Monday, August 28, 2006

Update on Jim

Sunday was Jim's 3rd day in the hospital.

Since our first report on his condition, he's had a doppler ultrasound and a lung/abdominal/pelvic CT scan. He continues on vitamin supplements and Lasix, a diuretic. The DRs are focusing on alcohol-induced cirrhosis. On Sunday, the GP said there is no evidence of tumor. Jim also had eight vials of blood drawn and the results showed he was low on magnesium, which he then received in an IV drip.

Jim's new roommate at 3AM Sunday morning came in with seizures and disorientation from alcohol withdrawal. The noise and commotion left Jim very confused and agitated, and the nursing staff gave him a tranquilizer, Ativan.

Jim's confusion continued later into Sunday morning. He refused to work with the nursing staff telling them, Venita was coming to take him home. When V got there at 10AM, the start of visiting hours, the room's LPN took V aside and explained how Jim was being uncooperative and that she could not finish cleaning his bed and gowning him for the day. (Many people are intimidated by Jim's strong-willed manner. This LPN looked like a deer in headlights.) In the room, V found Jim in street clothes with his belongings on the table, ready to be packed to go home.

V put Jim's things away, and got him to allow the staff to finish their morning chores. It took a couple hours to get him settled down and for him to understand that he was being kept "in jail" for a few more days. His spirits lifted as the day went on. V was disappointed that the Phillies/Mets baseball game was cancelled Sunday afternoon; that would have provided Jim a nice diversion and "grounded" him in a bit of his own reality.

(For those who don't know, Jim is a huge Phillies fan and went to the team's Spring Training in Clearwater, FL, for the entire month of March for maybe eleven years straight.)

Apparently Jim saw a gastroenterologist before V got to the hospital. Jim had no memory of that visit and his chart showed no notes except "continue treatment." In the morning, a urologist visited. The nursing staff had tried to put a bladder catheter into Jim on Saturday, but had blown the balloon in the urethra, not the bladder. Jim had been bleeding since that little misadventure. The urologist said Jim was OK but that the bleeding would continue for a few days. The hospital based GP visited in the afternoon. He discussed the magnesium deficiency and the current diagnosis.

When V left for the day at 7PM, Jim was in high spirits, although he had been drifting in and out of sleep most all day. He ate quite a bit of both meals served while V was there. He was having some visual hallucinations (he kept seeing movement in an impressionistic print of flowers on the wall), but those visions were not agitating him. V made sure Jim understood that the rule for the night was "do what the nursing staff says" and let the staff know they could call her any time if she needed to talk to and calm Jim down.

Yep, Venita is whipped. Continuing problems with tingly feet. She made plans with the nursing staff to be into the hospital Monday morning at 7AM to be able to speak with all of the DRs. If Jim progresses at the rate he is going, he will likely be discharged from the hospital around Thursday. Still a question of discharge to where. Jim is now refusing to consider a transitional facility, whereas V believes that (depending on Jim's condition), that may be a better idea than coming home with her. The week after next, she has appointments/procedures prepatory to and, of course, the surgery.

Sigh. Such speedbumps on the road of life.

3 comments:

DebandGiz said...

Oh Venita, what a time you're having with Jim...

I'm hoping and praying that Jim's confusion and agitation yesterday stays in the past and his spirits continue to improve daily, for both your sakes...

Although hardly a drinker, my mom had similar confusion due, I believe in part, to low magnesium, during one of her many, many hospital stays... She didn't recognize her family... It took a couple of days before she "beamed" back down to us and we knew her smile was genuine...

Have you been able to speak with the hospital's social worker yet? I ask because that will be the person who will help decide where Jim should go to continue his recuperation after being discharged... That will be the person who makes all the arrangements... And, for a brief time, that person will be your best friend!

With so much on your ever-growing platter, you really need to enlist the help of the social worker, dearest Venita... And Jim needs to understand this...

My mom taught me long ago to never, ever use the phrase nursing home... I've since discovered "skilled nursing facility" is acceptable to her, as is rehab... Perhaps it's because she perceives them as being temporary places to continue healing in order to go home... Her longest hospital/skilled nursing facility/rehab stay involved 10 surgeries and 63 days in two hospitals followed by months of rehab for a total of 6 months 3 weeks from the time she left her apartment until she returned... My sister, Donna, and I covered 61 of those 63 hospital days...

We told her once she got to rehab, she'd pretty much be going solo for two weeks at a time before one of us would come for a long weekend to visit, take care of bills and whatever else she needed... She went into serious withdrawal at first, but eventually understood that the point of rehab was to regain her independence... And she did just that!

I know what a toll is taken being the caregiver, dearest Venita... I can't imagine the toll it's taking on you given everything you've been through along with what's coming up... Jim has to understand that you must rest as much as you can... He has to understand that you're not abandoning him if he goes to a transitional facility... That it's temporary and to help him continue to improve... That you can't possibly give him the care he may need given your own health... He has to understand this...

When you're visiting him, can you prop your feet up? Even a trash can turned on its side can provide your feet with a bit of elevation... Also it's important that you move around every so often... When PT would come in for my mom, I'd often do her exercises right along with her, just to keep moving... Okay, and to keep from going insane from sitting and playing UpWords all day when she wasn't napping or getting her vitals taken, or blood drawn, or whatever the staff had in store for her on any given day...

I'm sorry this is so long and rambling... I'm just worried about you, sweetie... You've got a lot coming up and you need your strength... Jim's where he needs to be to get better... Pretty soon he'll be saying the same for you...

Yes, it's yet another speedbump on the road of life... But, you know, annoying as these reminders are to slow down (even briefly), there's a reason for them...

Please know my hopeful, healing thoughts and prayers continue for you both... And I'm holding you both very close in my heart...

Much love and countless hopeful, healing hugs too,
Deb & Giz (And countless tiny little pawpats for your cheek, dear Venita, and for Jim's cheek too...)

DebandGiz said...

Just checking in again, dearest Venita,

And sending more hugs for you and Jim!

Much love and well, you know about all those hopeful, healing thoughts, prayers, and hugs,
Deb & Giz (and those tiny pawpats too!)

Alice said...

You and Jim are in our thoughts everyday. Sending hugs too.

Alice and family