Monday, January 31, 2011

Fourth Day Post-op

…and still in the hospital.  Today, Monday, was the day to achieve the therapy evaluations.  Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy paraded through Richard’s room performing evaluations and reporting back to the doctor.

Richard is speaking more, but also frustrated more over getting his ideas formed and expressed.  In short, he was nervous over the idea of going home.  He couldn’t express what exactly was unnerving him, and that block in communication seemed to compound the frustration.  To stop that cycle and to empower him to feel full control over his situation, John and I left when he suddenly asked us too.  Richard was concerned for our safe travel in making the miles back to Rolla in the threat of a major winter storm warning. 

According to various reports tomorrow is supposed to be the day of a massive avalanche of ice and snow in south-central Missouri and the St. Louis area.  John and I made it safely home, and I will need to evaluate the conditions when they are in place tomorrow.  Here we are on the road to Wait-and-See.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Third Day Post-op

Richard is out of Intensive Care and into a standard room on the neurological post-operative unit. The great move came at 1 PM today, Sunday.  He is stable on his feet.  His main challenge is in regaining his capacity of speech.  He did utter one very long sentence saying, "I'm not a dazzling conversationalist."  Those 11 syllables took work but he sounded so good and triumphant in delivery.

Given his steady solid progression and given the threat of the a huge winter storm on the horizon, I think he will probably be discharged to come home tomorrow.  Speech therapy and physical therapy should be able to be arranged to visit him at home and should prove to be a bargain for the insurance company. I have my hopes up to bring  him home.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Second Day Post-op

Richard made great strides of progress today. Well, maybe it was a series of baby-steps, but it was progress none the less.  He started the day with the new CT scan and a clear liquid breakfast – I’d never seen such a face oozing euphoria over hospital coffee or sighing that Jello was so delightful. He could answer questions with a simple yes or no which made me euphoric.
About noon Dr. Matz came in and things started to move. Doctor said that the scan was clear so he removed the drain from the top of Richard’s head.  With that tether gone, Richard could gradually increase his mobility and progress to getting rid of some other tubes.  Like a jack-in-the-box he sprang into the recliner in the room – well, almost.  The physical therapist helped him get up and validated his stability.  After sitting in the chair for about 2 hours and after eating real food of pork roast and mashed potatoes with cheese cake, he settled back in bed. 
As I was leaving for the day the nurses removed his catheter.  He was delighted to have lost the tube on top and the tube down under.  Richard was starting to look more himself. 
I have returned to Rolla for the night.  After church in the morning, John and I will be going to St. Louis to see Richard’s progress. The doctor had said that Richard can move to the standard neurological unit to begin concentrating on rehabilitation – physical therapy and speech therapy.  By the time we get to the hospital tomorrow (about 1 PM) he may well be in a new room.  More tomorrow…
The early morning CT scan is done, so we are waiting for the results and the doctor's visit. Richard is savoring clear liquids - he just recieved his first meal - broth, jello and coffee. He moves all 4 limbs fine. The only lag is with speech. I get to do a monologue for now with his smiles, frowns and nods as reply. I'm heading home tonight to replenish my laundry and then probably commuting for a couple days or until threatening weather crops up that way different kids can come with me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Open to anyone

Dear friends,
I am having too much effort in keeping this blog as a private blog given the level of interest - that has taken me by surprise.  Anyhow, I have decided to be more open-handed about the news.  Let anyone who might know us know the Sharing the Hope: Stateside. It is now open range. 

First Day Post-op

Richard looked much better when we arrived at his room this morning. He was alert but not talking, drinking but not eating yet. He was plagued by a headache and the nurse was trying to get just the right combination of medications for him without knocking him out. By late afternoon she had succeeded.  He was alert, pain-free and even smiling at times as Laura and I conversed to tell him our day's adventure.  One adventure was in finding a bra shop that had a drive-thru window.

The word from the doctor is that Richard is doing okay.  Richard is experiencing a delay in getting his speech back but that is called "supplementary motor syndrome." It is a normal post-op effect when the surgical incision is through the dominant side of the brain.  Dr. Matz said Richard is a stong candidate for rehab especailly in light of the fact that he has episodes of speech - such as telling the doctor his name this morning, naming the doctor's coat color and the type of writing instrument the doctor was carrying. 

Richard's brain pressure readings have been low all day indicating he is re-establishing the flow of fluid around his brain without apparent obstruction.  His drain was clamped off all day with no problems.  Tomorrow morning he will have a CT scan to verify everything is fine and then they can assess if the drain should come out.  Once the drain is out he can start moving more, even getting out of bed with help. Doctor feels that stimulation and movement will help him regain his speech and move his recovery forward faster.

The game plan right now is:
+ get moving and
+ wait for time to heal.

Oh Lord, grant us persistence and patience.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Anticipation and suspense continue

As I ponder what to write here I feel like I am drafting an article for some tabloid about a soap opera.  My mind is flooded with the twists and turns of possiblities that may lay ahead. 

About an hour and a half after the doctor was in to see us no one had called us from the Neuro Intensive Care Unit.  I decided to be bold and just walk on up.  Taking the just-walk-like-you-know-what-you-are-doing approach, I waltzed through the automatic doors and stopped at the unit secretary's desk.  Of course, she wasn't there so my bluster was busted.  I gently turned to the only nurse I saw writing notes on a computer outside a patient room that obviously did not contain Richard.  She was kind and pointed me to the next room. (This ICU is huge with 19 spacious rooms.)  The room was in a quiet corner of the unit. 

Richard opened his eyes when I called his name, but did not appear to really be tracking.  His color was good.  His vitals on the monitor were ideal.  He is just neurologically out-to-lunch right now.  John, Emory, Laura, Peter and Richard's mother Cathy all were able to enter his room to also speak to him. The doctor dropped in again and said Richard just needs some time to get past the anaesthesia and the brain manipulation.  That made sense to me.  We all decided to leave for the night so that we can return rested in the morning.  Now comes the part that will require the most patience - waiting for his mind to clear to see if he has memory and mobility issues. 

Bring the organ vibrato up and let me sign off with a cliff hanger... to be continued tomorrow.

Richard out of surgery...

Richard came out of surgery at 2:30 PM. The surgeon said all went well, but the cyst was not a typical colloid cyst as expected. It contained staining as if it had collected some blood at some point. We will be in suspense until the pathology report comes back in a few days. They are getting him settled in to a bed in the Neuro ICU and then will let us in to see him. He will have a fluid drain from his incision for a couple days (we had originally anticipated that would be in place less than 24 hours). He will stay in ICU until the drain is out. He can not come home until a couple days after the drain is out. Therefore, it will be mid-week next week before he gets released to home. For now we are waiting to see just how his brain will react to having been manipulated - short-term and long-term challenges. Suspense seems to be the rule of life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Start on the Path Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day we start moving into the pre-operative activities. I may not get anything posted, because I want to try to give Richard my full attention. With that in mind I thought it best to just summarize now what is coming.

Richard is required to check into St. Luke's Hospital Thursday morning at 7:30 AM.  With a nearly 2 hour drive to the hospital, Richard and I will be going into St. Louis metro-area on Wednesday to stay overnight for a more relaxed morning.  John, Emory, Laura, Peter and Richard’s mother Cathy will be coming to St. Louis from Rolla on Thursday morning with plans to arrive before 9 AM.

On Thursday morning after his 7:30 check-in Richard will have a CT scan at 9 AM so that they can mark certain “landmark” points on his head and then he will proceed to the pre-op holding.  I think we will not get to follow him but will be routed to the surgical waiting room for the duration.  Richard’s surgery is scheduled to begin at 10 AM.  The doctors are scheduled for 3 hours so we will expect some word by 1 or 2 PM.

For his post-operative recovery he will go directly to the Neuro Intensive Care Unit.  Again I am not certain about how much we will get to see him.  The boys and Richard’s mother will be returning to Rolla while Laura will stay with me in St. Louis.  That is about as far as my crystal ball can imagine.  Beyond that we will play it moment-by-moment.

Thank you for your interest, support and intercessory prayers on our behalf.  We rejoice that the Lord is in control of the universe and our destiny. 

I asked Richard for a verse to share that is on his heart -
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43: 2b

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brain Jokes

Our dinner table conversations have taken a huge change again.  After Richard's colon rupture in 2008 we had a new appreciation for when we jest about someone "busting a gut" or refer to lacking courage by "I don't have the guts for that."  Now we are realizing just how many times we make comments that are brain jokes in average conversation.  "I need to get something off my mind" takes on a new meaning when uttered by a man anticipating brain surgery.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I can blog from my cellphone.

This is a test post to verify that I can post updates from my cell phone. I need to see how it comes in and then how I can follow-up to edit errors. I also need to see just how long the entry can be and how adept I can be in registering intelligent verbiage when I do not have spell-check or grammar-check. I know I have compassionate readers, but I pride myself in writing for a very intelligent audience. When I am writing from the cellphone, I count on compassion more than intelligence. Hey, are those two really mutually exclusive? I don't think so.

Richard's Last Day... for a while

Today was Richard's last day in the clinical setting on the delivery side of medical care.  Tomorrow, he reports to work for an in-service day, meaning he will be sitting and leisurely learning for his return in a month or so.

His pre-op instructions arrived in the mail today.  Now I can plan if I want to just go to St. Louis to stay or if I should commute 100 miles back and forth. Some motels near the hospital offer special rates, and I need to use the calculator to figure the value.

I was feeling guilty thinking about hanging out in a motel while Richard is isolated and suffering through post-operative recovery.  Don’t get me wrong.  I will be spending the majority of my time sitting at his bedside, but he will need to have times of rest. At those times I will get to check out some St. Louis restaurants and visit with some friends.  Laura is planning on staying with me. She has a couple places to shop that are very near the hospital. If one defines a vacation as “a diversion away from the normal” then from my point of view this is almost sounding like a vacation. I'm pretty certain Richard isn’t planning on frequent flyer miles.
Anyhow, back to scheduling… when Richard leaves work tomorrow (Friday) he will be off until he returns after his recovery.  This is his normal weekend off and he routinely has the Wednesday off in the week following his off weekend.  With that he decided to take the two working days off to be able to rest and be ready for his surgery.  Five days off for the price of two was too good a deal to pass up. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

First Post

Welcome to my adventure into the wider forum of blog posting.  I have held out from this for years, but now you are witnessing my surrender to the times and the need to disseminate information accurately in a timely manner.  Really I so prefer the face-to-face or voice-to-voice connections, but it seems that life comes on too fast to keep up with it.