gum I always have in my purse.

I don't know why, but a few seconds later, I asked him if he felt okay.  If he wanted to pull over and let me drive.  He didn't answer me.  As we passed UPMC Hamot, I asked him if he needed to go to the emergency room.  He didn't answer me.  I didn't think his not answering was that strange, because Gery just does not answer questions that he thinks don't deserve answers.  He passed some parking spots right in front of the Children's Museum, and I got a little snippy and asked him why.  He didn't answer that.  He turned right and came to a red light and stopped.  We were the first car at the light.

The light didn't change.  Gery jammed on the gas, completely floored it, and I looked at him angrily, about to yell at him for screwing around.  He was having a seizure.  I grabbed the wheel as I realized we were rocketing through a busy (for downtown Erie) intersection against the light, against traffic, and toward pedestrians and buildings.  I don't recall saying anything, but when Sarah re-enacted it at school, she had the passenger saying, "You need to give me the wheel.  You are having a seizure.  You're okay.  You need to give me the wheel," very calmly over and over.  I was absolutely panicked.  I thought we were going to die, all three of us, in a terrible car accident in Erie.

I remembered, somehow, that Gery had told me several times that if I turned the key off, I would lose what little control I had of the car, so shift it in to neutral and try to steer.  That's what I did.  The engine was still racing because his foot was still jammed on the gas pedal, but it wasn't making the car go faster.  As the car slowed, I steered it into a pile of snow (thanks, Erie, for not plowing side streets!) and it stopped.  I put it in park as Gery stopped seizing.  But he didn't start breathing.  I got out of the car and went around to the driver's side to put the seat back and do CPR.  My car is too nice and has electric seats, so it took forever to get the seat to recline.  He started having a second seizure, and I thought, "Well, you can't seize if you're dead," and took Gery's phone out of his pocket to call 911.

I gave the dispatcher the wrong street.  Forgive me, I haven't lived in Erie for 10 years.  Gery stopped seizing and started puking yellow foam on himself.  I got off the phone with 911 and looked in to reassure Sarah that everything would be okay.  Gery started seizing again.  I heard the ambulance one block up and called back to 911 to report that I was one block north, but I could not remember the street names.  (I was on Fifth Street, so that shouldn't have been difficult for me).

In the middle of all this, my friends texted me to say they were running late and would be at the Children's Museum in a few minutes and I called back to say we would not make it at all.  They came and picked Sarah up, took her with them, and between them and my brothers, Sarah still had a sweet little vacation weekend.  She did not come to the hospital except to leave with us on Sunday morning, and she never came inside. 

When Gery stopped seizing for the third time, his eyes came to the front.  He looked at me and I said, "You had a seizure.  Don't even worry about it, you're going to be fine," and he took my hand and kissed it, then said a bunch of sounds that were not words.  He clearly thought he said something, though, so rather than upset him further, I said, "I know."  The ambulance arrived.

TO BE CONTINUED... Sarah's up and getting in the bathtub.