Saturday, April 20, 2013

Counting My Blessings

A week ago Friday, Robert woke up with a temperature of 102, difficulty breathing and unable to sit up without assistance.  EMTs were called, Robert was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with septic shock and pneumonia.
Robert is happy to be home from the hospital

The night before, he was slightly congested and had a temperature of 99 (which the hospital wouldn’t even classify as a fever) but, other than knowing how infections take hold of him quickly, there really was no indication he would be as bad off as he was.

It came on that suddenly – much like last May when he was also hospitalized with pneumonia and sepsis.  This time, he landed in the ICU, his fever spiked to 104 on night two and we were told he was “pretty sick.” 

After only one week, Robert was released and came home to enjoy both a Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino from Starbucks as well as a scoop of Rocky Road Ice Cream after dinner.  (I know it isn’t the healthiest way to celebrate his homecoming but, hey, it makes him happy).

It was a long week of running between the hospital, work and home but there were lots of opportunities to be grateful.  

1.      I am grateful Robert now lives with us full-time.  This recent illness progressed from mild to severe so quickly, I don’t know if New Home would have been able to get Robert to the hospital timely. Because of their location, even if they did send him to the hospital, it would not be the one his GP and neurologist are affiliated with.  Having access to as much medical information about the patient as possible is extremely important, especially during a crisis like this.

2.   I am grateful for the emergency medical personnel! The fire department and EMT response to our 911 call was fast and efficient.  These guys are awesome!

3.    I am grateful for the flexibility given to me at work and for my employer providing paid sick days.  I was able to go into the office for a few hours each day then do some work at the hospital as well as handle questions or problems via email or phone.  It was a relief to know I have this flexibility, that I have supportive and caring partners (who frequently asked how Robert was doing) as well as not having to worry about not being paid for missing work. Not all working caregivers have such a luxury.

4.       I am grateful for my animals! It was a welcome stress reliever to come home at night and have two labs and my cat snuggle up with me at night.  They don’t leave me or my husband a lot of room on the bed but you can’t have everything!

5.       I am grateful Robert is such a good patient! He is polite and tells all the nurses, “God Bless You” when they leave the room.  (Last year in the hospital, all the nurses thought he was saying, “I’ll miss you.”).  Either way, they think he’s a sweetheart.  Just don’t interrupt him when he’s in the middle of finding a word in his word search book . . .

6.      I am so, so grateful for my family.  Other Brother and Oldest Daughter visited Robert (and me) which perked us both up.  My darling mother-in-law has a special bond with Robert and as soon as he made it to a regular room, she visited – with a gift and a card in hand.  Robert grinned from ear to ear with each new visitor. (It's amazing how helpful visits are in the healing process.)

7.       I am grateful for the caregiving community of  What a supportive group!  I had people emailing and texting me during Robert’s hospitalization, many of whom were participating in the WAIT Buddy program (anyone can sign up and it’s free!).   

8.      I am grateful for my husband.  Richard was calm throughout Robert’s ordeal and was more than willing to be at the hospital while I was at work (a necessity since Robert wouldn’t be able to tell me if the doctor had come in or what they said).  Richard continued to work his own job (which, thankfully, is phone-based so he could take calls at the hospital) and he took care of the animals since I left very early in the morning and didn’t get home until much later than normal.  He made Robert laugh during every visit and he even put up with me when the stress and my weariness made me a little cranky (just a little).

9.       I am grateful to have Robert home from the hospital.  He still has terrible chest congestion but his vitals are good. At least he’s home and moving around which should help him continue to improve (home is a much better place to recuperate – hospitals are full of sick people!).  We’re keeping a close eye on him and continuing to check his vitals (yeah, just call me Nurse Trish) but he seems to be getting back to his old self.  He and Taz have to remember how to get along with each other (Taz is still in the “I want to be right in your face checking out everything you’re doing” phase and Robert is in the “leave my food and chocolate shakes alone” phase).  I'm sure they'll work it out. 

It’s been a while since I have shared what I am grateful for and Robert’s recent hospitalization gave me a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of what is important.

What are you grateful for today? 

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