My Recent Surgery, Part Two: St. Joseph’s

This account was written for Facebook by my lovely wife, Ceridwen. Enjoy!:

New Story for El:

Tonight, about 20 min. ago, El had a seizure (about 10 seconds long), sitting in his chair at the kitchen table, waiting for his dinner, and then he starts shaking and convulsing! I hurried over to keep him from falling off the chair, and then his body just slumped, and then he “came to” again, and asked what was wrong. He said he kind of blacked out and doesn’t remember anything…

So our friend who was visiting called 911 while I tried to prepare El for yet another trip to the hospital, to which he replied, “I don’t want to go back to the hospital, I just got out!”

Oh, and he sounded fine afterwards – almost like nothing happened. He answered most of the questions the medics asked, except for the actual event, which I took over and answered for him…

I am trembling as I type this – just 2 days home, and the nurse from Mad River Hospital was gonna come over tomorrow morning to start his home care… 🙁

Anyway, they said, “Sorry you can’t ride along, because…” and they told me to call the hospital in a while and check in…

That’s all I know for now…stay tuned…

-El just called me this morning, saying that they are keeping him another day and night. The initial tests found an elevated white blood count, a minor infection they said, which seems normal after all he’s had done…but that doesn’t explain last night, so they will continue with more tests today. He sounds and feels fine, just frustrated…

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 1:

After being hospitalized for the mini-stroke he had last night, El has taken a turn for the worse:

Pneumonia in his right lung – need to drain water buildup
Sepsis (with elevated white blood cell count to fight it)
Brain shrinkage (did mini-stroke relate to recent TIA?)
Internal bleeding (red blood count of 6 – normal is 12) so they need to transfuse him
Extreme swelling in legs and feet
Low blood pressure
Low oxygen levels (probably causing the mini-stroke?)

I talked to him before and after I got this news of the test results…he sounds normal, and was trying to comfort ME!

They will try to stabilize him tonight in ICU, and try to do what they can for him tomorrow…

I put in a call to the surgeon in St. Helena – he was in the middle of a surgery and they said they would have him call me back. I plan to ask him why all this didn’t show up on his stats, as he probably wasn’t ready to be released…I mean, he couldn’t have developed all this in the 2 days he was home, right?

More later when I talk to the doc… 😰

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 2:

I’ve been on the phone a lot, with a lot of people, including El, a couple of the surgeon’s nurses in St. Helena, and a few nurses at St. Joe’s…and the surgeon is supposed to call me back regarding the updates and questions I gave him…

El called me this morning to check in…he sounded tired but coherent…

They have him on straight morphine now (in tablet form), telling me that they are not denying him anything, since he’s in a lot of pain and they need him to be calm…he’s not complaining, said he felt almost good!

They say he has chronic kidney disease, which they are monitoring closely…

Today they are giving him an endoscopy to look for internal bleeding in the upper g.i., because his stools (what little there were, as he hadn’t been eating much) were dark…

They also discussed doing an MRI of his brain, checking for atrophy or whatever – if the other tests warrant it…

He’s breathing “room air” now, oxygen level good at the moment…

They say he’ll be in ICU at least a couple more days for more tests and close monitoring..

To be continued…

 

***CONTINUED FROM DAY 2:

Just now able to write this report about yesterday afternoon…it’s been a rough night…

El called me yesterday morning to check in before they were to take him to the procedure – en endoscopy to look at the upper G.I. to try to find the source of the internal bleeding. He sounded tired but coherent…

I then went to sleep for a while and realized that my phone (a cheap android) is randomly sending calls to voicemail right away and not ringing on my end, but sometimes it does ring…anyway, I received a call from St. Joe’s (one of several attempts to reach me) and they said that I might want to come down asap to see him, that I had special permission from the floor supervisor because he had a serious episode and was in crisis mode…and we can all imagine what that could mean, right?

Well, I called a friend for a ride and got there around 5:30pm and he opened his eyes and saw me, and they widened and he responded to my talking by nodding or shaking his head…they had a breathing tube down his throat again…so I sat and held his hand while they told me what had transpired…

So here’s where it gets technical:

On the way to the procedure, they transfused him, as his red blood count was 5.8.

He did well during the procedure, they sent the scope down and located the source of the bleeding: It was a DUODENAL ULCER, which was HUGE, and actively bleeding – to the point where if they had not found and treated it when they did, he would have bled out and we would have lost him…

So they injected the ulcer with some meds to shrink the capillaries and then they put a big clip on the ulcer to stop the bleeding…apparently, all the bleeding internally was keeping the heart (and the brain) from getting the hemoglobin and oxygen they need – his BP was extremely low, and caused the heart to race to keep the blood flowing, and THAT was a side-effect of the meds that shrank the capillaries in the ulcer, as mentioned above…

Still, the doctor felt good about the procedure and started to remove the breathing tube when El was in recovery – and THAT is when the real trouble began…

Right after they removed the breathing tube, El lost consciousness, and then they lost his pulse – so they called a CODE BLUE and did CPR on him, off and on for 5-10 minutes of chest compressions (on his newly re-wired rib cage and fresh wounds and delicate heart!)…

They got him back, and spent a lot of time trying to find the delicate balance of raising his BP and not stressing his heart out again – since his heart hadn’t been getting enough oxygen, it would not tolerate any changes without getting stressed, so it was a delicate procedure to get that stabilized…

They are also checking his brain for any damage from not getting enough oxygen and blood as well…

Anyway, THAT is when they called me to come see him and the story I was told…

It was the scariest day of my life! Poor guy had been through so much, and I just sat and held his hand and talked to him and flooded him with love and Reiki as he dozed off and on last night – I didn’t leave there till after midnight…

I asked them last night if I’d be able to come back today and visit him, and they said that privilege was reserved only for those who are in danger of passing, otherwise, they are pretty militant about it…however, the nurse was very compassionate and said she’d try to put in a word to today’s supervisor to try to let me see him…

I will call and check in shortly, and then later on start a new report for Day 3…

He is still in ICU Bed 4, though I don’t think he can take any calls till they remove the tube, of course…I’ll report back when I can reach him/them…

 

Update on El’s rehospitalization, Day 3:

Just called the nurse and he said that El had a good night, is awake and alert, much more stabilized in his readings, keeping his blood pressure up almost without meds (just one right now), and writing notes on a notepad, as he still has the breathing tube in…

Today they will do a TEE to check his heart for any damage from yesterday’s episode and CPR…

They told me to call back around 4pm to see how that went, and if they can take the breathing tube out, then he can call me before then…

More later…

 

Update on El’s rehospitalization, Day 3: ***Evening update below:

Just called the nurse and he said that El had a good night, is awake and alert, much more stabilized in his readings, keeping his blood pressure up almost without meds (just one right now), and writing notes on a notepad, as he still has the breathing tube in…

Today they will do a TEE to check his heart for any damage from yesterday’s episode and CPR…

They told me to call back around 4pm to see how that went, and if they can take the breathing tube out, then he can call me before then…

More later…

***Evening update:

Today was much better, and they were able to take the breathing tube out so El can talk again! I talked to him twice today, and he sounds so much better!

They decided not to do the TEE today since his levels are holding steady and they don’t feel the need right now…so that’s a good thing and another procedure that he doesn’t have to go through…

They still have him on clear liquids, and he was complaining that he really wanted to eat…so maybe tomorrow for that…

He mentioned how much he loved having me there with him yesterday, holding his hand, and being with him…he asked if I could come again today, but they said no, he was in too good a shape to call me in again…so I guess that’s good news…

To the family: Rest easy for now – it seems he’s REALLY on the mend this time… ✨💜✨

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 4:

More progress was made yesterday, as they pumped 3 liters of fluid out of his lungs – 1.5 from each lung! So now he can breathe much easier, and when I talk to him, he sounds clearer and less wheezy…makes sleeping much more sound as well as it can be in a hospital…so the hope is that the fluid will not build up again and this will be the end of his pneumonia!

That’s how his whole day went – one procedure in the morning in one lung, and the next one in the afternoon for the other…

We have gotten into a habit of having him call me when he wakes up, and I call him in the evening before he gets tucked in and drugged out for the night…and if anything happens in between, there could be a third call, but 2 minimum per day…it’s a sweet habit and helps us have some semblance of regular, predictable contact, which is a lifeline for both of us right now!

The plan for the day of the Solstice (our first holiday apart in almost 21 years!) is to get him sitting up in a chair…

And then there’s Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, and I’m hoping that his wonderful sons will call him – which reminds me, there is a direct ext. to his room now so you won’t have to go through all the prompts:

707-445-8121, X-2254

So MY plan is to use these powerful Solstice and Solar Eclipse energies to channel some major healing energies to surround and permeate El’s body and all the auric layers around it!

Who will join me? ✨💜✨

 

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 5:

El sounds better every day. We had 3 great convos yesterday, and he is back to his snarky humour – a good sign of recovery!

The lungs are still clear, so breathing is still improving. He sat in a chair for the first time, not too long, at first, but baby steps…

He says that St. Joe’s is talking about coming to the house and putting in a shower bar and chair, and also installing a bar all the way down our central hallway…probably won’t happen till he gets home – but that will be interesting…

He was still in ICU as of last night, but they might move him to a room when one opens up, either today or tomorrow perhaps. Not sure how much work they’ll do on Father’s Day…

His number, again, is 707-445-8121, X-2254 (unless they have moved him, in which case the nurse will transfer you)…

Happy of Father’s Days to Joshua Arseneau, Jordan Arseneau, and Jesse J. Arseneau, El’s amazing and highly talented sons!

That’s all on this Solstice evening…and a big shoutout to all those who did special rites on El’s behalf last night! ✨💜✨

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 6:

El had a really good Father’s Day (considering where he is) because all three of his sons and his brother called him – that really made his day! Thanks, guys! 🙂

He is exercising more every day – now, besides sitting up in a chair, he is walking back and forth to the door of the room…

He also ate solid food for the first time – beef stew for lunch and turkey and mashed potatoes for dinner. He is very happy to be off that liquid diet…

During the night, they moved a new roommate into the room, and El says he’s a psyco…harrasses everyone around him, shouting stuff like, “You’re not doing it right”, or “Why are you looking at me like that?” His presence is disturbing to El, and he has requested a room change!

Heart patients are not supposed to be stressed, so I hope they accommodate him…

So, will El get moved to a quieter space?

Stay tuned…

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 7:

Well, in contrast to the wonderful day El had yesterday, today was a bit of a setback…

He still has a fungal infection that they have been treating with antifungals (white blood count still elevated), and when he tried to get up to walk, he got short of breath and had to sit/lie down again. They say he still has some fluid in his lungs that they are closely monitoring…

Remember when I mentioned that psycho patient that got moved into his room last night? It was around 9pm – just when El is supposed to be drifting off into a pain-free sleep from the Dilantin they give him at bedtime. His shouting, refusing to take his pills, harassing anyone who looked at him, kept El awake most of the night, and extremely stressed out…

When El told me about this on our morning call, I called the nurse back and asked that they honor his request to be moved to a different room (or move the other guy), and they told me they would see what they could do, if there was a bed available…

Then, when El called me tonight before bed, he said that they took the other guy out and now he has the room to himself for tonight – so maybe he can get some restful sleep and get his stamina back!

They were telling me that he will need lots of physical therapy to get his strength back, and I am checking into that now…

I guess I’ll have to accept that healing is not just a constant upward progress, but has some dips in it too, but I just want to make sure that his progress is not undermined by external factors that can/should be avoided…

May he rest easy tonight, and be much improved tomorrow… 💜

 

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 8:

Yesterday was better – they decided not to do another extraction from his lungs – so that is good. He was able to sit for long periods and walk a bit again, not too out of breath this time too…

He’s getting really fed up being there – especially when one of the nurses said that they would like it if he remained in the hospital and went to their physical therapy people for 5-6 hrs. a day!

He knows he needs PT, but we have our own plans to go to our own PT person at Vector – closer to where we live and someone we already have a relationship with…

Not to mention that staying long-term in the hospital while well enough to go to PT for so many hrs. is not something he can see himself doing…

There’s also some competition between home health care in Mad River and the one in St. Joe’s – they both want to be involved. So we talked and El wants to have the Mad River nurse give him the home health care, and then still allow St. Joe’s to come and install the bathtub bar and seat, and a bar down our long central hallway…

I hope we can work that out – Mercury Retrograde notwithstanding… 😉

The longer he stays there, and the better he feels, the lower his morale is – so please keep phone calls coming to cheer him up and make his long days go easier, ok?

707-445-8121, X-2232

Thanks again to everyone for the energies – you are all so loved and appreciated! ✨💜✨

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 9:

The main activity today was another fluid extraction from just the right lung this time (another 1.5 liters)…so since he was busy with that, he didn’t get a walk in, but he did sit for a long time today…

He’s getting increasingly frustrated about how long he has to be there, and this feeling did not get helped – in fact, got exacerbated – when one of the doctors said to him, “Oh no, you’re not going anywhere – we’re keeping you here till you are healed…we’re not making that mistake again…” This was delivered in a rather harsh tone…(Probably referring to his premature release from St. Helena’s hospital)…

He said, after talking to her, that he felt like a prisoner… 🙁

So what does “healed” mean to her?

I asked tonight’s nurse (while I was on the phone with El, he handed her the phone) what the status was on his fungal infection and white blood count…she said it was trending downward from 16.something yesterday to 14.something today, and she says normal would be anywhere between 4 and 11 (seems like a wide range to me)…so they are continuing on antibiotics and antifungals till he reaches those numbers…no telling how long that will take, but they think it might take another week? She wasn’t sure and said to ask the day nurse…

I would like to talk to more than one of his doctors and nurses and see if everyone’s story aligns…

He finally got some good sleep this afternoon, and turned in early tonight…

So I’ve got my homework cut out for me tomorrow…

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 10:

So one of his doctors finally decided to call in a bacterial infection expert to look at El yesterday – and his diagnosis is that El has a Thoracic yeast infection!

They told him that if everyone will sign off on this, then maybe El can get out of the hospital – on a program of antibiotics – and that should stop the fluid buildup once the infection is taken care of…

I will be calling in today to talk to the nurse and get an update as to what the next steps are…

I kind of need a probable release date before I can arrange for the home health nurse and PT…so we shall see what we shall see…

More later…

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 11:

Today was a busy phone day for me, between talking to El, a couple nurses, a cardiologist, Mad River home health, our PT person, and a couple of appts. for me personally, there was a lot going on… First off, the convo with the caridologist: She says El has Diastolic heart failure, plus the thoracic infection, so they have modifies his meds and are monitoring him closely… I will post a link to this after this update… Because of not being able to pee much without the catheter, they gave him a superpower diuretic and this brought out so much liquid that they had to put the catheter back on! Sheesh! They DID give a tentative prediction as to when he might be released (notice all the qualifiers I used there?), and they said 3 more days (as of today), which means Monday…? Needless to say, I’ll believe it when I see it, but it does give us a date to work with for those positive visualizations, eh? Today now equals the time he was in the hospital in St. Helena…11 days there, 2 days (almost) at home, and now 11 days and counting at St. Joe’s…I’ve only seen him a few days this month! Our kitten is SO confused…

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/diastolic-heart-failure?fbclid=IwAR361WrNGdruSSqppG4fgmB_OYjLX3d9k0OWXcUdA5guinLX2yzV0uG8Lc0

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 12:

It was a slow day at the hospital, and El says that they were short-staffed (because of striking?) and that they were unable to spare anyone to give him his walking exercises…

How is he supposed to get strong enough to leave if he can’t get exercise? This is highly disturbing to him, and me…If I was there, it would not be a problem, as I took him for walks back in 2012 when he had his first heart surgery… 🙁

Anyway, he sounds restless and bored, which means he’s feeling better and so let’s hope he can get more staff to help him get up and around and stronger…

 

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 13:

Much improvement yesterday – to the point where they are talking about releasing him today!!

I will talk to the floor nurse – who will need to sign off for him to be discharged – to verify that he will be ready to go…how exciting!

His levels are stabilizing, the catheter is out, they have found a balance of meds that seems to work, after some experimentation the last few days…

I’ve been giving the house a deep clean to make it ready, and can’t wait to bring him home!

Oh, and just a heads up: El’s new replacement phone has arrived in the mail, so he will be having a new phone number as soon as he gets it programmed…

I know that all the energies from everyone are making this possible – so thanks again to everyone! ✨💜✨

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 14:

Well, I thought it sounded too good to be true…

El called this morning to say that – even though one of the cardiologists told him last night in no uncertain terms that he could go home today, the one he saw this morning was adamant that he consult with 3 other doctors before discharging him!

We don’t know if that will happen today, as two of the other doctors are on holiday vacation out of state this week!

Needless to say, El is very depressed…as am I…

I have a call in to the nurse and I plan to get to the bottom of what is really going on…and when he can really leave…

Mercury Rx strikes again… 😔

More later…

 

 

***Evening Update*** Day 14:

After getting transferred all over when I tried to get info on El’s status, I finally talked one of the doctors and she went on about needing to up his electrolytes, for which they are giving him potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc., which must have been drained from his system from all the meds…she had no clue how long that would take…

Then later El called me to say that he spoke to the Infectious Disease doc, who says that the infection needs to be monitored closely…and get this: First the doc said it would take another 2 weeks (!)…then he downgraded that to 10 days…then he downgraded that to 7 days…all during their convo…

So a week from now is the holiday weekend, and they are already short-staffed from many leaving on vacation this week…

The challenge is to get the cardiologist, the I.D. doc, and the Pulmonary doc to all sign off on his release at a specific date and time…

Time for some major readings…

In the meantime, he really needs to keep his spirits up, so keep the phone calls coming, ok? 💜

 

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 15:

Every day, it seems, the timing of El’s upcoming discharge changes…

Monday night the Cardiologist was “sure” that he could come home on Tuesday…then the Infectious Disease doc (Tues. morning) said that he would be in for between one and two weeks…

Shortly after that, I get a call from the Discharge nurse wanting to set up the home health care and PT…and she was “sure” he’d be released in a day or so…

I called the nurse after that and she said that El and I were the only ones she heard from that he was being released! Oy…

No word since then…

It’s to the “crying wolf” stage now, where I don’t believe what I hear from any one of them until they reach a consensus…so as far as I know, he could get out any time within a week or so…

I’ve bought special groceries for him that I’ve had to freeze now…it’s really hard to prepare…

And to top it all off, our roommate moved out last night, and we have an Airbnb guest coming on Wed. afternoon to stay for a couple months – and I’ve been working hard to get the house in order for that change too…

 

Update on El’s Rehospitalization, Day 16:

El just called me, and he is coming home today!!!

They just need to give him one more IV bag, and then he’s good to go! Should take a couple hours, once they get it to him…

I knew there was a reason I didn’t go to bed today…lol

He will have a pic line in, and Home Health will come over tomorrow to show me how to give him IVs (just like I did in 2012 after that heart surgery)…

We are both SO excited!!!

What a roller coaster, eh?

More later when I get him home

 

**Evening Update Day 16***

There was a ton of stuff to unpack, and 6 more prescriptions to pick up…so we laid down for a wee nap when he first got home and settled…

Now he’s getting online again and programming his new replacement phone, so you should be hearing from him soon with his new number…

Thanks again to each and every one of you for all the love, prayers, Reiki, and good vibes you’ve been sending throughout this ordeal – you have all earned some karmic brownie points for sure! I love you all! ✨💜✨

 

El’s Health Update: Closure

On Wed., July 1, I brought El home from St. Joseph’s Hospital after an extended stay due to complications from his heart surgery at Adventist Health Hospital in St. Helena. He has spent all but a few days in June in those hospitals…

He has shown tremendous improvement in the 12 days that he has been home! Amazing what some TLC and good food and sleep will do for the healing process…

When he first got home, he was very weak and wobbly – could barely walk without getting winded and having to rest frequently while catching his breath…needing help getting up from a chair or bed or toilet seat…

We blame St. Joe’s for the extent of his weakness, as they were too short-staffed to exercise him – only giving him one walk every 2 – 3 days! How was he supposed to develop strength enough to be home without exercise?

We got the old walker out of the closet that we had gotten for him during his previous heart surgery, and we were so glad we didn’t sell it! He gets lots of walking practice through our long and narrow apt – a nice long hallway to walk down…

Initially, I had to bring him his toothbrush with a bowl of water to his desk since he couldn’t stand at the sink to brush his teeth…
His stomach had shrunken from not being able to eat the crappy food at St. Joe’s, but his appetite has been improving daily…I’ve been cooking some healthy, organic food and not letting him eat anything processed, as he is supposed to be avoiding salt – and most processed things have tons of salt in them…I’m even holding off on the Himalayan salt for the moment until we are sure he is stabilized…in fact, I’m even looking into learning some Ayurvedic cooking from a friend who just completed her certification – looking to make sure all the elemental energies are balanced…

Mad River Home Health has sent nurses over almost every day the first week…the first 3 days he still had the pic line In, and was receiving IVs of antibiotics/antifungals…then they removed the pic line and switched him to oral medicines…

Speaking of medicines, he had thought that he would be able to get off all those meds, but now he has a new batch to take…some of which are temporary – some are not…

He has his urinary function working properly again, which is quite a relief…still a bit of swelling in his feet, but the edema in the legs has almost gone – we’ve been elevating his feet a few times during the day, which helps…

When the nurse listens to his heart and lungs, the heart has a good, strong, regular sinus rhythm, and the lungs sound clear on top, but somewhat muffled on the bottom, due to some fluid buildup…they have him doing breathing exercises and such to loosen that stuff up and trying to expel it…

He is off the warfarin and digoxin, and is on another couple heart meds – but we are happy he is off the blood thinners (except for a baby aspirin they prescribed)…so now he can eat Vitamin K foods again!

He will begin physical therapy soon at Vector, where we know the PT (the same one who worked with me and got to know us over the years – even took my Reiki class) – and it is very close to our house…

Mad River sent an Occupational Therapist over last week, and we are looking into getting some equipment installed in the bathroom: a shower seat for the tub, some bars to hang onto, and – since there is a dip in the road before the one step into our house – we are looking into getting a ramp to cover that…lots of changes…

So now, 12 days home, he is getting up by himself, dressing and doing his bathroom routine, even going out to the kitchen before I wake up and starting his breakfast!

He’s working very hard to be independent and not “burden” me…and I am so proud of his progress and accomplishments! He has to be so strong to be able to go through all that and do as well as he is doing today!

I am so happy he is truly on the mend, and improving every day!

Thanks again, everyone, for the caring energies! ✨💜