Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 has been a YEAR!

This year started out, normally enough.  We toasted to the New Year (non alcoholic of course) and fully expected it to be a "normal year" with up's and down's but no biggies.  Then on Jan 5, took hubby to the foot doctor for his routine visit and found the "great toe" had turned a purplish and another toe had what seemed a necrotic area on it.

So, we were told to take it to another doctor.  A vascular specialist.  He took one look at it and said, DH needed a surgery in his groin.  That was getting scary.  Finally, we went to the emergency room at the local hospital, they admitted DH and said before they would do any other surgery, they were going to do a Cath test on his heart. Later I found out that clogged arteries in the groin, usually meant, clogged arteries in the heart also.  No one told me anything and while I waited in the waiting room, I was told they might have to put a stent in his coronary arteries, not a real invasive surgery.  I took this photo of myself, in blissful ignorance of what lay ahead.  It was supposed to be an arty photo, in front of a large photograph in the waiting room.

It was the last time I would smile for several months.  They came down and said DH needed a coronary bypass.  I sat down in horror and the doctor told me that now, the risk rate was 5% - things had come a long way since I'd studied them in 1999.  Never-the-less, DH didn't look too good when he came back from surgery.  Tubes in every aperture and later I found out he'd had a quadruple coronary bypass graft because 4 out of 5 coronary arteries were totally clogged (including the so called "widow maker").  Again the info flow wasn't very forthcoming. Our son asked the OR nurse what type of bypass DH had had, and she said she thought it was a triple bypass.  ** sigh **  He had his CABG-4 on January 21, 2016.

But that was only the beginning. Soon after on Jan 28, he had a femoral to popliteal bypass in the left groin and finally, on Feb 2,  they amputated the great toe and the other toe on the left foot.  3 major surgeries.  They sent him to rehab on February 5 and he was still ambulatory at this point even sans toes but he received no wound care.  He walked 150 feet in rehab and things looked hopeful. Came home on Feb 19, but was again, neither assigned home nursing or wound care.  That lasted a few days and he started running a fever of 104.  Back to the ER on Feb 26 to find out to find out that the lack of wound care had caused him to develop septicemia and osteomyelitis..  Actually as a 71 year old, it's a miracle he survived that but he had to go on antibiotics for 6 weeks (Intravenous powerful antibiotics).  On March 1, he had a coronary stress test (chemical) which he passed with flying colors - the bypass was doing well - but while he was down in the basement of the hospital for the 5 hour test, his iPhone was stolen from his room.  Oops, they forgot to tell us that iPhones are among the most steal-able items. :(  This is the last photo he took with his iPhone, a "selfie".  (he now has a flip phone which he can merely dial a number on - it has a camera but it's a complex process to send the photo someplace.)

He was released to a "SNF" and we picked Kindred, which turned out to be a great choice because they not only had one of the best wound care nurses, but also were, in all ways, a wonderful facility.  I have no doubts that they saved his life!

After the long time on antibiotics, and a long stay at the therapy hospital after the septicemia was cleared, he was discharged on May 27, this time with wound care and therapy, provided by Kindred's home health care group.  He was home until we visited the foot doc on July 12 and he was just getting more ambulatory.  The foot doc pointed out that now the great toe on the right foot had turned purple plus another toe with necrotic tissue.  "Take him to the ER," counseled the foot doctor.  Both DH's and my eyes filled with tears when we heard that message.  

This time we took him to the Kindred ER, a better choice than the other hospital ER.  He was admitted to another close-by hospital and on July 16, they did a femoral to popliteal bypass on the right side and July 18, they amputated the great toe and another toe on the right foot. He was shipped back to Kindred which took good care of him and on July 27, was cleared for therapy.  By this time he had been transferred to the Kindred rehab hospital where he got good therapy and wound care, also.  July 28, they discovered a hairline fracture of his shoulder from when he'd fallen at home in June so addressed that. Just another thing.  ** sigh **

Kindred put wound vacs on his amputation wounds (those things are the greatest invention EVER!) to help heal it and prevent infection.  The amputation wounds on the right foot healed before the femoral to popliteal bypass wound on the right side which at this writing, is still open a bit although the visiting nurse says it's doing well!   Yes, DH is diabetic which makes his wound healing difficult.

In August he was sent to the Kindred rehab hospital which offered great therapy as well as great wound care.

  The following photo was taken in therapy at Kindred. He's trying to make rabbit ears on me which gave the therapists a laugh.

I visited him daily, usually coming at lunchtime and leaving in the evening around 4 PM.  I found, although the food was to die from at the Kindred cafeteria, I'd better abstain from it - not easy as it was great food.

Finally Sept 22, 2016, he was discharged to home but from being flat on his back for so long and 5 major surgeries, he was no longer ambulatory despite his walking his wheelchair up and down the halls.

What a trip.  He's in therapy now - and although he has forgotten himself and walked a few steps without a walker, he seems frightened of walking now.  Only time will tell.  And after being apart for almost 9 months, he and I have to get used to (1.) his new physical status and (2.) just living together again.  It's reminiscent of our first year of marriage and not in a real positive way.  This was our 50th year of marriage.  What did we do for our 50th anniversary.  NOTHING.  Absolutely nothing.  

Now he's home and in therapy again.  Sort of ambulatory with a walker and as I mentioned, when he occasionally forgets, he takes a few steps without the walker. Therapists are hopeful he will be more ambulatory in time and I got him to walk out to the car for a drive yesterday with his walker.  

Needless to say, he's got a rather bad case of PTSD as he had never in his life had any surgery previously and even got away with being pretty non compliant on a diabetic diet.  I kicked his butt to exercise which he did 20 minutes daily, with a lot of complaining.  That cardio probably saved his life though.  Now we have to get him to realize saving his life was a good thing. There are times, he says, he's not sure.  He hates not being independent.

And me, you ask?  Living on the corner of Depression and Weary-ness. 

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