Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Robert’s Turn in the Hospital

October cannot come soon enough.

My husband, Richard, was in the hospital for four days after Labor Day (most spent in the ICU), thanks to an inadvertent drug overdose by his doctor.
Robert when he was in the ICU - feeling better!
Robert was pretty sniffly that week and I half-joking said to my daughter that Robert was going to end up in the hospital by the following week.


By the time Richard was home and recovering, Robert’s sniffles turned into a cough. I took him to the doctor on Friday who prescribed antibiotics but by Friday evening, he was pretty sick. I slept on the family room couch (in Robert’s room) and woke up every two hours to take his vitals.

He has had pneumonia and sepsis before so I knew what to watch for: extremely low blood pressure and high pulse rate. His pulse rate was high but the blood pressure remained in the “okay” range.  Robert’s fever spiked around 2:00 a.m. and I debated about calling the paramedics but the fever came down with Tylenol.

Through the night, his congestion worsened and his lungs sounded awful.  I tried to get him to cough up whatever was in there and by morning, even had him get up to get cleaned up. He was weak but not as bad off as he was last April. 

When Robert is sick, he progresses to “oh crap” very quickly so I called the paramedics and got ready for their arrival. Richard and I sat Robert in his walker in the front room, making it easier for the paramedics to access him. I also got my handy cheat sheet ready to hand to the EMTs.

Robert was in the Emergency Room for a few hours and sent for x-rays. Once he got back from x-rays, his blood pressure started dropping and he was significantly less alert. I notified the staff about the difference and they gave him more fluids while preparing to send him to a regular room.

Once Robert was transferred, it didn’t take long for the nurse to realize he should be in ICU. She called the Rapid Response team who called ICU and he was transferred again. 

All the while, I am talking to the staff about their protocols and what constitutes “sepsis” (a blood pressure with the systolic number below 90 is one trigger for a diagnosis of sepsis).  I am no nurse but I do want to know what to watch for at home and want to add to my “advocacy arsenal” for the future.  So I take notes and listen and soak up as much information as possible.

Robert was in the ICU from Saturday afternoon until Monday mid-morning. He is now in a regular room and will most likely be in the hospital the rest of the week.

I know he’s feeling better because he is asking for a chocolate shake! He is still on a clear liquid diet but as soon as he can eat regular food, we will bring him his favorite drink.

Richard and I have been taking shifts at the hospital so we don’t miss any information from the doctors or respiratory therapists. Robert is not a reliable self-reporter so it’s important we are there to let the nurses and doctors know if he’s having any problems.

(No matter what, Robert will say he is “excellent” when asked.  That’s not exactly helpful or accurate when he’s lying in the ER with a fever of 102 and pneumonia.) 

I think we all need scorecards to keep track of what’s happening so here’s a recap:

Richard was in the hospital four days; Robert has been in for five days so far for a total of nine days spent in the hospital this month and counting;

Robert has had pneumonia and sepsis three times in sixteen months (twice in the past five months);

Our puppy has torn up countless newspapers because he’s confused why his routine is messed up; Where’s Dad? Where’s Robert? Where’s Mom?

Robert is several days behind on eating Rocky Road ice cream and chocolate shakes.

Me? I’m going to have a spa day every day for a month when this is all over.

1 comment:

Melinda H said...

You are an angel. You take care of everyone else -- make sure to find some time for you. Glad Robert is doing better and I hope that continues. Maybe the upcoming holidays will be nice and peacful!! Wishing you the best!!