Saturday, May 18, 2019

Keith's wonderful recovery

Keith's progress is remarkable, so here I am to remark. :-)

This week, he has been out of the hospital as long as he was in. And Wednesday's out-patient physical therapy was the last of the set of ten. He doesn't need to go back.

In June, I might start driving him to the pool weekday mornings early. He will daytrip to Outlandish with Paul/Lavan, before then.

Things are good.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Keith update!

Keith is doing well, using a cane sometimes, probably won't re-up for another set of physical and occupational out-patient therapy sessions, even if they're offered.

He's been to another cardiologist (one of DaVita's) who wants to do some tests over the next month or two, and he went to a kidney specialist, at the request of his "primary physician." The primary physician he has seen twice is a nurse practitioner who saw him because he regular nurse practitioner was too heavily scheduled. He also had another consult with the pharmacist, who rearranged his drug-taking schedule a bit.

The cardiologist asked him to stop taking the blood pressure lowering med, because Keith was in there in the clinic, and reading 80 over I forget what—too low. But to Keith's request to stop taking the blood thinner for a week so the pain clinic would give him a steroid cocktail shot for his lower back pain, the doctor said it was too dangerous in the first six months. Oh, and the kidney specialist told him not to take over-the-counter pain killers for it, because they're bad for his liver.

When he was in the hospital, it seemed too many departments were pulling him one way and another without regard for what the others needed/wanted/had ordered. Now that he's home, UNM and Davita, and their various departments, are doing a similar scattery stretch on him. After this current round of tests and visits, I think I'll contact the insurance company to ask for some coordination of care.

That's what I thought this morning, and told Keith, too.

Then the mail came. These were probably mailed on May-last-Friday, May 3. That would've been two months after the initial cardiac arrest. Do you think they wait two months to be polite? Or did it take them this long to get this together? The only bill we've had so far was the ambulance. Thirty-seven envelopes saying "Physician's statement" have all arrived at once. They might not be bills, and we might not need to pay them if they are (someone we went to said Keith's deductible has been met for the year), but it's a scary-looking pile. :-)



I've been opening them as the photo loaded, and yeah... bills.

charges / payment-adjustment / patient balance

Still... it's good that Keith is alive to pay these. :-) Or at least to ask the insurance company which ones he should be paying. It might be the total of this pile that makes his deductible.

Thanks again for the sympathy and encouragement of friends and relatives. Keith's still frustrated, gets tired easily, and sometimes doesn't feel great, but other times he's strong, cheerful and whole!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Two weeks home, seven weeks post-incident

Keith is doing better every day. His balance is improving, he's walking with just a cane, mostly (still uses the wheelchair in the bedroom and his office, because it's more comfortable and he doesn't get as tired). Today he and Holly went to Costco, and he used the cart as a walker. :-) He gets tired easily, still—from a combination of muscle atrophy and of difficulty breathing.

The upper back side of his head above his left ear is still numb. That injury, nobody cared about earlier. It's probably where he hit his head when he fell back downhill on March 3. Because his long hair was all matted up there for a month, it wasn't noticeable until the hair was cut.

There are a few little oddities that will probably go away. He has kerosene cans with a side cut out, flat with the hendle out, as drawers on shelves in the garage, and though he used to know what they all were, now he needs to look in them. He might label them, or his memories might come back. That's not the sort of thing they could have tested him for in rehab—"What's in those cans in the garage?" He said when he's playing music, he's having a hard time not just with breath (lungs, ribs, sternum—that would affect air), but with fingering and rhythm. I think that could be weak muscles, and playing recorder uses muscles way up the arm, on lower notes, especially an alto or tenor, and he's still weak in the shoulders and chest.

This will come back too, but his speaking voice isn't strong, and he can't sing well or right, yet. I fell in love with him for his singing, and his musical ability, and now that's messed up!? Good thing that over the years I've found other lovable things about him. :-)

This morning we went and watched Ivan for an hour at Marty & Ashlee's house. Yesterday, Devyn was over to eat and hunt eggs, and baby Kirby was here. She'll be here tomorrow for a while, too. So he's able to do his grandfatherly duty, which is sweet. :-)

We still play Dr. Mario nearly every day, and we've been playing Five Crowns. Yesterday we played two games of Azul with Kirby and Destiny, and they left the game for me and Keith to play. We will.

It will still take a few months for Keith to get back to his own strong singing self, but he's doing well.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Keith's progress at home, five days in

Five days home, Keith is sleeping better, taking a few steps without the walker, mostly using the wheelchair to get around his office and bedroom, going outside every day with the walker, and sometimes going on errands (with me or Holly driving and helpking). He met a contractor at Marty's house, and he's been to the bank, to outpatient rehab, and a doctor's appointment. He got as pneumonia vaccine, on the pharmacist's recommendation.

Keith says he feels strong, but tires easily and his balance isn't as sure as usual. He's doing lots of things as well as he did before, but there are some lags. There are plans and projects he doesn't remember. He had put half a dozen big rocks all in one place (on a sidewalk in back, near where he had laid in a couple of flat rocks where a hole had been). I moved them onto the grass so the mattress delivery guys could get by. Keith asked where the rocks came from. He doesn't remember, and he hadn't told me, so I can't help him.

Playing Dr. Mario on the Nintendo 64 has been a test for us in the past. We've played until my stupifying drugs kicked in, on dental-surgery days. It cut down my anxiety to play happily until I quit moving pills, and Keith knew I was ready to go. We've joked that it's an Alzheimer's test—if one of us forgets how to play, that will be time to tell the doctor to check for Alzheimer's. Keith is playing Dr. Mario as well as ever. You might think "...or he's not, and Sandra has Alzheimer's", but Holly played with us too, and we were all winning some, and Holly won slightly more.

We play Five Crowns, a game with 116 cards. Keith can't shuffle or deal well. He said he has some fine-motor-skill catching up to do. It hardly shows, when nobody's asking him to shuffle cards. So others are shuffling and dealing, and that's fine.

For the next five weeks (and maybe more) he will go to Encompass Outpatient Rehab (same gym he was in when he was a patient there) twice a week, for two 45-minute sessions back-to-back. Physical therapy and occupational.

He's not nearly well, but he's getting there, slowly.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Keith is home, but things are still...

Keith is home and that's good. We stopped at Marty's to see the new stucco job. It looks nice.

We went to Albertson's to leave the list of prescriptions, and Keith talked to the pharmacist a while.

We came back and unpacked and rearranged, Holly helped, we had some Golden Pride ribs and coleslaw (not much, but Keith's first non-institutional food for a while, not counting yogurt), on the table that's now in Keith's bedroom (so he can eat there, or do things at a table while he watches TV).

The pharmacy called and I went to hear warnings and cautions, hear how to set up the insulin pen, and then came home to try to figure out how to use the blood pressure cuff (lining up some line I couldn't find with some artery I'm not familiar with). Then Keith figured it out. I wasted my time reading and thinking. :-)

Keith's resting on the New Matress with the same old cat, who must be very happy to see him.

Other changes to that room: Grab bars / handles on the toilet and a removable shower head. Holly and Marty helped with those kinds of projects, over the past few days. Paul and Dave helped setting up the base of the bed, again, before the new mattress came. Brie helped clean up high—top of the "headboard" (big piece of furniture), before that.

For those who are curious or know and care, here are the things we got from the pharmacy today:
blood pressure cuff with an electronic screen that will give heart rate, blood pressure, and another thing or two maybe
pill cutter

levemir (insulin cartridges and pre-filled syringes) for which insurance paid $388.26 and we paid $0.
pen needles, for that above ($31.54 we didn't pay)

glipizide
metformin extended release tablets

lisinopril (to lower blood pressure)
metroprolol (ditto)
atorvistatin (for cholesterol)
clopidogrel (to protect the stents, I think—to prevent heart attacks)
amiodarone (to keep his heartbeat regular, and it's something never given as a home prescription, except after hospitalization)

He can get from the bed to the wheelchair, or get to the toilet with a walker. He can get to his desk chair/computer, or the refrigerator, easily. Mostly, though, for starters, he's wanting to be still and quiet in his own bed a while, I think.


P.S. Keith notes that he lost 25.5 lbs since he fell that day. He weighed himself March 1, and was 229 lbs. Today, home again, 203.5

Tuesday, April 9, 11:00 a.m.


Keith is home! Still recuperating, still taking serious meds (eight things), but he slept a long time, and can get around easily in two big rooms, so good!

I charted how long he was where, this morning. 36.5 days not home. Of those, sixteen were in intensive care (ICU).




Sunday, April 07, 2019

Edging toward home

updated Monday morning, April 8, 2019

The weekend was supposed to be slack time. I visited Saturday morning and we played recorders a while. Holly was coming to have lunch with her dad, so I went on errands by late morning.

On Sunday, Kirby, Destiny, Devyn and baby Kirby went to have lunch in the cafeteria, with Keith, and hung out afterwards until the baby was restless.

Keith expected the rest of the time to be just working on taxes or playing video games (he has his iPad now), but he had three assessments by therapists—speech, OT and PT all did evaluations, in preparation for his (planned, scheduled, predicted) departure on Monday.

I'll go up there at 8:00 or so Monday/tomorrow (/today/whenever it was, for those who read this later).

Five weeks and a day, since March 3. Recovery will continue at home, if all goes well, starting mid-day Monday. I'll update below when more happens!

Monday morning, April 8, 2019

Keith's stuff is all packed up in a big rolling suitcase. He's in the homegoing wheelchair. The doctor came by early, the case worker/coordinator came by, we played Five Crowns in the break room next door to pass time, and the pharmacist is the last character in the play. I think. I believe that after the pharmacists visits, we can go home.






4, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7 All Natural

(My hand, on the final round, kings.)

Still waiting, 11:10. Impatient. Keith was arranging for transport of a tent to Outlandish, and then called Needham to talk about some things to see between Colorado and Minneapolis. We drove that (westward) with three kids, long ago.

A nurse just came in to talk to him about how to take his drugs at home, so this might take the place of the pharmacist's visit.


Home on Monday afternoon!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Keith still in Rehab

UPDATED FRIDAY NIGHT, April 5 (update before that was Wednesday—I slacked)

Rehab hospital continues, Days 4-8

Monday, April 1, 2019

Keith's brother Gerry had visited him in the morning, and Keith missed lunch talking to Gerry, which disturbed his caretakers.
Later his blood sugar was low enough that they didn't give him an insulin shot, but maybe because he missed lunch.

At night, I visited and we worked on bills and taxes. I took his dirty laundry home. SO BORING! Good, huh?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Day 5

Keith had two physical therapy sessions in the morning that kicked his ass, he said.

Mid-day, Kirby took Keith a third pair of glasses from the house. The first two were falling apart. If these don't last, there's one more pair in the garage. Keith said it was a good visit, with Kirby.

Back at the house, we had a big electrical repair/upgrade all morning, and baby Kirby ws here in the afternoon. Holly helped with her after a while. I called Keith at the hospital to see if there was anything I should bring other than the clean clothes, and he said he had lots of company and I didn't need to come. Paul, Dave, Lori and Mark were all there together. Tomorrow, though, Keith wants me to come and go with him to an appointment with the cardiology doctor at UNMH. I get to ride in the van; Keith will be transported in a wheelchair.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Biggest news is that the projected discharge date has been moved to Monday, April 8 (from Friday-the-5th).

Successful visit to Cardiac Device Clinic at UNMH (Fifth floor, but not the same 5th floor Keith was on before.) We know more about the defibrillator. If his heart goes below 60, it will "pacemake" him quietly.

If he gets crazy heart beats, it will shock him hard. WAIT! NOT JUST ANY. If he has ventricular tachycardia, for just a few heart beats, it won't shock him, though it will be seen the next time they review the records that will be transmitted from the house to the clinic. If there are 20 heartbeats, though, that are dangerous, it will shock him then.

If he feels fine after the shock, we're to call Armando Sanchez (a physician's assistant; we met him today) and he'll see him the same day. If after the shock Keith feels unwell, then we call 911. If the monitor makes a noise like a European siren ("the auditory alert"), it means something is wrong with the equipment.

The battery might last 11 years. The amount left on it shows on the monitor at the clinic. When it gets to the red mark, it will mean he has three months left, and they'll schedule a replacement surgery.

Then we were driving back, in the rehab center's van, with Keith in the wheelchair strapped in all directions, me in the front. Dinner. Salmon and wild & brown rice. Really not bad at all.

Keith's really tired, so I'm going home and he's going to sleep.


Friday, April 5, 2019

Keith has rehab sessions three hours a day—one physical therapy, one occupational therapy, and one speech pathologist doing various evaluations sneakily worked around playing games or asking odd questions or having conversations. Stealth stuff.

Wednesday, there was a meeting about Keith, and he was given a copy of an evaluation sheet that goes from "Dependent" (needing 100% Assistance) through some other descriptions to "Independent." Let's think of it as school grades. That's easy. The only A's he had were eating and expression. Some A- (Mod I— "with a device, or needs extra time"):
  • wheelchair (can go 150 ft. with his feet because they don't let him use his hands, because of broken sternum and not-yet-healed chest implant)
  • comprehension
  • problem solving
  • memory/orientation

I am not used to Keith not being zippy with those things, but he'll catch back up, I'm pretty sure. Sometimes he does forget conversations or details, even from things this week. But after the haircut, he also discovered a numb place on he back of his head (kinda sore, but not discolored). The PT thinks maybe bone bruise. I suppose it's where he hit his head when he first fell back, in the park. Nobody bothered to care about a head bump, given all he rest. And maybe that's going to take some time to heal.

He didn't have any of the two "lowest scores".

Thursday, I visited and we played Five Crowns, and ate dinner together. He got his mattress replaced. A few days prior, he had been given an air-rearranging mattress to prevent bed sores, based on a score involving age and injury and time in the hospital and I don't know what all. But for three nights, it randomly aired-up here and there, and kept him awake and uncomfortable. Then a nurse figured out it was set up wrong and wasn't working. When she had it set up right, it looked like a soft roundy trough, and would have been hard for Keith to get in and out of. The lad nurse told him he could refuse it, and so he did. They switched it out nearly immediately.

Friday I was there for his physical therapy session, so I could learn about how to help him with some of the exercises, and to remind him about some things involving walkers, and for the therapist to look at some photos of the shower and toilet and the ramp, and to give us some ideas and reminders. No rugs in the bathrooms for a while.

Keith said that Thursday night he slept six hours, on the regular bed. When he gets home, he'll have a new mattress. It's here, but still airing out, and the base needs a tweak (Marty's coming Saturday to help me with that).

Before Keith fell, he was nearly through with our taxes, and told me that morning (March 3) that he just needed to check the numbers and we could sign it. Because he's still in the hospital, and they don't do rehab on the weekends, I took him all the papers, bundled and marked to match numbers on photos of each end of the table where the stacks of paper were—9 stacks. He worked on it a while, messaged me to bring him another form tomorrow (found it online easily; printed two copies, but this is the bad part: He doesn't remember any of that project. None of it looks familiar.

When his memory did start working again, when he knew where he was, usually, a couple of weeks ago, he couldn't remember anything past February 27. I thought that might change, but it hasn't, much. There are a couple of incidents he remembers, or remembers hearing about, but others are gone entirely. That's nearly a week.

I took a photo today, of something outside in one of the courtyards. They're physical therapy areas, extensions of the gym, with practice stairs, and a ramp, and a car (to practice getting in and out of) in one, and walkways and tables and a basketball hoop in the other, but there's also beauty, in colors, and some furniture, and many blossoms and blooms this month. I also did a sneaky photo of Keith, practicing on their steep ramp.

One more thing, for the record. It's from Wednesday, when we were at the cardiac device clinic. Keith had four cardiac arrests, because the incident on Tuesday, March 12, counted, too. His heart stopped between shocks (between two of the eight shocks that day), but the 260 beats per minute and the irregularity of them was what one doctor called "a lethal rhythm." He wouldn't have recovered from that naturally. Armando Sanchez said that they wouldn't have shocked him if they didn't consider it to be that. So Keith had four cardiac arrests—three on March 3 and one on March 12. Being a little slow to remember something, or not really speedy with a walker yet, isn't so bad. I think today will have been his last formal therapy sessions over there. Unless there's some major objection from one department or another, he'll be released Monday. Maybe he will have finished the taxes by then, poor guy. Good thing his room there has a desk, and he can sit in the chair about as long as he wants to, now.

April 6-8, in rehab

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Keith, Encompass, the weekend

Saturday:

This is an end-of-the-day summary. Now that Keith has his phone, we have communicated that way, and it's nice.

Keith got a visit today from the fire department captain from Day 1 / March 3, who swims at Sandia Pool where Keith swims (did, will) in the mornings and who recognized Keith while his guys were doing CPR.

There was an OT session in the gym in the morning, Keith ate very little lunch but didn't want me to send any food to him; said he wasn't hungry.

Holly took all the clothes Keith had requested. He's been feeling cold.
Bela was visiting while Holly was there, too, and Holly said they were talking SCA stuff.

Kirby, Destiny, Devyn and little Kirby went and had dinner with Keith in the cafeteria there. Keith said he fed the baby half his mashed potatoes and gravy. He was happy to be feeding her.

This is the first time there are no medical details. That's progress!

Tomorrow is our anniversary. Thirty-five years. Six before the wedding, if anyone's really counting everything.



Sunday:

Marty and Ashlee visited from about 9:30 to 10:00 and wheeled Keith to the gym for his only scheduled session of the day, which was to play Taboo (a game where people guess a word, but you can't use any of the clues on the list on the card). There were five players. I slipped in there pretty early on.

I ate with Keith in the cafeteria there. It was good, and not at all expensive. $5 or so per guest Mine was less. Depends what you order.

We went back to the room and I showed Keith the photos, on the blog posts of this last month. He texted with Gerry, his brother, about a Monday visit. Beau and Laurie came with recorders, and the fours of us played for an hour, in the meeting room next to Keith's room. It was good, and it was fun. Keith sounded great, even though he said his wind wasn't good, and he couldn't manage the tenor, but he wasn't missing the ends of notes and phrases. Probably way better therapy than that little plastic deal to breathe in and hold your breath, that they give post-surgical patients sometimes.

Keith isn't finding a great position for sleeping, because of the broken ribs. Also a big place on the back of his head is sensitive and sore. Probably it's good that I didn't manage to get his hair untangled. It would have hurt for me to mess wih a comb back there, as I turns out. Maybe it's where he hit his head when he fell, four weeks ago.

It's Sunday, and this started on a Sunday, so four weeks have passed.

I sent him a text, to see if there was info to add here; I came home because Marty was coming to help me with some of the bedroom rearrangements. Either Keith is asleep or off at dinner. Either one sounds very nice.

Monday through Friday, April 1-5

Friday, March 29, 2019

Keith at Encompass Rehab, Friday

UPDATED 9:30 PM, Friday, March 29, 2019

(missed) PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

I had planned to write here when I got home from visiting Keith in his new-temporary home, but I was tired, and Holly was home with stories, and I forgot. Sorry.

It's a big room, people are energetic and attentive all around him, and he was going to have a shower, when I left. When I got home, he had texted that the shower went well.

Oh! I forgot to say that finally, that last day he was in the hospital (Thursday) he finally agreed to keep his phone and glasses.

8:39 AM, Friday, March 29, 2019

Another shower already! Part of the therapy is helping him regain skills and the ability to take care of himself so they can send him home.

Their target date for release is April 5, next Friday. Good, I guess, because that's the day the new mattress is arriving, in the morning.

He has three hours of therapy scheduled every day. This shower and him dressing himself is part of it, today. He said he dressed himself this morning for breakfast. I saw him stand up to transfer from a wheelchair to the shower chair, and he stood up on his own for maybe 20 seconds, holding to a door, but not a walker. They didn't send that walker with him from UNMH.

9:30 AM, Friday, March 29, 2019

Unexpected problem. Finally I was able to try to get tangles out of Keith's hair. For over two weeks, I've been carrying spray detangler and a very forgiving comb, in my backpack. So today, I tried. I couldn't get more than a few ends out of this:


After I tried with fingers for a while, and was not making it better, Keith suggested maybe giving up and cutting it. I thought about how difficult it would be for him to take care of it even if I did somehow manage to untangle it. He had another physical therapy session in less than an hour and a half. It just so happened that one of the few things Keith had asked me to bring from the house yesterday was a little pair of scissors, very sharp Fiskars, from his bathroom. He said cut it, so I started working on that. The big mass of tangle came off without even dropping hair. Then I trimmed the rest up.


The texture of what's left is really soft, and it's various colors.
The beard had been trimmed before the implant surgery on Wednesday.



"It will grow back."

Keith had a big breakfast and doesn't even want the Chobani yogurt drink I brought. He had eggs with cheese and green chile, a bit of French toast, coffee, cranberry juice, some fruit cup. The coffee gave him low blood pressure, seems, but he didn't get dizzy. All that dizziness and nausea from standing up and doing things at the hospital isn't happening here. Very cool.


9:30 PM, Friday, March 29, 2019

After Devyn's gym class, I took her to see Keith, and we met the rest of her family there (Kirby, Destiny, and the little-baby Kirby). We arrived just as they did. The purpose of the gathering was so that Keith could see this special announcement:


I had known for a whole three hours or so, myself. :-)



Notes on the weekend, March 30 and 31

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Implantation of ICD, and (maybe) the last few days at UNMH

UPDATED 5:52 PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

6:15 AM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith called me at 6:15 to say they brought him the release papers to sign, and he's first on the list, not last, today, in the surgery.

I was planning to go up there, and I still might, if he calls me back and says he's in the room and recovered enough (if I could get back home in time to babysit mid-day). If it all takes longer, I'll go see him after 6:00.

He cut his beard short (last I heard—maybe shaved it off), so visitors should be prepared to see him look like his brother, Gerry. Maybe only family will know he looks like Gerry. :-) (Hi, Gerry.)

They shaved his chest, too. The plan is to put the icd on the upper right, because of his left-handedness. Plans don't always work as well as they might there, or anywhere, I guess, but it might be nice not to limit his movement so much on the left. Eventually he can move all around, but for the first some days or weeks, he's not supposed to lift his arm high near that device, and not have repetitive motion on that side (ever). One doctor assured him that splitting wood wasn't repetetive motion, nor was swimming. So I'm not sure what they consider to be repetitive motion, in a shoulder or arm.

10:18 AM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith called, back from surgery. They installed it on the right. He was asleep but not deeply sedated. There was serious local anesthesia.

A nurse said Keith could experience gaps in his memory about/after/because of this morning's procedure and anesthesia.

10:35 AM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith said they did ask one question, when he was already on the table, that hadn't come up before. "Do you use a rifle?" Maybe if he had said yes, they would have considered putting it on the opposite side of his dominant hand, but... they already WERE supposed to put it on the "wrong"/less normal side. The organiation of information acquisition and delivery, about that device, has been the worst of all the experiences in the hospital.

The first week, I was super impressed with everyone and every thing. From about the 10th day on, I became less enchanted, until now on day 25, I react too quickly and sharply. Partly, surely, it's me getting tired, and frustrations building up, a bit. Nothing that people do now that seems wrong or neglectful can be the first or second incident. But partly, because Keith is no longer dying, he's way down on the priorities. It's a world of triage, where requests about a urine bottle someone is able to fill on his own (but not empty), or a box or tissues, or a drink of water... no urgency. The nurse call lights on the bed don't work, and haven't worked for years. I didn't know that when I pressed one because Keith was throwing up, last week. It's still lit, because they don't know how to turn it off. They're using the nurse call button on the TV remote now, but those others are still on the bed, looking like they ought to be good for something. And they light up! ...on the bed.

But Keith is alive, the defibrillator is installed, and though we've heard conflicting info on what it will and should do, perhaps there will be some actual paperwork somewhere, before he leaves, about exactly what was installed and what settings it has.

5:15 PM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith says when the physical therapist came by, she said she wanted to rescind her recommendation of skilled nursing, and send him to inpatient rehab. There are only two in town—Lovelace and Encompass.

Barb, a discharge planner, came to talk to him. She contacted Encompass,and someone from there will come and talk to Keith. I don't know if that's to evaluate him or what, but if it's tomorrow, I might be there, and will report here. :-)

10:25 PM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I was with Keith for a few hours. I took him strawberry rhubarb yogurt. He likes strawberry rhubarb pie, and was happy to find a yogurt. I got it there in time for him to count it on his dinner carbs count. Yay.

He had the papers, official box (with a same-weight and size defibrullator like the implant, for him to play with and show his friends, I guess...), lots of booklets, THE booklet that goes with it, two pamphlets. I read nearly every word. That's tiring. I read the interesting or new parts to him. He can't use a chainsaw anymore.

I'll go back in the morning.


9:20 AM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

Two days ago Keith and I were talking about how now that all the personnel have phones, there aren't loudspeaker calls for doctors and such.
Yesterday I heard one, though, that said "New patient arriving, room 5-something." So I told Keith I heard one.

I had just arrived on the 5th a bit ago and heard "Denny, you're needed in 560."

Keith's room is 560. Denny was the nurse yesterday. And today, turns out. I thought I would rush over there and help Keith with whatever he needed from Denny, but [SPOILER: Keith is fine] when I got to the door, Denny was in. And another guy was in. And Keith was on the floor. But they were all cheery, and Denny looked at me and said "He didn't fall."

Gabe, the tech, the other guy, had been helping Keith move from the commode chair to a sitting chair, so he could eat breakfast from a chair, but Keith felt light-headed, and said he felt like he was falling asleep. I think it's called passing out. So the best Gabe could do was gently get him on his back while he was "falling asleep."
Here is how I spelled that: I asked Siri "How do you spell the heart medication metopolo?" Because that's what I had written down when Denny said it might be (that).

I should've been asking Siri all this time!
Denny said it could be the Metroprolol. I asked what that was and he said a blood pressure medicine, and it could make him light headed.

Keith was totally sweaty, there on the floor, but was able to propose a plan by which those two guys could help him stand up to get on the bed, and it worked.

He ate nearly everything on the breakfast tray, plus a bottle of yogurt drink I had brought. Cool.

Then he called the roofing company to make the final payment on the roof at Marty's house.

Keith says they're keeping his blood pressure unnaturally low. He doesn't know why. Before this, I would have asked, and written it down, and looked things up, but now I don't care as much as long as he gets out of here at some point.

5:02 PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

I'm home, but Holly's with Keith and he's being moved from UNMH to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital.

More info later.

5:52 PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

Holly says he's in his room there, recovering from the transfer. The facility sent a wheelchair van, and (I think) they picked him up from the room, and took him by wheelchair. For some facilities transfers, it's gurney and ambulance, but this wasn't. I'll visit tonight, and maybe later tomorrow I'll understand more what can be recommended for visits or assistance, if any/anything. Don't visit without checking, please, until we know more. Thanks!

Early on at the Rehab


Monday, March 25, 2019

Keith at UNMH, Week 4

(This first said Friday, but it was Monday; I had cut and pasted from elsewhere and not corrected.)

Last updated 3:00 PM Tuesday (March 26, 2019)
Keith is still in room 560, 5 West


9:25 AM Monday (March 25, 2019)

It was a Sunday afternoon when Keith came here (May 3). It's a Monday, so Week Four is on, for sure.

Keith ate lunch! Really ate. Drank all his chicken noodle soup. Ate almost all of a fair-sized piece of chicken breast with some sauce on it (and Mrs. Dash on all that), and some cooked carrots. Drank milk. Ate yogurt I had brought in.

He's able to rearrange himself in the bed really well. The only thing he's hooked to is oxygen, and that's an option. The machine is quieter with the little bit of extra oxygen. But if Keith wants to take that off, nobody will complain.

From the morning, I hoped I'd get to talk to the discharge counselor, and we waited a few hours, but at that time we thought it would be about Keith moving out to a rehab facility in a few days. Since then, some things have been learned.

A physical therapist came to work with him. He stood up and walked to the wall and back a couple of times, but he was dizzy, and so that's all they did. Because of this, the recommendation will be a skilled nursing facility when he leaves, and not rehab. She said inpatient rehab costs five times as much as skilled nursing, and the insurance companies don't like that. (And Ashlee pointed out later that the co-pays might be considerable.) Also the PT said that if Keith were to go prematurely to rehab, he could be "demoted" to skilled nursing, which would be another ambulance transfer, or if he got hurt or medically affected by the rehab, he might end up back here at UNMH. There is a possibility (likelihood?) of being at skilled nursing for a while and then transferring to inpatient rehab from there. She said I should advocate for that.

What we already did know about the difference between skilled nursing and rehab was that rehab expects one to have the stamina to do three hours of PT a day. Skilled nursing might only have one or two hours of physical therapy. When that was first said, it went with the idea that Keith might have to go to skilled nursing first if he still had any tubes in him (feeding, or drainage). With tubes gone, we thought rehab was a default, but he's dizzy.

The internal medicine lead came to talk to him and said that after he's out of the hospital, and out of rehab, there will still be at least three months of follow-up appointments with EP (Electro physiology), Cardiac, and his primary care physician.

Someone came by from cardiology to say that it will be Wednesday afternoon before they can implant the ICD, so his nothing-by-mouth starts tomorrow night, not tonight. (And he might still be bumped from the line, but she didn't say that this time. The last time she said if more pressing cases come along, he might be bumped.)

So at the moment, the vague plan is:
  • Tuesday: More sitting up, maybe sitting to eat (though he's not eating much).
  • Wednesday, no eating at all, surgery in the afternoon (with light sedation and local anesthesia)
  • Thursday... maybe (MAYbe) moving to a skilled nursing facility, or not... or having surgery, or not...

I told Keith I'm hoping we will look back and say that he was in the hospital for nearly a month. Not "for a month."

9:25 AM Tuesday (March 26, 2019)

I forgot to say yesterday that Keith reported to the internal medicine doctor that he felt weaker in the left arm than the right, and that he's a lefty. The doctor jumped at that, and started having Keith squeeze, push, pull, with both sides, both hands, arms, feet, and legs. It was perceptible, the doctor said, but minor, and might be from being in bed. Sensation seemed to be good on both sides, and Keith's face ("Smile big, raise your eyebrows, close your eyes, open your eyes") was still symmetrical, so no stroke symptoms.

Also, from yesterday, the nurse had said that if Keith wanted, after the physical therapist left, he could have pain meds—either oxycodone or Tylenol. Keith, after standing, stretching, taking a few steps to the wall and back, twice, and lying down for being light-headed and tired, said his pain level from down from a 3 to a 2, because he had stretched his back and it felt better. Nice.

Today I'm babysitting (a bit later), and was here to meet an electrician, so I'm home, but here's info from today (per Keith by phone) is that he sat up for dinner, sat up for breakfast, but standing up is still difficult. They wanted to do a shower, but it's down the hall and around, and would involve some standing, and it seems too much for now.


That was all written this morning, but I didn't post it. The electrician came by, I went to print out some articles about cardiac arrest and an ICD, and the baby showed up. Sorry...my P.S. from 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday

The thing I was looking up was about Keith driving. The cardiologist who is doing the procedure tomorrow visited him, with the resident who had talked to us before. The doctor said it wans't true, that Keith couldn't drive. He would be safer driving than before. That goes against everything I've been told, and read, including the dumbed-down-for-patients printout from last week. So I was printing out studies, and didn't get back here.

Week 4 continues here

Friday, March 22, 2019

A few days of waiting

UPDATED 7:20 PM Sunday (March 24, 2019)
Keith is still in room 560, 5 West


9:25 AM Friday (March 22, 2019)

Feeding tube is out, Keith is taking pills himself with water.

He's having a bit of his breakfast, and with the pineapple and orange slices (real, not canned), I made a bit of juice for him. "Glucerna carbsteady therapeutic nutrition", chocolate, on corn flakes was the best part. (Better idea than full skim milk and artificial sweetener on cornflakes.) Still, he doesn't want much.

He's wanting to go home, but there's no way. Because the feeding tube is out, and the chest tubed is clamped off again (trial to see if it's really needed). When the chest tube is out, he'll be waiting for physical therapists and being frustrated that he'll probably be here another week. He said he's getting bored, which means he's better.

Kim from occupational therapy is here. Hooray!!

10:05 AM Friday (March 22, 2019)

He sat up on the bed, transferred to a toilet chair, got tired and hot, and got back in bed. That's a pretty big deal, and though his joints are stiff, he still has his strength, and bodily awareness, so I'm guessing physical therapy will go smoothly.

Here's how aware he is: He told the PTs that he was having an xray at 10:30, ordered by Pulmonary. That's true. Nice.

11:15 AM Friday (March 22, 2019)

The chest tube is gone. (Third chest tube, removed about 10:45.)
They said they might need to turn the oxygen up, later, but the nurse just came in and turned the oxygen down. Keith's sensor was disconnected (by PT, or X-Ray, or Pulmonary), so when she hooked it up he was like a genius of oxygen-breathing.

10:20 PM Friday (March 22, 2019)

Kirby visited Keith after I left, and said Keith wanted him to make sure I knew that Keith does NOT want a mechanized electric bed, when he gets home. Fine. But he's willing to have a new mattress. Good.

I posted this on facebook just now:
A little Keith report:

On the 17th (five days ago) I wrote "Yesterday Keith was so much better that today I'm taking his glasses and his phone to him."

He still hasn't wanted his glasses, or his phone. He said he doesn't want to try to focus. Sleeping is his favorite thing, but it's hard for him to stay asleep because so many people are in and out, including me. I've tried to go less, or not stay as long, but sometimes it's good that I'm there for one reason or another.

He'll probably be out of there in less than a week, and into a rehabilitation facility for a while, and then home in April, sometime.
He seems to have all his mental facilities in there—not always all unhindered by exhaustion, frustraion and confusion, but he's remembering details about the work being done at our old house where Marty lives, like company names, his contacts, the name of the woman who answers the phone at one office, what we owe, and what needs to be done before final payments—his passwords to online banking. This are the kinds of things I can't remember on a healthy, calm week!

Every day I carry the comb and detangler Holly sent with me nearly two weeks ago, and a bag that has Keith's phone, his charger, and his glasses. I offer glasses every day or two, and so far he has said no. I think tomorrow might be a hair-combing day. I have little rubber bands, and if I can get it combed, I plan to make a braid.


5:45 PM Saturday (March 23, 2019)

I was at the hospital in the morning and left for a few hours, during which Bela came but Keith was sleeping and he went away for a while.

My trip out was to buy a new mattress (to be delivered April 5), and to go home and look at some bills, to come back and report, and to print something out from Keith's computer notes. Done and done done.

Keith is eating a few bites of this'n'that now. Three bites of grilled chicken, a couple of bites of mashed potatoes, some cooked carrot, and some leftover pears. Ate all of some salad with italian dressing. Drank skim milk. End of dinner report. :-)

Outside his door is a sign about letting him sleep. They've tried to let him sleep in the daytime, too. I was sneaking in this afternoon and his oxygen monitor beeped. Being awake in the day might help him with this, though:



6:10 PM Saturday (March 23, 2019)

Two days ago when Keith found out he can't drive for six months, he said maybe we should go on a cruise to the islands of Denmark. So I thought a bit about getting him a passport, and visiting Carolyn in Sweden, and whether we would really do it.

This morning before daylight, all the electricity went out at the Albuquerque airport. Backup generators failed. Big mess. I didn't know, but Keith had seen it on the news, and told me when I got here. What I had seen, to tell him, was that a Viking ocean-going cruise ship was disabled off Norway, in bad weather, and all the passengers were being taken to land by helicopters that held 15 to 20. That was going to take quite a while, to get everyone off, but at least the ship didn't sink. That's good.

Those are not good omens for a Viking cruise tour of the edges of Denmark, but on the other hand, the odds of it happening twice are small. (Right?) Like the odds of having two (or three) cardiac arrests in one day, and living to talk about going to Denmark as a distraction, if one couldn't drive (to the swimming pool and to breakfast, to music practice, to SCA events, to Lowe's to buy lumber, to Steve's to work in the shop and swap stories, to Costco, to take my van to get gas at Costco, to take Holly's pickup to Costco for gas...)

Keith's asleep, but his oxygen went below 90, so the machine is beeping. He woke up. I told him if he could let that machine train him to breath deeply when it beeps, he wouldn't hear it so much. He went to 87 before breathing it back up to 91, where the beeping stops. He's not using outside oxygen at all now.

He's not able to get out of bed, or walk, but he can rearrange himself in the bed, and I saw him turn over completely on his side yesterday, to go to sleep, before I left. He's starting to watch TV, too. He's still not interested in having his phone or iPad, though. He wore his glasses briefly, to look something up on the computer, and then said they were too uncomfortable, in the bed, at that angle.

I'll go home soon, and tomorrow I'm doing some things around the house.

9:00 PM Saturday (March 23, 2019)

I just got home. When I left, Keith was watching figure skating on TV, and was hoping to see Saturday Night Live, if it's on, but he was also sleepy. He reminded me to get gasoline on the way home; the van was below a quarter tank, and he's usually the one to buy gas. I asked if he cared where I got it, and he said no, but closer to the house would have better prices than there by the hospitals and the freeway. Very Keith-kind of thinking. :-)



7:20 PM Sunday (March 24, 2019)

I didn't go in today, but I have reports from two groups of visitors that he looked great, was mobile in the bed (could rearrange himself easily), was chipper and talking politics. I'm glad to have missed that part. :-)

Monday/tomorrow I'll go to hang out and see if it's time to start his exit strategy. If all goes well, he might be out Wednesday or Thursday, to another facility, but we don't know where yet.

Week 4 in the hospital; read more

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

New bed, more awake

Last updated 10:00 PM Thursday (March 21, 2019)
Keith is still in room 560, 5 West



9:30 AM Tuesday (March 19, 2019)

Keith is in room 560 in 5 West. This isn't 7 South. I see the new south building out the window. It looks nice. :-) One of the student nurses said he overheard that they're still trying to get Keith into 7 South. Seems they needed his ICU bed. I called the ICU before I left home, and was told he was still there. So I went there and pushed the button and said "Keith Dodd in 3, please!"

"Come on in!" So happy.

The guy in #3 wasn't Keith.

So I began my trek to find 5 West.

The nurse just told me that 7 South is "The Penthouse." I hope they do move him there, then. :-)

So before anyone visits Keith, check where he is. I'll leave notes here.

This room is extremely small. It was probably built before the fancy plastic beds were invented. I'm picturing some iron bedframe from 1920, but it's not that old, either, I don't think. (1960s, it was built, seems.)

Keith's not happy with the food or with thickened liquids. Unless he eats, though, he's still on tube feed and can't get out of here.
They brought him sugar-free Jello. "Vile," he said. But he said his throat hurts, from the respirator tube, and food that's cold hurts.

Keith kept asking which ribs were broken, and finally a (frightening) report:
2nd through 7 on the right
1st through 7th on the left
and sternum

That's thirteen broken ribs. Hiccups must really be awful. He didn't want to eat because he thought it was causing hiccups this morning, but then he hiccuped a few times even though he didn't eat.

The view is a reflection of this building in a newer building.


10:10 AM Tuesday (March 19, 2019)

Two doctors from Pulmonary were here. They're the ones with the news about which ribs were broken. They also said that his chest tube, which has now been in for over 16 days (since March 3 mid-afternoon, and this is day 17, I think) is sticking into the hole in his lung. Oops. The idea was for it to put suction in the area outside his lung, so the lung could re-inflate and heal. They put a clamp on the tube to see whether it was making any difference anyway. If it's not, they'll pull the tube. THEN the hole in his lungs can start to heal. If his breathing becomes difficult, they will unclamp it, and might need to put in a new tube.

There's something about this I don't understand, because they said if they take the tube out and he has problems they might need a new tube, but that with the tube that's in there, they can't pull it out of the hole just a little bit and leave it in.

Bad news about the penthouse. He was going to be in the care of the cardiac team, but because there are other issues, he's assigned to internal medicine. Pulmonary would have been consulting for cardiac, and now they're consulting for medical.

I think. They have hospital jargon/code on top of medical terminology here.

Keith is snoring. I don't know if that's good or bad, considering all. I'm going to go look at his readouts.
Seems fine.

Maybe "New bed, more awake" isn't the best title for something that ends up being about him being asleep and snoring.
The sleepiness was something one of the pulmonary doctors said was a problem that cardiology thought would be better handled by someone else.


2:30 PM Tuesday (March 19, 2019)

Pulmonary doctors put a clip on the chest tube (drain), sealing it up for a couple of hours to see if it was making any difference. If Keith's breathing became difficult, the nurse was to remove the clip. He was breathing fine, so they pulled the tube out. They'll ask radiology to look at last night's CT scan to see if they think there is blood outside, or just water or what. Some circumstances might cause them to put another smaller tube in, but if not, then they'll be done with him (pulmonary will be).

People keep on and ON coming in here and not letting him sleep. If today had been scheduled and scripted for humorous/irritating effect, it would have been difficult to plan this many credible excuses to come in. And I've been in and out, and furniture has been rearranged for various needs and purposes (the two guest chairs and the hospital table). it's about as fast-paced as Noises Off, though a few times (unlike in the play) someone has been waiting for an entrance, while another character finished a scene.

The photo above is what I can see out the window, not what Keith sees from the bed. Here's Keith's view:




6:45 AM Wednesday (March 20, 2019)

Yesterday late afternoon I was surprised by two things I hadn't known. Things were updated or changed and I had missed it. One was that they re-instated and kept) the feeding tube bag (they had left the tube for drugs). The word "tube" is starting to grate on my emotions in general. So he's not hungry, and all of the real food (such as it is—thickened liquids, thickened fake milk, solid foods he might not be able to eat even if he were well) is spit right back out, if he will even try it. But he's nauseous, and threw up again last night.

The second thing I wish I had known sooner was that the drug they gave him for nausea (sorry I didn't note its name) makes him very sleepy. Too sleepy to speak or think clearly. I thought yesterday was a big step backwards, but it was about being tubefed (...something that nauseates him?) and having meds for nausea that make him less coherent, and very weak.

I called this morning and was told Keith had a good night, no complaints of pain, threw up once, but had no ill effects on heart rate because of it. That sounds pretty good. If he's sleepy, and sleeping, without opiates, that's great. The anti-nausea drug might be an opiate, I suppose, but I don't want to think about it right now, because I can't go in today until late afternoon. It's a babysitting day! :-)

5:20 PM Wednesday (March 20, 2019)

I just got to Keith's room. I left home about 4:40. I think half the time was driving, and half was hiking through the hospital, though I did find the room in one shot this time. Good for me. It's a crazy maze.

Keith is asleep. He's so asleep he ignored the food-delivering attendant, her talking to him, me talking to her... anyway, very asleep.

Marty was here mid-day and said Keith's voice was strong nd he was aware and alert, joking with nurses. They had put in another chest tube. Keith told Marty it had been half an hour, but Marty said it had drained so much he figured it must've been longer.

I can stay a couple of hours and then I need to pick Devyn up from gym. Things are moving back toward more normal, in a few more ways, sometimes.

10:50 PM Wednesday (March 20, 2019)

I did leave the hospital about 7:30, but still I know a bit more.

Keith threw up there. He was still super sleepy, but had not been given anti-nausea drugs (which had made him sleepy the day before). Without even tasting any of his dinner, with no ice, nothing, he threw up. I was quick by, so it wasn't bad, and it didn't affect his heart rhythm. Mim, his nurse Tuesday night (and tonight again) said that he threw up then too, but his heart stayed good.

Today what he had in way of sedation was fentanyl, for the insertion of a new chest tube (the third), and 5 mg of Oxycodone for the discomfort of the new tube afterwards.

Keith was trying to sleep, but various things kept waking him up, so I decided to talk to him a bit since I needed to go. It was fun. He wasn't hallucinating. We talked about very routine kinds of things, like which bank account what bills should be paid from, and which were automatic. It's not very exciting objectively, but knowing he was that cognizant of things thrilled me.

Just near the end I was told that the ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) might be put in tomorrow morning. WHAT!? This disturbed me. I had been told it would be done the day before Keith was leaving. Also, I heard the hospital is full. Also, I've heard little snippets of this and that, about skilled nursing facilities, and rehab hospitals, and it was a swirl. Tomorrow I'm going in early to see what's what, and to find and talk to the social work case manager (each floor has one, I've been told) to see if there is a plan and what it might be.

Since Keith can't stand up, or eat, it seems to me I can't take care of him yet. Chest tube. Feeding tube.

In the past couple of days I've been told by two different people that they were there the first day. One was in the emergency room when Keith came in. One was up in the ICU when he had another cardiac arrest there. They remarked how well he looked and how happy they were to see him that way (alive, I thought they meant). Seems this is unusual.

I told Rebecca the nurse that Dr. Ling had said only 30% of those with a cardiac arrest outside the hospital live. She said she thinks it's fewer than that—that it's not that high for people who have a cardiac arrest AT the hospital. And Keith had both of those, May 3. One or two at the park, depending how it's counted, and one in the ICU. Thinking back tonight, I think what he said was 30% get to the hospital, not that they live through the emergency room or later treatments.

I talked to Ashlee and Marty about it some. They knew enough to know the numbers were very small. I just had a 30% in my head. I went to find more.
U.S. Cardiac Arrest Survival Rates Around 6 Percent for Those Occurring Outside of a Hospital
It's short, and (literally) clinical, but it made me appreciate Keith being alive and wanting to talk about checking accounts, and when payments are due.

Ashlee said she thinks for people with two cardiac arrests, the chance of living is less than 1%. Keith had two or three on the same day.

I need to stop reading that stuff; it's scary. But Keith is alive, complaining about food, and talking about when to pay which bills.

9:00 AM Thursday (March 21, 2019)

I came in early to find out more about today's plan for the insertion of the ICD. His tube feed was cut off at midnight, so they could do this little surgery. I looked up the cost of the device and I'm sorry I did. Keith needs to live about twenty five more years, I think, for that much, but they don't go by costs here. They go by "This will save his life," and "95% chance of surviving a cardiac arrest with this."

It seems I'll be happier if I stop googling stuff.

Physical therapists came, two, female. They helped him sit, and then he stood up! Honestly full height, without slouching or squatting. Two seconds, and then he said "That's enough." They helped him comfortably back into the bed. He was shaking, when he was up, but he was really up, and it was good to see, for the first time in 18 days or so. Counting the days doesn't work well. The first day he was here was March 3. But also on March 3, he was walking, driving, fencing.

10:30 AM Thursday (March 21, 2019)

A pulmonary doctor came and said they will leave the chest tube in a while, because it collected a liter overnight.

The nurse came in and gave him this'n'that. I couldn't hear everything, but none of it was painkiller. and some was blood pressure med, blood thinner, aspirin for "a plateley aggregator," Atorvastatin, potassium... Part of it is to want to prevent blood clots, because of the upcoming insertion of the ICD.

No one knows when the cardiac guys will do what they're going to do, because if there are people who aren't stable, they go before now-stable Keith.

6:05 PM Thursday (March 21, 2019)

I was too tired to write, earlier. The ICD was NOT inserted today. They were wanting to do it when Keith was stronger, and more tubes were out. Communications were imperfect, and when they said NPO / nothing by mouth from midnight (meaning also no feeding-tube food), the further message that they meant IF the chest tube was out, and if the feeding tube was out was not processed or passed or explicit or something. So Keith had not a drop of anything from midnight to 3:00 in the afternoon or so for no good reason.

Some people came by, though, notably two doctors from pulmonary who wanted to take a sample of what was coming from Keith's chest tube, but they needed fresh and current, and he didn't provide enough while they were there. The two liters in the collection recepticle weren't clean enough for use, or something. They hadn't been so particularly interested in Keith himself, as the mystery of what could be draining for so long from a person's chest cavity. This is the third tube. He doesn't have fever, his white-cell count is fine... The tube might come out tomorrow.

The speech therapist came by, the first one he ever saw, and approved water (and thin liquids). So as part of that test, Keith had some ice, some water, a cracker, and then the guy went and found a few other things. A little lunch-cup of canned pears (in tiny baby bites) was one, and I gave Keith one bite, and a drink of the juice/water, and that was all he wanted. Still... maybe he can build up to actually eating.

A resident named Dr. Nelson came by to talk to us...

WAIT!

The sweet and good thing about Dr. Nelson is that she's the one who had noticed Keith's rough and elevated heart rate last Tuesday, when he was on 7 South briefly.

... Dr Nelson came to talk to us about the ICD, to answer questions. Tomorrow/Friday is too soon for the procedure now. Even if the tubes were removed, it's late on Thursday. They don't work on Saturday or Sunday. Monday isn't a good day. [A hospital as large as a small city might want to do some seven-day-a-week scheduling, it seems to me.) TUESDAY. That's what she wants to aim for. So she will recommend NPO / no food for Monday night, hope they can implant the device Tuesday, and then Keith can be discharged maybe Thursday after? This is tentative.

That's tentative, but it's more definite than most things have been so far.

It will be up to the recommendation of OT and PT (occupational therapy and physical therapy) whether Keith will then go to a skilled nursing facility, or to a physical-therapy rehab facility. I hope physical therapy. Keith was able to pull himself up to sitting, today, and stay there (if he could grab the sides of the bed).

What we learned about the ICD is not good. The papers a doctor had printed out for me earlier from their approved website had some very-dumbed-down information. I looked on the internet. DID I NOT JUST WRITE this morning that I should not do that? He won't be able to drive for six months. That seemed bad. And if the thing does set off its electric charge, he is to go to the emergency room (by ambulance, unless he's awake, and someone can drive him there very quickly), and they will do what they need to do, and then his six months of no driving starts over. Also, even without that, it can cause depression, to have an ICD. But it will save his life, they assure us.

The driving problem, I read about myself, on the same evidence-based site the doctor said was their only and best source, UpToDate.com. The emergency-room-every-time part, Dr. Nelson told me. She also clarified for Keith, who loves to drive, that if he were to opt out of the ICD, he could never drive ever, for risk of cardiac arrest or heart fibrillations. But *with* the device, if he's clear and good for six months, driving would be okay.

All of that made me sad, and tired.

Ashlee had come, and asked the best of the questions, about heart defibrillator implants, and hospital eventualities. Kirby came later, to visit, and I walked out with him, and came on home.

So it was an improving-health day, with frustrations.

10:00 PM Thursday (March 21, 2019)

Tried to speak with the nurse (by phone, from home); didn't connect. Front desk said he was probably in the process of getting meds, that he had slept in the afternoon, that they tried to keep interruptions to a minimum and that they plan to remove the NG tube [nasogastric (nose to stomach)]. Good! That was what the speech therapist said he would recommend. That's what Keith wanted me to remove a week ago. he said I wasn't on his side, and I wasn't a good wife, if I didn't pull that tube out of his nose.

I'll visit in the morning, and start a new post. No more here, probably. Click the "Sandra Dodd" title of the blog to go to the newest things.

Direct-trail links added later for Keith (or anyone).
Click here to go to the days when Keith was told to wait until Tuesday, because the procedure had not been done on Thursday.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Halfway out of the ICU

Updated 8:00 PM Monday (March 18, 2019)


11:00 AM Monday (March 18, 2019) week three, still in the ICU this morning

Keith will be on 7 South (again, where he was temporarily a week ago) when a bed opens up there. Today, then, the doctors skipped him, on their rounds.

Yesterday he was approved for thick liquids, and eating. Within an hour, they brought him a full big meal with thickened lemon flavored water which he didn't like or want, Jello which he had some of, applesauce he didn't want, turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, and the vegetable he hates most in the world, peas. But that was easy to leave on the plate because he wasn't even close to nearly ready to eat turkey, and didn't want to try mashed potatoes.

This morning, the nurse said breakfast, for Keith, was two bites of an orange, one bite of eggs, and one bite of French toast, which he thought was vile. Still, he's starting to eat. (and complain)

A chaplain came by—nice guy I met before, AO Ferguson of the Palliative team. Keith had no concerns, so AO and I talked about harpsichords and Renaissance music a bit. He said world recorder day just passed. Ah. I missed it. :-) He saw in on CBS Sunday Morning, a show I usually watch, but yesterday I came to the hospital really early. Maybe a chaplain should've been in church on a Sunday morning, but he probably gets enough service and inspiration at work.

Now there are two physical therapists, and that's probably way more interesting to Keith than anything else that happens here. Yesterday was the first day, and he sat at the side of the bed, but today they're doing lots more, and they've brought a walker, to see if they can get him standing.

Of his big IV tree, he's only on antibiotics, now. There are a couple of things going into the feeding tube, which is still in though they're not putting the bag-o'-food in. None of it is sedative, though. Since Saturday afternoon or so, if he's sleeping it's real sleep.

Two doctors were here from "the pulmonary team" earlier to evaluate whether to take last and original chest tube out. They're starting to think maybe the oxygen it's pulling is coming through his skin and not from the space outside the lung, which is shrinking anyway. They ordered a CT scan, and he will be wheeled away for that, in a while. Other scans happen in the bed. I've asked, and the doctors asked, too, for them to say which ribs were broken. That's Keith's main question, and people have shrugged like it's not important, but it's important to Keith.

11:20 AM Monday (March 18, 2019)

Though they did some moving around in the bed, when they had Keith sitting up, he was too dizzy, then to do more. They asked him to tap his feet on the floor, and he was too dizzy to help, then, so they're putting him back in the bed.

3:15 PM Monday (March 18, 2019)

Two odd things are happening. One is that though Keith is no longer an ICU patient, really, he's still in the ICU. His nurse has four patients—1, 3/Keith, 17 (where he used to be—can't even see it from here, it's on another hall), 19. Before now, Keith's had a nurse to himself, or a nurse with one other person, next door. I was assured that she checks once an hour. That's not much, but if he's not considered to be in need of intensive care, that's enough for them. Only he can't use the call button. :-/ So I stalled before going to lunch, as long as I could. He's trying to sleep, but can't, very well.

The second odd thing is related. Keith thinks he can move more than he can. He wasn't able to tap his feet on the floor, for the physical therapists, earlier. He has not stood, nor sat up on the edge of the bed without support. But he asked me sharply "Where's that toilet? I need to sit on the toilet." There's no way. I asked for help, and got the bedpan to try to help him, and he peed in it, but I couldn't do more, and we didn't get help in time. At least I was here.

Then when he was cleaned up and was relaxedagain, he told me he wanted to sleep on his side. I asked if he wanted me to get people to help him, and prop him up with pillows. No, he said, he could do it. He can't, but I didn't argue. I figured if he fell asleep that would be good enough, and he did. I makde sure the sheet and blanket were good before I went to eat, but when I got back he said he didn't want anything, just to sleep on his right side, but he could turn himself. So I pulled the covers up and toward his left, saying that way he would still be covered up when he turned. He can't turn.

I'll be glad when he's moved somewhere where it's warmer and he actually is a patient. He has hiccups again, and they're painful even at home on a good day, but with broken ribs, it's worse. Yesterday there was a drug for hiccups, so that he could get rid of them befoe the speech therapist came. Today, doctors on this floor aren't his doctor, and unless cardiology prescribes for him, he can't get anything. And all they care about is his heart—not his ribs or hiccups or pain or delusions. The delusion of he afternoon, though, is that he can turn onto his side, or get up and go to the toilet. Not yet.

8:00 PM Monday (March 18, 2019)

I'm home. They were going to take him for a CT scan, so I left when they wheeled him away. They think he'll be moved to 7 South tonight, so I'll check before I go in the morning.

Two things I learned later in the day to day that others knew earlier:
Because he only ate some jello for dinner, and three bites of not-much for breakfast, the tube feed was reinstated. They never took the tube out because they were using it for a couple of drugs, but they put it on at 40 instead of 60 (numbers that might make sense to some of you). I wish I had known before I kept trying to get him to take at least one cracker and a bite of his lunch banana. I ate those myself on the way to the parking lot.

And the other thing is that his sternum is broken and several ribs. He kept asking which ribs and nobody would tell him, so I've pressed them to find out and let him know. I bugged every human who came in the room today and they mostly said they had no idea and no way to get an idea and I'd tell them to find someone who did, because it's the only question Keith had asked at all in two weeks. (Before, I thought two ribs on the left were all.)

Photos from the parking lot, looking west on Saturday morning, and east as I was leaving today. I thought mountains over and among tall buildings might be of interest to flatlanders. The parking structure is tall enough that I can see the mountains over some of the rest of the hospital, from the top.



The first is the Sandias from where I was parked, but then I backed up to show you the nearer mountains and the moon.


Moving to 5 West, and not coming right back! (Click to read more.)
This might be where Keith's memories start, though he does remember fighting off five attackers in the ICU
(when they tried to restrain him, when he pulled tubes).

Sunday, March 17, 2019

At my more regular blog...

If there is not a post above this, go to the post below for news of Keith's Hospital Adventure.

The only blog I keep up regularly is a daily inspiration blog for unschooling parents. Last night I posted this:
Time out

Time out, please. I have tried to keep up here as though everything is normal, but I've missed a couple of days, and had more re-runs than usual. Tonight I'm too tired, but will share two things. #1 is this photo of me and baby Kirby Athena, taken by her dad yesterday; and #2, that her only grandpa, who is also my husband, has been in intensive care for two weeks. Today he's better than he has been, but it has not been steady improvement over the two weeks.

I might miss a few more posts in the coming days, or share more of the "greatest hits" or special forgotten posts from the past eight-and-a-half years.

Be happy with your families, please! Be grateful for all good things.


photo by Kirby Dodd, the Elder


Click here for the post that followed this one, of the beginning of Week 3

Friday, March 15, 2019

Ventilator off, breathing tube out

Last updated 5:30 PM Sunday (March 17, 2019)

Friday midday (March 15, 2019)

They've taken the ventilator off, and the tube out. Jeff/Artan was there; I was not. I had been there earlier, and Marty was on his way when Jeff needed to go back to work, so there won't be much time when he didn't have a family member or longtime friend right there. Beau will come after Marty. I can go back later today.

Sandra editorializes: It's Friday. They put that ventilator in on Tuesday, not because there was a problem breathing, but because they were afraid the defibrillators might stop his heart. Okay! Then they should have taken it out Wednesday. But he was agitated, they said. Same on Thursday. But they know (or had the potential to have known) that last week he was off the ventilator for three days or so, and able to talk, and cough. They ignored all that, until I called last night and pressed someone (gently, I tried). Lawrence, the charge nurse. And Dr. Harkins, who had come up with the extubation-first plan on Saturday the 9th, was there last night. They discussed it and Lawrence called me at 11:00 pm to say it was a good thing I had pressed them, and I was right.

So I hoped that going in this morning, I'd get to be here, but the schedule was very slow, and it didn't happen until after noon. I was back home, but Jeff was there.

Before they extubated, I got a call for permission to move a tube (for what all, I'm not sure) from his femoral artery into his left wrist. I asked if they were not also going to take out the bigger chest tube, which has been in longer than anything, but they said they've considered the possibility of infection from that and they're being cautious, but they would rather remove the smaller one from his chest and leave the larger one.

Now Marty's there (Friday 12:45), and said they're doing an untrasound on his veins.


Friday 2:30 PM (March 15, 2019)
Beau visited while Marty was still there, and after. She said they took some more tubes out. I'll go when I'm through babysitting.

Friday 6:15 PM (March 15, 2019)
I called to get an update, and was told by the nurse "I'll call you back, we have an emergency situation." I said ok, but I called the desk and asked if the emergency was with Keith or someone else. She transferred me to the charge nurse who said he got agitated and pulled "a bunch of his tubes out." She said they had all tried to stop him, but couldn't.

I asked if he had a visitor, she went to check, and said Ashlee was there (she arrived after the agitation, I think), so I've been messaging with Ashlee. He pulled out the chest tube, but they were planning to remove it anyway. I don't know what they'll do about that one. She said he pulled on the foley, but not all the way out. (That's the urine-collection apparatus.)

Friday 6:40 PM (March 15, 2019)
The nurse told Ashlee that he's as stable now as he was when they transferred him to 7 South Monday night. They think it's better not to have people coming in and trying to interact with him, because he's still and resting. Bela showed up there while I was on the phone with Ashlee, so she will brief him. Bela is soothing, for Keith. Whether he stays a while or not, it won't hurt Keith.

I'll go back in the morning / Saturday morning.

8:00 AM Saturday (March 16, 2019)

Brad is the new nurse.
Keith can speak, softly and unclearly. He said "h" is the hardest sound to make. He said his big toes hurt, like there's pressure on them. He squeezed Doctor White's finger to show how hard it felt. There's nothing obvious.

He wanted water or ice, and Brad let me clean off a mouth-wssh sponge and dip it in ice water three times. He said he could cough up better when he had ice (which was nearly a week ago, but he's right).

Poor Keith is restrained, but he really is wanting things gone. He wanted me to pull the feeding tube out. I didn't.

10:10 AM Saturday (March 16, 2019)

Occupational therapist is here. For the first time in 13 days, he's been helped to sit up on the side of the bed. He might get to stand up.
(Standing didn't happen, but he sat a while and stretched a bit.)

The speech therapist should be here sometime today to do a swallow test. That's in hopes of taking out the feeding tube. I'm sadly frustrated and I have a hard time not being snarky, because all of this has happened before, but they don't refer back to last week's notes. And they left the breathing tube in longer than they should have, so it will take some more time (again) for his voice to recover. And water would help, for sure, but until he has the swallow test, they only let him have a little bit of water to suck off a sponge. Keith's getting mad at me about it.

10:33 AM Saturday (March 16, 2019)

He's back in the bed, more comfortable, I hope. I feel really bad for him, and there's not really a lot I can do. He wants me to go and touch, or get, or take pictures of things that aren't there. But they're talkinga bout weaning him off of more drugs, all the time, and going to pills when he can swallow. They're also (again) talking about taking him to another area/room/section/whatever. Formerly called "ward."

7:50 PM Saturday (March 16, 2019)

Bob Cooke was here this afternoon when I went to Devyn's 10th birthday party. He said Keith was talking some nonsense, but Bob could understand him well, and Keith seemed happy. Bob said Keith was singing some.

I came back at 4:30, and Bela came back not long after. He had come a bit earlier, but they asked him to wait a bit, because Keith was getting a bed change and kind-of bath.

Keith's voice was better, and he was happier than this morning. He's still seeing things and commenting a bit out of the blue sometimes, but also communicating real things well.

He threw up, the brown tube-feeding stuff, and his heart went a bit goofy. Two nurses and a doctor rushed in, but Bela and I had been fairly on top of it, though I didn't know where a regular pan was, so I grabbed the bedpan. It worked fine. They're giving him zofran-something for nausea.

Earlier today, Brad-the-nurse showed Keith how to use the suction.



1:15 PM Sunday (March 17, 2019)

Keith didn't sleep much last night, I heard, and threw up a couple of times.

Brad is his day nurse again. Keith didn't get the speech therapist visit he needed yesterday. Until he's approved to swallow, he stays on tube feeding. But this morning he started hiccuping and the speech therapist can't evaluate him if he's hiccuping. So Brad got approval of Reglan for hiccups. It stopped the hiccups immediately. Or else they stopped. That's why people keep trying all kinds of paper bags and breathholding and upside-downing, because at some point the hiccups stop. :-)

So if he gives him the second Reglan and they stop..... still not definite proof.:-) But if they're stopped when the speech therapist comes, that's good. I would at least like to give Keith ice chips.

They might move him to another floor today. The last time, he didn't last long there.

Keith is talkative today, and easy to understand. He's seeing things on the wall, or alight fixture, and then associating them with things from the 1970's. Coincidentally, I think, in a way. Not consciously, but somehow the memories he's coming up with are 70's. It's not like soap-opera amnesua though. He also knew Holly was in California. He remembered Sadie's husband's name, when I couldn't name him. So it seems things are triggering oddly random thoughts. LSD does that, and he's no longer on any sedatives. Brad says having had cardiogenic events take a while to come back to their right thoughts. He said after open-heart surgery they call it "pump head," that after coming back from the blood pumping machine, it takes them a while to get their thoughts working right again.

We're waiting for a speech therapist, and from people from the internal medicine team to come and evaluate him.

5:30 PM Sunday (March 17, 2019)

It will be cardiology and not internal medicine, claiming Keith when they move him to "7 South." Same floor, different specialities. Dr. Mac told Keith he has a lung infection, but I don't think that's true. This morning when others did rounds, they said his white cells were down and his fever was gone. There might still have been a standing anti-biotic deal, but the potential for aspiration pneumonia was decided againast a week or so ago. So unless there's something new nobody mentioned to me, I don't think he has an infection.

Sarah from speech pathology came and gave Keith water, ice, thickened something, apple sauce, little pieces of pear (cousin of apple sauce) to see how he swallowed. He had a graham cracker, but didn't like it. Thick things were better than plain water, it seemed. So he's approved for thicker liquids and softish things (maybe). But even the little practice samples were too much for him. He wanted to stop. His stomach wasn't feeling great, but he didn't throw up.

There isn't a bed on 7 South, so he'll be here until tomorrow, at least.



To get to older posts (there were three, as this one was started) about Keith's hospitalization, click the title of the blog
OR HERE
to see all the recent entries.

Later links, for Keith, when he wants to read through this:
I announced the hospitalization at Just Add Light and Stir, and brought that part to this blog, too.
That has the link to the next part of the Hospital Saga.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Keith, out of the ICU—I MEAN WAIT, back in the ICU

Updated 5:55 Thursday afternoon (March 14, 2019)

Monday night (March 11, 2019) about 9:30, they got word in the ICU that there was a room for Keith: 720, in 7 South
Same parking, where we are, which looks like it will be a long walk each time.

Bela was with me when they told us, but we were about to leave. He needs to go to work tomorrow, and I had been at the hospital since Saturday early evening—over 48 hours. I will report again tomorrow, but Keith's out of the ICU!

9:00 AM, Tuesday, March 12
I called to 7 South, where Keith was moved last night. I haven't been there yet.

Last night he had emesis (throwing up) so they have cut his tube feed. I didn't ask whether they took the tube out.

He's in stable condition, still delirious and muttering, and the nurse I spoke with didn't know if he had a fever.

It's not much information, but enough that I feel calm about staying home for a while today.



3:30 PM, Tuesday, March 12

I was calmly home when I got a phone call from a nurse saying Keith's heart was beating in a new and different way, and the doctor would like to speak with me. Dr. Brown, a cardiologist, wanted permission for them to use electro cardioversion to try to get his heart settled. And also, to do that, they needed permission to re-intubate him so he would have oxygen during that, or if something went wrong. I agreed to all that.

Also, he said they would like to do another catheter angiogram, to see if there might be a problem with the stents from Sunday the 3rd, or what might be going on. They thought I should come in and that Keith would be back in the ICU. I drove over, heard more explanations, and agreed to the test.

Leaving out some of the minor-er details, they didn't find any problems they hadn't already seen March 3, and the stents were open, and fine.


He's in the same ICU, but in #3 now, near the door. He is on

  • amiodarone
  • phenylephrine
  • propofol
  • fentanyl
  • insulin drip
  • vasopressin
  • lidocaine (temporary)
Propofol+fentanyl, together, will keep him still until tomorrow. It seems a bit like starting over, except there was no cardiac arrest, and no CPR.

What there WAS was a heart rate of up to 280. It was over 220 when they first started to work on him, as high as 280 260* between shocks—there were eight shocks—and it settled back closer to 100 after that. When I was there, it was 80 or so, I think, but that was because of two of those drugs: amiodarone and lidocaine

* I looked back at my notes. There was a 6, and an 8. And I heard again there were eight shocks, so that means it must've been 260. I'm sorry for the confusion, but I'm pretty sure 260, and eight times.

I'll go back Wednesday morning.


9:30 AM, Wednesday, March 13

From a racing uneven heartrate of high 250s (260 once) yesterday morning, later in the day it dropped to the 40-60 range, and I don't think it's been that low since he came here. He still has fever, and it hasn't been lower than 38 recently, I was told. They don't know what's going on with his heart.

A cardiologist (I can't tell who's who here sometimes) came to say that before Keith leaves, like the day before he's leaving, they want to install an ICD defibrulator, that would give his heart a shock if it went into an irregular pattern. (one of these)

Yesterday and this morning, I read a lot about temporary blindness or various partial blindness cases, following cardiac arrest and CPR. But it seems it's not going to be of interest to anyone here. At least I'll be able to reassure Keith that if he's not seeing as he used to, that the problem is rare and documented and temporary. The opthamologists only care about his physical eyes. Cardiologists only care if the heart is beating. Some things fall between departments, I guess. Here's where I have links about it, and I invite ideas. It's a facebook group, so if you're not on facebook, maybe you should be. :-) Trivial Curiosities, Rants and Philosophy with Sandra Dodd The link should go straight to that topic.

11:00 AM, Wednesday, March 13

Spontaneous breathing went okay. They put the pain meds on pause, so he could wake up enough to respond to things, in a while. He's in pain, and is answering yes/no questions really well. So he can't breathe deeper because of pain in his ribs. He didn't want a heat pack, said yes to a cold pack, but later wanted it out (they had putit under where his ribs are broken).

They're put a bit of pain med somewhere, so he can be calm for the spontaneous awakening trial (which he might already have passed, from being responsive. If they don't take the tube out, he can't answer the irritating name/birthday/where-are-you/date/do-you-know-why-you're here questions.

11:25 AM, Wednesday, March 13

He started biting on the breathing tube, and getting agitated. He tried to sit up, with legs and back, so that's kinda dramatic. His wrists are restrained, or he would've been up, and maybe out of the bed. Several people came in including the main doctor, and they put him back so the machine is the primary breather.

He's trying to push the breathing tube out, and they're putting the propofol back on. Just as I was leaving the nurse said they had replaced propofol with precedex.

The next spontaneous breathing trial will be tomorrow morning (Thursday, March 14).

I forgot to add, earlier, that they had send urine and blood samples to the lab to see what Keith's infection might be—why he has fever. I called earlier, and the results weren't in yet.


8:00 AM, Thursday, March 14

Today's nurse is John. I called and talked to him. Keith's the same as he was a few days ago, he said. Fever? It's down now. Awake? Not really, but maybe later today after the spontaneous breathing test, which will be today after doctors' rounds, probably.

Marty was there last night and said Keith was able to communicate by nods and head shakes, and wanted that music off I had put on in the morning (and then forgotten about). The TV remote / nurse call button hand set has the speaker on it, and I had put on the soothing water-and-mountains channel, with the soothing music. I didn't turn it off when I left, late morning, and it was on soft enough nobody was hearing it but poor Keith. He probably heard it eight times before Marty rescued him.

Sorry there's not more to report, but not sorry things are calmer. I hope the breathing tube will come out today. Some of you, and maybe all of you, might know how confusing and awful it is for me to feel like it's in there again because of me not saying "leave him alone now," but that because he can nod and shake his head and communicate about where he's hurting, that he's likely to get up and get out of there and come home where you can all visit him.

I dreamed he was home and there was a dream-kind-of party at our house, but everyone was coming in the back, and standing around, talking happily, in his office in the corner near the printer, and it was getting crowded. I asked whether we shouldn't go up in to the main part of the house where there was more room. Keith said no, it was fine. Then I realized that it had been more than an hour since anyone was up front, and other visitors had probably come to the door, not gotten a response, and gone away in the dark. And lucky me! That's the worst dream I've had about all this.

Maybe Keith is also having relative peace. There were no invasive procedures yesterday. They didn't have him on a cold-water mattress pad.

If anyone wants to visit him, don't take anything but maybe a card he can see later. Put in that top drawer of the little dresser by the window before you leave, please. And don't feel bad if he doesn't remember you being there. He's sure who I am, sometimes.

He's in #3, MICU (medical intensive care, so check, because there are three of them all in one area up there).

Thursday afternoon, March 14—other people's reports(I was home with Devyn and little Kirby)

12:31 PM, Beau (who had been there with Laurie B. to play recorders)

Keith was thrashing about when we played or talked with him off and on. After about an hour they sedated him more, he was moving his arms and legs about. Did settle down after they suctioned his air passages.

Nurse said they will try pulling the ventilator again later today. His oxygen was good with the ventilator providing only oxygen, I guess weaning from the pressure.

1:41 PM, Marty

John, his current nurse, said that he failed SBT again because of agitation. And that two women came and played flutes fo rhim.

SBT is spontaneous breathing trial, and Laurie and Beau were playing recorders earlier.
5:15+/-, Kirby

I've been here with dad since 2pm. Dad is asleep, though was immediately responded to my saying hello. He shook his head "no." I replied stating I'd leave him to rest, to which he shrugged.

The nurse reported earlier in the day his chest tube was out a little bit. So they reinserted two centimeters. Current drugs:

  • Phenylephine 40mcg/min
  • Amio 0.5mg/min
  • ZosenEX 25ml/h
  • Precedex 1.5mcg/kg/h
  • Fentanyl 125mcg/kg/h
  • If there are errors and it doesn't make sense,
    maybe it's close. I transcribed from Kirby's notes,
    and it won't stay formatted here.
  • Insulin 2.1 u/h
  • Propofol 5mcg/kg/min
  • Vancouver, standby
Chest x-ray at 3:05 pm

3:30, Dad's breathing machine started spinning an alarm. The doctor said he was coughing. They gave him some more sedatives to assist.

His nurse changed to John, the guy I've liked best so far. They gave him anti-inflammatory meds through a shot and it's been very calm.

Newer: Ventilator off, breathing tube out, Friday, March 15

Or click the title of the blog, and read through all the entries that way.