Well, as you saw from the last post August hasn’t exactly been our most favorite month this year. Well, the trend continued this past week. I had blogged about the problem that I had with my leg and my visit to the ER and my upcoming visit to my vascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic which was supposed to be Sept. 2nd. Well guess what? I’m writing this post from my hospital bed in J unit of the Cleveland Clinic.
Tuesday of last week I was still having a lot of pain in my leg and was really starting to become concerned about it. I called Dr. Greenburg’s nurse and was talking with her about what was going on. She asked if anyone had given me any reasons for the bruising, to which I replied “No” and she said they had better get me in sooner. So she made me an appointment for last Wednesday morning.
Dad, April, and I came up here for the appointment. I had Aultman send up my cat scan that was done in the ER in anticipation for my appointment this week, so he had already had a chance to review it. He asked if Aultman said the scan was clean and I said yes, and he said well it’s not. He wasn’t sure what was on it because they didn’t do the scan with contrast, but there was definitely something there. He sent me down to have a cat scan here at the clinic. When I came back up they called me right back and said that just as he suspected there was something there. I had adissected artery in my right leg. Basically there was a vertical tear that occurred in the artery where two arteries meet and fortunately for me had clotted. The problem now was how to get that artery to heal. It sounds like in most people they might have gone in and put in a stint or done something to ensure that it would heal, but he felt that more damage could be done from surgery than trying to let it heal on its own, but the deal was that I needed to get my blood pressure extremely low to keep the strain off that artery and allow it to heal.
The only way to safely get my blood pressure as low as he wanted (initially having the top number between 75 and 80, whereas mine is normally 120) was to do it with lots of medication while being monitored at the clinic. He explained to me the process, and I wasn’t all that worried. Sit in a hospital bed all day and watch TV while getting an IV. Sounded pretty good to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I was immediately placed in a wheel chair and taken to the Coronary Intensive Care Unit where I was admitted and instantly mobbed by about 5 or 6 nurses all trying to do different things at one. Two were putting IVs in, one was shaving my chest to put EKG leads on, one was asking questions, one was removing my clothes and getting me in a gown. I went from being a normal person on the street to a patient in about ten minutes. It was fairly overwhelming.
Once I had my IVs started, they immediately started pushing medication to bring my blood pressure down. The first medication was apparently fairly mild because they pushed a lot of it into me over like a 5 hour period and didn’t have much luck getting my pressure down. They then started me on a drip of something a little stronger which had some results but not quite what they wanted. I had breakfast at 6:00 AM on Wednesday morning and wasn’t allowed to eat at all the rest of the day on Wednesday. On Thursday they started introducing a pill medicine to help bring my blood pressure even lower.
At this point while writing this article which was started on Monday, August 31st, I started becoming depressed which in general seemed to make my blood pressure go up. Since it was critical that my blood pressure come down before I left, I chose to stop writing this post and go back to resting. I am now home and am finishing my final notes about the experience.
Wednesday night was a nightmare. I vaguely remember waking up and being very irate with April because I couldn’t sleep, and my arms couldn’t move because of the IV and blood pressure cuff, and my legs couldn’t move because of the circulation sock thingies that blow up on your legs to prevent clots that they make you wear. It turns out that these sock things would end up being my ultimate nemesis by the time I left. They were absolutely horrible. They started off all nice and playful, but after an hour or so they were just constantly squeezing alternating legs. They would vibrate like crazy and after a while would generate heat so my legs were always sweating.
In the mean time I was still getting a cocktail of various medicines. It turns out that the combination of the pill and the drip medicine was making me nauseous. They gave me something for nausia a couple of times and eventually gave up on the drip medicine some time on Thursday. Around 10:00 on Thursday morning they decided it would be OK if I would eat. They ordered me a tray from the cafeteria. Unfortunately since it was my first day eating I didn’t get to choose what I wanted to eat, so I got whatever they brought me. I was on a low salt diet, so I got cereal, an egg white omelet with no salt and some other oddities. It wasn’t great, but I chowed down as I hadn’t eaten in over 28 hours. I started joking with the nurses that they make you starve at first so that the food would taste better when you finally get it.
The rest of Thursday was pretty uneventful, other than my bath. The guy came in and asked if I wanted a bath. I was pretty rank by this point so I said yes. Let me tell you, that was a new experience. Being bathed in a bed by a guy. Friday after breakfast, they told me I was probably moving to the Coronary Step Down unit. I was pretty excited that I might actually be able to get out of bed. Around 12:00 they moved me to J81-16, my room for the rest of the stay. Compared to the sterile CICU, it was like heaven. It had a big screen TV and had accents of brown and other colors so it wasn’t so gray and dreary. It even had a bed that April could fold out on sleep on.
I apologize if this part is gross, but I think it’s pretty funny so I’m including it. I asked if I could now get out of bed because I had to #2, and the nurse said I was still bed ridden. I held off for a while hoping my orders would change but they didn’t. Eventually I asked her for a bed pan. Next to the leg socks, it was the 2nd most horrible thing I did there. I was just about done, when in walked Dr. Greenburg. I’m like um, I’m trying to use this bed pan here. He’s like oh you can get up. I’m like you’ve got to be kidding me. Where were you 5 minutes ago. After I was done doing my duty, he came back in and told me everything was looking pretty good and he didn’t see any reason that I couldn’t go home Sunday. Now I see why they don’t tell you stuff like that because it definitely gets up false hopes.
That night I slept a little bit better, but still had a lot of trouble sleeping. It didn’t help that the whole time I was there everything started at 4AM. Chest X-Ray, EKG, draw blood, take vitals (actually this happened every two hours throughout the night), rinse, lather, and repeat.
Saturday was pretty uneventful also. Tom and Patti came up in the evening, and brought a banner that Carissa and Carleigh made for me. We hung it on the wall right in front of my bed. I had noticed that my BP was always getting higher at night because the deal was that if I could go all night with my BP down using pills alone and no IV, I could go home the next day. That only made me worry about what my BP was so it actually made it go up. Saturday night, sure enough, I needed the IV twice, so while I still had some hope I was going home Sunday, I was not.
Sunday came and went. We decided that April could no longer stay with me and needed to get home. There was too much piling up at home and the girls had been every which way and needed at least their mother to try and put everything back to normal. She reluctantly went home Sunday evening to be back before their bed times.
While I was doing my not-sleeping thing Sunday night, I figured out a way around the hospital’s firewall. They provided free wireless to patients to there were a lot of sites blocked like youtube, and a lot that didn’t work because of the proxy like facebook. Basically they were only allowing HTTP traffic, so the VPN tunnel that I normally use to tunnel into the store that allows me to get around stuff like that wouldn’t work either. I called my Dad once he was at work and we redirected the tunnel to one of the HTTP ports that they were allowing. I then set up my VPN client to use that port and basically it pretended it was sending HTTP traffic. BINGO, it worked!. Now I could get into the store and do all of my weekly computer work and I could go to web sites that the hospital didn’t think I should be going to (no, there was no porn in the hospital).
Monday came and went, and I knew I needed to get my BP down to get out of there. I made my self temporarily stop being depressed and convinced myself that I would NOT get out on Tuesday. All night I kept asking the nurse what my numbers were, they stayed low all night. The last number was super low, 80, so I must have finally let myself get some good sleep!
Around 10:00 Michelle, Dr. Greenburg’s right hand doctor came in and told me that she didn’t see any reason I couldn’t go home but would have to confirm it with Dr. Greenburg. About an hour later the nurse came in and said he had signed discharge papers in his hands. You can’t imagine the look on my face after that whole ordeal. My Dad arrived about 11:30 because he was already on his way before we knew for sure that I was out. The nurse removed all of my accompaniments that I had obtained while I was there (IVs, chest monitors, etc.) I was wheeled downstairs and got my first whiff of outdoors in little under a week.
Overall it could have been much more worse. I am not totally out of the woods yet, but everything looks pretty good for now. I go back in a month for another CAT scan to see how we did. I think I picked up some sort of cold while I was there though, because I have been running a mild fever the last two nights. Tylenol kicks it down, but it’s still annoying. April says she is starting to get feverish also.
All in all I just wan to say a big THANK you to all of my friends and family, especially April and my DAD who were there every day. Thank you to all of the wonderful doctors and nurses who treated me and all those that gave their thoughts and prayers for us. August was definitely a rough month, and I hate to be too optimistic that September will be better, but there is always hope right!