Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Handyman Hubby is on the Mend!

My last post talked about breaking my toe…I thought that would be the worst thing to happen this summer, but it definitely was not.

The last three weeks have been a roller-coaster of emotions and the worst of our lives.

So much happened, that it would take me forever to document it all, but I'll try to sum it up.

On July 3rd, David had some pain in his stomach but he didn't think much of it.  On July 4th, he woke up still in pain so we went to Urgent Care. The doctor there talked to David, poked his stomach once and then just told him it was acid reflux. David was sent home with some Protonix and pain medicine. My mom had told me not to leave without having them do blood work, but unfortunately we did.

David tried to ignore the pain all day, but he could not enjoy the 4th of July. That night it was getting worse, so we went back to Urgent Care. The doctors did blood work and saw that David's White Blood Cell count was high so they knew it was some sort of infection. They did tests through the night and finally early that morning, David was diagnosed with appendicitis. We were shocked. David's pain was not the typical lower right stomach pain that you hear about with appendicitis. Hours later David was transferred to the hospital and had surgery to remove his appendix at about 5pm that night. The surgeon came out afterwards and told me that it went well, but that his appendix was huge and stuck to the colon, and so it would probably take David a few extra days to recover.

Initially, the day after David’s surgery, he looked better and we thought he would go home in the next day or so. But then things took a turn for the worse. His stomach was swollen and bloated. 

Over the next few days, things did not improve and so David had to get an NG tube down his throat to suck out the bile and gas that was just sitting in his stomach. He had a ileus or “lazy stomach” and a potential partial bowel obstruction because his lower intestine was inflamed. He was not allowed to eat or drink anything because his stomach wasn't working properly and could not digest anything.

We later learned that the biopsy of his appendix revealed that it was perforated and so it probably leaked into his body. As a result, David developed an abscess and had to have another procedure to have a drain inserted to remove the harmful collection of fluid. He had the drain in for a few days.

After about a week of the ileus, there were talks of doing a second surgery because the doctors thought there was an obstruction in the intestine, though they could not confirm this. David and I decided it would be best to give it a day to see if his stomach would wake up on it's own. We wanted to avoid another surgery as much as possible. The next day the surgeon discovered that David had pancreatitis which could be the cause of the prolonged ileus. David had a lot of tests done to figure out the cause of the pancreatitis, but none of them were conclusive.

It was very nerve-racking just waiting each day, hoping David's condition would improve. Sometimes his bloodwork and X-Rays looked better, and sometimes they looked worse. The doctors didn't know exactly what was wrong and that was even more troubling. It was a very stressful and sleepless time.

It was difficult for David in the hospital because it is not place conducive for recovery. The nurses and techs come in every other hour and the IV machine beeps loudly every time there's an air bubble which seemed to occur several times a night, so it's difficult to get any sleep. All the nurses can really help with is administering medicine. There are no doctors on the floor, only Physician Assistants and they would just tell us to wait to talk to the surgeon every day. We had to wait until 10pm at night when David's surgeon would come by to figure out the next steps. We were confident in the surgeon, but his busy schedule meant that David would have to wait until night to figure out what his tests from that morning revealed. All he could really do was just wait. David had to be mentally strong to put up with all of the pain and uncomfortable procedures that weren't making him feel better.

Even a 2.5 week stint in the hospital is not enough time to finish a game of risk. This pic documents our places. #ConquerTheWorld

After almost two weeks in the hospital, David's stomach finally started to wake up slowly and he was able to get the NG tube out and start on a clear liquids diet. David was sent home from the hospital a couple of days later. For about 13 hours he was free from the horrible hospital, but that night, David was experiencing severe pain and we went back to Urgent Care. It was exactly two weeks later from when he was diagnosed with the appendicitis. There's something humbling about driving through the city (a second time) as people are stumbling around from the bars on a Saturday night as I'm racing to get my husband some relief. We had some of the same nurses as the first time and all of them were shocked that David had been in the hospital the whole time. When he was first diagnosed, they all assured us that laparoscopic appendectomies were not very invasive and David could be released the day after his surgery.

Post NG tube, for a few hours David was on a soft diet and he got some ice cream.

Getting out of the hospital (the first time).

Waiting for geese to cross the street as I leave Urgent Care sans Husband :(

It turned out David was having pain because his pancreatitis had flared up.  He went back to the hospital for a few more days. He finally got released again, 18 days after the ordeal began. David had to be on a liquid diet for a week after getting released, but he's been feeling well. Yesterday, he got the go ahead to transition to a soft diet, so he's very excited. He lost 20 pounds and has to take it easy because his calorie intake is down. But I'm happy to say that he is on the mend!

Diet plan.

The hospital stay definitely put things into perspective. I was staying at the hospital and neglected my garden and as a result my zucchini plants died. Our house is not in the best state at the moment. David had planned to have his brother come over on July 5th to help fix our steps and put up a new fence. Our steps are still in the same state since my broken toe and David ripped out the fence in preparation for the new one so right now we are left with ugly steps and an open yard.  All of these things are insignificant. If you do not have your health, nothing else matters.

A metaphorical balloon trapped in the rafters. David said that he was sure that the balloon would run out of helium and be "freed" from the hospital before him. But luckily David got out before the balloon!

This experience has taught me that the health care system is seriously messed up. I won't go into the details, but there were many instances where David wasn't getting the treatment he should have been. I will say this, if you are having pain, don't immediately trust a doctor to give you the right diagnosis. Do your research, ask questions and push for tests to be done. It's important to advocate for your health, otherwise, it's easy for doctors to brush you off.

Through faith, love and support we were able to get through this ordeal together. My husband is a strong person, and this struggle will only make him stronger! This challenge has allowed us to grow closer and remember what truly matters.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Handicapped Wifey

What started out as a normal Saturday afternoon of David fixing the porch steps turned into me at Urgent Care getting an X-ray.

As I previously mentioned, tiles were falling off of our front porch steps. It started out with one and then another; it was only a matter of time before all of the tiles on the bottom step would fall off.

Tiles falling off.

David had debated about what to do. He could just use mortar to re-attach the tiles to the steps. This would be the easy fix. But neither David nor I were fond of the tiles. David knew that there were old concrete steps underneath that had been covered up with cement and brick because you could see them from the side. So the other option was to tear apart the stairs down to the old concrete steps. I actually like the brick steps and wanted to keep it, but David opted to tear it out.

Similar to the porch demolition, a few tiles came off very easily, but then David had to put some muscle into it. He hammered a chisel into the mortar to try to break apart the bricks. After a lot of work breaking down the mortar and wedging a crow bar in the cracks David got a whole row of bricks out at once. He found out this would be easier than trying to pry each brick off one at a time. I tried to help a bit with the chisel and the demolition hammer, but it was very tiring and I barely got anywhere.

Cement stairs underneath.

David was able to pry all of the bricks and cement off of the second step in one big slab. We needed to move this out of the way. It was way too heavy for us to lift together (like 300lbs), so we decided to stand it up and flip it out of the way. On the first flip it hit into David’s arm a little bit. Luckily he was wearing heavy duty gloves, but it ripped them and scraped his arm up a bit. On the second flip, I was lowering it to the ground but David said he was dropping it, and before I could completely get out of the way it fell on the inside of my left foot and big toe. I was hit by the corner and so I was lucky the full weight didn't come crashing down on my foot. David had to lift the slab up for me to get my foot out. 

The fateful slab of cement and bricks.
I could not put weight on my foot and it was really painful, so after much convincing from my mom who is a nurse, I decided to get it looked at. Urgent Care was quite the experience and of course took forever. My toe began to feel much better while I was waiting and I could put weight on the outside of my foot. I was debating about just leaving, but I finally got an X-Ray taken and found out that my big toe had a small fracture. This was upsetting as summertime is the worse time to have limited mobility, but I am confident it will heal faster than the doctors told me. I was given a special shoe to wear so that I don’t put weight on my toe.

I think the fracture is in the righthand upper corner of the toe.

David mentioned that in all of the years he’s been doing construction and working on the house, he’s never had to go to Urgent Care. The most important thing I will take out of this is safety first. We are lucky that only a toe was damaged in this. The slab of concrete we were trying to move was way too heavy for us to be moving. So we need to be smarter next time. I’m currently in the market for some steel-toed shoes if anyone knows where I can get a cheap pair!

Handicapped Wifey.

Needless to say, our porch steps are not finished yet. David did finish removing the brick and cement. He has plans to add cement slabs to the top two steps, but I am sitting out for the rest of this project.

Current state of the steps.