Sunday, May 25, 2008

I know I wrote I would post yesterday, and I didn't. Yesterday was a sweet day - resting in the morning and celebrating Zachary's birthday in the afternoon and evening. I realized how tired I still was - emotionally more than physically by afternoon. I think I was still too raw to realize that my theme was "I almost lost him. I almost lost him. I almost lost him." It's easy to deny seeing this blood clot incident with Bob as a near brush with death. The truth is he never felt very sick - was just beginning to run a low fever from inflammation, and has been very much himself through this whole ordeal. It's the "could have happened" that's terrifying, and how easily he could have gotten caught up in the end of school pressure and ignored danger signs. Mostly at this point I'm just thankful that all is well and cherishing every moment all stays well.

A number of pieces of the hospital experience really stood out for me. First, it felt SO GOOD to me to be taken care of and know Bob was being taken care of. I was deeply touched by the kindness with which all hospital personnel treated us both - even little things like the nurse insisting on putting pillow cases on my pillows when I spent the night rather than letting me do it. The doctor and the physical and occupational therapists were very patient and detailed in their answers to our many questions - very helpful. I deeply needed to understand what happened with Bob, why, and why he is being treated the way he is. They gave me all of that information at the level at which I needed it. Even though the doctor came late on an evening when he had to be tired and frustrated by computer problems at the hospital, he was utterly patient, never rushed us at all, even asked if we had more questions more than once.

Other surprises -

The hospital has a beautiful view of the bay and we got great pleasure from that.

Our health insurance actually works (enough to make me feel taken care of. I wasn't expecting that. I see the U.S, health care delivery system as terribly broken and we had inadequate insurance experiences when Bob had his two surgeries a few years back, but his school district has changed insurers since then, apparently much for the better. I was also pleased by the attitude and kindness of the woman from billing and her matter of fact willingness to work out a payment plan if we need it for the balance of what we owe.

The physical and occupational therapists asked questions like "Can you bather yourself without help?" and "Before you strained your back did you walk without a walker or a cane?" Of course before he hurt his back we were hiking moderate trails and I think we will be again. The questions gave me perspective, made me think of all the things so many people can't do.We are really fortunate.

For those interested in medical details, here's a summary. Bob developed a blood clot - deep vein thrombosis - in his right leg while he was staying relatively immobile resting his strained back. Apparently this can happen to us, especially as we get older, with inactivity. That's one of the reasons its important to "stretch our legs" on road trips. One doctor mentioned overweight ans a contributing factor and the other did not. Bob and I believe that his low blood pressure and poor circulation to his feet as a result of his neurally mediated hypotension may have made him more vulnerable to this. Besides producing swelling in only the affected foot and leg and hurting badly (good things because they gives warning) the danger of DVT (I note myself giving up and using initials here) is that a piece of the clot can break off and get into the lungs, which can be fatal. Didn't happen for us. The treatment is blood thinners - the first one Lovenax - is injected twice a day and gives complete protection from the clot breaking off and getting in the lung within twelve ours. I have to give him shots of Lovenax twice a day (surprisingly easy) at home until the second level of treatment, coumadin, kicks in. He'll need to be on coumadin for six months, by which time the clot may not be completely gone but should be stabilized enough that we don't have to worry about it breaking off and traveling to the lungs. We have a follow up appointment with Bob's local doctor Tuesday morning and will be learning more about coumadin and the bleeding risks - which don't scare me as much as they did initially. I feel very well taken care of and mostly very VERY thankful.


Mary said...

It is so heartening that Bob is now home and doing well. It was good to read of the kindnesses of the hospital personnel & the view of the bay you appreciated. Hopefully the summer ahead will be relaxing and Bob and you will be out hiking around again soon.

Peggy said...

Relieved to hear the full report Victoria. Certainly this "near miss" feeling must have reminded you of chilling memories with Kerry. I am SO glad Bob got the medical care he needed in a timely way. Your good treatment from hospital staff is also a comfort.

So love and enjoy the weekend! Thank goodness for happy outcomes!

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