Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The end of a rough year leads to a rough new year.

I've had a pretty tough few months, but the last few weeks have been a doozie. I've been complaining to my doctors via phone about having more and more trouble breathing, fevers rising, and my pain getting worse. Finally, just before my birthday I got a phone call back saying that they'd like to admit me because they thought I may have a virus (although my symptoms had been going strong for Weeks). I told them that I had a 4 night "getaway" planned for my birthday - New Years that I really needed to go to, even though I wasn't planning on anything more than laying around and just spending some time away from home with Benito. So we cancelled our plans because my doctor was supposed to call me on Saturday to discuss admit, but after not hearing from him, we decided to check and see if our reservation had been rebooked by someone else yet. Luckily the place was still open so we went ahead and spent 3 nights in the East Bay. We literally spent the entire time watching rented DVDs, sleeping, or just laying around talking, but we did it together and had a great time away from home for those few days.
Once we got home I called my clinic to see if I can go ahead and be admitted, but my nurse was out of the office until the following Monday (Jan 6th). So we spent the next few days preparing for an admit and Benito getting a lot of work done at his office.
I wasn't allowed to say anything before, but Benito was offered a management position at his office and his first day at Operations Manager of the entire production part of the company was Jan 2nd! I'm just so darned proud of him for all the heard work he's put in over the past 5 years. He's such a hard worker and just LOVES this company, so when the previous VP of the company decided to buy out the company from the family who started it 20+ years ago, he knew he wanted Benito to run production. It's all so very exciting now that we can actually tell people! We've had to keep this secret for nearly 3 months before the big announcement on Jan 2nd!

So I called my nurse on Monday morning (Jan 6th) saying that I really need to be admitted. CF clinic is on Mondays, so I knew it would be a while before I would get a call back about getting a bed. I spent the day making sure I had my ducks in a row... Bills paid, laundry done, library books renewed or ready to return, etc. Toward the late afternoon I took a quick shower and by the time I got toweled off I was Bright RED, shaking, and super weak. I pulled out all my equipment and took my vitals... My temp, blood pressure, and heart rate were high, while my oxygen saturation was at an all time low since transplant. I called my nurse again and left a voicemail letting her know the update. Within a few hours my dr called me saying that the hospital was full because of how hard the flu has hit everyone this year, but he's trying to get me a bed. If a bed didn't open up then he'd look into getting me in to a different hospital until I could be transferred. The ideal ward I prefer to be put at my hospital is the transplant ward... The nursing staff is extremely kind and so knowledgeable about all of my medications and needs while I'm in the hospital.

Fortunately by 6:30pm I received a call saying they had a bed for me at my hospital, unfortunately for me, that only open bed was on the orthopedic floor, not the transplant or even the CF floor. So Benito accessed my port at home before we left because the nurses on the Ortho floor are so unfamiliar with central lines and I don't like having to coach someone through something while I'm feeling so awful to begin with.

So we got to the hospital at around 8pm and ended up getting put on supplemental oxygen right away because my oxygen saturation was 91% on room air. It took a long time before my nurse was allowed to do anything beyond that because nobody knew who my doctor/hospitalist was and who to ask. So no orders got written for quite a few hours. Eventually they drew blood, got an xray, started me on IV Meropenem, and respiratory treatments every 4 hours.

What we know now:

My xray showed that my lower right lobe of my lung is shrunken up, but they can not hear ANY air moving throughout my entire right lung. We believe that the stenosis has completely closed off and has caused my lung to "collapse". Because donor lungs have a strong tendency to "glue" themselves to the recipient's chest wall with scar tissue, my lungs won't look like they've collapsed via an xray. They can't physically collapse while they're stuck to the chest wall, but it's giving me so much more pain than my usual lung pain. Attempting to take a deep breath is Very painful and I get a feeling not unlike trying to inhale through an empty balloon. Not comfortable.

Once my oxygen sats came up enough to where I could be taken off the supplemental oxygen there was no longer anything they were doing in the hospital that I couldn't be doing at home. I needed to come home. Most of the nurses on the orthopedic floor were very kind, but every night and day was a struggle with my medications. It got to the point that they were just having me skip the meds that they weren't sure of, so I ended up having some Awful acid reflux every night, which for a transplant recipient, it could mean rejection (yes, reflux CAN contribute to rejecting lungs). I had Benito sneak in my own acid blocker med that I normally take at home (by prescription, so no funny stuff) so I could get my reflux a little more under control.

So they got one last xray done and set me up with IV Meropenem to continue for another 2 weeks at home. I was told that my CF dr was going to speak to my other pulmonologist that does my bronchs and get a bronch scheduled for early the next week (this week). So on Monday I called my CF nurse to check in to see how that bronch was coming along... My dr did talk to my other doc, but he didn't tell him that I needed a bronch asap. :-/

So my nurse got in touch with my bronch pulmonologist and I got a call today saying that the soonest I could get scheduled was next Tuesday the 21st. I broke down and cried... There's no way I could wait another week in this amount of pain. She said my doctor is going out of town tomorrow and won't be back until Tuesday, but she'd call him and see if there was Anything we can work out. A little while later she said my doctor agreed to get me in for an early bronch at 8am tomorrow morning. Basically, his flight leaves at 10am and he's swinging by the hospital on his way to the airport so he can help me out before he leaves town. I can't tell you how much of a relief that is! I can't wait to be able to feel again what pain less than an 8 or 9 out of 10 feels like!

For over a month now I've been experiencing some strange new symptoms and they're continuing to get worse. I've had a Lot of itchiness that Benadryl doesn't help, ammonia smelling sweat (yes, very Gross!!), pain in my right upper abdomen, and some others that are a little too personal to share with you all ;-)

So I got blood work done and found out that my liver enzymes have been rising for a few months. It took a LONG time for me to get my doctor to agree to do any further testing, but he agreed to an abdominal ultrasound and a bunch of other blood tests. Everything is coming back negative, so we don't know what's causing my liver to act up, but during this past hospital stay I asked to be referred to a GI specialist so they can help me figure out what's going on (because my CF doctor told me he didn't want to "dwell" on it any longer). It's hard to just ignore all that stomach pain and constantly paranoid that you smell like ammonia... I'm grateful to be seeing someone soon who is familiar with liver issues and won't just ignore me.

I'm totally worn out, but I will try to get on here soon to tell you about what we've been discussing regarding retransplant. Basically the docs and I are worried that one of these bronchs with laser could go from routine, to life threatening because my doc can't see what he's burning once it all goes black with char and he could very easily hit an artery... Scary stuff, but something to think about.

I do hope you all are having a good year so far.

Until next time...

1 comment:

Jillian B said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Love you!

Leah's GoFundMe Transplant Fundraising Page