Friday, August 26, 2011

In the hospital

This post has been a long time coming.  I wasn't ready to blog about it--partly because I knew it would take a while.  It's a long one.  Partly because I didn't want to deal with remembering and feeling all those emotions again.  It's been a long road...

A couple of weeks after Lindey was born, I was not feeling much better like everyone thought I should be.  I didn't know what to expect as far as healing because I had never had a C-section before.  I still felt like I was 6 or seven months pregnant, and I was still pretty weak, I was having a lot of discharge that was not normal, (like not being able to make it to the bathroom before it was leaking out the bottom of my pantlegs)and then I started throwing up--a lot (a big icecream bucket 1/2 to 2/3rds full of dark green stuff every four or five hours).  We had Dr. Gagon's cell phone number so we gave him a call and told him what I was feeling like.  Since it was a weekend, he said he would meet us at his office the next morning (Sunday, May 15th, which happened to be our 12th anniversary--sorry it wasn't the best one, honey.)  He listened to my heart and lungs, checked my incision, which looked good, and said he thought I had an infection in my uterus.  To be sure, he sent us down the hill to the hospital for some labwork, gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, one for pain, an anti-nausia one for my stomach, and one to help my uterus to contract and shrink back down, and sent us on our way.  The labs came back that yes, I did have an infection. 

A couple of days passed, and I still wasn't keeping anything down, my discharge was a little better, but I felt like I was getting weaker.  Dr. Gagon prescribed another medication (not sure what this one was for), and told me I needed to give it time to work.  Fast forward a few more days.   I was still not keeping anything down, I felt a little more normal in the size of my stomach, my legs started hurting to touch. I still felt weaker to the point that I didn't dare walk around with the baby for fear that I would drop her.  I was exhausted all the time.  We placed another call to Dr. Gagon asking for an appointment.  He said he thought I was depressed and prescribed a medication for post partum, thinking that that was the reason I was not feeling better.  He said to give it a few days for the medicine to work.  We went through another weekend and I was just getting worse.  I was scared to have the kids near me because if they weren't careful and touched my legs or abdomen it hurt so much that I would cry.  I still wasn't keeping anything down.  It was a chore to get off the couch and make it to the kitchen or bathroom or even to my bed to lay down (and even if I made it there I couldn't get up without help).  Sunday night (May 23rd) John texted Dr. Gagon with a question about Lindey and myself. He texted back about Lindey, and 1We decided I needed to call him the next morning. 

We had some wonderful ladies in our ward who spent nearly two weeks taking turns being at the house trying to nurse me back to health, watching the little boys, helping with the baby, cleaning, my house, doing my laundry and all the meals that were brought in.  I don't know how we'll ever repay them for what they did for our family.  One of the ladies helping was there that Monday morning.  John's parents had the little boys, so it was just Cindy, me and Lindey at the house.  After she had made me breakfast.  (I think it was eggs and toast--we cheered when they sounded good and I seemed to be keeping what little I did eat down for the moment.)  After I ate, I had Cindy bath the baby--I didn't think I could stand up that long.  But ventured into the kitchen to watch from a kitchen chair.  We visited while she got her bathed.  I was feeling like I needed to get back to my chair in the living room.  When I made it back there, I decided to call Dr. Gagon.   I had my list of questions to ask him and called his office.  I was able to talk to the nurse, but not the doctor because he was working with other patients, (not super suprised by this) so I asked the nurse my questions and she said she would talk to the doctor and give me a call back.  She called back a few minutes later and he wanted to give me another prescription (I think by this time I was on about 8 different drugs).  I started crying and told her I didn't want any more medications.   They weren't working and I just didn't feel right.  I wasn't eating, I was throwing up, A LOT, I was weaker than I had ever been, it hurt to even touch my skin.  She said she would talk to him and call me back again.  When she called back he wanted to prescribe yet another medication and told me that I needed to give it time for the medications to work.  I again told her through my tears that I didn't want any more medications, that I didn't feel right and I needed help.  (I still can't believe she said this next part to me)  She told me that I could go to the ER at the hospital and they might be able to give me an IV or something, but that, "there was no magic pill for what you have.  Take your medicine and come see us at your appointment in two weeks."  I thanked her for her time, and got off the phone.  I just sat there crying, and thinking that they weren't going to help me.  I was on my own.  It was a very helpless feeling.  I knew something was wrong and my doctor was going to do nothing for me.  I was nursing Lindey when Cindy was asking what the doctor had said, and I relayed his messages.  Lindey was laying on my chest so I could burp her and all of the sudden my arms went limp, and it felt like Lindey was crushing my chest and I couldn't breathe(she weighed around 6 pounds at this point),  I told Cindy she needed to take the baby--that I couldn't breathe.  She called her husband who is the PA at our local clinic.His schedule was wide open for the afternoon.  By this time Kristin (another of my angels) had shown up with her daughter.  Cindy told them what had happened.  They tried to talk me into going to the clinic.  They could give me an IV and it may make me feel better.  My initial thought was to just wait until John was out of school and have him take me.  They kept talking and we decided that I could get the IV and feel better--maybe be back home before he was out of school.  I knew I needed help.  Kristin and her daughter stayed with the baby who was sleeping, and they got me into Cindy's car.  Once we made it to the clinic, they got me hooked up to an IV and started running tests.  I had an overwhelming sense of, "Finally, someone is listening to me.  Someone is going to help me." and I knew it was going to be okay no matter what happened.  My oxygen level was horribly low (like at a 42%) and the clinic staff was surprised I was still coherent.  They did an EKG while I was at the clinic.  A little bit later, John showed up.  I guess that Kim (The PA) had called John at school because he was concerned that I was having a heart attack from the EKG results.  Where the lines should be going up on the EKG when your heart beats, mine were going down.  They decided I needed to get to the ER in Price.  They brought my sweet little baby to the clinic so I could feed her before we went (I knew she would be hungry--still can't believe they let me do that as sick as I was and how worried everyone was about me.)  We decided the baby would stay with Kristin and the other kids with John's parents, and the wonderful EMT ladies (and friends) loaded me up in the ambulance and took me to Price.  After going home to grab a few things, John followed behind in our van.
Me in the ER in Price
Shlisa, John's sis-in-law met us at the hospital as I got there in the ambulance.  She had been one of my nurses at home, taking my blood pressure, and telling us to call the doctor, etc.  She was telling the ER doctor/nurses exactly what had been happening, and said we weren't leaving until we got answers.  (Thanks for doing that Shlisa!) When I got to Price, they started running a whole new battery of tests.  I had my blood drawn, they did a CT scan, and who knows what else.  I threw up in my bucket there, and they saved it in the sink to show the doctor.  I think that freaked the nurse out a little bit--not only how much there was, but the dark green color too!  John's sister Suzy came to the hospital to see me and keep John company.  After several hours, Dr. Perkins came to give me the test results.  He said the CT scan showed 13 abbsesses in my abdomen that they could see, the biggest being about 13cm in length or probably close to the size of my baby's head.  My potassium level was at a 2 and normal is 4.1 (which is why the EKG at the clinic was all screwy) and my blood was totally sepsis (infected).  He said I was in bad shape and that they were either sending me to Provo or the Grand Junction where I could get the help I needed.  A short phone call later to see where the insurance would cover and I was taking another ambulance ride to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.

The ambulance ride was horrible.  I was dizzy and nausious and kept feeling like I was on the Tilt-a-Whirl ride at Lagoon. It was dark, and the headlights of other cars didn't help.  The EMT kept telling me to close my eyes and try to sleep, but that just made it worse.  I'm sure the windey canyon road wasn't helping the situation either.  John's sister Suzette drove John to Provo.  He was kind of a nervous wreck, and didn't want to drive himself.  I was worried about him, and how he was handling all of this trouble I was causing.  I was relieved that she offered. We had called both our parents to let them know what was going on, and my Mom and Dad drove from Vernal and met us at the hospital.  It was about 11:30pm when we got there.  The surgeons were planning on doing emergency surgery based on what was found on the CT scan in Price.  After more blood being drawn, they did another oxygen test on my blood.  They had to take my off the oxygen to get the reading.  I was in the middle of throwing up, when they took the oxygen off of me that had been on since the clinic in Green River, and I passed out. I could feel myself going, and could hear John telling the nurses that they needed to put the oxygen back on me.  I think that freaked him out a lot.  They were worried about getting an accurate test.  There were 2 doctors that came to look me over, Dr. Lichti an abdominal surgeon, and Dr. Pearce, a heart specialist.  They couldn't believe that I wasn't jumping off the bed in pain when they were pushing on my abdomen.  It was uncomfortable, but I'd felt worse. With all my levels being out of whack (potassium especially) they decided to wait to do surgery until the next morning so they could try to get me balanced out a little bit. John and my dad gave me a blessing and I was transferred to the Interemediate ICU for the night.
The next morning, I went into surgery at 7:30am.  I remember being in the prep room for the OR.  It was 10 curtained partitions that would barely allow a nurse between the beds.  As soon as someone was wheeled off to surgery, someone else would be wheeled into that space.  I was the last of everyone to go into the OR that started out in there with me.  I don't know how many days later it was, but this is what I woke up of my babies on the wall. :)  That made me happy.
I don't remember a whole lot of the first 10 days or so.  They had me pretty drugged.  Reading over John's journals and blog posts, I remember some things, but not others.   I had five surgeries over those 10 days. Dr. Lichti said it was the worse abdomen he'd seen in the 30 years he'd been working on abdomens.  My organs were all cemented together, but I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail here.  It was bad.  John did a really good job of journaling for me--he knew I would want a record of it. :)  He knows me too well.  Check his blog if you want to know more. :)

One of the most frustrating parts for me was having the tubes in my throat and mouth.  I couldn't communicate like I wanted to.  I tried sign language (which I found I am really rusty at and couldn't even remember some letters).  I was trying to sign to my friend Kelly who has a deaf sister, but she said I was so slow she couldn't make words out of what I was spelling.  I did have a clipboard and paper which I wrote notes to people on.  **Disclaimer** for those of you who kept funny notes I wrote to you, remember that I was drugged and do not have memory of doing so. LOL 

I remember waking up after surgery one time and my arms were tied down. (They didn't want me pulling at my tubes).  I had an itch on my nose and couldn't reach it.  The nurses thought I was reaching for the tubes and kept pushing my arms down.  I finally stopped struggling, and all I could do was lay there and cry. So frustrating.

Another time the nurses needed to turn me on my side and explained this to me.  When they rolled me over my breathing tube got blocked.  I couldn't breathe, and I couldn't tell them I couldn't.  I was struggling against them, and they were getting mad at me because I kept moving.  They said to hold still and they would be done soon.  I was thinking, "I can't breathe, I'll be dead soon!" That was a scary feeling.

I think the hardest thing for me was being away from my children.  I feel like I missed so much.  I had to stop nursing my baby, which was very hard for me.  John was worried about her weight before we ever left Green River and the doctor told us to supplement with formula--just two ounces after I nursed.  The first time I fed her formula (Sunday night before we came to the hospital) she finished her bottle, was laying in my lap and sighed.  I started crying because it was like she was thinking, "I'm finally full."  That made me feel bad.  Made me feel like I was starving my baby--even if it was unintentional.  I was worried that where Lindey was so little she wouldn't remember that I was her mama.  John's sister-in-law had her so I knew she was in good hands, but it should have been me doing that. John set up skype with his dad so I could see Lindey while I was in the hospital.  I knew it would be hard, but I didnt realize all the little things that would make me cry.  Stupid things like her bow was crooked, and her clothes didn't match. (She had a diaper blowout right before we skyped so John's neice just threw some clothes on her.)  I felt like I would do a better job of taking care of her.  Silly, I know.  I missed her first smile.  I don't think anyone took pictures of her (other than the ones for the hospital room wall).  The everyday things I missed.  Eli started talking full sentences.  He was a mama's boy so I worried about him too. I worried about the kids getting passed around so much, having Michaela (John's neice) stay at our house with the kids--she's only 16 and should be enjoying her summer, not being a mom to my children.  I worried about being away from them for so long, but also worried about being able to handle them all when I came home.  Would they be resentful and act out? Would I be able to take care of them like I wanted to?  (Still can't do all of what I want, but we're getting there.)  Anyways, that part was hard.  Because I was in ICU they wouldn't let the children in to see me.  John was able to see them in the waiting rooms and play with them etc.  I was glad for that--he needed that.

I was in the ICU so long that my wall became quite the art gallery.  The kids drew pictures for me, people sent balloons, I had a birthday while there, so there were cards and things up for that as well.
My mom and dad came to see me regularly while I was in the hospital.  This was my birthday, and last day of surgeries for me.  They finally took the wound vac out and closed me up.  I'm so thankful for the time they took to be with me.  I think I scared them pretty bad with just losing my brother last year. (Dr. Lichti told me that if I had waited two more days to get help that I would have been gone--my body would have shut down. Pretty scary stuff!)
This is one of the parts I do remember.  We were only suppose to have 2 or 3 people in my ICU room for visitors.  The nurses let my entire family that was there in to sing happy birthday to me (minus the kids who stayed in the waiting room).  I think there were around 12 of them.  They made a birthday banner for me that also got put up on my wall. :)  It's kind of funny that they opened birthday presents for me, and I remember some of them and not others because I was in and out of it--just coming out of surgery earlier that day.  It was fun to go back through everything when I got home--it was like having two birthdays and opening gifts all over again! :)
The day after my birthday they took out the tubes in my mouth.  That was a highlight for me.  I was so exicted! (I was also excited to really brush my teeth--they did do that with the tubes in my mouth, but the back of my teeth sure felt fuzzy by the time the tubes were gone--Yuck!)
John's parents brought the kids up to Provo on the 5th of June so my parents could take them to their house in Vernal for a while and give the people of Green River a break from our poor family.  I still wasn't able to see them as I was still in ICU.  It was also the first day of physical therapy for me.  I made it to the door and back to bed. lol  That afternoon John was out visiting with the kids and he had brought them outside to play on the lawn.  I got to chat with my 10 year old on my cell phone (he had John's) and was just asking me questions.  That was very nice to be able to have a somewhat normal conversation with him.  When my physical therapists came to do my afternoon session, I was laying in bed listening to my children play outside.  I was on the second floor and my window was open.  The kids were yelling, "I love you Mom! Miss you Mommy!" I told the physical therapists that those were my children yelling at me.  My nurse went over to the window and told them to wait just a minute.  They therapists asked if I thought I could make it to the window to see them.  Ummm....yes! So, they got me out of bed and I made it to the window and was able to stand there and talk to them for a few minutes before I got too tired and had to get back in bed.  That was a wonderful morale boost! :)

I can't believe all the visitors we got--family and friends.  Thank you all for coming--even if I don't remember that you did.  John needed it as much as I did. :)  You were all wonderful to visit me and get John out of the hospital for a few minutes.  I'm sure he was going more stir crazy than I was most of the time.
Shlisa brought Lindey up to see me the last week I was in the hospital.  It had been 3 weeks since I had held her.   I was still in ICU so she couldn't be in my room, so I went for a physical therapy walk outside to the patio. It was a beautiful day. That was heaven. :) As soon as I started talking to her, she just looked at me.  I felt like she did remember me and was asking where I'd been.  It was great to hold her for a while and be outside.  While out there several of my nurses came out to meet her.  We had a few of them in tears. :)
One of my favorite nurses was Kari.  I had her for five or six days in a row in the Adult ICU.  She was wonderful!
One of my physical therapists was Emily.  This was taken just after she helped me get back into bed.  She was very impressed with what I was able to do.  She had me walking backwards, forwards, feet in front of each other (can't believe how bad my balance was without the walker!), side stepping, and stairs. She pushed me to do more and was very encouraging.  I couldn't believe how hard it was to lift my feet back onto the bed by myself, go up an incline, or do stairs without your stomach muscles.  It is crazy--(still hurts a little even now to do inclines and stairs--John says it looks like I go into slow motion--I still have a hard time even pushing the recliner part of the chair down at home.)
This is a picture of all my staples.  I think we counted 44 of them as they were being taken out.  On top of the staples, I had 5 drains--the most the nurses had ever seen in anyone. Those were taken out two days earlier.
I finally got out of ICU and put in a little tiny hole...barely enough room to walk around the bed.  Having visitors was sure fun here.   But, it had a great view of the mountains and Provo Temple! :)
Two days before I left the hospital, my friend Kelly came to paint my toenails.  She knew I wouldn't be able to do that for myself for a while. lol  What a sweetheart.  I met Kelly on her birthday right after we moved to Pleasant Grove.  We hit it off quickly and used to talk every day in some form or another when John and I  were living in PG and Orem. I just love her. :)
Dr. Lichti and me.  He is the surgeon that saved my life.  He was very cautious and wanted me to take things slow with as bad as shape I was in. That was irritating to me--that he was limiting how many ice chips I could have a day.  (Still does--I haven't been released to pick up anything heavier than Lindey yet or exercise.)
I finally got the okay to go home on June 18th, after 27 days in the hospital.  I was so excited but anxious at the same time.  I'd have to be a mom again and wasn't sure I was healed enough to do that.
We've come a long way since then.  I ended up back at the ER in Provo on July 1st with a Uniary Tract Infection (My home health nurse sent us there since I had a fever of 100.9).   They did another CT scan and found that the infection had not retuned to that part of my body.   Since then, I've had multiple doctor appointments with Doctor Lichti, my surgeon (still have a sore abdomen--may be 6 months to a year before I stop hurting), Dr. Oldroyd, the urologist who did the stents in my first surgery, (because of the ongoing UTI--my latest urine culture finally didn't grow anything--yea!), and Dr. Kimball, an internal medicine doctor. (I am currently losing my hair--yippee, he said it was alopecia from the trauma, but found from my blood tests that I have very low Vitamin D levels which also may be causing the hair loss. I also have a calcaneal bone spur on my heel so we are taking measures to clear that up now as well.)  I know we're not done yet on this road, but I am feeling much better.  I am so thankful for everyone's thoughts and prayers and helping hands that were directed at our family.  It has been overwhelming, and very much appreciated!


  1. I am just thankful you are alive. It was/and has been a long and scary road, one that we are still traveling. I love you babe. You are one amazing lady!

  2. That is an incredible story. It makes me mad your original doctor was so dismissive. Grrrr!

    I just cannot fathom the grief you must of felt when you have to be apart from your newborn. =(

  3. Even though that was hard to write, I'm glad you did. It helps to say or write things, just to get those feeling out again. My heart broke when you wrote that you felt bad because of the trouble you were causing. Just for the record, you caused no trouble. You are a miracle and we are all glad you are back! You are wonderful!!!!!!!! :)

  4. My sweet "sis"... What a journey this has been for you! Know that you are still in my prayers. I know that this hasn't been the summer you hoped for, but I am so very glad you are here to enjoy what is left of it. I so treasure our friendship! Anything you need - I'll be there. Anything.


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