Friday, February 27, 2015

In -N- Out...

And I'm NOT Talking About Burgers 
February 2015 

This is the roller coaster story of my dad and his journey with a hernia

My dad was scheduled for hernia surgery on Thursday, February 19th in Tyler, TX. This was supposed to be routine outpatient surgery; meaning in and out, including recovery time, within 3-4 hours and back home by lunch. In fact, it was such a small ordeal that my sister nor I came to the surgery because each of us would spend more time driving to Tyler than would be spent for the whole process. We called on Thursday morning giving him prayers and hugs via phone and Natalie even made a video for him to see afterwards telling him she loved him. 

Thursday morning during one of my classes I get a text from my mom that the surgery took longer than anticipated and explained the doctor had found 3 hernias and not the expected 1. She then explained that he had been in recovery for nearly 3 hours due to a spike in his blood pressure. I should have taken the clue from God then and got in my car but all of us were optimistic and thought it was just a fluke. My dad was then admitted to the hospital and kept to monitor the blood pressure overnight. He was in immense pain the rest of Thursday and into the evening. 

On Friday morning, while he was still in pain, he tried to start eating but had no appetite. The nurses told him he would not be allowed to leave until he could eat solids. Any of you that know my dad know that he will pretty much eat ANYTHING but NOT this time. He was still in such pain that the food was just not happening. As Friday progressed he was still not eating and the blood pressure was still a "little high" so they kept him overnight with FULL INTENTIONS of him being released on Saturday morning. At this point I decided to make a "day trip" to Tyler/Arp to help with the coming home process and to just be a help mainly for my MOM as she was taking care of my dad. I planned on doing the laundry, cleaning house for her and even getting groceries. I woke up Saturday early and started to get ready to leave for Tyler and hopefully I would be to ETMC, the hospital, by 11 or so to help get him home. The room he was in was VERY small so Dad had asked for a larger room at this point but no answer. 

Around 7:25AM on Saturday I received a text from my mom stating that the doctor came in early to see Dad (I was thinking "yay" but NO) and it does not look good. The doctor saw an infection around the incision and was worried it could be the "mesh" he put around the hernias in the surgery. Mom and Dad were then told they would need to stay for another 72 hours to keep an eye on it and on Monday they would address the infection and see if they need to operate again. 

Before I could even finish reading the text I was practically out the door. I grabbed a very small overnight bag, hugged the kids and Chris and I was gone. For whatever reason, well I label it the DEVIL, this particular drive took forever. What should have taken 3 hours took nearly 3.5 but I was at ETMC around 11:15am. I was supposed to bring lunch but when I called to ask what to bring my mom and sister both seemed short and weird on the phone. I didn't necessarily think anything about it and fought through the traffic in Tyler to get to ETMC. Once I arrived I went down to the room I was told he was in on the 2nd floor. Before I even made it to his room a nice young nurse said "He has been moved ma'am". I thought she was talking to someone else for a while but she said it again and then told me he had been moved to the 5th floor and room 5833. "Ummm... Ok that was weird. I didn't even ask where he was" I thought. But I was reminded that my dad visits this hospital for his church members 3-5 times a week so maybe she just knew him or recognized me. I then tried to call mom and Allison with no answer. 

Anyway, I made my way to the 5th floor where it said "Specialty Hospital Floor". I read that and pondered it as I looked for the room but never expected the next discovery. I found his room and there were several of his church members in the room. I go and give my dad hugs and kisses and THEN (Notice not 1-2 hours before while I was driving) my mom pulls me aside and says "His heart is out of rhythm so he is on a heart drip and heart monitor". I immediately go into FULL RED-HEAD mode and am wanting answers and pretty much just completely freaking out (I was not crying but rather just fired up and demanding answers... you know, typical red-head emotions). My dad gave me a look (You know the dad/parent look) as I was mouthing off and said "Go and talk to Mr. Montza". Well I didn't want to make small talk but rather find out what the heck was going on. But luckily Mr. Monzta and Mr. Doug completely distracted me and allowed me to stop and pray about the situation. Thank you Mr. Montza and Mr. Doug because without you I would have made a scene

Dad ended up getting the bigger/ better room he had hoped for but this was not the way we wanted to get it. The day progressed and around 5:30pm my dad's heart got back into regular "SINUS"  rhythm and he was looking better. He was still on the heart meds via a drip as well as the antibiotic for the infection and pain pills. He was very weak as he had not eaten very much at all the past few days.  More and more visitors from his church came on Saturday and he was not able to rest or nap at all. The nurses were fantastic and kept checking on him and how he was progressing but each of them kept saying that the incision area was looking worse. He was getting in and out of bed to use the restroom but you could tell he was in a lot of pain. I decided that I would stay at the hospital on Saturday night since my mom had stayed the previous 2 nights and would be staying on Sunday night. This would allow my mom to get some much needed rest... Or at least we thought

The last visitor left around 10:15PM on Saturday night and I, along with the nurses, helped get dad ready for bed. It was 10:45PM and a short old doctor came in the room. It was Dr. McGovern, the surgeon, and he came in to check out the situation. The next few minutes were emotional to say the least. This doctor was straight forward and blunt... Sounds delightful, I know! I liked his honestly, candidness and humor but it was a little much. The nurses had left at this point so it was just my dad and I in the room with the doctor. 

Here is some of the conversation: 

McGovern- Well we need to get this infection under control. It looks like your heart is fine now that it is back in rhythm but I need to see what the infection is. These type of infections are fatal. We need to get a hold of it sooner than later. You will need to eat breakfast but nothing (Not even water) after 10:00AM. 

Me- (Shaking in panic) Ummm... I'm sorry what? Did you say Fatal? OK walk me through that again. 

McGovern- Yes they can be fatal if you do not get a hold on this soon. We saw this infection about 6 hours after the operation so it has been there from that point on. (Dad is getting worried at this point. In fact his blood pressure machine did a check during the conversation and it was 186/120). Let me just look at it. 

McGovern- (Looking at the area) Yeah... this is bad and it is only getting worse and spreading. OK basically you need to get rest and then eat breakfast and nothing else. I will be by mid-morning and we will prep you for another operation. Do not drink at all after about 10:00AM. 

He continued talking about some other issues but let's be honest, Dad and I were shocked and worried and didn't hear much after that. The Dr finished up talking to us and left the room. I grabbed my phone and told Dad I was going to call mom but followed the doctor out and just had him re-assure me it was all OK. Dr. McGovern told me that it is not as bad as I have it in my head but it is bad. "We need to go in there sooner than later". These were the last words he said to me before he said "Y'all go get some rest". Ummm... Yeah right, you just said it was FATAL! Are you kidding me? 

I called mom and Allison and told them the news. They were both shocked as well and of course Mom was upset that she missed this and that she left dad in the first place. We all tried to get rest that night, especially Dad, but with the worries and emotional stress NONE of us slept well, or at all. Not to mention Dad and I were in the hospital and I swear they just DO NOT WANT PATIENTS TO REST AT ALL. One nurse would come in to check vitals then leave... 20 minutes later (You know, just after you got back to sleep) someone comes in to draw blood at 3:00AM... Then the machine stops working! Same old Same old! So annoying! 

Sunday morning came, bright and early at 5:30AM in fact, and Dad got up in his chair and ate breakfast. He was still in a lot of pain and due to lack of sleep and pain he was VERY weak. In fact, I had never seen him like this. He drank his last water sip at 10:00AM expecting the 2-3PM surgery as Dr. McGovern implied. By 12:30-1:00PM several church members had shown up and the room was full. 2 o'clock came and went and no sign of "short-boy McGovern" (Pardon my terms but I was a little frustrated at this point so my writing implies this as well). More visitors came as Bro. Tommy, the associate pastor at my dad's church, told the congregation that the surgery would be between 2-3PM. 3 o'clock came and went as well and my patience was literally out the window at this point. I was trying to stay calm, especially with people from my home church who watched me grow up, plus my dad had politely but PARENT-ally told me to be respectful. Well, that too was fleeting. I had already gone to the nurses station 2-4 times at this point asking what the hold up was and asking for McGovern. Luckily the nurses were nice and understood and helped me look for him as well. 

Luckily there was a church member who was the ETMC pharmacist who took me on a "scavenger hunt" as he called it looking for McGovern. We found out he was in a trauma surgery at 3:30PM with hopes of getting up to Dad after that. We also found out during our "scavenger hunt" that McGovern did 8, EIGHT, surgeries the day before, 4 Saturday night and was on his 3 surgery at this point. (I wondered if I even wanted him cutting anyone open at this point, let alone my Dad but... he was the best, as they told me). 

It was 4:40PM and McGovern showed up on our floor. However, he did chit-chat with the nurses and another doctor at the nurses station for about 20 minutes.  I paced around the center of the floor several times before I went and showed myself to him... And don't worry Dad, I was respectful, I DID NOT SLAP him in the face! Within a few minutes he was in the room with Dad going over options of the outcome of the surgery. 

Here are the options he gave us for the outcome of the 2nd "exploratory" surgery: 

Option 1
 There is not an infection in the blood stream but rather on the skin surface or an allergic reaction to the antibiotics and he would then leave the incision area OPEN and it would be healed from inside out. (Best option) 

Option 2
The doctor finds the infection below the skin surface and has to take "cultures" to find out what the infection is. He would clean the wound out of the infection as best he could but this would take 2-3 days to determine the culture lab work. Plus he would have to be EXTREMELY careful post-surgery to help keep infection at bay and from not spreading. 

Option 3
The mesh is infected and he would have to live with the hernia for another year and then try ALL OF THIS again in 2016. (Ummmm... No thank you!)

They wheeled him back to surgery around 5:15PM. I will tell you, Dad knew exactly where he is going and he was not anxious about that part of death AT ALL but I could tell he was worried about the outcome. He said several emotional goodbyes but surprisingly none of us girls broke a tear... Another proof that Daddy taught us well, we KNEW God was in control!

Around 6:40PM the surgeon called mom and told her he was done and that he didn't find an infection in the blood stream (Option 1) and that he was going to be OK. We all said a prayer of thankfulness at this point. Nearly an hour later Dad was back in his room to recover. His blood pressure was high but maintained. I was able to see the wound and tell him goodbye before I got in the car to head home since "winter weather" was on the way. (I laughed thinking in all my years of living in Tyler/ Arp we got snow or ice like twice... MAYBE! God knew this too and sure enough Tyler/ Longview area got lots of ice and snow and was practically shut down for 2-3 days... Thank you LORD for getting me home safe). 

Dad rested well that night and on Monday as he was recovering the way he should have been since the beginning of this roller coaster ride. I called on Monday and he sounded 110% better. I was able to get more details about his recovery from my mom and even my sister mentioned he was a LOT better. The ice/sleet had hit Tyler which might have been a blessing in disguise since Dad needed to rest with fewer visitors. 

Tuesday morning I got a text from Mom saying that the doctor had found a blister on his wound and we need to be careful that the blister does not burst or get infection. She mentioned that yet another speed bump in the road is beginning to wear on them...but her spirits remained high. The doctor came in later on Tuesday and said this is not abnormal and easily handled. A wound care consultant would come by on Wednesday and check out the Wound Vac. If it looked good and the IV/pill situation is under control than he would be allowed to go home 24 hours after that, which would be sometime on Thursday.

Thursday came and the "hospitalist" (General doctor for the hospital itself) came by and gave the green light to be release once the Wound Vac and home health nurses came and checked on him. During this time he was much more active and was walking and sitting up on his own and sounded remarkably better via phone than before.

By 3:00PM Mom and Dad were loading up to go home and by 4:00PM they were officially checked out and on their way home. Luckily by the gracious hospitality of members of my dad's church he had dinner prepared and served to him within hours of getting home. That church is such a blessing to my family and I and this is just one of MANY cases where it proved true. 

I talked to my dad via phone last night and he was resting comfortably from his recliner in the den (otherwise known as his Man/ Sports cave). He sounded almost like his old self and was doing remarkably well. This may not have been an "In-N-Out" surgery or routine thing after all but through it all God knew what was going on and was in control. It is amazing how He really does have the WHOLE world in His little hand. I could not be more grateful to family members, friends, church members and even Facebook "acquaintances" that have sent over texts, calls, emails and even tasty delicacies to my family and I through the past week. Bless you all! 

My Dad... My Hero! I love you Daddy!

This whole scenario makes me remember...


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Oh Taste and See

That The Lord is Good
January 2015

Sickness. It is all around us and despite taking all necessary precautions and having a remarkable immune system... sometimes it just hits us. And this time it hit ME and hit me HARD! I started sniffling and noticing some annoyances during our Christmas trip to Louisiana and my parents house in Tyler, TX. Natalie and Luke were there with my parents for several days before Chris and I arrived and when we got there Natalie was at the climax of her "upper respiratory infection" or common cold. Luke had suffered this earlier in December and we basically had all just passed it around. Within 2 days of being around a 5 year old who didn't cover her mouth and all of the germs that go with that, I was sneezing and coughing.

I spent the rest of our 2 week vacation running at about 60-70%. The weather that week between Christmas and New Years was miserable at best and one of the worst I remember for a vacation week. Because of the weather, my sickness and the still recovering 2 children we decided to have a LAZY vacation and pretty much did a WHOLE LOT of NOTHING! It is not my style but I must admit it was very relaxing and enjoyable looking back!

Once January 4th arrived and it was time to go back to school I felt like I was improving and thought going back to the routine of work would heal me. Boy was I wrong... I just got worse as the days progressed and during that 1st week back I was literally dying by the time 3:30 hit. I felt like I was a 1st year teacher again just looking at the clock and counting down the hours and minutes until freedom. It was sad... But true!

I am not one to take medication well and I try to avoid it all costs. Now don't label me as one of those "holistic/ weirdos" that is too good for medication but I HARDLY EVER GET SICK so I am already not used to taking medications. In fact the entire 10-12 days that led up to the 1st week of January I had not taken any meds thinking it would heal on its' own. Finally on January 13th I decided I had had enough and went to my school's clinic to be seen.

Oddly enough the same doctor that gave me such a hard time about my Health Risk Assessment appointment back in November/ December was giving me the same exam and was sure to point out my weight and how I still needed to lose what now would be 25 pounds (If you have not read that post it is hilarious and you can find it HERE). But he continued to tell me that I had a sinus infection and I needed to get a shot (YIKES) and be put on a high dose antibiotic.

I left the "quack-shack" as some teachers call it with a bruise on my hiney and a headache but I was on the road to recovery... or so I thought. The shot seemed to make me really dizzy and I was light headed to say the least. I went home about an hour early on Tuesday thinking I would recover over night but as the evening progressed I just got worse and worse. By Thursday I was down right miserable and wondering if I should stop taking the antibiotics. Then it happened... I LOST MY TASTE and smell too! On Friday morning, during our district Rodeo Art show and one of the busiest and stressful times in my teaching year, I noticed I could not taste.

I spent the next 10 day not being able to taste at all. It was absolutely depressing and terrible. I kept thinking I was getting better, which I was beginning to feel better, and I would wake up each morning thinking it was back only to find my breakfasts all tasted the same. There were family celebrations, parties and even a 3 day weekend thrown into those 10 days but through it all I still could not taste ANYTHING!

Oddly enough, I had been battling losing the same 5-6 pounds for well over 2-3 months. I had reached yet another plateau in my weight loss journey and NOTHING seemed to be breaking it! I was frustrated, irritated and annoyed at the non-movement of the scale. But God knew this and I believe he sent this sickness my way to get over that "hump" in my journey. Those 10 days I was depressed and miserable because I was not able to taste but I ate nothing but protein shakes and all pure DIET food. I think I was eating less than 800-1000 calories a day... WHY EAT IF YOU CANNOT TASTE! Through those 10 days I lost the 6 pounds I had been holding onto for so long and now am on a clear track to yet another weight loss goal. 

All of this because I COULD NOT taste due to a common cold. This reminds me how The Lord really does have a sense of humor! Thank You Lord... it was an obscured way to lose weight but it worked! Thank You Lord! 

God is good... ALL the time!