Sunday, March 23, 2014

Leave Room for a Little Sunshine

Rock, meet Hard Place but leave some room for a little bit of sunshine.

Robert’s nighttime cough was worse by Friday even though he was on cough medicine. He was not sleeping well. The coughing and congestion was so severe he threw up a few times in the middle of the night. 
Photo Credit: Matt Stevens, "Flow"

(He made it into the bucket about half the time and since I’m a glass half-full kind of gal, I consider that a win.) 

Every day I take Robert’s vitals: blood pressure, blood ox level, pulse and temperature.  Everything was in his normal range and by Friday he still hadn’t run a fever.  Great news but what I saw was the cough getting worse and the weekend upon us.  Is that a train up ahead?  It feels like Robert is on the tracks and I’m racing to rescue him before the pneumonia train runs him over. 

His cough has been subsiding during the day so he seemed well enough to go to Program. I sent him on Friday but explained I was going to call his doctor to get an appointment.

A few minutes later: “You’re going to pick me up at 1:30?”

Um, no.  It’s only 7:30 a.m. now and the doctor’s office isn’t open yet.  I have to call for an appointment.  Just go to Program and once I have the appointment, I will have the staff at Program let you know when I will be there.

“Thank you.”  He went back to looking out the window for the bus. 

I called the doctor’s office the previous week, too, but spoke to the advice nurse. I explained what was going on: cough, no fever, no other sign of infection.  “Bring him in” advised the nurse and doctor.

Well, no.  I knew I would take him in and they wouldn’t be able to do anything because it isn’t a full-blown infection.  The only thing that would come of it would be me feeling guilty for missing more work.  So I made the decision a week ago to not take him in.

The coughing got worse through the next week and I thought I saw just a tinge of yellow in the mucus. The cough was disrupting Robert’s sleep more and more. The vomiting started.

Robert went to Day Program and this time I called the doctor’s office for an appointment. I was still torn – still no fever, not sure what they could do but I needed guidance.  I needed a doctor to help me out since I was struggling with how to keep Robert healthy. I was wishing my brain would have been able to comprehend science because I would like to be a doctor right about now.

We had a late morning appointment so I picked up Robert from Day Program after handling some morning emails from work.

Not surprisingly, Robert’s vitals are fine at the doctor’s office. We are escorted into the office by a young woman who is always very sweet to Robert.  She calls him “Mr. Wright” and gets no argument from him about “I prefer to be called Robert.”  It sounds very official and important so I understand why Robert doesn’t mind.

Maybe I’ll start calling him that when he is in a cranky mood. 

Robert promptly falls asleep in a chair and the doctor soon walks in.  He looks at me and at Robert (he is the one who diagnosed bronchitis in February). He is clearly wondering why we’re back.

I explained my dilemma: Robert’s congestion is worsening and he’s throwing up at night from it yet his vitals are fine.  I do not want to over-use antibiotics since Robert is already resistant to some.  We need to hold those in our arsenal. 

“Doctor, I’m struggling with this.”

We discussed the pulmonary doctor visit, discussed the situation and he listened to Robert’s lungs. He went back to the computer and read over more notes and looked at a loss.

It was strangely comforting to know the doctor was struggling with what to do as much as I was. 

We are both in agreement that we don’t want Robert on antibiotics prematurely. He was concerned about us going into the weekend, though. He decided to order antibiotics for me to have on hand but to only give to Robert if he started to show signs of an infection.  He then punted to the lung doctor.

“Call him today to see what he recommends.”

We finished up; I thanked the doctor for his help and shook his hand.  He is someone who really does care and strikes me as someone who gets frustrated when he can’t find the answer or come up with a good solution.  As far as I was concerned, this was the best solution available.

At least until my magic wand gets out of the shop.

Robert and I went home and I got him settled with his lunch. Richard took over for the afternoon while I went in to work for a few hours. 

I called the pulmonary doctor and left a message for his advice nurse.  I explained the situation and the “just in case” antibiotics.  The advice nurse called me back after talking to the pulmonary doctor and said he recommends giving Robert the antibiotics.  Don’t wait for the fever.

As much as I struggle with keeping antibiotics in our back pocket in order to prolong Robert’s resistance to them as long as possible, it was a relief to be able to give them. Waiting for the fever is risky – once that happens it is a short trip to pneumonia and sepsis.

Robert has been on the antibiotics for a day and a half.  He coughed last night but didn’t throw up. We let him sleep until noon yesterday; waking him only for his medications (Taz gets extra credit for letting him sleep!). We are letting him sleep late again today.  He has a lot of sleep to catch up on after all that coughing the past few weeks.

It’s been a beautiful weekend of sunshine and Robert seems to be on the mend.  I am not going to think about whether or not this latest round of antibiotics will contribute to him being resistant in the future.  I can’t worry about the future.

These are difficult decisions but, for now, the train has slowed down. Heck, if I am being really optimistic, I will even say Mr. Wright is off the tracks.

I can even see a glimmer of sunshine through that rock and hard place. 


e_journeys said...

Good boy, Taz! :-)
I highly respect a doctor who can say, "I don't know."
Am keeping my fingers crossed for Robert and for you all. (((Hugs)))

Unknown said...

I so pray this is the e d of Robert s coughing spells and that you are able to come off "high alert"' It's so exhausting, waiting for the train. Still praying for excellent to return. Love and peace to all.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

ejourneys, I agree about the doctor! If you don't know, tell me. I appreciate that more than just a guess and then acting like they know everything. We've been very lucky with his doctors. Appreciate the crossed fingers!