Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Part 7: Parting Gifts

The next several days and I was getting tired of being in the hospital. Although Josh was able to visit me every other day, I was lonely - missing my family, missing my bed and my things, and missing my old self. I remember asking the nurse one day if I could get something salty to eat: A bag of chips, or some pretzels? Her reply after her laugh: "You are on the cardiac floor. We don't have anything salty." (hmph) I was able to get up and walk myself to the bathroom, but I needed oxygen to help my weak lungs, and even the dozen steps it took to get there left me completely exhausted and gasping for air. I was also hooked up to monitors and IV's, so I had to walk a tall stand and tubes with me wherever I went. It reminded me how your little kids follow you wherever you go - even to the bathroom!
Here is a photo of how I was looking at this point

My lower right lung wasn't inflating quite the way they wanted it to, so they wanted to do a Bronchoscopy to take a look and see if everything was okay. A bronchoscope is inserted into the airway, through the nose, and lets the doctor look at the airways for anything abnormal. Doesn't that sound fun? After that whole feeding tube incident, I have had anxiety about anything in or around my nose or blocking my breathing. I still can't put my face directly in the shower spray in the shower! I can't even imagine going swimming! They wheeled me into the room and gave me an awful tasting nebulizer of lytocaine (numbing medicine), that I had to breathe in through my mouth. After that, the nurse came over with a tube of cream and instructed me to sniff in while he squeezed lytocaine cream into my nasal passage. This was almost more than I could bear. I shook my head and whimpered like one of my kids being asked to take a gross medicine or eat asparagus. Another nurse let me squeeze her hand while I snorted one...two...and three shots of cream up my nose. Horrible. The thought still makes me shudder. Fortunately I was put under for the rest of the procedure, and the scope didn't find anything wrong. I got a nice photo of my airways "as a souvenir". Awesome.

My roommate Donna had checked out, and another woman had checked in as my roommate to have a stint put in her heart. Then one night in the middle of the night, in came a few nurses, who started unhooking my monitors and gathering my things. A nice nurse said brightly (as though they move patients every day in the middle of the night), "Amy, we're moving you to another room!" I blearily asked why, and she said, "They found MRSA in your sputum, and you need to be in your own room. Your own room...won't that be nice?" What is MRSA? What is sputum? The Internet on my cell phone had come in handy many, many times during my hospital stay. A doctor would spout unfamiliar medical terms, and I would nod and smile, then when they left, I would type it into a Google search to find out what-in-the-world he was talking about. So, I typed in MRSA and discovered it is a staph infection, common in hospitals, but needs to be treated with antibiotics. I felt like this was just the cherry on top of everything. Great.

The next day I noticed that every doctor or nurse who came in to see me would wear a mask. They'd put it on when they came in, and discard it in the garbage when they left. My relocated room was at the very end of a long hallway. Was I being quarantined? I felt like a leper! "Unclean! Unclean!" Then Dr. Gillam, my infectious disease doctor assured me that I was just fine, that the doctors and nurses were wearing masks as a protection to the other patients they visit who have compromised immune systems (turns out I was the youngest "heart patient" in the place by a good 30 years!). He said I'd be starting an IV medication called Vancomycin, and that I was still cleared to go home and could hug and kiss my kids, and cough and sneeze all I wanted without being a danger to them or anyone else. That was a relief, because I really missed my people!

After weeks of being in bed, my A-fib episodes, eating hospital food, surgery, etc. I lost a total of 17 lbs. Some people would smile and cheer at that kind of weight loss. It's more than the "goal weight" (I don't weigh myself regularly, but gauge it on how my pants fit) I had been working towards before I got sick. But, this isn't the kind of weight loss anyone should want. My chest is sunken, my muscles are weak. I have to wear my winter coat even if it's 60 degrees outside. I fatigue really easily, and still lose my breath if I take the stairs too fast.

I learned that being thin doesn't equate to being fit. Being healthy and "a little meaty" feels a lot better than being trim and sick. But, soon I'll be strong again. Before I know it, I'll be able to run that big laundry basket of clothes up the stairs with ease. I'll be able to pick up my kids without having to think about my breathing. I'll be able to quickly clean my house gets messy, while simultaneously cooking dinner, and not have to rest for 10 minutes after I'm done!

It's amazing that I was so sick, but that my body will recover. It may take 6-8 weeks, but it will RECOVER. Our bodies are an amazing and beautiful gift from our Father in Heaven. They are able to fight infection, heal themselves, and create new life. My body has given birth to three beautiful babies, and I've been alive and healthy for 34 years! What a miraculous gift!

Stay tuned for the concluding part 8. Thanks for your patience with this, friends!


Sarah said...

How awful to feel like an unclean leper at the end of the hall after all the rest!
Don't push yourself to fast to rush back into the ability to clean...but YES, you will be able to keep up with it all soon enough! :)

Nicole said...

I am glad I got caught up on episodes 5, 6, 7! While you were in the cardiac ward as the youngest patient, I was in Branson as the youngest audience member! sweet. I dare say mine was an easier stay. I love your roommate Donna and the "seasoned pro" advice she gave you after your AFIB incident. It is truly amazing that you, a healthy young mom could get SOOO sick. Makes my flu shot a whole lot better! Good luck with your continued speedy recovery!

Taylor's said...

How depressing to feel unwanted or unclean. It reminds me of the scriptures and your doctor pretty much being the Savior and saying it is okay just like the Savior healed the leaper.

I wish we lived closer so I could help with the children, cooking and cleaning.

If I have not said it before I will say it again - you are AMAZING!

Dianna said...

Wow, I'm so glad you DO have a healthy body that can recover and gain strength. Take it slow though, but you know that.

Holly said...

What a blessing to have such a kind and caring roommate. I think I might have not wanted a roommate at first, but when I read that she left and you had to move to your own room, I felt sad that you had to be alone. I'm glad you weren't alone the whole time. It seems like God placed you two together so she could help you along when it was difficult.

There is so much to learn from your experience in the hospital. I keep reading your posts and thinking in terms of my CNA class. I can just imagine how you would have felt--"Leper! Leper!" I know, I've thought about how the patient was feeling many times when there was a room we had to "suit up" for before entering.

I appreciate your statement of "Being thin doesn't equate to being healthy." It is so true, and a good lesson for my young women to learn. (Well, every woman for that matter.)

And I agree about what a miracle the body is. It really is amazing that you can heal and be healthy again. How amazing that no matter how many times I get a bruise, it will heal, and no matter how many times Greg cuts himself (it happens a lot!) it will always heal. It makes me feel like there is something divine in all of us--some Godly power that helps us to be stronger than mere mortals at times.