Friday, April 30, 2010

No surgery today

Finally, at 3pm,  we were told that the surgeon in Kamloops was not working today!! Now they anticipate that John will have to wait until Monday or Tuesday for the procedure. Megan, Heather, Chris and Augie are visiting for the weekend and he will have to stay in the hospital.

On a brighter note, I signed papers for the purchase of our new vehicle, a Honda Civic, and took the papers to John to sign. We won't take possession until after he comes home. This will be the first new vehicle that we have owned in our years together!! Very exciting!! We can look forward to exploring Canada on future road trips instead of flying off to foreign places.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Still waiting to hear whether John will go to Kamloops tomorrow for the pacemaker implant. He had his first tummy injection today and the nurse said that he would be getting one every day until he has the implant...b-b-b-b-but...isn't that happening tomorrow? "We're not sure" she replied.

If he doesn't go tomorrow, he'll spend another weekend in the hospital, hooked up to the heart monitor!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mixed messages

How quickly things change! When John's Doctor visited us, at 8am this morning, he explained that John's heart rate had dipped down into the 20's again during the night. He would not consider sending him home today. He would arrange for the surgical procedure to have a pacemaker inserted and John would have to stay in the hospital until after surgery. When and where was left up in the air!  ...either Kelowna or Kamloops.

Later, around 12:30pm the phone rang at home. It was John to say that the specialist had been to see him and that he would perform the surgery! Could I please come back to the hospital to discuss this new piece of information.

On the way to the hospital I ran things through my head, unable to grasp the fact that the specialist was also a surgeon. How experienced was he with this procedure? Why not Kelowna or Kamloops?

On arrival, I found the specialist at the nurses' station and queried him. He assured me that he was not performing the surgery. John would be sent to Kamloops on Friday and maybe stay overnight there if they had a bed for him. Otherwise he would be returned to Salmon Arm following the surgery. The next day the specialist would visit John to program the pacemaker.

We were both relieved. This is another example of why people should have another person along when talking with/listening to a Doctor!!


Is today the day? Will he be home today? The specialist, "Dr. I don't have much time to spend with you"was unwilling to make the decision about a pacemaker last night, leaving the decision to us. Of course, it is always wise to leave important choices to the uninformed and uneducated!

So, we made the decision to forgo the pacemaker for now, bring him home and see how things go now that he is not taking several medications that were lowering his heart rate. By the way, those medications were originally prescribed by "Dr. I don't have much time to spend with you"!

We will also request a referral to another specialist!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kraft Dinner

Adrian offered to buy dinner for me while he was working a shift at Eastside Mario's last night. I had confessed to a dinner of Kraft Dinner the night before and assume that he was worried about my health!
I should go on record as testifying that there is nothing wrong with Kraft Dinner! It has always been a comfort food when you don't have the energy to concoct a gourmet pasta dish!

So, after five days of hospital visits, woven between sorting through junk in the basement, I realized that my exhausted body could not even manage to boil a pot of KD. Dragging myself into the Restaurant Bar, I plopped down and looked around. The hockey game had just started and I was surrounded by fifteen boisterous Canucks fans! Five TV screens over the Bar carried the same images. Beer flowed, shots were thrown back, curses and cheers alternated with goals scored. I watched Adrian pour, mix, wipe and banter behind the bar. Every now and then he would look up at the screens and yell "Come on boys!" What in the world was I doing there?! It felt like an hallucination gone wrong! Maybe a glass of red wine would help!

When the salad finally arrived, I ate it gratefully. When the mini pizza arrived, I ate one piece and decided that my psyche couldn't handle another minute of raucous noise. A quick hug to Adrian before a slow drive home.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

blulips are tooming

Blulips are tooming
Sobins are ringing
Flickadees are chitting
Squeasants are phawking

Life goes on in the garden while John sits in his hospital bed, watching the fountain spray into McGuire Lake. Sleeping isn't easy with the gurgles, farts and snores around him. Backgammon competitions and cribbage challenges are welcome diversions. A pouch that hangs around his neck holds an electronic device that is wired terminals on his body. This device apparently sends signals and messages to the Nurse's station. Meanwhile his heart beat continues to be low and somewhat erratic but his blood pressure has stabilized to a very good rate.

Three times each day, a tray arrives that usually holds unidentifiable food items. Both visually and by taste, these items are beyond description. Occasionally, to his delight, a large quivering square of red jello appears! I try to arrive with tempting edibles just before these dreaded trays are rolled onto the floor.

We hope that a decision will be made on Monday...try medications again or insert a pacemaker?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back to the Hospital

I was only gone for an hour, just long enough for a haircut! Arrived home to find John sitting on the bottom step of the back stairs. The weedeater was on the ground in front of him. His head was in his hands. Of course I gave him hell! What were you thinking? #%++@ He was spent. Didn't think that he could make it up the stairs to the deck. I insisted. He struggled to get up and flopped onto a chair, almost passing out, pale and clammy. I grabbed the phone and dialed 911.

The response time was very fast. Paramedics discovered that his blood pressure was 60/40 and his pulse was almost non-existent. They worked quickly to hook up oxygen and a saline drip. Backup was requested to help with carrying him down the stairs. Another ambulance arrived and off he went to Emergency again!

This all took place around noon. Six hours later the Specialist arrived for a consult. He decided to remove all of the drugs that have the potential to slow John's heart. Maybe he is being over-medicated? He wants to attempt a finer balance with drugs. There is also the possibility of a pace maker. We like this guy!!

One thing about being in a small town is that you don't really need visitors because you know most of the staff. When they have a chance, they drop by for a chat and an update. They even keep tabs on the Canucks games and report back with scores as the games progress!

When I left last night, John's request was for a sausage & egg McMuffin with hash browns for breakfast! I was appalled but this morning I thought that if he really wanted it, I should accommodate. So I went through the drive-thru and then smuggled this embarassing breakfast into his curtained little room. To balance the menu, I brought along a banana!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

v-tachs and heart monitors

I spent the last 24 hours learning about v-tachs and heart monitors in emergency at Shuswap General Hospital. During a visit to the Doctor on Saturday morning, I asked him to take John's blood pressure. To everyone's amazement it was 80 over 64!! "No wonder you're feeling tired and have low energy" quipped the Doctor. "I think that I'll send you over to emergency right away."

Nurse Ken led us to a curtained area in the "new" emergency department and soon he had John in a hospital gown, swaddled in bed and hooked up to a monitor that constantly displayed his heart rate and frequently took his blood pressure. Throughout the afternoon, his heart rate dropped to below 40 beats about 50% of the time. Each time, lights flashed and bells rang. Nurse Ken finally changed the setting so that the light show only happened below 35 beats.

Technicians took blood samples, hooked him up for a cardiogram, xrayed his chest, measured his oxygen. He was poked and prodded before being left to doze in the midst of an ever changing hubbub. Patients came and went. It was interesting to overhear the number of smokers who were admitted with chest pain and breathing problems.

I finally left him with ear plugs and the hope that he could sleep.

Arriving back this morning, he told me that he'd had a v-tach in the night and everyone had come running to check on him. What the hell was a v-tach?? While I was keeping him company, he dozed off and the monitor went into another light and sound display but no one came running. I noticed that his heart rate had jumped to 86. The nurse explained later that this was another v-tach so he probably wouldn't be coming home today. They would want to monitor him for another day and night.

I left him again to research v-tachs and grab some lunch. The information that I found seemed too serious for my head to deal with. I turned off the computer and headed back to the hospital. When I arrived, the Specialist had visited and decided to send John home with a change in medications. His heart rate had returned to normal with removal of one drug over the 24 hour period and his blood pressure was good.

Still dizzy and weak, he managed to climb the stairs and fall into bed. Hopefully, he will gain strength and start to feel more normal over the next few days as the stress wears off, the fatigue disappears and the new medication kicks in.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Guardian Angel

It took a while
to see her through
the toxic tubes
that dripped her dry. 

For now, at least
it's time to doze
on a fuzzy dome
her job well done.

When holes are filled
and scars are fading
she'll still be there
with healing wings.