Back in the Saddle

After several medical crises which affected my blogging, I will get back on line. I did manage to post to FB some but not here. Part of the reason was a stroke which made typing accurately impossible. I am slowly getting ovr that.

 

I just returned Saturday from a week at Parkview Hospital in Pueblo. I had NO kidney functions when I was admitted. Two surgeries and a body modification later, I have one functioning kidney.

 

I have a host of other problems, all of which stem from my cancer spreading. This is not what I expected in my retirement.

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Back to Parkview

After my last visit to this hospital, I have had a catheter installed. It has not been a problem and this weekend was to be its last hurrah. We were to remove the thing Monday. The urologist wanted to be available in case there were a problem.

On my last visit, the doctor removed a lot of cancerous tissue from my bladder using his handy-dandy laser cutter. I gathered his concern was due to the large amount of tissue removed and whether what is left will function properly.

But now I am having some pain from my kidneys. The flow is just not adequate, especially if I am lying down. Not very restful and is getting worse. So I finally connected with my urologist late last night and we agree we would met at Parkiew when he gets back to town this afternoon.

Donna and I debated our possibilities and, even before he called, decided to wait to go. I was not in crisis mode so waiting seemed reasonable. Especially on a Saturday night!

So we packed our bags. I took another Vicodin and went back to bed. The doctor called back several hours later and we reached agreement.

So the first order of business is a CATscan to determine where the blockage is. This is not the course I expected my disease to follow.

Status: Lily

Note: we have so much going on, I decided to post individual updates on each family member.

Lily is doing great! She is no longer on any meds and generally seems to be adjusting to life as a “tripod”. Our fear is that her other leg will “blow out” before this one is healed. I don’t think she can learn to be bipedal on her front legs!

She has started challenging gates; if I don’t latch one well while unloading stuff, she will pull it open with her nose. Then she goes for a walk about in the neighborhood. But when she returns she lies down for hours! I am sure she is both tired and has some pain.

I suggested we get some Rimadyl for pain from the vet but Donna said “NO!” because she will feel even better and overdo! I referred to this as “tough love” care!

She still looks funny with her shaved leg! And she looks kind of subdued since she went for a walk yesterday.

Lily’s Surgery

This turned out to be a better day than I expected. Her “blown out knee” got repaired. The trip to Colorado Springs went well. I got to visit with my kids and their families.

I got there about 45 minutes early so we (I) had time to relax. The staff was helpful and even got me a cup of [serious] coffee. Then we waited. Lily was glad to be out of the Escape (The receptionist helped me unload her.) but soon got bored and lay down.

She wouldn’t lay on the carpet or the dog bed in the corner. This is the door into the hallway where she could hear people going by. If the vet had come in, she woulda got smacked but she didn’t lay there long.

This facility does everything! In addition to the orthopedic surgery, they are THE pet trauma center for Colorado.

This is their ambulance! I have no idea how often it gets used but they have a fulltime ER. The rock formation in the background is Pulpit Rock which used to mark the north end of Colorado Springs until it grew beyond it by developing to the east.

I left her there, went to breakfast, drove over to Jeff’s house and helped him unload groceries, then we met Scott’s family at Ruby Tuesday. We had a nice visit with Scott and Jeff, my sons, Jackie, Scott’s wife, and Dillon, my grandson. And I got to spend time to bond with Jeff’s four cats. Well, three anyway; one of them doesn’t cotton to strangers.

While we were harassing the waiter at Ruby Tuesday, the hospital called saying Lily was out of surgery and would be ready to go in an hour! About two hours early! So we adjourned lunch and I took Jeff home; he was ready for bed (He works nights). Then I went to Scott’s house so they could give me our Christmas presents. I spent some time there then went up to get Lily.

I went over the after care instructions while they gave her an epidural morphine injection. Then one of the staff helped me take her to the car. She was pretty stoned but we made it. They had given us a sling to hold her back end up. The surgical wound is very delicate for a while and any weight can make the bone graft fail. So she carried her rear while I guided her. Later I learned how much work the helper was doing! She has a heavy ass!

Once she got settled in the Escape, she didn’t move the whole trip! And had an “Elizabethan collar” on. It turned out this was a problem.

I made a stop in Cañon for gas and eggs then went on up home.

It took a while to get her in the house. She still didn’t navigate well from the drugs and I could barely carry her back end! Once we got in the house, Donna helped me on the sling and it was much easier. We got her on her bed in the living room.

She looks so miserable. The blue and white thing is her sling. The dressing on her leg is the surgical wound. And the white thing on her neck pads the cone. She refused to drink or move until we removed the cone. Now we have a constant hassle to keep her from licking the wound. sigh. Traditionally, dogs always “licked their wounds” but now vets say they have unsanitary mouths and will infect themselves.

I guess we will see. One thing she does like is meals in bed!

Also she can’t go outside without a leash. She has NEVER been a house dog and this is not setting too well! We worked out the terms of going out to pee but tonight, Lily and Donna worked out the terms of doing a #2 (Her first since the surgery.). It involved NOT being on a leash!

We are all training each other. And learning how to give her all the pills the vet prescribed: three, three times a day for pain; one twice a day for pain; and two antibiotics twice a day. But wrapping them in margarine makes the medicine go down! Lol.

Meanwhile, the cats do not like our pet door being blocked to keep lily in! Donna has been getting up regularly at night to let them in but we modified the pet door so she can get some sleep!

It is gonna be a long three weeks!! But she is much happier now and doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

It makes me cringe that she is lying on her wounded leg! But at least she can’t lick it then! Lol.

Her incision runs the length of her thigh.

There are no stitches! I guess they glued it closed! This will not be over until next year.

Lily’s Surgery Schedule

While I was in town, we made a lot of progress on Lily’s surgery. I got her med history and X-rays from the vet; the vet made her referral to the surgeons; then Donna got Lily scheduled in the most efficient way. My appointment with my Urologist got moved down to the next week and Lily got November 23.

The other choice required me to do the admission interview one day and the surgery the next. That meant I had to find a place to spend the night with a lame dog somewhere. Jeff has cats; Scott has cats and a dog who has had a confrontation with Lily because she was intimidated by Lily’s size. sigh. So I opted for the 23rd date.

I have to be in Colorado Springs by 8:30. That is about 3 hours away. [yawn] Donna has decided to stay home. Hmph! Coward. I have my conference and then turn Lily over to the veterinarians. At 4 PM, I can pick her up. It’ll be a long day.

Donna’s Belly

This is what her belly looked like the day before the doctor took her stitches out. I winced when I see the hematoma around her navel. She said it is not tender.

She is doing very good after all her ordeal. She just has to not eat fat for two weeks and not lift anything over 20#. Soon her sexy belly will be back to normal.

Donna Returns

We had been told she would be discharged about 10 AM so planned the day for that. I HAD to drive the Escape since there is no way she could get in the Montero, it being so high. She has trouble when she is feeling good! I had put the Escape on “deadline” due to the right front wheel bearing going out. I declared it an emergency and hoped for the best.

And I wanted to take Lily but she isn’t allowed to ride in the Escape. So I put the back seat down and spread an old bedspread out. And off we went up the river around 9. Traffic was light and the construction was shorter so there weren’t long delays. Lily wasn’t as comfortable as in the Montero but she managed.

I parked her so the sun didn’t shine in the rear and went in to see if Donna was ready.

She wasn’t ready but she definitely looked better! And was upright! Turns out they had told her they wanted to keep her until late afternoon but she got indignant with them since the doctor had told her earlier and I was on the way. So he approved her leaving when I got there. They forget the word “Regional” in their hospital name! Lol.

They had just begun to process her out so Lily and I went to run some errands. First stop was to get her a leash since I didn’t put hers with my stuff and left without it. It was a nice, long purple one. The girl checking us out suggested it was Spartan purple, one of the Salida school colors. I didn’t tell her it was Pirate purple, one of the Cotopaxi colors! I never did learn the other Salida color but one graphic was in purple and black; Cotopaxi’s, which adjoins Salida district to the east, is purple and white. Our site doesn’t state the colors but pictures of the football team have them.

Anyway, she didn’t need to potty after all that. But she seemed in distress, licking her lips and drooling. Her problem was obvious when we got to Burger King! She was gobbling the burger I got for her as I tore it apart, burning my fingers!

I ran another errand to my medical supply store for both the oxygen Donna needed and a new CPAP mask harness for me. Then Donna called saying they changed their minds about the oxygen and I went back to tell them to forget both! I joked with Mandy that if she quit breathing, I should smack her; Mandy looked a bit shocked. I remember when she came there, all subdued and uncommunicative. Now I wonder if I hit a nerve.

I went back to the hospital for Donna but when I went in to get her, she was eating “lunch”: hot tea and broth. She wasn’t excited. This is a picture of one of the two patient halls. It is a small hospital, 22 beds.

I went out to wait with Lily. She was nervous about this huge machine tearing up the sidewalk outside the Cafe.

There is lots of remodeling going on at this hospital.

Finally she called that she was on the way. I drove over to the entrance to wait. When Lily saw Donna being rolled out, she went wild and ended up in the front seat. The nurse was very patient and took Lily’s leash and then put her back in the back, lifting her rear end to do so. Donna slowly got in while Lily licked her!

As we drove home, her pain medication wore off and the bumps on our street and driveway elicited a series of “Uh”s. But she managed to walk in the house herself. And went right to bed!

I am proud of her for getting this over with. I know how much she hates doctors and hospitals. And the wheel bearing got worse, enough Donna even noticed!

Donna’s Surgery

This is a day which changed Donna. She no longer has a pesky gall bladder! This adventure began when we left the house at high noon. The time it takes to get to the hospital is about one hour and 15 minutes. She had to be there at 1:30. But as she pointed out, they aren’t gonna start without her! Lol.

We were doing good until we got near Wellsville, 7 miles from Salida. Highway construction! Flagman, etc. And a line of waiting vehicles.

We each took a picture, me of the line; she of the place! This vehicle in front of us went roaring by a mile or so earlier. 😉 I figured he was working up to a heart attack since he was in such a hurry! We sat here about 20 minutes.

There are many worse places to sit and wait! The sounds of the river soothed us and the mountains were nice to watch. On the left is part of the mine there; the mill has big piles of white stuff. Dunno what it is.

Finally our escort dumptruck arrived to lead us to the promised land. At 30 MPH! The construction turned out to be over a mile of highway resurfacing. Then we went on to the hospital where things got more efficient. Except they had lost her lab results so they had to be redone!

This is my lovely wife in pre-op. Lots of questions and pokes here! One that doesn’t show is on her upper left arm where they did an allergy test for the antibiotic they will use. She passed!

She had TWO anesthesiologists.

This is Scott, the doctor anesthesiologist. His hair got like this when he had chemotherapy. I didn’t get a picture of his shoes and so regret it! The laces and other parts were all different colors! Made me think of clown shoes!

This was Scott’s assistant, a trainee. He was very professional and made Donna feel comfortable which was the main thing! I figured between the two of them, she was in good hands!

He injected the anesthesia into her IV tube and away they went. I went to lunch! This being Salida, I was not surprised when I had to stop for a deer on my way to Wallbangers where I had a great mushroom and swiss cheese burger!

I got back to the hospital and took a place in the now almost empty waiting area about 3:30. In case she came out early. All that did was give me 30 more minutes to text and read! Lol. I finally had to go to the restroom at 4:30 and naturally, that was when her surgeon, Doctor Menart came out! (I took a picture of him in scrubs with my phone camera but forgot to save it! These things should save by default.)

He told me the operation “went well”; I was hoping this was exuberance for him and it was something beyond just successful. Anyway he gave me an outline of when she would be discharged (tomorrow) and when he was gonna remove the drain (before she leaves if it is not needed). I asked for details on how he removed the organ (I was envisioning chopping it up and vacuuming it out!) and he explained it was small and flexible so it comes out intact.

I went on up to her room to wait; he said she would only be in recovery for 30 minutes. She got to her room at 5:30! Her room number is 2516. As I went to the elevator (I am old with achy joints, OK? Lol.), I asked at the desk if that was on the 25th floor (It is a two story building.) One of the receptionists laughed but the other was less amused and told me it was but the floors are numbered downward! I replied that I was impressed with their basement. It turns out the “2” was the floor and the “5” is kinda the hall number. They also number the rooms different: up one side and down the other. Creative numbering.

Again I got to do some reading but the view out her window was great.

The little lake is a drainage pond from the property with ducks and reeds like a permanent pond but with less landscaping! From her bed, this is what she could see.

Still nice with the Sawatch Mountains in the background, the helipad windsock, and the historic Smeltertown mill stack.

She eventually came in, about 30 minutes later than projected. She didn’t recover as fast as normal. And was still very groggy.

She looked awful, frankly. Poor baby! And was barely cognizant. The staff had not removed the room’s bed so the nurse’s moving her from recovery had to move it. This way she did not have to be transferred between beds.

The nurse on the left is a recovery nurse while the other one is a ward nurse. It turns out she sits just outside her room monitoring her and another patient. I have not seen this setup since my Dad was in ICU! She is pale and barely responsive from the anesthetic. All she would say is “Thirsty”. But didn’t want ice. When my flash went off, she thought it was lightening and jumped!

This is Kate who, as she said, was her nurse for 8 more minutes! She deliberately turned her back. I had harassed her earlier when I came up face to face with her in the hall while she was standing there. I said she looked lost. When she said she had forgotten what she was doing, I said she was too young for that!

When she asked Donna if she could get her something, she got the “water” answer. Then I, naturally, butted in. When Kate suggested ice, I told her she had already refused that. So she ended up giving her some tap water.

I stayed until 6:30 then drove home. It was dark and Lily was feeling insecure. What an adventure.

Donna’s Doctor Appointment

Donna was very nauseous last night but was better this morning but this gave her more resolve to get the problem fixed. So when she saw her doctor and he said it was her gall bladder, she was actually glad. The doctor could fix that by removing it!

Her problem is “biliary dyskinesia”. No stones but her bladder isn’t contracting right when it injects bile into her intestine. I said it wasn’t ejaculating right; the doctor didn’t disagree but said they use other terminology! He also said there isn’t anything he can give her to help; the only resolution was removal. And she would have to limit her fat intake since that would cause diarrhea. But she had a problem with his saying she’d have to cut her cheese intake! Other fats she could handle but she likes her cheeses!

She was in the mood to accept this choice and agreed to surgery. It will be done lapriscopically unless there is a problem. Then he will open her up. He is a trauma surgeon so I feel very comfortable with his operating on her. I am unsure how she feels about him doing it but she does want SOMEONE to remove the offending organ.

All along she has said it was her gall bladder and this diagnosis proved her right! She knows we will have a lot of out of pocket expenses even with insurance but she is “sick of feeling sick”.

Her surgery is now scheduled for September 29 sometime around dawn! Lol. She will be in the hospital overnight which complicates things with the dog and cats but I’ll figure it out. Either the kennel or going back and forth.

I later realized today many of my friends made life-changing decisions. It must be a favorable position for the planets today!