Thursday, April 20, 2006

Two Steps Forward!

I have some good health news this week.

Tuesday I went in for my weekly "Tube Check" at the radiology Dept. The tube connected to the liver had drained practically nothing all week. We had good hopes going into the exam that the abcsess from the liver had closed off. I got positioned on the x-ray table, and they focused in on the liver tube. The Dr. injected the dye, and voila! No dye traced into the liver of biliary tract.!

The bowel tube had been draining a moderate amount for the past few days, so I knew there was no chance it would be removed. Sure enough, when the dye was injected into the bowel tube, it trailed back into the colon. We'll have to keep waiting for that one to close up.

Next they pulled out the liver tube. I wasn't too sure what to expect. They snipped the suture that was holding the tube in place, then the Dr. just pulled up on it, and it slid right out. It didn't hurt a bit! Wahoo!

Having the upper tube out is great I can wear regular shirts now. The lower tube still prevents me from wearing pants properly (Unless they are really super baggy, like my church pants.) I hope the bowel abscess closes off soon!

Today I had a visit with my Internist. He, too, was pleased to see the liver tube removed. After discussing things with him, he dermined that we could now eliminate one the IV antibiotics I have been receiving (Vancomicn). This was the IV that I had to do for two-hours at a time, twice daily. I will still get IV Ertapenam (which takes only 1 hour, once a day). I also am taking another oral antibiotic (Flagyl) 4 times a day.

The bottom line is that after tomorrow, I will only have to be on IV for 1 hour a day, intead of 5 hours a day. That will be another great step forward.

With these changes, it gives me a little more control over my daily schedule. I'm a little more comfortable, and I have a little more independence. Heck, I even was able to sleep in the bed for about half the night last night!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Blessings

Sunday I went to church for the first time since leaving the hospital. I was worried about having tubes and drain bags hanging out all over the place. However, we discovered that I have lost enough weight that the dress slacks I usually wear to church, could now fit all the tubes and drain bags inside, with plenty of room to spare. Those pants were really baggy (Kind of like ankle-length “Hammer Pants”)

I still had an IV going when church started. When an IV is done, you have to flush the line with a saline solution, and then inject an anti-coagulant call Heprin. I kept a couple of syringes pre-loaded with these solutions in my pocket, and when the IV was done, we just quietly took care of business, and disconnected the IV. It worked out OK.

It was wonderful to be with the saints and partake of the sacrament. The last time I partook of the sacrament was in the hospital. It was really nice to see my ward friends and acquaintances. I touched base with some friends and priesthood leaders. Being Easter Sunday the Stake President was in attendance (he lives in our ward). I visited with him for a few minutes, and let him know what my status was. It was great to get out and see some friendly faces.

The music was wonderful too. The ward choir sang a couple of numbers, including “Joy In the Morning” by Natalie Sleeth. Natalie Sleeth songs always really get to me, and this was no exception.

All week long, Amy was wondering what are we going to do for Easter? Are we going to get any Easter Candy? (She knows from whence Easter candy comes.) We didn’t get too excited over the candy and egg thing this year, hoping to focus more on the Savior instead. (We did get a few little goodies to share, but not full-blown Easter baskets or anything else.)

As Amy was walking home from church, she encountered some very strong and gusty winds. She was wondering if the winds were an indication of Heavenly Father’s displeasure with children who were focusing more on Easter gifts and candies, rather than on Jesus. Amy then decided to say a prayer, and gave thanks for sending the Savior, and that she wanted to think more of him on this Easter day. After her prayer, she said she felt a calm around her. The wind didn’t seem to bother her anymore. She had a warm feeling inside. She didn’t notice the wind again, until she got back home and had to close the front door with the wind blowing against it. Then she exclaimed to herself, “Boy, Its windy out there!”

Amy recognized that she had received a special experience. We helped her to understand that it was a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, and was a witness to her that Jesus really is our Savior.

I think Amy got the best Easter Gift of all!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Drowned (Rat) Patrol

This past weekend our son went on a scout camp to Antelope Island. Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake.

Earlier in the week we got all of his supplies ready. I even made one of my first ventures outside the house, to go to Sportsman's Warehouse to shop for a new tent. Our old tent was 20 years old and was literally falling apart at the seams. So we got a tent that both of us could fit into - an inexpensive 9'x7' tent made by Coleman. Of course I'm in no condition for camping just yet, but I hope to go with Bryan on future scout camps when I am able. As far as food, the way they work it here is that the scout is responsible for providing his evening meal. The troop provides breakfast the next morning. So we got Bryan a de-hydrated lasagna dinner. All he would have to do is add 10 ounces of boiling water, wait a few minutes and eat!

We got all his gear together, and Bryan and I had a word of prayer together before I dropped him off at the scoutmaster's house on Friday afternoon. All was well -- except for the weather forecast, that is!

It wasn't 30 minutes later until Dawn Ann was missing her boy! We want him to participate in scouts, and the activities, but you always worry that he will be safe and treated well. We didn't sleep well that night. We woke up several times, looking out the window, seeing the rain continuing to pour, and offering our prayers that Bryan be kept safe, and warm, and dry.

Thursday had been such a beautiful day. It was sunny and warm, with temperatures around 70 degrees. Too bad they didn't have the same weather on Friday.

Friday was windy and blustery. It was quite a bit cooler. The weather forecast called for a quarter to a half-inch of rain to fall between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am on Saturday morning. As it turned out the forecast was correct -- only it rained closer to an inch in some spots.

According to Bryan, when they arrived they got their tents set up, built a campfire, and cooked their evening meals. (He liked his lasagna.) Unlike most scout camps, they retired to their tents reasonably early (that is before midnight) so they could get out of the weather.

I had to talk Bryan into taking his winter coat with him. He just figured his light windbreaker jacket would do the job. He would learn that having the winter coat was a great idea! Having the rain poncho with him also came in handy.

Bryan invited another boy, Caleb, to spend the night in his tent. It rained and poured at their campsite all night long. Bryan's tent, being brand new, had a lot of water resistance which helped them stay relatively dry. By the end of night, only a little bit of water had come in around the corners of the tent. He had stayed warm and dry throughout the night - an answer to prayer.

I kept wondering throughout the night how many of the campers would end up spending the night in a truck or vehicle. As it turned out, one of the leaders did just that. Unfortunately after he left the tent for his car, the wind blew over his tent, and scattered his belongings (including his wallet). Fortunately the scouts were able to help locate the missing wallet, and other items that had blown away.

One tent was really flooded with all the rain -- they had 3 inches of water in their tent. You'll never guess where the flooded-out scouts sought refuge -- the outhouse! It was the warmest and driest place they could find. They were protected from the wind and rain, and the four of them huddled in the privy together until the morning campfire was started. Normally these city-boys are pretty squeamish about outhouses, but they had a new found appreciation for them on that night.

They got their campfire started, and made breakfast. According to Bryan, the most fun they had of the whole outing was the food fight between the scouts and leaders with the left-over pancakes.

They broke camp quickly and were home by about 10:00 (we weren't expecting them to get back until noon.) It was quite an adventure for the boys, mostly in how to battle the elements. As far as I know, everyone got along well with each other as they commiserated in their wetness.

Of course, as soon as they got home, the clouds broke and we got some good sunshine. We set up the tent again in our yard to dry it out, along with the other camping gear.

We were glad to have Bryan home safe and sound. As for Bryan, the first thing he wanted to do was to have a long hot bath, just to warm his bones.

Monday, April 10, 2006

They're Still Here -- And So Am I

We had another "tube" check today. I was hoping that one or both of the drain tubes could be removed today. The drainage had really slowed down, which gave me cause for hope. My pain had virtually disappeared. All good signs.

However, the truth comes out in the X-ray lab. I was placed on a table, and Dr. K., a radiologist, scanned me with a fluoroscopic X-ray. This type of x-ray allows "live" moving images of your internal organs. Upon the initial examination it became apparent that the abscess cavities have completely disappeared, which is a good thing.

Next they injected the dye into the tubes. Under the fluoroscope, both the bowel and liver tubes showed traces of the dye trailing back into the bowel and the liver. That means that the tubes have to stay in for at least another week.

I was really disappointed. I had such high hopes to be tube-free, but alas, the time is not yet.

I have another tube check scheduled for next week.

The problem the tubes present is that it prevents me from doing several things.

I can't wear "real" clothes. I have to wear specially modified, oversized clothes (pajama's, mostly). That makes it really hard to go to work or church or anywhere else.

I have to sleep in a recliner chair, because the tubes are unmanageable in bed. It's getting a little old now.

On the bright side, I feel pretty good. I have very little pain, and my appetite is slowly coming back.

I now can say for myself why people are called "Patients" who are undergoing medical treatment.