Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Blonde Moment to Treasure

Pete's nurse is the sweetest lady. I suspect from her accent and demeanor that she's from the Golden Triangle (Beaumont Orange Port Arthur) and she takes a very active interest in Pete's care. She is definitely one of the nurses I will remember with happiness.

But yesterday. . .

Pete has been complaining of abdominal pain and nausea off and on for a while now. The pain itself has been more pronounced over the last several days and he has complained of pain around one of the incisions.

So yesterday, I go up to the hospital and Pete's acting like he's feeling really crappy. One of the nurses comes in and tells me he's been feeling bad and that I should talke to Gerri about what's happened. I can tell it's nothing horrible, so I head out to talk to her and she says they have done a bunch of blood and other tests and were waiting on results. She said that she got him into bed earlier and was feeling around where he said it hurt. To her shock, she feels this huge knot in the area he's complaining about. It's large and round and well defined and so, she gives him the vicodin she's got on order and hurredly calls the doctor to report this development. About this point in her story, I pipe up with, "that's his skull" and she said, "I know that now, Dr. Shah told me". All the blood work and the x-ray came back perfectly normal, so they're treating the pain.

Fast forward to today, I hit the hospital at lunchtime and Pete's not in his room. I'm confused, but within a few minutes, he's located in the bathroom, where he's complaining of severe nausea and says he really wishes he could just throw up. He gets back into bed and Dr. Shah comes in and starts asking questions and talking to me about this situation (the pain, not the nurse). She starts feeling around and it seems the bone flap has migrated a bunch is might just be rubbing against his pelvic bones. Does that not sound like it would hurt like hell? So, she's calling Dr. Zhang about it. She also wants to rule out any sort of heart problem and will probably run cardiac enzymes tomorrow because of the frequency with which people have heart attacks with few classic symptoms, one of which is nausea. I told him he is NOT allowed a heart attack I draw the line there. We'll see with the neurosurgeon has to say when we have family rounds tomorrow.

At midnight it's 17 days until he's scheduled to come home. Yahoo!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's been brought to my attention

that I've not updated anything for almost a week. Sooooo, let's see what's the update.

Pete has continued to make progress little by little every day. He feels more steady standing and walking although it will be a while before he's doing either under entirely his own steam. He is finding the chair extremely uncomfortable so he fidgets around a good bit trying to find a good position. Of course, the only good position will be standing up and walking around, so he's continuing to work in that direction. The left arm is still stubbornly doing nothing. Hopefully, that will come with time.

He is enjoying the regular diet a great deal. They are still pushing the protein on him, because as we all know, protein is the stuff of which muscle is made, that and hard work. So he has these little protein packs on his trays that he's supposed to sprinkle on his meals and eat. If he has milk, it works better. He had his 7-Up last Friday and enjoyed the heck out of it.

Today, we took the yellow arm band out for a spin. We went outside, and enjoyed the fairly decent weather. It would figure today would be the first day this week that was not a chamber of commerce day. Tomorrow is supposed to be cool and clear, to give us something back for this nasty thunderstorms this evening.

Speaking of tomorrow, Pete and his group are going to the Galleria tomorrow on an outing. This will be a ride on the TIRR bus and a shopping spree. I will miss seeing him during the day tomorrow but will head up tomorrow after work. One of the girls in his group is in high school, she had a spine injury. It's been a tough road for her understanding that things won't ever be the same for her and accepting that the new way things will be just as great.

They have Pete very busy during the day, between therapies and groups, he's busy for 6 hours every day. Needless to say, by the time dinner is done, he is ready for bed.

This weekend, I guess Sunday, I'm going to make pot roast and take it up there with Anna so we can have dinner as a family. I mentioned it to Pete and he agreed that was a great idea. Could be fun getting all that stuff up to the 6th floor, but it will be interesting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A new wristband color

This one is yellow. That means Pete and I have the run of the hospital. This morning, I went to TIRR while Pete was having PT and got trained on how to transfer him into and out of the wheelchair. Nothing to it! Mostly, nothing to it because his legs are getting so much stronger and his balance is so much better that he doesn't need much more than a spotter. So now, I can do the transfers instead of having to wait for a nurse or a patient care assistant. I can also go to the hospital with him for tests so we're not spending $700 for that.

One thing I do still need is some training about seizure control. I asked the physical therapist this morning and she said they are required to do it for any sort of head injury and it's just a CYA thing. Then we can go outside in the courtyard. This weekend will be the perfect time because the weather is supposed to be amazing!

I think Pete looks good in yellow. All we have to do now is get rid of the orange "High Fall Risk"band and the circus tent and I'll start feeling a bunch better.

One other cool thing that happened today is that they did the new modified barium swallowing test. To recap, he took one on September 8 and didn't do well at all. He aspirated the thin liquids and didn't cough. He did fine with the thickened liquids so he started those that day. The next time was September 16 and he still aspirated the thin liquids but he did cough and he was ready for ground foods, which he's been doing for exactly a month. I wasn't there for the test, but when I called at dinnertime, he said he had regular food on his tray! Pot roast that looked like pot roast and tomorrow, guess what he's getting for lunch. You got it, a 7-Up!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

34 Days and counting down

November 15 is gonna be here before we know it, but still it seems like forever from now.

Putting first things first, Pete's dad's funeral yesterday was beautiful. There was an honor guard with a 21 gun salute and Taps and military honors. People who knew him best spoke of him and the chaplain from the funeral home spoke about those things that exemplified his life. His grave site is in a wonderful place, toward the back of the cemetery where he will have shade from the forests close by and there will be wildlife enjoying the area around him. Though there is a sign suggesting nothing may be planted, I fully expect some of that wildlife might just plant a volunteer come Spring.

This afternoon, after listening to the Texans finally win a game this season, Anna and I went to visit. Pete is feeling low about his progress. I told him that he should not be feeling that way at all, that we have to keep our eyes on the prize and that he is making huge progress. On Friday, I was in physical therapy and saw for myself the progress. He is requiring balance assistance to stand, but it is mostly his own strength. He is retraining all of those muscles in his arms, legs and trunk to do things that he's just taken for granted all these years. Anna was a good girl today and we were able to stay for a few hours before I thought I was going to want to gouge my eyes out. She fell asleep in the car on the way home talking about laying in daddy's bed playing. Today, she pushed him in his wheelchair around the floor and everyone commented how strong and cute she is.

So tomorrow it will be 33 days. Yowzers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An another matter-Pete's Dad

I got a call from Pete's mom this morning at about 6:30 to tell me that Opa had died in his sleep last night.

I don't know how I'm going to tell Pete, and seriously, this is about enough for me too. I had 2 high school friends die, Pete's sister, then Pete's stroke, the storm and now Opa.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I've Been Lazy

It's been 4 days since I updated anyone. Well, let's see, what's new. . .

I took Pete his phone over the weekend and he's been calling people. He talked to his mom on Sunday and to Monica from work on Tuesday. If you get a call from someone who sounds a little like Pedro, just go with it, it's probably him.

His speaking voice is a little quieter than it was, but he's not mumbling nearly as much, so that's a fair trade off. His mind is very sharp and his wit has followed suit, so prepare to be entertained.

TIRR has a new target discharge date, November 15, 2008. That is earlier than the original date I was given by a few days.

Next week, I plan to go for PT so I can get trained on the transferring in and out of the wheelchair. When they have sent him to Methodist for tests or treatment, they have been taking him by ambulance. The insurance company won't pay for that because it's not an "emergency transport" so I need to be able to do the transfers so that he can go by the TIRR van.

The other reason I need to get in with the PT folks is so I can get a handle on what sort of ambling Pete will be doing once he comes home. Is he going to be in the chair or on a walker. Obviously, our house is not ADA complaint and we could have some bathroom issues if he needs the chair to get around. Unfortunately, my carpenter is a little indisposed at the moment. He suggested today that he'd do fine if he had his airgun, and could shoot nails. Maybe not right away.

Yesterday, Pete and I shaved his face, so the David Crosby moustache is history. He looks pretty darn handsome with a smooth face. Hopefully, it will now be easy for him to keep up with it himself.

On I guess it was Tuesday, he went for PT and had lots of trouble with low blood pressure. They are adjusting medications and are planning to get him up more often so that it's not such a huge change to be standing. The only hard thing is that when he's sitting up for a long time, the helmet gets very heavy and hurts his neck. You just can't make the guy happy. I am confident that in time, the neck muscles will get as strong as they were before he took 2 weeks off to lay around doing nothing.

I'm trying to think if there was anything else, but nothing is coming to mind.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A well deserved day off

I went to see Pete today and he was laying in bed, not really sleeping, but not really awake either. He said when the doctor came in today, he said he was very tired and she said he could have the day off today. One of the residents told him he was being lazy and she told him to be quiet.

Anyway, we watched the Texans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, watched some baseball and generally had a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

Pete's dad got moved into a regular room today, which is amazingly good news.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saw it with my own 2 eyes!

He stands! Not under his own power entirely, but entirely under his own balance and most of his own strength.

I went up to TIRR with Anna this afternoon, and the goons from PT were in his room getting him up for PT, evidently, they had to bribe him with ice cream (actually, they checked his sugars and they were low and they're not taking a hypoglycemic dude to the gym). I went down with Anna and he was sitting on this large table thing, with a weighted shopping cart in front of him. They were having him push the cart as far as he could forward and then pull it back. I am thinking this is a heck of an ab workout and may try it. Anyway, Anna got restless, so we went into the kitchen area where they do some of the OT (they will teach Pete to do laundry as an extra perk, as long as they teach him to do it right, I'm fine) and when I came out, he's standing up holding onto the cart. One of the goons is standing on the bench behind him and the other one has a knee against his left knee holding him steady. Anna started creating "issues" so we went outside for a minute. He said that they "went shopping" he and the goons walked around, him pushing the cart, them doing balance checks for him.

He told me he did not feel as balanced as it appeared he looked, that he really had to work hard to stand straight and that he was not able to move the left leg to assist his walking, but I feel certain that will come in time.

His appetite has come roaring back, and he's even forcing down the Ensure pudding they are giving him at every meal. Actually, he says it doesn't taste too bad.

My parents came up to see Pete and to pick up Anna, and after they left, I gave Pete a hair cut. This involved taking his helmet off where he could see himself, which he had not done before. He was surprised at the sight. I assured him he's absolutely the handsomest man alive caved in head or not. He didn't want to shave until after a shower, which I hope he had before bed. But even with just the haircut, he looks a hundred percent better.

They still have him on the IV antibiotics from both the gall bladder and whatever that thing on his back is. That will end on Monday, but bless his heart, his veins are just completely pissed off at him. About every other day, I see him, part of his arm or hand is just huge from swelling, and it's all from infiltration (the fluid not going into the veins but just into tissue), because his veins are blowing out. I sure hope after Monday, his IV antibiotic days are over!

If any of the guys from work want to head up to TIRR for a visit, this might be a good time. He has been thinking about all of you a good deal. He is remembering more and more about the stroke itself. He remembered Carl telling him to go sit down, and that Mike Merit was in the office doorway too (I had not heard this before, so I don't know). He remembered the name of the doctor (well, Dr. Z) at the first hospital and trying to tell him about having seen a neurologist and being told that information wasn't needed at all. I get more and more mad about this every time I think about it. So, you know what, I'm not thinking about it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Standing Practice

I misunderstood exactly what they were doing with the standing thing. I had assumed they were using some sort of contraption that aided his balance and standing up. Nope, he's standing against the back of a chair. Today they worked on some squatting according to the PT's notes in the "red book".

Pete told me that his right leg was tired and hurt from fatigue--woo hoo, they're building muscle on the man! Those who have not seen Pete probably need to know that he has dropped a bunch of weight. He lost about 20 pounds while he was at Methodist. He's lost a few more at TIRR and while getting the gallbladder removed, so he looks pretty thin. I asked the nurses if he looked that way to them because I'm afraid I'm a mother at heart and am just inclined to worry about people's diet. The concurred.

His appetite was down for almost a week I assume because of the gallbladder disease and surgery. On the good side, he is having much less pain from the incision and is now just saying "I can feel it".

This evening I went to see him and was holding his left hand, twirling his wedding ring. He said he could feel me touching his fingers.

One other big event is that he is remembering the stroke. He remembers being confused by the spreadsheet he was working on and going out to talk to Monica. He remembers the safety team coming in and remembers being in the ER at Memorial Hermann South East. I have told him that this was a bad stroke and that I am glad they did the craniotomy, but I have NOT told him that this was actually a fatal stroke, and that he's alive because of the aggressive treatment he received from Methodist. I'll tell him about this later, probably at the point when he's annoyed at the therapy and wants to just stop it all!