Monday, April 25, 2011

A setback

Today brought unfortunate news...Mom's drains filled up again with fluid from her abdomen.  The drains had been pretty much clear and empty for the past few days, but today that streak of good news ended.  The rehabilitation center is not equipped to take care of mom's new needs, so tonight she is being transferred back to St. Luke's Hospital.  When she arrives back at the hospital, they will repeat the blue dye test...where they have her drink a sterile liquid to see if it comes out in her drains.  I will update as soon as we know any more.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Change of location for Mom

This evening, Mom was transferred to a rehabilitation center in Peoria, Arizona!  She is excited to be seeing such progress.  Her new location is much closer to my sister's house than St. Luke's hospital was, so that will be a big plus for my sister!  In other big news of the day, when the hospital transferred her tonight, they took her off of TPN (the IV nutrition that she has been staying alive on for the past month.)  Because the leak in her stomach has finally started healing, they are going to start her on a liquid diet tomorrow!  The hospital left the PICC line in so that she can continue to receive all the medications and antibiotics that she needs.  In 10 days, she will be transferred back to the hospital to have another CT Scan so they can check the levels of the fluid around her spleen, etc.  At that point, she may need Interventional Radiology to drain the fluid.  Things change daily, but it is estimated that mom will need to stay at the rehabilitation center for about 2 weeks.   If everything goes really well and she continues healing at the rehabilitation center then she will probably be able to go live at my sister's house and have my sister be her caregiver after that point.  Mom feels her body healing on the inside.  She no longer needs oxygen, and as of tomorrow she will no longer need IV nutrition.  She still has the PICC line to deliver all the meds and she still has two abdominal drains to drain any infectious fluid from her abdomen.  She realizes this is the next step in her recovery, and she is so grateful to be alive and healing!  Thank you for all your support!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good News Today!

We have just learned great news!  Last night the doctors repeated the blue dye test where they have mom drink a dark blue sterile liquid to see if it comes out in her drains, and today for the first time, it didn't!!! This means that mom's stomach leak is probably healing!!!   Mom is still in her new hospital and has been there for 12 days now.  (It has been almost 6 weeks since she has seen the outside of a hospital.)  She has improved so much since coming to her new hospital.  She just had her third blood transfusion a couple of days ago and the doctors have been trying to regulate her metabolism with different stuff they are giving her through her PICC line (IV).  Also they changed some of her medicines.  Mom has gained so much strength in the past week of being at her new hospital with her new surgeon.  She has been on strict orders to not swallow anything...even tiny sips of water in order to give her stomach and insides time to heal.  Five days ago a second CT Scan was done which showed that mom still had a leak but that it looked to be leaking less than the CT Scan the week before.  Now today, it looks like the healing time has paid off because so far today, the drains have been clear after the blue sterile dye tests.  Because of this, they had mom sip some chicken broth!  If she is able to tolerate liquids and everything goes well, they will probably wean her off TPN!  We are so grateful for these developments.  Mom told me just now on the phone that in the past few days she has felt something physical happening inside of her starting at her sternum and working down.  She has been hoping that it is a sign of healing and today it looks like it is!  Mom is feeling very hopeful now.  The doctor says they are still taking it one day at a time, so we don't know how much longer she will stay in the hospital.  We also don't know if she will go to a rehabilitation center after she is released from the hospital or is she will be allowed to go to my sister Beckys' house and have a home health nurse come there each day.  I'll update as we find out more.  Today is a good day!!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Long, slow road (But at least she's on a road!)

The doctor has said that the goal at this point is to create the right conditions for mom to be able to heal.  Right now he says she is a "metabolic mess", so they are working on trying to get her blood and nutrition at all the right levels.  He said that in the fight for mom's life, we are doing well, although we're not out of the woods yet.  Because mom's stomach still has a hole in it, they started her back on TPN (IV nutrition through a PICC line).  In spite of the above problems, mom is completely conscious, alert and coherent.  She can get up out of her bed and walk short distances pushing her IV pole.  She is grateful to be alive and in a safe place.  Because of the shock of all of this, at times she feels depressed and sometimes lonely.  Now that we know that mom's recovery is going to take a long time, we are trying to help her come up with some things that she can do while she is at the hospital letting her body heal.  Becky will be bringing notebooks for her to do some journaling and writing.  At this point, mom is still very weak, so she has enough energy and strength for short phone calls (5 minutes or so), and if you are in the Tempe area, short visits from family or friends.  I will post her address at the top of the blog in case you'd like to write her a letter.   I am sure she would appreciate it.  Her hospital room is quite a bit smaller than her last one, and there is no room for flowers or anything like that, but letters would be great if you'd like to send one.  Thanks for your support and prayers!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Crazy

Today was a big day full of big findings.  First, the Good...Mom's new Doctor is great.  Mom immediately felt comfortable with him and feels completely confident that he can help her.  Now for the bad...this news just came in at 8:30 pm....part of the testing done today was to have mom try to drink a dark blue liquid to see if it came out in her abdominal drains, or if it would go through her system naturally and enter her intestines.  Just now we received news that it came out in both of her abdominal drains which means that mom's hole in her stomach is still there, and leaking and that she is not able to eat or drink by mouth.  To keep her alive for the time being, they will start up IV nutrition again.  In addition, she still has a fluid collection near her spleen, among other issues.  And finally for the's tests today included both upper and lower GI series, other x-rays and a CT Scan with contrast, and when mom's doctor came in to report the results of the test, he was shocked himself to tell us that mom's insides are not indicative of a gastric bypass surgery.  At this point we are not really sure of what happened during the first and second surgeries in Nevada. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thank the Heavens!

Well, I can't say things have been smooth for the past couple of days since I last wrote.  In fact, shortly after I last updated this blog we found out that the new Arizona surgeon had been under the impression that mom was no longer in the hospital in Nevada.  He thought she was living at home on her own.  The reason he thought this is because the paperwork (mom's medical file) that the Nevada hospital had faxed over to him said that mom was discharged about a week ago.  So, because he thought she was living fine at home, he had no problems accepting her on as a patient.  When I spoke with his office yesterday morning and told them that mom was still in the hospital, he said that he did not feel it was safe for her to be released from the hospital and said that he would only take her on as a patient if it was a hospital-to-hospital transfer by ambulance.   We have spent the last 2 days in shock from yet again another huge roadblock.  How would we pay for an ambulance transfer from Nevada to Arizona?  (5 hour drive)  We have all been on the phone and on our knees, while my mom has spent the last few days in tears, waiting for some miracle.  And I don't know how it happened, but a hospital transfer was arranged!!!!!!!!!  My mom is, at this very moment, in an ambulance somewhere in between Nevada and Arizona.  They have been driving for about 2 hours, so she should be arriving in about 3 hours from now (about 9:30 pm Arizona time).  Becky, (the oldest of us kids) lives about 45 minutes from mom's new hospital and she will be waiting there to see my mom tonight.  I don't know what the new surgeon will say; I don't know what tomorrow will bring...but at least tonight, all of us have something big to be grateful for!  Thank you Heavenly Father for helping us!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Change of Plans-- AGAIN! No more Utah

Yesterday morning I called the new surgeon's office in Salt Lake City to ask about how we should take care of the TPN (mom's IV nutrition) once she arrived in Utah.  The nurse seemed surprised and then said that the doctor in Utah had only agreed to have a consultation with her to meet her and look over all her paperwork, not necessarily to take her on as a patient.  This news was shocking to us as we have known all along that we can't move mom from this hospital until she has a bariatric surgeon ready to begin caring for her in the new location.  The Utah nurse said that once she arrived in Utah, the doctor probably would accept her as a patient, but that he might not, and that there was absolutely no way he would consider committing to care for her unless she was sitting right there in his office with all her paperwork.  Of course, this was a huge risk for my mom, because she has to have IV nutrition to survive, and only a doctor can set that up.  So, after another long day of phone calls, we found a doctor in Arizona who knows about her case, who has already looked over her medical files, and who has agreed to take mom on as a patient.  I booked the next available appointment, which is at 2:45 pm on Thursday (tomorrow.)  Anyway, unless something else goes wrong, today will be mom's last full day in St. Rose Hospital in Nevada and today they will start shutting down the TPN and insulin so that she can travel safely tomorrow morning.  The new surgeon's office and hospital in Arizona is about 1 hour away from my older sister Becky's house, so mom will be living with Becky and Becky will be her caregiver when mom is not in the hospital.  Becky will drive up to the hospital in Nevada today and early tomorrow morning they will load mom up in my sister's car and drive the 5 hour drive straight through to the new surgeon's office in Arizona.   We are going on a wing and a prayer here that this will all work out.  Tomorrow (Thursday) is going to be a very big day, so if you can keep praying especially hard that the travel will be safe and the new doctor will be inspired with wisdom to know exactly what mom needs in order to fully recover, we would appreciate that.  Thanks again for following this journey with us.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Change of Plans

It turns out that mom will not be returning to Washington in the near future.  Instead, she will be temporarily living in Utah until she is able to eat and drink and have her abdominal tubes removed.  The reason for this is that every surgeon in Washington who is accepted by her insurance has rejected taking mom on as a patient because of her serious complications.  So after that disappointment, we spent days calling and, eventually, pleading with surgeons in the states of Idaho, Texas, and Arizona (states where Wendy's children live) but day after day, all we got were "No's."  Finally, my dad called surgeons in Utah (where his sister lives) and found a surgeon in Salt Lake City who agreed to take her on as a patient and take over her care.  At this point, we  are planning on mom being released from the hospital in Vegas early Thursday morning and  flying on a Southwest airlines flight to Salt Lake City where my dad will be waiting to pick her up and take her directly to her new surgeon at 2:30 in the afternoon.  We still have to work out how she is going to get nutrition, and travel with the PICC line and TPN, etc.  Those are the phone calls that I will be making tomorrow.  Aside from all the stress of the above, mom is doing very well.  Her vital signs and labs are within acceptable ranges.  She had another blood transfusion a few days ago and she is getting herself up and walking by herself in the hospital hallways, holding onto her rolling IV holder.  She has been all alone at the Vegas hospital for the past 6 days and we wish we could still be there with her.  Most of all, we just want to get her to a bariatric surgeon who can look at her CT Scans, and tell us if she is healing properly on her own, or if she will need another surgery or other intervention to repair whatever damage has been done.  Thank you all for your prayers and cards and notes for my mom.  We truly felt miracles occurring all around us while we were there with her and I want to personally thank everyone for the prayers you prayed in my mom's behalf.  We felt the power of them and we appreciate them so much!