… of God’s gifts and perfect timing … part two
There we were at the hospital emergency room. Amanda had come around and was responding to people talking to her. Everyone was playing pin cushion as they tried to start an I.V. on her. Amanda does not have good veins for I.V.’s. They finally got an I.V. started in her neck.
Now to the task of investigating ‘what happened’? The most obvious answer was probably a bout of pneumonia. Amanda had pneumonia twice before. Both times it was pretty ugly. Both times she ended up being intubated and in the hospital for a long time. And from what I understand, pneumonia can scar and weaken the lungs. You don’t want to have repeat occurrences of pneumonia.
A chest xray was ordered to check her lungs out and blood work was done to see what it may show. They also did a blood test called a “blood gas” which draws blood from an artery and not a vein. The difference? When blood is pumped OUT of the heart, it travels through arteries to feed oxygen to the rest of the body. After arterial blood makes its way to the tiny ends of its path at the capillary level, it turns around and makes its journey back through veins to the lungs to get refueled with fresh oxygen to then go to the heart to get pumped back out again. A blood gas blood test that takes blood from an artery will help to measure the efficiency of the lungs … this blood should be full of oxygen with a low level of carbon dioxide – that’s the gas you breathe OUT while oxygen comes in to fuel the body. A ‘normal’ level of carbon dioxide in arterial blood should be 25 to 30. Amanda’s carbon dioxide level in the emergency room was 100. One hundred!
Remember from my last post about how I told you that CO2 is poison to the body? How Amanda needs to wear her mask (especially all night) to help her tiny lungs blow off that poisonous CO2?
All those months of struggling to get her to keep that mask on at night … it all caught up to her.
And then to make matters worse…
Amanda’s blood work showed the presence of infection in her body, x-rays showed fluid (pneumonia) in her lungs, and blood cultures showed a systemic staph infection. Staph infections are not good. This staph infection parked in her lungs and fried them, causing infection and pneumonia.
For the first half of Amanda’s hospital stay, she was getting strong antibiotics to take care of the infection, and breathing treatments to help with her breathing. This time, they did not intubate her (put her on a breathing machine with a tube down her throat). They almost did. They were close to wanting to. But, they kept a mask on Amanda’s face to help blow breaths, almost like being intubated, but much gentler and it enabled her to take sips of water from time to time. Mostly, Amanda slept those first days. She was so sick from infection. She was also recovering from almost dying on that Saturday.
As we got to the end of that first week in the hospital, Amanda was improving. She was awake more often, eating pudding or ice cream, and talking a little bit. But she was weak and very confused. Many times she talked about seeing her sisters or wanting to go see the cat in the hall. At times she thought she was at her apartment or at our house. It pained us to see her so confused and weak.
As we got in to the second week of hospitalization, Amanda had gotten strong enough for us to get her up in her wheelchair for short periods of time. She was still confused and weak, but we hoped for things to get better. The antibiotics had conquered the infection and her white count was back to normal. He breathing was improved, although she spent many hours with her mask on and the machine breathing for her. They really weren’t doing anything more for her, and so we looked to going home.
Amanda spent eleven days in the hospital.
Those days were a gift that continued with four more days at home. So many factors made it so that Amanda survived her ‘crash’ on that Saturday. She could have passed away in her sleep, she could have slipped away while I was at my bible study, or she may not have been at our house with my CPR knowledge and quick EMS response.
God knew we needed time.
We always had a hidden thought that Amanda may succumb to some illness and not outlive us. That thought had sometimes surfaced over the past thirty-one years of Amanda’s life. But we would squelch it and bury it again. You are never prepared for when it really happens. And we just had a feeling that things were not so good this time.
God gave us those precious days so we could take care of Amanda 24/7. Either Ted or I stayed with her round the clock at the hospital. Remember in part one of this saga how I mentioned that Ted had thought we should spend more time with Amanda. We got that gift. Almost 2 precious weeks.
We talked to Amanda. Took care of Amanda. Took care of her thirst. Comforted her when she got confused. Helped her brush her teeth and tell her that we love her. I don’t think she was ever scared or lonely. We were there. Thank you God, we were there.
So we got her to the best of health that we could and brought her home on a Wednesday. In all of the past hospitalizations, Amanda always bounced back. She wasn’t ‘bouncing’ this time, but we also knew that “home” would be the best and only medicine now that might work. Home is where she could get the rest she needed and the food she preferred.
Home felt good after eleven days in the hospital.
Being home was a gift.
Amanda got to be home at our house for four days.
… to be continued …