2/11 and 2/12 - Alert in the ICU

2/11. I was back in the Cath lab at 7:30 this morning to see how well the TPA was working. After all the normal prep (NPO - no food again) and waiting, we found the clot had reduced about 50%, so Dr. Arata ordered me back to the ICU to soak it up some more. This was good news even though I was still confined to a movement free life for a little while. The original plan was for him to come back later in the evening to check it again, but the Cath Lab was inundated on Friday night with several heart attack calls. I learned the nurses refer to these as "Amy" calls, which is slang for AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction), and soon it was too late to do procedure. It would be scheduled for Saturday. I wasn’t really that disappointed as I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving the hospital anyway, and really, those people needed the lab more than I did at that point. For all I was going through, I couldn’t be selfish about someone having facilities available to save their life.

One interesting side effect of clearing out my veins was my head cleared out. All the nurses thought I was coming down with a cold as all of the dry sneezes I had been having once again became wet and productive. The same thing happened back in October when my veins were opened then. Dry sneezes which I had several times a day turned into real sneezes and all kinds of mucus began to drain from my head. I felt fine, just needed lots of tissues to blow my nose and a big cup to spit into. I don’t really know the ramifications of this or the correlation. I just think it is strangely coincidental that opening my veins would also open the sinuses somehow and clear out a lot of excess mucus.

2/12. I didn’t sleep at all again last night. Not moving one’s body when alert is a difficult thing to do. I was quite miserable honestly, and I broke down a bit as I learned continually of bad news after more bad news. Remember, my heart has been in atrial flutter since January 28th, which was the day after my previous surgery attempt to clear out the veins and I was put onto the Lovenox. The nurses tried to reassure me that 40 million people in the US have atrial disrhythmias, but that didn’t make it any easier. I was becoming quite distraught about this whole thing by Saturday morning, and I found myself pondering about what a series of events this had become. Just a few years ago I was a healthy strong capable person, and now here I am, in the Intensive Care Unit in a hopsital 300 miles from home about to enter my 5th attempt to clear a clog in my veins, just so I maybe can improve my quality of life and not end up being one of the many with MS who end up so disabled.

Dr. Arata was busy today, so Dr. Harris removed my infusion catheter at around 3:00, now 45 hours since it had been installed. I got to see the blood flow on the screen while in the lab and I got the CD’s of it as well. After the procedure in which Dr. Harris told me it looked good. I could see it myself that the blood flow was so much improved. I was so relieved, and I ended up breaking down again. I went back to the ICU for further observation and the TPA was stopped, but the Coumadin and Heparin were now being built up.

I guess at this point I get to interject the funniest part of this week. On Saturday night, after being in the Cath Lab and finding out about my now cleared veins and being relieved of the infusion catheter, I begged my nurse to help me relieve myself. I hadn’t gone since Tuesday morning before I checked in, now 5 days ago. The orders were Milk of Magnesia every 6 hours until BM, but since my neurogenic bowel doesn’t work properly, I knew it wasn’t going to help. Also, the MOM was discontinued several times as I went NPO while waiting for each of these procedures. Thus, I was developing quite a stockpile in my bowel. Finally on Saturday night, they allowed the nurse to give me a suppository of Dulcolax. I was in bed still, so the dignity of it all went out the window. The nurse brought a bedpan, laid out the protective disposable linens, and told me to call when ready.

After about 20 minutes, I felt some action, and soon the bedpan was receiving its contents. And receiving, and receiving and receiving. I called the nurse when I thought I was done, and we began to wipe everything up. The relief I felt was simply unbelievable. Once all was clean and under control, I told the nurse I can’t feel my bowels (one of the effects of MS for me) so I wanted to know how much there was so I could determine if I was going to have an accident in the night. The nurse looked at me, and with a hand motion over a new empty bedpan and a bit of a broken English accent, said, “Full, completely full………the pan is completely full. No more room.” Sorry, but I giggled over this for awhile.

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