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» Friday, July 15, 2016We Live in Interesting Times
Well, this won't be a long entry, but it will be a frustrating one.
You remember James' backache? Monday morning it was gone, and he went off to work while I stayed home and teleworked while the new air conditioner was installed. I kept Tucker back in the dining room and Snowy next to me, and, except for Snowy walling his eyes as the big framework of the old A/C and the big framework of the new A/C exchanged places, the process was painless. I had the thermostat on 68 until the technicians came and even though the install wasn't done until two, the temp in the house was only 75. The tech complimented me on the house insulation!
James got home at 5:30 to find the house quietly cool. He went into the bedroom to change and I warmed up the chicken and dumplings from Sprouts. I was just serving it to him, sitting in his recliner, when he looked up at me with a peculiar expression. "My chest is tight again," he said. Oh, no, not the pneumonia again. And then he added, "And my upper arms hurt."
Excuse my language, but...oh, fuck. Ten minutes of Twilight hurtling through the streets brought us to the emergency room at Wellstar.
I'm not going to give a play-by-play. This time James' heart was indeed the culprit and we did not spend the entire night in the waiting room after the EKG results came up. (Even I could tell his heartbeat was irregular by looking at the strip.) We were in the back by early evening, where they told us James had an infection and they IV'd him with two bags of antibiotic) and James got transported to Northside Hospital about 4 a.m., at which time I stumbled home, took Tucker out, and then got the three of us to bed and showed up back at Northside around 10 a.m. James was already in a bed in the cardiac unit.
The usual procedure when this happens is for the heart patient to have a catherization when he/she arrives. James couldn't have one because his kidneys were on the blink. He had an irregular kidney result the last time he had bloodwork done, and now he had a creatitine (sp?) score of 5 when it's usually a 1. The "muscle strain" diagnosed at Kaiser on Friday was probably a warning message from his kidneys. The swelling in his legs which I first ascribed to the kidney infection, was a sign of fluid building up from the problem in his heart and the kidneys have been racing to keep up.
So before they can do the cath the fluid has to be flushed out and his kidneys back to close to normal because the dye used in the cath procedure can mess with the kidneys. He was on IV saline solution until yesterday and now is taking something called Lasix which is a super diuretic. He's terribly frustrated and depressed because we can't go home at least until Tuesday (that's the least; we still don't know). I stay here all night, then go to the house in the morning, wake up the critters, take Tucker for his walk, eat breakfast (it's too expensive to eat every meal in the cafeteria), spend time talking to Snowy and putting the TV on for him, do little things like wash a small load of clothes at a time, then grab some lunch and come back. We have some friends watching the house, so I stay until the traffic dies down, then go back home, walk Tucker again, take a shower and change undies, sit around and talk to Tucker and Snowy and try to play with Tucker (but he is undone and mainly wants to be cuddled instead), and then finally drive back to the hospital. Brand new A/C and we can't even enjoy it.
Bid problem is that James really hasn't had a good night's sleep since Sunday night. Last night he had galloping insomnia and I did everything I could--talked about boring stuff, you know, like baseball, golf, the Property Brothers, shoe stores, and the FAR. I even tried reading the FAR to him (now that will put you out like a light). The only thing I didn't try was Vogon poetry... He says he slept maybe an hour. I fell asleep I guess about four and woke at 7:30 when the thundering hordes came through. How you are expected to rest and get well in a hospital I don't know. I remember my surgery in 1974 and the soft-footed nurses in white dresses and caps who quietly took your pulse and changed your meds if you needed and the lights stayed down at night and by the time visiting hours were over at St. Joseph's or Our Lady of Fatima you could hear a pin drop. Now it's like a freaking parade, people walking in at all hours for blood tests, this test, that test, to weigh you, and a monitor for your vital signs that is lit up like a Christmas tree, and every visit they have a rolling computer screen or they pop on these stupid overhead fluorescent lights that could be used to light up the stage for the latest hit musical. During my mad awake state last night I fantasized about getting a slingshot and rocks and shooting out every single fripping one of them.
The nurses and the assistants here have all been uniformly swell so far. Our favorite is Hannah, who makes Strawberry Shortcake's bright and sunny personality look like Eeyore on a bad day. She is absolutely adorable. One of the other nurses told us Hannah once had to wake up a doctor in the middle of the night and all he asked was "Who was that adorable young woman who woke me up this morning?" If someone else had done it, the nurse commented, they would have been yelled at.
Anyway, they have tried a couple of sleeping potions on him, including one he uses at home, but none has worked, so tonight he is supposed to get Ambien. I know part of the reason he isn't sleeping is because he is apprehensive. Every time he has had chest pain before it turned out to be muscle stress or something else like the pneumonia. This has been a real blow, especially since after the sinus and UT infection two months ago he has been eating more salads and drinking less soda, and we have never eaten extravagantly anyway. No butter, olive oil and sesame oil instead and that sprayed on, light salt...there's only been James' weakness for gravies (which I personally can do without). Usually when we go out to eat we take most of it home.
I don't know how we are going to manage restaurants. They are all oversalted lately, and we have given up several over the years, most recently Fresh2Order, because their stuff has just gotten so abominably salty.
And now he has fallen asleep during Jeopardy. I will have to leave soon, as the traffic is finally clear.