chest tube is out, progressing nicely

Stanley on the ides of march 2005

Wonder when hospital “designers” will realize that bilious green is not a color conducive to making people feel better?

Anyway, Stanley’s chest tube was removed and he is in his 24-hour observation period. Thursday morning he gets yet another chest Xray, and they are going to install insert a PIC (Percutaneous Intravenous Catheter) line, which has to be done in radiology because it has to be threaded up the vein until the tip reaches the large veins inside the chest. The PIC line is so S can take antibiotics intravenously for six weeks—with a PIC line, he can do it at home. One side benefit is blood can be drawn from the PIC line. Stanley has so many holes from all the needles and the tubes it will probably be a relief for him not to have any more blood drawn via stabbing or puncture.

He is feeling much better. He can breathe, and the left lung cavity is drained though there is a lot of gunk inside the lung that still has to be expelled (via coughing, using the breath machine, breathing exercises, and walking). The Coumadin level is back at a rational number, though they decided to skip it Wednesday night because of the PIC line procedure. Guess they don’t want blood spurting out all over radiology without being able to staunch it.

S received more CheerGrams and just loved reading them. George stopped by again, and Jeff (who appeared as if by magic just when I needed a sanity check and help sorting out my questions), and lots of phone calls. Thank you, thank you!

Dr. Robinson, making rounds this morning, asked Stanley about why I was upset. Stanley explained that I need to be kept informed about what is going on. Dr. R. told Stanley to ask me to call him so he could talk to me about what’s going on, adding (Stanley says tongue-in-cheek) that he can’t have me terrorizing his staff.

So, in the early afternoon, I called his office and he asked me to stop up so he could talk to me between appointments. We met in this huge, well, boardroom it looked like, huge mahogany table, leather chairs, bookshelves lining the walls. Looks like it cost more to outfit than I make in two years.

He asked what I wanted to know, and I whipped out my list. He said he was between patients, so I tried to limit the list to the most important things to me, but he insisted that I go through it all, get it all off my mind. So I did. A brief mention of how Ryan blew the conversation last night, then I asked about missing 12 hours of antibiotics. R said S had so many antibiotics in him that they’d stick around for 12 hours. I don’t believe this, but I moved on (pointless to dwell on it since the new treatment started). I asked why S was put back on Coumadin if that’s what caused the lung crisis to begin with. R said it was for six weeks only, and therefore just two more weeks or so. I told him I was damned unhappy with how his Coumadin was managed, which was NOT managed, for it to hit 5, aka life-threatening. He agrees that it now has to be managed much more carefully since S is very sensitive to it.

I told him about my concerns when S is released—I don’t want to keep playing dial-the-doctor and cross my fingers, and how frustrated I was that we kept asking for help with the breathing and got nowhere. He said he focused so much on the infection he missed the lung problem. I asked what we were supposed to watch for to guard against it getting so bad again. Mainly having trouble breathing again.

I asked why S is on Zocor, when his cholesterol level isn’t that high and was probably, by now, well below 200. He said something about young guys with a blocked artery probably have problems with cholesterol, and at any rate, he prefers that S’s cardiologist decide yea or nay on Zocor. Fair enough.

I also mentioned the weirdness Stanley has been having with his eyes, but he said S hadn’t mentioned it during rounds. (Let’s see, the posse walks in when S is sound asleep, loaded with pain meds and still in pain, groggy, and he’s supposed to remember this?) R asked me to have S mention it tomorrow. (So I drew a big picture of an eye and Stanley taped it to his table, where he keeps his eyeglasses.)

We talked about a couple more things. Dr. Robinson listened to everything, answered my questions (or, in some cases, didn’t really answer them because there are no answers yet), assured me that all of my concerns will be addressed, asked me to talk to him when stuff is bugging me. Or to PA Dave, whom I trust the most besides Dr. R. I asked R why the nurses couldn’t answer my questions about stuff such as labs. He said because they didn’t know. I asked why they couldn’t look at the chart and give me the answer (I used to work in a hospital and I KNOW what goes into the chart—I had to chart on all my patients daily). He said that wasn’t the job of the nurses—their job, he said, is to administer meds and tend patients. I guess he has a weird idea of what tending patients means and this is reflected in his unit. I suspect he’s never been a patient in hospital, or at least not one where he wasn’t one of the gods. It really bothers me that he considers nurses medbots and not essential members of the team.

But, all in all, I feel much better. I feel like I can insist on and get a detailed, day-by-day treatment plan for when S gets out of the hospital—whom to see, whom to call when this or that happens, our next two or ten appointments, a visiting nurse. I’m hoping I don’t have to bother dealing with Ryan because I don’t trust him. But S should be out of there Thursday or Friday and, I hope, never have to see Richardson 7 again. At least not from the mattress side of the hospital sheets.

It was weird driving home tonight. I noticed the smell of natural gas while going through the western side of Bridgeport on I-95. It was really strong—I knew exactly what it was because I grew up in an area where natural gas is the cheap fuel so most widely used. I didn’t see any reason for it, though, so just held my breath while I got through it. When I got home, they had shut down that section of southbound I-95 due to that leak. I made it through just in the nick of time. Again. Don’t yet know what caused it.

I am so exhausted. But finally back to my more usual optimism.

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