Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Getting hooked up at USC University Hospital

The ride to the new hospital went well. They let me go along (a rarity, apparently) and let Denise listen to some music through headphones on the way. She kept pulling one of the speakers out of her ear. We reached the hospital during the shift change and were not allowed into the ICU. They immediately began changing out all the tubes, hoses, needles, catheters, etc. to be compatible with their equipment, which was still going on at almost 11pm tonight. Denise's dad & I met the doctor that will be continuing Denise's care. We came away encouraged by some of the things he had to say... they only work on the sickest of the sick, Denise's age & previous good health is a plus, and they'll keep trying even if her heart stops again & again. He also reminded us that we can anticipate a long haul with progress and setbacks. He also said that he wouldn't anticipate anything earth-shaking until tomorrow, and we couldn't visit with her for several more hours, so we went home.

At this point, let me back up 24 hours to late last night. I was tipped off that a parent from the school I work at is a cardiothorasic surgeon at the USC hospital (I had no idea... all I knew was that he & his wife had great kids). Sensing that I was feeling discouraged, he felt lead to talk to me. He told me about a very sick patient with horrible stats that is probably going home soon. It sounded like it could have been Denise... same conditions, same failures, same meds, etc. He also said that Denise needs me to be a cheerleader. So I put on a skirt. Just kidding. She needed someone to rally for her, keep the fight up in her, and make her know that there's still hope. According to reading the blog, he thought that Denise's doctors from Methodist were right-on with their treatment, but perhaps the USC hospital might have some resources that might help Denise, even beyond what Methodist had already done. So I left a note for Denise's doctor late at night. First thing this morning, Denise's doctor said that the USC move would give her a better chance, USC had accepted Denise, and there was only insurance & red tape to work through on our end. Turns out that the parent, while working at USC, became critically ill and became a patient there (I know now what it's like to have coworkers taking care of me). Denise's doctor was at USC at the time and remembered the parent. Small world sometimes.

As far as stats & procedures today, the numbers looked about the same to me, and heart is very weak. There was a gallium scan on deck, and the need to change the p/a catheter in the heart. The gallium was injected (it's supposed to cluster at the site of an infection). But Denise was transported before any scan could be done. The doctor said that since everything would be changed out when Denise got to USC anyway, the p/a catheter would wait. Today was such a whirlwind, I can't remember much else (maybe because I haven't slept and I'm still sick). But I do recall that even though they were planning on moving Denise out, care was still going full bore, as if she were staying put.

Thank You
Somebody left a gift for Denise, with no card attached (gee... maybe it wasn't for Denise). Thank you to whoever left the little sculpture of the mommy angel holding hands with the little boy & girl. I'm not a knickknack guy, but that little thing was a tear-jerker, considering what we're going through. Definitely a hit.

I'm nowhere near eloquent enough to properly express my gratitude to Denise's doctors, nurses, and other staff in the Methodist Hospital CCU. I said it before and I'll say it again: You are the conduits through which God's been blessing us. Reading this blog, you may have noticed that I keep using "they" or "the doctor" or "a nurse." All along, I've wanted to name names and give credit where due. But I figure that there's probably a liability issue, privacy clause, or some other thing that might get someone into trouble if I got specific. I still don't know where all this is going. The doctor has made calls that have gotten Denise through some very scary situations. He's been at the hosptial on his "days off" after his wife had a baby to personally check in on Denise (Mrs. Doctor, thank you for letting us borrow your hubby so much). That hospital is incredibly lucky to have him. If I ever get into a scrape, I'd like this guy in my corner. Same goes for his colleagues. There's another doctor that got Denise's kidneys working early on when things looked bleak. I appreciate another doctor that put up with my frequent stupid questions about infectious diseases.
And don't even get me started on the nurses! I can't imagine a batch of nurses that could be any more caring. Toenail painting, hair styling, massaging, joking, encouraging... I feel like they took a personal interest in my wife, and for that I'm ever so grateful. I'm conviced that we would've lost Denise a few times during the last 2 1/2 months if it weren't for the nurses being so attentive and competent. Total pros.
I've probably had someone from every branch of hospital operations checking on Denise... payroll department, environmental services, floor managers, security, the brute squad (the ones that the nurses always call in to help turn Denise), food service, physical & occupational therapy, cashier... Sometimes I feel like just about the whole hospital cares about this struggle.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am glad to hear of this change. It does seem like the care at Methodist has been top notch in every way, but somehow, even if there were no newer equipment or other such difference it feels like a good idea. Maybe its just time for a fresh set of cheerleaders on her medical staff.

Regarding the question of "to CPR or not to CPR" if it comes to that - I can only answer as if for myself. I would want to try. I would try for my family. If God chooses that it not work, that's His call. Denise is young, was strong & healthy before this, and has you and two young children at home. Once she pulls through, things can get back to a pretty good place even if not quite what they were before. Maybe better in many ways.
Yes, you still have an exceedingly difficult path ahead of you. You don't know what will happen in the end. But none of us do. And we all go on after setbacks, and find that there are silver linings to the clouds that are added to our lives. Although you must be so incredibly worn by this whole experience, don't let the discouragement into your heart. Just keep it busy with love for Denise, and God will keep refilling you - somehow.

People with stats like Denise's go on for many years even if they can't expect much improvement, and Denise will improve greatly once the big punches are past.

Every member of your family continues to be in our prayers.

September 28, 2005 5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is enouraging news. The Lord is leading and guiding you and we are thinking and praying for you guys . . . a lot.

September 28, 2005 6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news! I am praying for even better news in the days to come!

September 28, 2005 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Peggy Smith said...

Your steadfast courage and dedication is extremely admirable. Your spirit has been renewed with hope and excitement. Keep up the good work, we are all witnessing miracles through this experience and God's will is prevailing.
God bless you and your family. I was in prayer for all of Denise's loved ones through most of last night. The prayers included the staff at Methodist Hospital, you are a wonderful group of chosen people. Part of this miracle was God's leading each of you to Denise and Phil.
Times like this can be so hard on families. Stay close and supportive so that you focus all energy toward Denise. I love you all and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Love, Peggy

September 28, 2005 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God that things seem to be changing for the better. Denise certianly seems to be in capable hands yet again.

The staff at Methodist have done a wonderful job caring for your family, and those of us who have been following your story are so thankful that they were there for you. We pray that the staff at USC will pick up where those at Methodist left off, and will give Denise the love and care she so deserves.

I will continue holding your family in prayer, and right now am so thankful that things appear to be turning a positive corner. God put the parent at your school in your path for a reason, and we praise God that he guided you to where you are now.

Keep that cheerleading skirt on, and know that the rest of us are right there beside you, cheering you all along this long road.

God Bless!

September 28, 2005 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know you guys, but have been "pulling for Denise" along with you. From one mom to another Denise and your children are being prayed for each day--many times a day. Phil, I admire your faith and your ability to keep your sense of humor. Nobody could want your wife healed more than you do, but know that others are "pulling" as hard as we can too. Your wife has touched more people than you will ever know...

September 28, 2005 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! How wonderful to see God at work in such a miraculous way! Denise, Gracie, Jacob and you are all in the arms of God and He will continue to carry you. He will NEVER let go!
Thank you for being the channel God can use to touch so many. And thank you for being who God made you to be because you are such a blessing!
We're all pulling for Denise!

September 28, 2005 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Ellen Goodhart said...

My heart gose out to you and your children. You are a wonderful husband to Denise.You are also very good at reporting what the latest news is. It helps me to feel close to Denise even though I am not there. May God continue to give you strength and wisdom in the days ahead.

September 28, 2005 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Shelly and Family said...

We're all praying for you all. You are a light even in this darkness.
Denise is in good Hands-no matter where she's at. I am also praying that you feel better too.
My family and I are there for you guys.

September 28, 2005 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job Phil Denise is a very lucky woman to have such a careing husband. I dont think anyone needs to tell you to put on a cheerleading outfit I dont no of anyone that can give more support than you have from what I have been reading.We think of you and Denise daily even though havnt responded much.Keep up the good work.Please tell Denise Joe Sue Niki Shelly that we love them and wish we could be there for more support. Miss you all love Hank Jinna Crystal Denise

September 28, 2005 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never hurts to shift gears! Heavenly father speed Denise on the road to recovery!

September 28, 2005 2:57 PM  
Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

Praying for Denise to be healed and to be going home soon. I hope this is the wild card you talked about in your previous post. Prayers going up to God.

September 28, 2005 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Marilyn said...

Dear Phil,
Still following the blog on a daily basis. I called the family to get them into serious prayer for Denise. I understand what you are going thru with all the decision making. I have been there on two occassions. God will help you and will give you the wisdom to choose correctly. When your greatuncle Dan was critical in the hospital I had a procedure done to help him breath the next day he took a turn for the worse and I had to make a decision to take him in for more surgery. I agonized and prayed over my decision. I told the doctor to put the larger tubes in. He had 4 peaceful days. I fought for him even thou he was 87 years old. I believe what your friend wrote to you. "If God chooses that it not work, that's His call." You keep fighting for her Philip and we'll keep praying for Denise and for you. God Bless!, Cousin, Marilyn

September 28, 2005 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil and family,

Words are hard to find...but wanted you to know we're praying for you daily and more...

the Comontofski girls

September 28, 2005 6:18 PM  
Anonymous alyson and paul metzdorff said...

change is good, even if the way before was great, sometimes change can make a difference. We continue to pull and pray for denise and all of the family out their in LA. Remember if there is anything you need I think we can send a big brown truck your way with some nice somethings inside. I do have a cheerleading outfit from when I was in junior high if you'd like to borrow it, you are the epitome of the greatest cheerleader ever and with halloween coming up you could dress as one and get a nice rous out of denise and of course anyone who comes in to contact with you, if you need pointers I am sure grandpa hall can show you how to wear one...HAHAHA! We love you guys and we think of you daily...
alyson, paul and isabella

September 29, 2005 3:20 PM  

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