Monday, October 26, 2009

Sacred Heart Frequent Flier Miles

What a month it has been! When Craig and I were in Seattle in September (another story), I had a constant headache. As I am not a headachey person, I assumed it was stress and began an around the clock Tylenol regimen.

Within a few days of returning home, I gut instinct feeling that something was wrong, plus feeling like crap, hit. The primary care doctor saw me and called my oncologist, who requested blood cultures in addition to some other tests already planned. Turns out that nasty headache was a symptom of a blood infection. You know, that "blood poisoning" stuff? So off to Sacred Heart (it's a hospital)! My Hickmann line was pulled (the port access in the chest) and a PICC line inserted (peripherally placed central line) so I could go through IV antibiotic treatment. Although the Hickmann was colonized, both the blood draw from the Hickmann and a regular site were positive.

So I get to feeling a bit better and go home to finish the IV regimen. Then I go to the doctor for follow-up and I have REALLY low blood pressure. So for two days I go in to get fluids and have my blood pressure checked. My lucky day was three, where I could no longer maintain a reasonable blood pressure. At 70 over 30, I was passing out sitting up. I got to meet a number of very strong and handsome young men as they arrived at the chemo suite to take me to the hospital. We are talking firetrucks, supervisors, ambulances, the works. This is one of my worst nightmare scenarios.

Off to the hospital I go, except my hospital is diverting because the ER is full. So I go in an ambulance, across the street from my doctor's office, to that hospital. I didn't even get to check the inside out or see how good they were.....

Long story short, the next day I am at Sacred Heart for another vacay. Yes, less than a week later. Turns out the blood infection didn't quite go away and it was affecting me particularly through blood pressure and hearrate. Enter cardiologist.

By this point I have had three sets of blood cultures, all pending. IV antibiotics. Hospitalist discharges me saying cultures are negative. Two days later my non-hospitalist doctor calls me to find out what antibiotic I am on. Uh-oh.

Turns out the hospitalist read one set of cultures' preliminary report of negative. When the final reports came in, two of three sets were positive (don't ask about the third). I pack this time, knowing I will need to bring some stuff.

PICC line out, IV line in. PICC line in. Groovy sedation for heart tests. Good news: There's no "vegetation: on my heart valves. (Never heard of heart vegetation and I definitely didn't want any.) Lots of IV antibiotics. I did get to stay on a new floor, which was really nice.

So I continue my IV antibiotics at home, a two week regime. Then off for one week, then cultures. The only reasonable explanation for why the infection has not gone away are that 1. I am immuno-compromised and blood infections are serious for healthy people and 2. It's hiding out somewhere. Hopefully we will not have to hunt it down.

So for the last month I have been in some hospital each week and feeling crappy even at home. I have cancelled and rescheduled so many appointments that it is embarrassing. I am determined to make no commitments until I stay out of the hospital for two weeks. I have a week to go......

Unfortunately, I also developed a blood clot during the last Sacred Heart trip, followed by a second one which was either new or just discovered. So add some vascular ultrasounds to the mix, and daily Lovenox injections, and you pretty much know it all.

Once again, my body has betrayed me. I am so sick of being sick. I can't tell you how claustrophobic it can be.

So, at least for the past month, this is my story. And why I remain elusive and evasive and out-of-touch. I just haven't turned the corner yet.


Anonymous said...

Yay! You're back!!!

Anonymous said...

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Joan Stepsen
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