Last year on this date, Lynn was in the intensive care unit of the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals (MCV).
By today’s date, he had been in the hospital since November 6 and would remain in the hospital another two weeks. During that time I stayed with him 24-hours a day. I slept in a reclining chair at his side and was up every few hours helping to make him comfortable. He does not remember much of that time and what he does remember is clouded by the hallucinations he was having so at times he cannot be sure what was real and what was not; but I remember every bit of it.
I remember having my step-son stay with him while I went to work to teach a class 1/2 day on Nov. 5 and coming back to find he had not eaten anything all day and had drunk very little. I remember being up with him most of that night and deciding at 4 a.m. that he needed to go to the hospital because he was feeling so bad, calling my son-in-law to help me get him into the car, and then driving the hour to the hospital. I remember the kindness of staff who brought me coffee and a snack during the day; the visit by my daughter to bring me lunch and then her return to find out what I would need from home when the decision was made to admit him. He had stopped eating or drinking due to a urinary track infection that he could not get rid of due to a mistake in reading the urine culture and the wrong antibiotic being prescribed.
He had become so debilitated that he just could not bring himself to eat so they put in a nasogastric tube to feed him thinking it might be an MS exacerbation. During a tube feeding, he coughed violently and coughed up the tube causing some of the feeding to go into his lung. As the week progressed, he began to sleep more and more. The day before he was to be discharged, he slept all day and could barely be awakened. His temperature would not register and his blood pressure was dropping. It was discovered that his temperature had dropped to 95 degrees rectally; just barely at the level to sustain life. He was sent to the ICU for the first time and put on a heating blanket for hours. Pneumonia was discovered and he started “third spacing;” (that means all his body fluids were seeping into the skin and out of his blood vessels.) He looked like the Phlysberry dough boy. They took 1000 cc off his lung and the diuretics took out about 3000 cc in fluid through his kidneys. He was very sick.
During this admission he was in the ICU three separate times before going home. I wasn’t entirely sure he would make it home, but he did. Thinking back to those days, I’m so thankful for all those people at the hospital who brought me food, stayed with him while I went to get a meal away from the room, found me a place to shower, brought me clean clothes and supplies, checked on me to see what I needed, took care of things for me at home, and prayed for us every day. I could not have made it through that time without them.
I am also thankful for the friendships I made with the nursing and medical staff; the excellent care he received, and the diligence of the health care professionals in determining what he needed to get better. I am very grateful to my church especially who came to my house and decorated it for me for Christmas so we would come home to Christmas at our home without the work involved. We were and are so blessed.
That was Lynn’s first admission last year, ever. He had two more during the year; each time he was in the ICU for part of the time. Once he almost went on a ventilator which they felt he might not come off again. We were so fortunate to have the best healthcare workers anywhere caring for him and pulling him through and many, many people praying for us.
This week is Thanksgiving and we have much to be thankful for. It has been a very challenging and rewarding year. It’s been full of fear, faith, hope, and joy and much more. I hope the coming year won’t be a repeat but I know that if it is, I’m not alone and for that I’m truly blessed.
Have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.