Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday afternoon update

Mom's been quiet today. Dad and I got to the hospital at 6:25AM, but this turned out to be for naught, as the docs hadn't made their rounds in the non-intensive section. So we fed Mom her breakfast. She ate the whole meal.

Around 10, Dad left on some errands, and I was there to witness the parade of nurses and doctors who came in to give Mom her neuro-checks ("Squeeze my fingers! Where are you? What's your name?"), check her vitals, and try to insert another IV into her left forearm. The reason for not using the PICC line has something to do with the delivery system for the contrast dye that will be necessary for Mom's second MRI (which wasn't done last night). The dye apparently needs to be delivered via some sort of high-pressure mechanism, which may rule out the PICC line, because the PICC line feeds into the superior vena cava, directly above the heart. High-pressure delivery might damage something.

Historically speaking, finding veins on Mom's arms is literally hit-or-miss. I watched Mom get punctured six times, mostly just before and during her lunch hour: she was stuck twice on the fingers of her left hand for small blood samples, and four times in her left forearm as three different nurses tried to find viable veins into which to insert the new IV. Mom's agony was heartbreaking, and the nurses were all apologetic. I held Mom's hand as all this was happening.

In the end, the nurses gave up and decided to call in the IV team, i.e., the folks who install PICC lines using special equipment to help them find blood vessels. The IV team doesn't normally put in regular IVs; PICC lines are their specialty. The team hasn't arrived yet, but if they also prove unable to install an IV, some other method will have to be found to get the dye into Mom's system, as the nurses are refusing to allow further poking of Mom's arm. I asked one of the docs to check on whether there was any way at all to use the PICC line; he said he'd look into it.

The various docs came to talk about Mom's condition. I've been told that the MRI will be done sometime today. We'll see. I've also heard that Mom is to be discharged tomorrow, as her only major problem at this point is her aphasia, which may be a function of brain swelling caused by her recent surgery. Mom's rash is also going away; the switch from vancomycin to daptomycin seems to have helped. An InfuScience staffer came by to tell me about the new "dapto" bulbs that Mom will be using instead of the vanco. Mom won't have to dose twice a day, and each dose will last about 30 minutes (which really means 45 minutes to an hour, given our experience with Mom's vanco bulbs). The infectious disease doctor confirmed that Mom would remain on the dapto regimen for another six or so weeks.

The big news is that Mom's EEG shows no evidence of seizure activity. On the one hand, this is great news: Mom is seizure-free. On the other hand, this leaves us to wonder what, exactly, is causing the pronounced aphasia; as mentioned above, the current theory is brain swelling.

Mom was also visited by a physical therapist who helped her do some exercises in bed. Pastor Jeri and Theresa Lindow came by later on. Dad returned from his errands around 2:30PM, arriving at the same time as Sean, who can stay only until 4:30.

I was lucky this morning at breakfast: another WKWS connection, Patricia Weldon (am I spelling that correctly?), very kindly approached the cafeteria cash register and paid for my breakfast. Patricia is a nurse at the hospital; Dad said she's a case manager.

As was true yesterday, today seems to be a day in which both everything and nothing is happening. There have been many visits by nurses and doctors, but little substantive activity. We're all waiting for Mom to get properly fitted with an IV (or to hear that the MRI team will allow the dye to go through her PICC line), and for the second MRI to happen. Beyond that, we're awaiting the MRI's results. Keep those fingers crossed.

Sean left around 4:30PM; Dad and I will remain until 7:30, then will go home. Dad told me that the Doe family, another set of friends and fellow churchgoers, very kindly gave us a whole mess of barbecue and potato salad, so we'll be chowing down on that. It promises to be a welcome relief from the endless conveyor belt of hospital cafeteria food. The cafeteria's food isn't bad, but eating there day after day, two or three meals a day, becomes both expensive and monotonous. Getting home as late as we do, and waking up as early as we do, we haven't had time, this past week, to make meals to take to the hospital, so this comes as a relief. As has been true of Mom's Korean friends' food deliveries, we're thankful to the Does and to others for their kindness.

UPDATE: Infuriating news: there was apparently a communication snafu. According to Dad, the case manager called the MRI team and discovered that the PICC line was fine after all. On the one hand, I'm seeing red that no one checked this more thoroughly. On the other hand, I'm angry at myself for not having done anything to stop the nurses from inflicting all that purposeless pain on Mom.

UPDATE 2: Dad and I are home as of about 7:35PM. We left the hospital at 6:50PM, right as they were wheeling Mom out for the long-awaited MRI.

UPDATE 3: A quick correction: the Doe family gave us a lot more than BBQ beef and potato salad! Holy frijole, they gave us an entire picnic basket of food! Many thanks.


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