Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jagged Little Pill

As summer was winding down, we planned a getaway to San Diego.  It was going to be our last hurrah before school started, a chance to tour the naval base with Kevin's brother Adam, Legoland, Sea World, the beach.....instead, this is what happened.
I picked up Chloe from the airport who was visiting her grandparents in Kentucky when the unfortunate incident happened.  This is how the story was recounted to me.  Kevin, who enjoys working out and taking supplements, was swallowing an Amino Acid pill, which is about an inch long, when it got lodged in his throat.  He tried to dislodge it by forcefully retching.  This alarmed Blake and he came in the kitchen to assist Kevin.  Dillan and Olivia was too engrossed in America's Got Talent to be concerned.  Kevin says that it eventually passed, and he even congratulated himself on not throwing up any of the food he had just eaten.  I was mildly concerned as well, after all, the situation seemed to have resolved itself.
The next morning, Kevin was still in bed and said that he couldn't get comfortable, was weak and dizzy, and didn't sleep the night before.  He said that he felt like he had the flu.  I said that we would wait to leave for San Diego, as we were scheduled to leave that day.  He said we could still go, just put him in the back of the Suburban,  I declined, mostly because I don't like to drive with him. He is a much better driver than I, so I feel self conscious when I drive with him.  I checked his blood pressure which was low and his heart rate which was high, which was not normal for him at all.  I told him that he was dehydrated and that he needed to drink fluids.  He may have during the day, I don't know, because I left to take Dillan school shopping.  I wasn't that concerned with my patient after all.  I checked on him again in the afternoon and things were the same, so I took Olivia to her two hour gymnastics class.  When I came home from that and put people to bed, and got myself ready for bed, finally relieved that the day was done, Kevin told me that when he got up to go to the bathroom he felt very weak and dizzy, like he was going to pass out.  For those of you who don't know Kevin's stats, he's 6'4" and 225 lbs.  I did not want him passing out on me because I could not pick him up.  And then he tells me he had tarry stools, aka black poop.  Slight pause from me.  Dear, that means you're going to the hospital.  His response:  Maybe it's nothing.  Maybe I'll see if I'm still feeling bad and then I'll go to the doctor tomorrow.  Again, pause for emphasis.  No, we're going now (a little irritated that he didn't mention this BEFORE I took my makeup off).  He was resistant to heading to the ER because earlier this year he had to go in because he dropped a 225 lb barbell that he was bench pressing as his warm up, when it slipped and fell on his chest.  I made him go in to the ER then because I didn't want anything to be damaged in there and have it slowly leaking and then I wake up in the morning and him not.  It turned out to be a cracked sternum, which you can't do anything about except wait.  He wasn't very patient with letting it heal and returned to the gym.  So I gathered him up to go to the ER.  I called Dillan in for reinforcement.  Actually, I wanted him to break his dad's fall should he indeed pass out on us. 
We made it to the ER, where he was promptly checked in.  After all of the tests, etc, he was admitted to the hospital to have an endoscopy in the morning.  I went home to get some rest and was told that the endoscopy clinic opened at 7 am, so he would be seen sometime after that.  I made it back to the hospital just in time as they were taking him to the clinic and he was getting his first transfusion of blood.  He was looking pale.  The anesthesiologist came in told him the concoction that he would be getting was Versed and Propofol.  I told him that Propofol was what Michael Jackson used to help him "sleep" until he took his last sleep.  RIP King of Pop. After he was done, the doctor came and found me and told me the results.  Kevin had torn his esophagus. What?!  The doctor went on to explain that he had made a large tear and there was a very large blood clot around it preventing him from closing the tear, so he was going to admit him to the ICU for close monitoring and IV drips to stop the bleeding and more transfusions.  What?!  I was a little shocked, but being the "seasoned" nurse that I am didn't show it.  That was until the kids called me two minutes later to ask what was going on and there was a scuffle in the background.  I started to cry because it was a lot of overwhelming.  I pulled it together and found Kevin.  He was snoring loudly.  His nurse, as nurses are supposed to do, kept bugging him to wake up.  After he cracked his eyes open a little bit.  I told him that #1 He had survived and #2 He was getting admitted to the ICU.  He fell back asleep.  He woke up again two minutes later.  I told him that #1 He had survived and #2 He was getting admitted to the ICU.  He fell back asleep.  He woke up again two minutes later.  I decided to save my breath and told him that he was getting admitted to the ICU.  He said "That's good.  Here, help me off this gurney so I can walk up there."  I told him that NO ONE walks IN to the ICU.  He said he was fine.  I reminded him where he was going.  I told him to take advantage of someone pushing him in a bed.  We made it to the ICU, where I was reminded how bossy the nurses are there.  I was immediately asked to leave so they could get him settled.  I was let back in about five minutes later.  He had to get up to go to the bathroom almost immediately.  The nurse tried to tell him he couldn't walk that far (ten feet) and that she could get him a bedside commode.  He said he wasn't an old man and that he could walk to the bathroom.  This went on back and forth for a few minutes.  I knew he would not concede, so I took the initiative to help him get up with all his tubing and wires to the bathroom.  Walking ten feet to the bathroom sounds like an easy task. Maybe even if you have an IV in your arm.  But this large strapping young man, losing blood internally, and refusing to believe that he was sick was not easy to get to the bathroom, but by the end of our stay, I think I perfected our orchestrated dance.  But when he got back to bed, he was so dizzy and short of breath that it was scary.  And he was still expelling blood.  He apologized to the nurses for the stink.  And for those of you have smelled that stink, it is more horrid that words can describe.  When I worked in the Burn Unit and we would have overflow patients from the Medical ICU, we dreaded the GI Bleed because of that stink.  And we were the nurses that had patients getting escarotomies which is basically burning already burned flesh.   Sorry if you were eating your breakfast when you were reading this.  Kevin described his trips to the bathroom as the Valdez Oil Spill.  Again, I apologize to those eating.  He ended up needing three IVs in his arms for the medication and the blood transfusions, for which he received seven.  By the end, I told him he needed to stop being lazy and relying on the altruistic efforts of others and make his own blood.  Our home teachers came in and gave him a blessing and my dear friend called me out of the blue to find out what was going on, only to discover that I was sitting in the ICU with Kevin.  She got our kids dinner.  She was listening to the Spirit's promptings that I needed help! 
At this time I went home to get a little sleep and catch up with what was happening.  I Googled what was going on with him.  Probably not a good idea, since I read that the mortality rate is 50%.  Needless to say, I did not sleep well.
The next day, the doctor was able to go in again with an endoscope, but this time he was able to repair the tear.  But Kevin was still very pale and still getting blood transfusions.  And he was still not able to eat.  He had not had anything to eat or drink since he got to the ER.  He tried SO HARD to get anyone to give him something to drink or an ice chip or Gatorade or Sprite.  He kept asking for Sprite despite me reminding him how important it was that he not eat because his tummy was very, very sick.  He asked every doctor, every nurse, every tech, every friend.  He is a bad sick person.  Finally, the doctor said ice chips and gum.  Sharon had come to see him and was deeply worried, so when she heard that, she went to the gift shop and bought him every kind of gum they had.  I think it was a moment full of joy for Kevin. 
He was out of the ICU that evening and then home the next day.  He wanted to resume his normal activities really bad, but since his blood levels were still really low (he was still down about 3 units of blood), he got weak and tired fast.  Plus the heat here doesn't help.I could barely stand to look at him for the first few days after he got out of the hospital because he was so pale.  I said he was Fifty Shades of White and Pale Face.  I told him that this would be the only time in our marriage that I would be darker than him.  The next day after he got out of the hospital was Olivia's birthday.  He had searched for a bike for Olivia and he went and got it, despite not getting clearance from me to drive.  She didn't get her traditional birthday dinner at a restaurant, but fortunately she had her baptism party that more than made up for it. 
So, we were anxious to see what the bill was.  I could have gotten a brand new BMW i3.  I would much rather have an alive husband.  I told him that's all I wanted for my birthday, which is the day after Olivia's.  I just wanted him alive and not dead.  I don't think it's too much to ask.  It helped me to remember how much I need him on a daily basis and how grateful I am to be married to him and have him here with me.