February 4, 2009

Jill Defeats Death - Twice

The last week has been pretty rough. Here's the full story for everyone who keeps calling for an update:

Ever since our second son was born (7 years ago), Jill has had multiple health problems from the traumatic delivery (she broke her sacrum and dislocated her pelvis, and had a 4th degree tear). One of those problems that has caused her much pain has been a 3rd degree prolapsed uterus. She's been in constant pain and has developed other associated issues (fibroid tumors in her uterus and other stuff).

The last few months the pain has become much worse, and after much fasting and prayer, we decided it was probably wise to take action and have them explore to find out where the pain was coming from and if he had to, to do a hysterectomy. We told the doctor to only take this action if it was necessary. Last Thursday, Jill was admitted to Banner Gateway Hospital in Gilbert, AZ. I waited in the waiting room with Jill's mom. After about 3 hours the doc came out, showed us pictures of the damaged uterus, and told us that the surgery went well and we'd see her soon in recovery.

Well an hour passed, and another hour, and we started getting really anxious. They told us she was being sent to her room, room number 1420. So we headed to her room and she wasn't there. The nurses on the floor said that they couldn't call down to the operating floor to get a status but she'd be up soon. So, we waited and waited some more. Finally I went down stairs and demanded to see my wife. The pansy at the desk didn't do anything to help and sent me back upstairs. He said she'd be up in about 10 minutes.

She did finally show up, but she wasn't in a normal state of mind. They told us that they had a hard time getting her to come out of the anesthesia. I'm pretty sure they were severely downplaying the trouble she had been in, because she was still pretty much non-responsive and her breathing was extremely shallow. The nurse came over and put her hand on her chest to make sure she was still breathing. Her heart rate and blood pressure kept dropping. She could open her eyes only for a second, then she'd go right back to sleep. After a while, she was able to talk just a little bit. She was still pretty out of it, but we were able to start having a little conversation.

At one point she asked me, "What did they do?" I responded, "They did a hysterectomy". I think the combination of the medication and the facts hit her hard. She started sobbing. She was devastated that they had done a hysterectomy. I was a little confused because we had discussed this at length and felt ok about it. But at the time, she was NOT feeling ok about it. She was approaching uncontrollable. She started sobbing, "My baby, my baby. I want my baby." I couldn't stand it. It was one of the saddest points of my life, watching her be so devastated by what had happened to her. During all of this, she was still coming in and out of consciousness. Every time she woke up, she'd ask again, "What happened?" I didn't have the heart to tell her every time that they had done a hysterectomy. She obviously was not remembering anything and I didn't want to see her be so hurt over and over.

At one point in her delirium, she started crying and said, "I had a dream that I was dying. I was really scared." That scared me too and at that point I realized how close she may have come to dying when they were tyring to wake her up for over two hours. They had given her Narcan to reverse the effect of the anesthesia. Prior to the surgery they had given her spinal anesthesia so that she wouldn't feel the pain when she woke up and wouldn't have to take as much opioid medication. Well, the Narcan wiped out everything. So, as she was coming to, she was feeling EVERYTHING. She was in serious pain and they wouldn't give her anything because they were still worried about her not coming out of it.

At one point her oxygen levels dropped pretty low, the alarms started going off, and of course we got pretty worried about her. Shortly after, a nurse came in and started monitoring Jill's breathing very closely. She had her hand on Jill's chest making sure she was breathing. Her breathing was so shallow you couldn't even see her chest moving.

After about two and a half hours of Jill coming in and out of consciousness, she finally started to become a little more alert. I asked her if she remembered our previous conversations and she said no. She didn't remember sobbing about getting a hysterectomy and she didn't remember her dream about dying. Good thing!

Later that night, I ran out to grab something to eat. I called mom and told her what had happened. I had stayed pretty strong at the hospital. But as I recounted the experience, I sobbed. I had been so scared and so worried.

She finally came home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon. She's been slowly recovering. She gets horribly sick from anesthesia and from any opioid medication. So, she hasn't taken much of the Percocet that they gave her. She's just been dealing with the pain because she'd rather have that than the nausea. She's also had a pretty bad headache ever since she came home. I figured it was probably from the spinal she had received.

On Monday night she started vomiting violently. During the vomiting, she started having a sudden, intense pain in her right temple and behind her right eye. She started crying (almost hysterically) and holding her head and eye saying, "The pain. The pain. It hurts." For a normal person, this might not be any big deal, but Jill is Superwoman. I've seen her experience some pretty serious pain in the past. All while her back was breaking and her hips getting dislocated during delivery, she only shed a few tears. When she's in pain, her eyes close and she sheds a few tears - but she almost never says anything or cries verbally. So when I saw her having this kind of reaction, I knew something was horribly wrong.

While she was kneeling on the floor of the bathroom, holding her head and crying, I gave her a blessing and then rushed her to the ER. Of course, the ER docs didn't seem to be too concerned when we came in as she was throwing up and crying about the pain in her head. So, I pretty much demanded that they see her right away. We were able to get back to see a doc quickly. They could not start an IV and were poking her everywhere. They checked her vitals but didn't do much else. She was obviously going into shock - she was shaking uncontrollably and cold. They did nothing. I even mentioned to the doc and the nurse that she was in shock. They still did nothing. I was shocked they didn't look in her eye or anything. But she did get a head CT scan fairly soon after they first saw her. We waited FOREVER to finally see the doc and hear the results of the CT scan. Thankfully, nothing showed up in the CT scan, but I was still bothered but what she had experienced and the fact that we had no explanation.

She was still feeling pretty sick and vomiting, so they hooked up an IV to give her some meds. She again refused the morphine because it just makes her feel more sick. They gave her Zofran for the nausea. It didn't do much. I told them that Phentergan had worked well in the hospital. So, they drew up some more Zofran and Phentergan. As the nurse pushed the "Zofran" into her IV he stopped and said, "Oh, that wasn't Zofran." and started walking out of the room. I called him back and asked him what he had given her. She said, "Oh, I didn't actually give it to her. I hooked it up. But, when I realized it was Compazine, I unhooked it. She didn't actually get any." I was livid! I had sat there and watched him push it into her IV. I called him on it too. He still denied it and left. I was extremely bothered because I know Compazine from my Pfizer days. Compazine is an antipsychotic. Yes its used sometimes to control nausea, but it also can have some seriously gnarly side effects that can last for life.

When the doc came back, he was about to discharge Jill with no explanation, only negative results from a CT scan and was now anemic and had an infection they could treat with antibiotics. He was young and seemed somewhat inexperienced. I pushed him hard to exhaust ALL options. I told him that I know my wife's tolerance for paid and this experience was not normal. After I pushed him, he said, "Well, I did have a thought earlier to do a spinal tap. The CT scan is about 97% accurate. A spinal tap will tell us for sure if she's had any bleeding in her brain or an infection." So, we told him to do it. Again his inexperience shone through. I watched as he fished around in her spine trying trying to find CSF. I've seen other docs do this with no hesitation, hitting it the first time, no doubts. He fished and fished and finally found it. Luckily it dripped out clear.

After another long wait, he came back and told us that the spinal fluid looked good and there was no sign of a bleed or infection.

Shortly thereafter she was discharged. It was 6:00 am.

Needless to say, we went home and went straight to bed. Jill was still in pain and still nauseated. But, both had subsided just enough for her to get some rest. She's feeling better now, although she's still got a headache and is still somewhat noxious.

I just want to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers. It was so comforting to be able to shoot out a quick text message asking family and friends to pray for her and get immediate replies that so many people were on their knees praying for her safety. I know Jill and I know the power of the Lord. And the only thing that explains all this to me is that miracles were performed.

Thank you all. We love you.