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Friday, October 12, 2007

Jay And Cheryl Update

Saturday: Friday Cheryl had had a long talk with the ICU nurses, and convinced them to try withdrawing the Dilaudid overnight. This produced a sober Jay by morning, which produced an escape attempt, so she arrived this morning to find him tied to the bed. After negotiations, he was untied by noon after agreeing to a temporary moratorium on unscheduled departures. He then suggested to Cheryl that he thought he was ready to get out of there if he could just lean on her a bit. I think he meant that quite literally, and was suggesting a wife-aided departure. Cheryl thought eating and all that would be a good step first, so he did. By evening he was sitting up in a chair and giving a comic concert to the family members who had gathered, complete with songs and impersonations. I have never heard of a better plan for getting out of the ICU than singing your way out.

Cheryl has asked everyone for thank you prayers, and please to also pray for the other ICU patients and their families.

While I was anxiously staring at the computer, clicking refresh waiting for the update, the dogs took an aggressive stand about better use of my time and theirs. So after I got back from the evening dog patrol, the update had come through. The dogs seem smug.

He's breathing on his own. Down to oxygen through a nasal tube. The way he got off the ventilator was that he chewed through the tube and ejected it at a nurse, so it was somewhat before the pulmonary specialist's recommendation, and that doc was claiming they might have to do a tracheotomy because he was struggling to breath at first. But it's been two days with increasing ease.

He's still somewhat confused. Dialysis is continuing, but the docs tell Cheryl now that they predict complete organ recovery. Thank you so much for your prayers, and please continue. After surgery initially all seemed well, but then an astounding collapse happened. At the worst, his major organs were all failing, and once you get into that downward spiral it's a rough and uncertain road. They had to keep transfusing him, because his body wasn't producing red blood cells - and then the blood sugar, severe lung infection, kidneys, liver.... I wonder if he didn't get flu or flu-like virus which precipated the heart attack and the lung infection. Cheryl spent days talking to a body lying in a bed that showed little signs of Jay being in it. It's a terrifying thing for anyone to go through.

The docs had warned Cheryl that there was a possibility that his vocal cords might be paralyzed, but Jay is quite vocal. Yesterday he demanded a beer and a cigar. Since he does not like either, Cheryl suspects that he's deliberately putting the nurses on. Perhaps he thinks that if he keeps them off balance and busy they'll stop annoying him. He managed to remove his NG tube as well. It sounds like he is woozily indignant about the entire matter. They'd better get him off enough sedatives to produce sobriety, or the bedpans will commence flying through the air as soon as he gets a little stronger.

Thumbs up! Thank you so much, and please continue to pray for the family. Cheryl needs to catch up on her sleep and relax a bit, their daughter (who is with her grandparents now) is very anxious to be reunited with them, and Jay has a lot of healing to do and is not quite out of the woods yet. Come to think of it, better add the nurses to the prayer list. For them all, strength, patience, lightness of heart in adversity, and for the nurses, excellent duck reflexes and peripheral vision. They have very exhausting jobs.

Jay sounds like he's going to make it.Tell him to be careful of any cigars the nurses give him when he leaves...they may be exploding.then he will face the long road of rehab,where he may find the St Teresa prayer as helpful as I have."God grant me patience,NOW!.on a very serious note,if Jay was given oxycontin rather than morphine he should be extremely careful when tapering off.It is horrifically Addictive and the withdrawal can be fatal.NOT a good drug,and I understand it may be taken off the market.I hope it is,it is too dangerous,and other drugs such as heroin are safer and less addictive.
No, I had to check. It's dilaudid.

I hadn't even thought of that!
I am very glad to hear that it is dilaudid.My sister worked at st.helena for 15 years,which is a noted drug rehab center,and since we both grew up in the bay area in the 60's,have lost friends and relatives to addictive drugs,and have both needed opiates after major injuries it is a subject of conversation from time to time.unfortunately it usually comes up when someone is lost.I hope the coming week brings further good news of jay and cheryl,and when they wean him from the dope,remind him that it only hurts while you breathe...hardcases like jay usually think that's funny.
Thank you for the update and we wil continue to pray for all of them. What an extreemly difficult time this has been for that family.
Tom - it kind of freaked me out when you mentioned it, because it's not something I would think of, but it would certainly be a bad result!

They yanked all the Dilaudid at Cheryl's request. He is not reacting badly. Yesterday they had him up and walking a bit.

Viola, thanks again for your prayers. Yes, it looks like it will end up being about 3 weeks in the ICU, which is an awful lot for a young fit man who knew of no health problems. But life happens to all of us!
MOM, if my own experience is any guide (in ICU because of an abnormal and nasty case of appendicitis) right now he's feeling no pain (may be literally depending on the meds) he may slow down a bit after this and the adrenalin wears off and his body realizes it was just hit with the equivalent of a Mac Truck. Don't worry, he'll be fine, just have to slow down and let his body slowly recover and crawl back out of the hole it dug itself into. This was the case for me and I was 25 at the time (I'm more his age now), a whole heck of a lot more "bouncier" of an age.

That being said, I was amazed myself at how much frustration and outright anger went into my recovery. It sounds like he's showing the signs of being even more stubborn than I was. It's a very hard thing to go from being an adult that is capable of looking out for and doing for one's self to overnight being dependent on others for everything. It'll be hard but someone needs to tell him to stop being a baby and let others help for once. He's going to have to do the hard thing and learn to wait because at this stage his body needs to crawl before he can make it run. On the bright side, you should also probably tell him this is one the few times in his life he's justified in taking it easy and no one will begrudge him for it.

Glad to hear the good news--Jay and Cheryl are in my thoughts.
Thanks, guys. Yes, Andrew, it WILL be quite an adjustment.

This evening he was transferred to the PCU. The first step to the Great Escape. I think he will be very motivated to get out of the hospital.

No oxygen. Still waiting for final confirmation that the kidneys are doing their job, but it's been a few days since he needed dialysis. It's quite a turnaround.
*laugh* It definately was a motivating factor for me - I wanted out, as soon as I could finagle it (In my case the Doc said 3 months, I made it in 3 weeks). This is actually not a bad thing assuming the worst is over and he is stable and improving. I've read somewhere that this is a goal of many hospitals as they found that people are happier and recover better at home (not to mention it is cheaper and less full of things folks with repressed immune systems are likely to catch) Ironically, hospitals are not the most restfully places on earth - People coming in and out at all times of the day/night. You're also generally miserable for whatever reason brought you there. In addition, there are only so many ways you can sit on a bed before your rearend starts going numb. :)

Sorry about the rambling "tough love" nature of the last post, I was heavily reminiscing there, trying to share my experience as an ICU survivor and relay things that might be helpful in understanding what I thought was his mindset and causes for being difficult. In this I forgot to focus on the important part - Jay also seems to have become a survivor, even if he seems to be unhappy about the situation he is currently in. This is great news and hopefully he will be around for for his friends and family for a long time to come. I can tell you I was damn appreciative of my family coming back out of my own 2 week ICU coma. I also felt jittery and like I just had a near miss with a landmine. Surliness can help mask the fear a little and allows one to vent the frustration. Besides, as pointed out above, crankiness is a sign he's on the road to recovery. :)

I'll try to limit my future TMI.

Please send my best wishes to Jay and Cheryl. May the road ahead be much brighter.

Andrew - actually I don't think it's TMI. When this happens to younger people, it's a complete shock and disturbance of their expectations. Suddenly you confront either your own mortality or the mortality of your loved ones, plus the experience of so much physical limitation is a shock in and of itself.

He is a survivor, though, and that is the great thing.
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