Friday, January 27, 2012

With a Nod to Tennessee Williams

Like Blanche Du Bois, I am depending on the kindness of strangers.

We're still in Indy and John is continuing to provide entertainment and educational opportunities for all. His cath showed more mitral regurgitation (valve opening too wide) than mitral stenosis (valve opening too narrow), and the tissue around the valve was too calcified for them to be able to suture a mechanical valve to anything. So the best way to improve things was to slow his heart rate down. While the docs were discussing that, John went into complete heart block at a rate of 30-40, thus solving their dilema for them. So he got a pacemaker, and some changes in medicines allowed by the pacemaker. Then he started having rapid abnormal rhythms (V Tach, for the medical out there). Amiodarone didn't control it completely, so after a night of sustained V Tach requiring cardioversion (mild electrical shock), he went to the EP lab for them to find the tissue initiating the abnormal rhythm and albate (cauterize, get rid of) it. John threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings by refusing to go into V Tach in the cath lab. So they nosed (cathetered) around his left ventricle, found several places where conduction problems were indicated, and ablated those. Whether any of those were the true offender remains to be seen. Probably at 2 AM some day. That's when he likes to go into V Tach. Now about all those strangers:

Everyone here had been so kind to us. John's nurses love him - understandably, since he is the world's only perfect man. But they are also being very nice to me. I have solemnly promised not to answer call bells on any other patients, and they are letting me do all kinds of things for John and haven't thrown me out yet. Doctors and nurses that took care of John other places keep dropping by the room to visit and see how he's doing. They've begun to look for me in the cath lab waiting room, since I've spent 3 days there in the past week. The cafeteria cashiers chat with me. And the lady that I pay to get out of the parking garage shows me her knitting progress for the day, and looks at mine. But the greatest kindness of all was necessitated by the NFL.

In case you've missed it, the Super Bowl is coming to Indianapolis. This means a lot of money and a lot more inconvenience. What hurts the hospitals is that most family members are being kicked out of their hotel rooms. This isn't being mean or just wanting more money - the rooms have been booked for months for the game. The hotel I'm in is hosting media in all it's rooms, so I have to be out by noon on Tuesday. I've known this since we made our reservations - never dreamed it would be relevant  - I underestimated John's ability to come up with dramatic events in a short period of time. There are no hotel rooms available within an hour of the hospital. So I'd been thinking I'd end up bunking in the recliner in John's room. The hospital has showers for family members, and John has a pair of PJs that I could run around in and be decent. But a stranger came to our rescue. One of the residents that has taken care of John is taking me in Tuesday noon, for the duration. I am overwhelmed by such an act of kindness, and am very grateful to her.

So I thank all the kind strangers - that have taken me in, not thrown me out, talked knitting with me, smiled in the cafeteria line, laughed in the cath lab waiting room with me, listened to my hospital horror stories, and respected me as a nurse. I'm grateful to Fr. Nabil and Fr. Radislav (not strangers!) who have come and prayed with us. I'm grateful to all the doctors-nurses-nurse practitioners-fellows-residents-interns-miscellaneous who have put their wonderful brains together to figure out what is best to do for John; we can tell that they care, and he is better for their care. Not everybody who depends on the kindness of strangers has to end up like poor Blanche.

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