Saturday, August 20, 2005

Coping, Amnesia, Blessings Counted, Music

Today has been fairly uneventful, as far as major news goes. Transfusion, antibiotic switch (Vancomycin to Tobramycin), physical & occupational therapy (Denise has expressed that she likes to move). There might be another organism found in the fluid from the paracentis (a gram-negative bacilli possibly). As usual, there is a waiting game involved with the cultures. I should have asked if this might be the same organism that was found from the swab that the ObGyn did a while back, in which they found p. aeruginosa, but I forgot. I remember from bio way back that a bacilli is a rod-shaped bacteria, and I read that p. aeruginosa is gram-negative (can anyone explain "gram-negative" within the 300-word limit of a comment?). No word on the CT scan for neuropathy causes yet. Still have the usual infections, fevers, weakness, blood concerns, ab swelling, etc.

I talked to someone that gave me an idea of helping the kids cope. I was already going to get video of the kids to show to Denise. It was suggested that I take video of Denise while she's very alert & can smile & be expressive facially (have this happy footage at the beginning of the tape, and at the end). Also get video of her sleeping. Show the room so that Gracie can see the pictures on the walls that she made. Show the bed (Gracie was comfortable with pushing buttons on the bed when Denise was in a "regular" room). Even get video of nurses taking blood pressure, using the stethoscope, and doing other "regular" procedures that Gracie is familiar with (Gracie has a Fisher Price doctor kit with these items, and she uses them all the time). I can show these things to the kids to reassure them that mommy's still OK ("OK" being relative, of course).

Today, the temporary amnesia that can result from the sedative (Atavan) really hit home. Again, she mouthed that she wanted me to take her home. Again I explained that she's been in the hospital for 4 weeks and has Valley Fever, not Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (she DOES remember coming into the hospital), she's got chest tubes, feeding tube, tracheostomy, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum (ad nauseum, for those of you that don't know latin, means "getting sick of seeing the same commercials over & over). She had a look of disbelief on her face. She didn't remember visitors from yesterday. I took photos off of the wall and asked if she recognized the people in the pictures. In many cases, she did not. Fortunately, she recognizes me. That's encouraging, since she'll pucker up for a kiss. Don't want her doing that for just any guy, you see.

Denise's regular doctor (the one that just became a daddy) indicated that he would be less involved. I met another doctor this evening that has been following Denise's case. He showed me the chest x-rays and pointed out the improvement between August 2 and today. Lungs are still bad, but much better than they were. He stated that earlier in this ordeal, nobody expected Denise to survive with the ARDS (Advanced Respiratory Distress Syndrome... the critical lung issue a couple weeks ago) that bad, on top of the other vital organs shutting down (remember she was going into septic shock and they gave her Xigris to combat the sepsis). He also said that he could think of one other person that was in the state that Denise was in that survived, and that was about 15 years ago. Hearing these things made me count my blessings again!

In addition to reading to Denise, I've been playing music she likes, too. She's usually been asleep for that. Today was the first time she wanted to hear music while alert. We played a whole bunch of songs on the iPod. Some highlights: She started rolling her head side-to-side, just about in time with Fleetwood Mac's "Hold Me." During "Teach Your Children Well" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young she smiled & turned her head to look at a family picture taped on the bed rail, raising her eyebrows a couple times. "I've Got To Walk That Lonesome Road" by the Stamps has a part where the bass singer dips *really* low, and at that part Denise made the same face she always makes at that part ("Did that sound come from a person or a whale?"). My favorite moment: During Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" she was moving her legs and shrugging her shoulders, shaking the bed so much that a portable oxygen tank was rattling in the bracket. That's pretty fitting for her, I think.


Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

I am so glad to hear there is some improvement. I am still praying for her.

August 20, 2005 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Kristin Booth said...

I heard a brief story on the radio yesterday about the healing effects of music, particularly with very serious illness. You can listen to it at and look for the program from 8/19. I immediately thought of Denise when I heard it. It's kind of ironic that you should mention the music you've been listening to with Denise in your blog that very day.
We do continue to pray that doctors, medicine, music, a loving and supportive husband and family, along with God's mercy and power will restore Denise's health and body.

August 20, 2005 6:30 AM  
Anonymous mary anne cheraz said...

Praise God!!!!!!!!!!!
The fact that the doctors are telling you now just how scary her condition was to them, is a great sign. They must feel pretty confident! The scribble? I always wondered if they made their writing illegible in case of liability issues. "well, no judge, what it really says is ___________." I was always such a brat when I was a nurse way back when :) Anyway, we love you guys and you have been in our constant prayers. God bless you !!!!!!
The Cheraz's

August 20, 2005 7:36 AM  
Blogger Michelle Gower said...

Gram negative bacteria has a thinner cell wall than gram positive bacteria. I found this quote from an online medical source: "A component of the cell wall of most Gram-negative bacteria is associated with endotoxic activity, with which are associated the pyrogenic effects of Gram-negative infections. " In English that means that gram negative bacterias, when dissolved release a toxin into the host (in this case, Denise) which is responsible for the "pyrogenic (fever) effects." From everything I know about bacteria I understand that cocci bacterias (which are the round ones, UNLIKE the rods that Denise has) are more resistant to treatment than bacilli (rod-shaped) bacterias. P.S. We always use the spelling Ativan with an "i" here at the hospital.

August 21, 2005 3:39 AM  
Anonymous just a nurse said...

I believe that God is working a great miracle in all your lives, and I continue to pray for Denise's complete healing. You are both an inspiration to so many of us at the hospital. Prayers and blessings....

August 21, 2005 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a friend of sandy valdez's i am pulling and praying for denise. hope she gets better real soon and she can go home to her family

tammy vasquez

August 29, 2005 12:37 PM  

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