Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Speaking, EF up to 30ish, Coreg to restart

Denise didn't make it to 24 hours off the vent. They had to put her back on early this morning. But she's still been off the vent more than on in any given 24-hour period, and her times have been improving. That's nothing to be ashamed of.

I walked into Denise's room today around 10am and her face was away from me, her bed in a sitting position. I thought she was sleeping, so I very quietly put my backpack down on a chair. I heard a buzzy, nasal, yet enthusiastic "Hi... Hi, Honey!"
I was startled... almost peed myself. Denise had a little plug in her tracheostomy (not a speech valve) and was able to talk, and with quite a bit of inflection, too! She didn't sound dazed at all. She asked, "Who's watching the kids?" I told her they were at day care with our neighbor, and asked if that was OK. It was. We talked about the schedule I currently have in place, as far as it relates to the time I'm able to visit with her, and when the kids are dropped off and picked up. She said "That sounds good." I asked if she wanted me to visit her again at night after putting the kids to bed, or if I should stay home. She said, "It depends who's with the kids." I went through the list of people that were watching the kids, and reassured her that even if I'm not with the kids, somebody trustworthy is. I asked if she was lonely when nobody's there, and she said, "No, not usually." When asked if she had any bad dreams, she nodded. I asked if they seemed like they really happened, or if they seemed like dreams. She said, "Dreams." Good... no paranoia today. We said the Lord's prayer together, one phrase at a time... like the kids in the wheelchair on the TV show "Malcomb In The Middle." That took some effort, and by the end, her voice lacked some of the inflections it had a few minutes ago. I told her that her folks found an apartment near the hospital, that they left last night to go home, get some things, and would be back. She seemed dazed/distracted by the TV... images of cars in mud. More hurricane Katrina footage, and that stresses her out, so I turned off the TV. More on this in a minute. I told her that her mom's coworkers chipped in a bunch of days off so that she probably didn't have to work for a while. She replied, "That's awesome!" in an upbeat voice. "Your nurse seems really cheerful & nice... do you like her?" I asked. "Oh, yeah," she responded, still with some umph in her voice. Then almost immediately, she started to take the cooling blanket off of herself (still running fevers, though not as bad as yesterday). I asked if she was trying to get up. "Yeah, I have to go to the bathroom" was her reply. I told her about the gizmos in place that bring all the convenience of the bathroom to her bed.

The respiratory therapist came in and gave her a breathing treatment. She didn't like the mask being strapped so tightly to her nose. During that time, I started tacking some of her cards back up on the walls. The cardiologist came in with good news for us. He said that he'd consulted with *the* top cardiac guy... I forgot the spelling, but it's something like Elkiam (eek!!! I finally dropped a name in this blog!). Those of you cardiac maniacs out there that buy packs of cardiologist trading cards can post the correct name for me... he sounded pretty famous. Anyway, the cardiologists all thought that Denise's heart could come back to normal over time. The consensus on her ejection fraction is that it's between 30 and 35 (that's a big improvement over the 10 that we heard about 3 weeks ago). He said that they're going to use a "beta-blocker" drug on her. He was very nice about taking the time to explain things to me in plain english. I asked him what the name of the beta-blocking wonder drug is, pen and paper at the ready. Coreg. *sigh* Been there, done that. Hope it works well under the current conditions. Still, I told Denise the encouraging bits of news. And really, I think that when she was on Coreg earlier, it did do what it was supposed to do... just not as much as I'd hoped. After telling her that her E.F. went from 10 to 30-35 in about three weeks, she asked what normal was (60). She did the math in her head fairly quickly and asked, "Home in three more weeks?" I didn't have the heart to tell her that they're hoping to get her home for Christmas. I chose to give a rather ambiguous (and accurate), "I don't know... I hope so. Wouldn't that be great to finally get out of here?" She nodded, then said that she was getting tired and wanted to recline. The nurse said that in a few minutes she would clean Denise up, and that would be the perfect time to recline her and let her rest. Before that happened, the doctor walked in to check on Denise (her mental status in particular, I believe). He asked her to repeat a few things. He asked, "Do you know where you are?"
"UCLA," she said. Close enough. At least she knew that she was at a new hospital, and it had a better football team than Arcadia Methodist.
"Ooh... wrong answer," I said, hoping the doctor wasn't a huge football fan or anything. "USC, Honey."
"Oh, yeah." About that time, the nurse came in to clean her up. It was the lunch hour, and Denise was tired. I told her that I'd grab a bite, come back, and if she was sleeping, just go home. And that's how things turned out. Last I heard, there wasn't much change in temp (101 range), heart rate (120s-130s), or oxygenation (98-100), and her blood pressure was still good.

On the way home from the hospital, I called Denise's parents to fill them in. They left last night. They were still on their way home this afternoon. Turns out that the TV pictures I saw were most likely a mud slide that shut down the freeway that they needed to take, and they had to spend the night at a hotel in Newhall last night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Phil,
Great news to hear that Denise is talking and has had some time off the vent. Speaking of shopping, please let me know if you need help with any general shopping (groceries, WalMart run etc) and I will be happy to help out. Doug and I would be happy to help fill in some of the holes in your yard. Let us know how we can help.
God Bless,
The Youngs

October 19, 2005 8:21 AM  

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