Angst: Day 4 (Nov.7 2008)

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Alex had a panic attack this morning. She woke up alone and her mind got the best of her, reeling into anxiety and feelings of impending dreadful doom. It took over her entire being and there wasn’t much the staff around could do to calm her down other than get a sedative into her. Of course, I wasn’t there to help alleviate the situation. Indeed, my absence was partly the reason that she started to freefall in such a way.

I guess I should tell you that I am currently the only family member to be able to visit her (and only family members are allowed to visit her at this time – no friends yet, folks). We had a situation where the rest of the family was exposed to some sort of a cold or virus, and the rule of thumb is generally that anyone who has come into contact with a bug has to stay away for a minimum of 72 hrs. So it’s just me. And l’il old me was not in hospital when Alex started feeling isolated and alone.

The combination of the morphine, no real contact with the outside world, inability to watch the monitors from the bed, no timepiece, the constant beeping and ductwork noises unravelled her for a while. Not a long while, mind. It passed before I’d even arrived. Nonetheless it shook her up, and I really wish I could have been there for her when she was freaking out. By the time I got there Alex was cogent and fairly relaxed (with a little pharmacutical support). She relayed the story, and I let her know that I’d try to figure out a better system for me to be there when she woke up (Part of her fear sprung from a feeling of aloneness, in that there was a shift change and she perceived that no one was around, which wasn’t the case). I talked to her nurse Melanie and she told me that I could indeed visit during that time (even though all the signs say I cannot). Cool, that should help.

Alex and I then had a very sobering talk around what it must feel like to be old and really alone. It’s a sad thing to think that so many sick and/or elderly people face this isolation by themselves, with only their health care workers to brighten up their days. We sat and squeezed each other’s hands ever tighter at the thought…

But enough of this talk of isolation and anxiety. Alex has also had a few things change around her today. I was quickly caught up to speed on how two of the drainage tubes were removed from her sides early this morning. This is good, as it means she now has only two tubes left which exit the fluid buildup from around her lungs. She still has a bit of a gurgly chest sometimes, a phlegmatic leftover from the operation, as it were, so it’s vital to get that fluid out from the thoracic region.

Another development concerns her hemoglobin count. It’s too low, apparently, so Alex underwent a blood transfusion to bring it back up into a better range. She lost a fair amount of blood during the operation due to the tenacious nature of her old left lung. It had essentially been so scarred due to bleeding over the years that it had developed new roots, which then died off and clogged up the lung. The difficult nature of removing these these old roots led to a lot of bleeding, hence the need for a transfusion. So at last count there were 12 IV tubes plugged into her various parts (that’s including the transfusion IV).

So…a big thank you to our other favorite type of donors, the blood donors. If you get a chance, please consider helping out, there is currently a shortage of blood and blood products.

No walking today for Alex due to the combined stress of low hemoglobin, panic, and an ongoing blood transfusion. Respiratory therapist Gary came in and did some work to get Alex breathing and stretching. She really likes Gary. He has a soft yet firm way about him, and it made her feel good to get those lungs pumping. He got her coughing up some of the phlegm that’s been hanging around bugging her (which hurts like Hell, in that she has stitches, staples, and tubes in her chest cavity). He also got her sitting up, which is of integral importance. She needs to get moving as much as possible, and not compress those beautiful new lungs with her body. Once Gary left we sat upright in our respective chairs, holding hands, and fell into a wondrous & dreamless 45 minute sleep together. I got her back into bed once she woke up, and I took my leave to get home and walk dog and grab a bite. Hope she’s okay while I’m gone.

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