Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Update For Ben

Still no weaning from the ventilator this morning and I do NOT understand this. Ben was doing really well on the weaning last week. His vitals were good except when I got there this morning, they told me he had a fever of 104° but by the time I left this afternoon, it was down to 101.5°. His blood sugar was down to 126 so they did not have to give him insulin. I think that's because they took him off of the glucose. Ben was very tired again today, but I'm thinking that was because of the fever. The morning nurse told me that they are planning to doing the tracheotomy tomorrow sometime. The anesthesiologist came in too and explained what their plans are. They will do it right in his room instead of in the OR and it only takes about 30 minutes. She did say though that it all depends on if they can get his INR down to the right level so his blood will clot. It was 1.8 today. They started giving him Vitamin K and plasma to prep him for the Trach. They will stop his tube feeding tonight which is also in preparation for it. The hospital chaplain came in this morning and prayed with us. He told me he's been visiting Ben every day and prays with him. Ben gets so mad at me now when I keep telling him over and over to NOT GIVE UP ON GETTING WELL and to follow what the doctors and nurses tell him and to cooperate with them. Today the ICU doctor was Dr. Connado, but I never did see him. They said he was there early this morning but then left the area. I just got back from Wal-Mart where I finally bought Ben a portable DVD player so I need to get it charged up so I can take it with me when I go back to the hospital. I am NOT going to leave it there with him though. It will be his anniversary present from my. April 5th is our 31st wedding anniversary. You want to trust people, but you never really know if you can.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Update For Ben

When I entered Ben's room this morning the respiratory therapist was there with him. She had tried to do the weaning process from the ventilator again right before I got there, but once again, Ben could not breathe on his own. That's two days in a row. His vitals were good. He had a very slight fever of 99.6° but he was very out of it this morning and seemed very weak. He could barely keep his eyes open. I sat and held his hand as tears filled my eyes. He would open his eyes now and then and look at me or squeeze my hand. At least he knew I was there. I found out awhile later that the reason he was so tired and out of it was because around 2:00 AM they had given him a little bit of Ativan (Lorazepam) because he was extremely restless. They could not get him to settle down, but at least they did NOT give him morphine. Lorazapam is what they gave me to help calm me down right after I went to ER. They should really think about NOT giving him anything that time of the morning because I think that may be why he could not do the breathing trial today. I kept telling him over and over "Do NOT give up on getting well". Hopefully he was hearing me. They stopped the TPN fluids today on doctor's orders. TPN stands for Total parenteral nutrition in case you want to Google it. This was the fluid (mostly salts and glucose) that they were giving him through his IV before his stomach had started working again. They determined that he was tolerating and absorbing the Fibersource through his NG tube (nasogastric tube) and that is the ONLY way they are giving him nourishment now. This is a GOOD thing. Taking him off of the TPN fluids should help lower his blood sugar levels. His stomach is still very distended, in fact, it looked bigger to me today than it did yesterday. The sore on his bottom is still getting better. It appears to be drying out, which is good. When he was so out of it, I could not do his joint exercises, but he started to wake up when I got back from lunch, so I did them on him then. He was getting mad at me when he woke up more because I kept telling him he could not come home until he got strong and well. He needs to understand that fact. So for a day that started out a little bad, it improved before I left to come home.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Update For Ben

Ben was very tired this morning when I got to the hospital. They had tried to wean him a little from the ventilator today, but he would not breathe on his own, so they could not do the breathing trial today. The respiratory therapist told me that this is very normal…a few good days and then a bad one. She said that he was possibly overtired since he was off the ventilator for over 5 hours yesterday. They will try again tomorrow. Ben vitals were good and he has no fever. When he woke up for awhile, he was responsive. Janice, Ben's nurse and I shaved him some with his electric razor this afternoon. Couldn't do very much because of all the tubes in his mouth and nose, but at least we got some of the whiskers off. Ben hates having a beard and mustache. They cannot use a straight razor on him because if they cut him, he will bleed really bad because of his high INR numbers. The surgeon came by again and checked his belly. She said it's working just fine, but that now it's the rest of his body that needs to heal itself, and again she told me "one day at a time". Ben slept more today than he usually does. He did let me do his joint exercises two times today…once when I first got there this morning and again before I left to come home. In fact, he was helping me move his hands and fingers. He was actually moving them on his own most of the time instead of me doing the movements for him. My friend Judy Arbogast came by at noon and bought me lunch at the hospital cafeteria. It's so nice how everyone wants to help. I don't know what I'd do without my family and friends. My niece Darrah gets on Facebook Chat with me almost every even to "keep me company". I like the days better when Ben is more alert but I also know he needs to sleep to gain his strength and he doesn't seem to want to do that much when I'm there. It seems he wants to stay awake for me. I kept telling him to sleep today and he did that some.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Update For Ben

Ben's vitals were good today, except while they had him on the breathing trial, his heart rate was up some. He had no fever. They started him on the breathing trial at 8:00 AM and he was on it for 5 hours today. Ben was responsive , nodding and squeezing my hand. The nurse told me the sore on his bottom is much better. They still have him on lasix the diuretic and they still are giving him the Fibersource through a tube. ICU doctor said Ben will be there for at least 2 to 3 more weeks. The surgeon came in today and checked his belly and said he seems to be doing better. He shook his head no when asked if he had any pain. His INR went up a little bit from yesterday to 1.75 and it still needs to be down to 1.1 before they can do the trach and remove fluid from his belly. I had to go over to the records office this afternoon and to the cashier to get Ben's letter that he has reached his "out of pocket" for the year. When I got back, they had taken him off of the breathing trial and he had gone to sleep, so I left to come home. I sure am getting to know all the nurses in ICU.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thanks Again

Once more I want to thank all of my blogger friends for all of the prayers they have been sending up to Heaven for Ben and me. We both really appreciate the love.


Sunday Update For Ben

I got to the hospital a little earlier today because being Sunday, there was not much traffic. Had a little drizzle along the way there, but none on the way home. When I got to Ben's room, they had him on the breathing trial as they are trying to wean him from the ventilator. He was able to stay on the trial for a little over 3 hours today, so he's doing pretty good. His vitals were good the whole time I was there which was 5 1/2 hours. His temperature was right aroung 98.3° to 98.5° the entire time I was there. They had to give him a unit of blood because he is becoming anemic. They told me that the frozen plasma had brought his INR (International Normalized Ratio) down to 1.6 but it still needs to get down to 1.1 so they can do the tracheotomy and the procedure to remove the stomach fluids. They are still giving him Lasix which is a diuretic to try to get him to stop holding water. I was hearing very loud belly noises from him today when I was sitting next to his bed and there was actually some air in the rectal tube bag which means he was getting some of the gas out. Ben was not real responsive while they had him on the breathing trial, but that's normal because he is weaker when they are trying to wean him off the ventilator, but once they turned the vent back on to where he was doing 70% of the breathing on his own, he was very alert and responsive. He helped me when I was exercising his joints and muscles. He kept squeezing my hand and he kept waving his arms around when I would ask him to do that. He seems to understand what I am saying to him and he nods to respond. I finally caught up with Dr. Han to ask him about extending Ben's SDI. He told me I had to talk to the ICU secretary, so I did. She told me to get the extension forms, fill them out, take them to the Kaiser Insurance Office and they will then send them over to the ICU for the doctors to fill out their portion. Now all I have to do it see if I can find the forms online, or I'll have to head over to the Insurance Office on Monday when I'm visiting Ben to pick them up. I don't know if they are the same forms I filled out to start his SDI or if they are different.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Update For Ben

I got over to the hospital around 12:05 PM today. Ben was wide awake when I came into his room. His nurse Alana said he had been awake waiting for me because she had told him I was going to be there later today. His vitals were good the entire time I was there and his temperature stays right between 98° and 99° now. They had him on the breathing trial for 3 hours today. He was more attentive and cooperative today too. He let me do a few exercises with him to loosen up his joints and when Alana came in to roll him from his side to his back, he actually lifted his shoulder for her when she was removing the pillow that was under his side. They have now started giving him frozen plasma to try to thicken his blood by the beginning of this coming week. He is getting 4 units of frozen plasma. They want to do the tracheotomy and also they want to do the Paracentesis procedure to remove some of the liquid from his belly. They cannot do either until his blood is thick enough to clot. Ben was very responsive to me when I would ask him questions. He would nod yes or shake no. He didn't get agitated when I left today. When I told him I had to get home he nodded and he was watching TV when I left. I tried to get with Dr. Han today to see if he is the doctor that I need to get paperwork from to extend Ben's SDI since they only gave him 20 days to start but Dr. Han had gone back to his office. He was supposed to come back, but didn't, so I told the charge nurse what I needed to talk to him about and she said she would try to get the message to him and maybe I can catch him tomorrow morning when he makes his rounds. I can usually get there earlier on Sunday because there is no traffic on the freeway. So today was a pretty good day.
I cannot get to the hospital until this afternoon because our gardener cannot get into our backyard unless I open the garage for him to get through and he has not been able to mow our backyard for 3 weeks. The grass is getting tall, so…
Anyway, I called the hospital and talked to Ben's nurse Alana. She was his nurse last week and she is really sweet. Anyway, she said he is doing good this morning. He is wide awake right now, so I asked her to tell him that I cannot get there until later this afternoon. Hopefully he will understand. I forgot to ask her if they have him on the breathing trial. She did say that his stomach is very bloated this morning. I wish they could find out what is causing that. But they cannot do that procedure they want to do until his blood thickens up. I'll send more info later today after I get home from visiting him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Update For Ben

Thank goodness the nurses listened to me and did not give Ben any morphine last night. His nurse today was Nida. She was really sweet. I asked her about the morphine, and she said they had not given him any during the night and that she was told by the night nurse that I didn't want him to have any, so she had not given him any either. I just hope they continue to pass on the word. Ben was awake when I came into his room and stayed awake almost the entire time I was there, but when I first arrived, he was a little agitated. He started to drift off some just before I left to come home. They tried to start the breathing trial on him again this morning around 8:00 AM but after about 5 minutes, his heart rate had jumped up to 130 and he was really gasping for air, so they immediately put him back on the ventilator. The Respiratory Therapist told me that this is normal…sometimes they will have a good day and be on it for several hours and other days, they cannot get by without it. They are going to try again tomorrow morning. She told me she had hoped that he'd be on it most of today, but that didn't happen. They had stopped his tube feeding of the Fibersource for awhile today because the ICU doctor thought Ben's stomach was too distended. They did an x-ray and said he has a lot of air in his stomach. His vitals remained good all day except around 10:30 AM his heart rate jumped up to 153 for about 2 minutes. Nida noticed it on her monitor outside and came in, but by that time, I had gotten him calmed back down and his heart rate was back down to around 100. Nida said that this happens now and then, but as long as his B/P is within normal range, and the heart rate does not stay up for a long period of time, they usually don't worry about it too much. I finally met Dr. Han the ICU doctor today. He is a Pulmonologist. He told me that they want to give Ben a tracheotomy because they do not want the ventilator tube through his mouth much longer as he is going to probably need the ventilator for quite awhile longer. Dr. Han said the problem is, they cannot do the trach or the Paracentesis (which they still want to do) until they can get his blood to thickened up. They have given him Vitamin K and plasma, but it doesn't seem to be working. Dr. Han said Ben's blood is extremely thin for some reason. He told me that they usually see this in people who have liver damage. They said his liver could have been damaged just like his kidneys were when his B/P had dropped so low and that they will normally heal themselves just as the kidneys do. He said they are hoping to be able to do the trach early next week if they can get his blood thicker. He was going to talk to Dr. Rupp (the surgeon) about it. He also told me that Ben's recovery is going to be very slow and lengthy. THAT I didn't need to hear. The physical Therapist came in too, after I asked the nurse to page her. She tried to get Ben to work with her, but he would not interact with her as he is still so weak, so she showed me light exercises to help him move his feet, ankles, legs, knees, wrists, elbows and shoulders so that he will get a little limbered up. He is so stiff. I told her that I am there every day and that I am there around 4 hours each day, so she said if I do these exercises with him every couple of hours in those 4 hours, that will help a lot and then they should eventually be able to get him to work with them. His nurse took his temperature around 11:30 AM when she gave him his antibiotics and other medications. It was 98.8° at that time and stayed right around that all day. His blood sugar was 144 so she gave him a little bit of insulin. They want it to be below 140. Also around 11:30 AM, a lady came into ICU with a harp and sat outside the patient's rooms and played for them for about 30 minutes. It was very soothing. Around 1:15, Nida came in and said that she spoke with Dr. Rupp (the surgeon) and the doctor told her to put Ben back on his feeding tube (the Fibersouce), so she did that. He started falling asleep right after she did that, so I decided to leave. When I was telling him I was leaving to come home, he started pulling the sheet off of himself and acted like he thought he was going to get out of that bed and come with me. I had to calm him down again before I left. For those of you who have been worrying about me not exercising, I did 20 minutes of aerobics with Jane Fonda on Exercise TV this morning and then when I got home from the hospital, I went out into the yard and pulled a bunch of weeds for about 15 minutes that were getting very unruly since I have not had time to get out there and pull them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Oops. I noticed I had the wrong day on today's update, I fixed it. By the way, the update for today should have said "Thursday" Update For Ben, NOT "Wednesday" Update For Ben. I'm losing track of what day it is. Sorry.

Thursday Update For Ben

I left to go to the hospital a little earlier today because I decided not to take the freeway. I took surface streets all the way and it took me about 10 minutes longer than when I take the freeway. Ben's nurse today was Steve. I told Steve that I would prefer that they not give Ben morphine and to tell the night nurse not to give it to him either. Steve told me that he is not big on giving patients narcotics so he would not give Ben morphine and that he will tell the night nurse what my wishes are. I just hope the night nurse will do what I've asked. They had Ben on another breathing trial today, but the respiratory technician was a different person than yesterday and he only let Ben go 3 1/2 hours breathing on his own today. He said Ben was gasping too much. The tech yesterday said it was good for him to gasp because it strengthens his lungs. They all have their own idea about what works and what doesn't. Ben's vitals were good. He still had a low grade fever of 99.5° today. I never did see the ICU doctor, but I did see the surgeon. She told me that all of his cultures are still coming back negative. She said Ben's white blood cells are good. She told Steve to increase the tube feeding a little more but she told me that when they get ready to remove Ben from the ventilator, they have to stop tube feeding him the day before and then after he is removed from the ventilator, she said they cannot start tube feeding him again for 24 to 48 hours to make sure he will be able to stay off of the ventilator. She said that as they increase the tube feeding that they are starting to reduce the sugar they are giving him through the IV. She also said that his kidneys do improve a little each day. Ben seemed to sleep most of the time I was there today. He did wake up now and then and I would talk to him and he'd nod sometimes. I keep telling him that HE has to be determined to get well because they will not let him leave the hospital until he does. The surgeon told me that they are doing all they can do and now it's just up to Ben's body to start healing itself and she said because Ben was not exercising before all of this happened that it will take his body longer to heal. She said the healthier you are before something like this, the faster you will get well. She said that he seems to continue to get a little better each day, but that it is going to be a slow process. I really didn't need to hear that because this going back and forth to the hospital is really starting to take its toll on me. But I NEED to be there for him. At least when my friend Lynn was staying with me, she would get me out to walk either in the morning or in the afternoon. Now I'm so wiped out when I get home, I just don't feel like going for a walk, but I have tried to do some indoor exercising with Exercise TV now and then.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Late Afternoon Update For Ben

I just called Nick (Ben's nurse). He said Ben's vitals are good and no fever right now. They put him back on the ventilator after he was breathing on his own for about 5 1/2 hours. That's really good because yesterday he was only able to breathe without it for 10 minutes. Nick said the surgeon came in and check on Ben this afternoon. She told him to increase the flow of the Fibersource, so they are "feeding" him a little more. He said Ben was dozing off and on. I asked him to try not to give Ben morphine if possible, because I've noticed that the nurses will ask Ben if he is having pain and he will nod yes, but when I ask him, he shakes his head no, so I think he's a little confused. I asked if they could just give him Tylenol or something. Nick said he will keep that in mind.

Wednesday Update For Ben

Got to the hospital around 9:30 AM. Ben was dozing but the nurse (Nick) and the student nurse (Jordan) were in his room checking his vitals and giving him his medications and antibiotics. They started him on the "breathing trial" at 8:30 AM before I got there. The breathing trial is what they do to try to wean him from the ventilator. Yesterday he only did 10 minutes before he got worn out, but today, he was still breathing mostly on his own from 8:30 AM until I left around 1:30 PM and as far as I know, they were going to keep him on the trial for a little longer. I didn't get to talk to any doctors today, but Nick told me that Dr. Han is now his ICU doctor and he came in and checked on Ben this morning. He said to put him back on the ventilator after the breathing trial, that he was not quite ready to remove Ben from it yet. He told them to keep giving Ben his medications, Fibersource and antibiotics. While I was there, Ben would wake up now and then but then he would doze off again and Nick said it was probably because he was so tired from breathing on his own for so long. They said he was breathing pretty good and doing this makes his lungs stronger. The doctor also said Ben's kidneys are still getting better each day. Ben's vitals were good while I was there. His temperature was 99.3° so that was good. A group of dermatology people came in to check out the sore on his bottom and any other skin problems he might have. They have determined that the sore on his bottom is NOT a bed sore but was caused from when he was at Henry Mayo and Ben had diarrhea and the nurses at Henry Mayo did not realize so he had been laying in his excrement until they would come to turn him in the bed. So it's kind of like diaper rash, but they said it seemed to be healing. Ben was trying to talk to me, even though he has the vent tube in his mouth and he'd get mad because I kept telling him he could not come home until he was well. I left a half hour earlier to come home as I heard it was starting to rain in Santa Clarita and I wanted to get home before the traffic got bad. All in all, he seemed somewhat better today.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Latest Information On Ben

I just called the hospital again. The nurse (Nick) told me that Ben was still sleeping but that he was probably going to have to wake him up a little because he wants to give him a cool "bath". He said Ben's temperature had gone down a little and that he was breathing a little better because he is sleeping. He told me that when Ben is awake and gets agitated, that's when he has more trouble breathing. I told him I got very worried from what he had told me earlier when I called and he told me not to worry because Ben is still very stable. Easier said than done.

Evening Update For Ben

I just called the hospital. Nick his nurse told me that he was having trouble breathing because he was moving around a lot and somewhat agitated, so they gave him a little morphine to make him sleep. I don't like it when they give him morphine. They said he also has a low grade fever of 101° so they put ice packs in his arm pits and near his groin. This all worries me because he seemed to be doing a little better right before I left him today.

Tuesday Update For Ben

Just got home from the hospital awhile ago. Linda drove me again. When we got there, Ben was really out of it. I guess the nurse last night had given him a sedative to make him sleep and he was zonked. His temperature was normal and all of his other vital signs were good. They had tried to turn off the ventilator to see if he could breathe on his own, but after 10 minutes, he was really struggling, so they had to turn it back on. I'm hoping that was only because he was so tired from the sedative. Most of the time we were there today, he could barely keep his eyes open. The ICU doctor came in to talk with me. He said that Ben's kidneys had improved a little more again today, his vitals were good, they were feeding him through his NG tube and he seemed to be stable. They are feeding him something called Fibersource. It almost looks like a chocolate shake. But Linda and I noticed that the doctor (Dr. Vartany) seemed very stumped as to why Ben is not improving a little more. They are still giving him anti-biotics and also the Reglan. They told me a therapist had come in for a little while last night and moved his legs and arms around some. That's about all they can do with him being so weak. What was so nice was that the two student nurses (Gilbert and Amechie) who had been taking care of him when he was up in DOU came down to see how he and I were doing. They both gave me a hug and said they were done with their training at Kaiser and would be leaving and they could not leave without checking on us and to say goodbye. They are so sweet. While Linda and I were over in the cafeteria having lunch, the trainer of the student nurses saw me and came over to see how I was doing. I thanked her again for being so nice and told her that Gilbert and Amechie were going to make great nurses. Also while we were eating, Ben's surgeon (Dr. Rupp) came by his room. She told Ben's nurse (Nick) to start doubling up on the Fibersource because she felt Ben was tolerating it very well. Nick told me about it when we got back from lunch. I also got to get with the financial consultant and pay her our co-pay for his hospital stay at Kaiser. There is a maximum amount on it we pay and we had hit that, so she told me that now Ben should have reached his yearly out-of-pocket and should now not have to pay any more co-pays for his doctors for the rest of the year. I don't know if I'm going to owe anything to Henry Mayo or if Kaiser is going to cover it all. The best part of the day was when Ben FINALLY woke up enough to realize I was there today. The sedative was finally wearing off. I just wish he had done it a little sooner instead of just before we were leaving to come home, but anyway, he started responding to me a little more when I told him he had to cooperate with the doctors and nurses and not try to get out of bed and not try to pull out his breathing tube. I told him to use all of the energy he is wasting on that and try to use it on getting stronger and getting well so he can get out of there. He nodded that he would. We'll see. They are always telling me he gets agitated when they come in to move him in the bed and give him his meds, anti-biotics, etc.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Another Update

I just called the hospital and talked to Ben's nurse Eric. He told me that he started giving Ben nourishment through his NG tube about an hour ago and that so far he is tolerating it pretty good.

To All Of My Wonderful Blogger Friends



Well, here is the cure..... Just smile and say...

Dear Lord,

I know you're watching over me
And I'm feeling truly blessed
For no matter what I pray for
You always know what's best!

I have this circle of E-mail friends,
Who mean the world to me;
Some days I 'send' and 'send,'
At other times, I let them be.

I am so blessed to have these friends,
With whom I've grown so close;
So this little poem I dedicate to them,
Because to me they are the 'Most'!

When I see each name download,
And view the message they've sent;
I know they've thought of me that day,
And 'well wishes' were their intent.

So to you, my friends, I would like to say,
Thank you for being a part;
Of all my daily contacts,
This comes right from my heart..

God bless you is my prayer today,
I'm honored to call you 'friend';
I pray the Lord will keep you safe,
Until we write again.


Monday Update For Ben

My hiking buddy Linda came by and picked me up at 9:00 AM to take me over to the hospital this morning. Ben was about the same today as he was yesterday. Still on the ventilator, still slightly sedated, still doing about 70% of his own breathing. B/P was good. He still has a low grade fever about 99° so it's not too bad. I've been told by the nurses that a low grade fever actually helps fight off bacteria in the body. They removed the staples from his incision today, so that's a major thing. Both the surgeon and the ICU doctor came in and talked to me. The surgeon ok'd them to try to give him some "food" through his NG tube today. They had not done it yet by the time I had left, so I will call later to see how it went. He was awake some while we were there. I tried to get him to watch TV, but he kept dozing off some. He tries to talk to me, but with the ventilator tube he can't talk. I see him moving his lips and tongue and I know what he is trying to say…he wants me to bring him home. I have to keep explaining to him how sick he is and he gets so frustrated and starts frowning. They still have to restrain him to his bed because he keeps trying to put his feet over the side and get out of the bed. If he did, he'd fall because he is so weak. His color was very good today. I heard the ICU doctor mention to the nurse that they need to start getting some therapy people in with him to start working with him. Don't know when they will show up though. Lanny, Ben's brother showed up around noon and he spoke with the ICU doctor. Got about the same information I got. A social worker came in and took me to a private room and spoke with me. She took a bunch of notes about Ben and me and said she would help me with whatever I need if possible. She says Ben will probably go to a rehab home before coming to our home and he may need some in-home nursing once he's here because he's going to be "homebound" for a long time. He is just so weak. I kills me to see him this way…not able to do anything for himself. The ICU doctor tells me that he improves a little bit each day, but it's going to take awhile. Thanks to everyone for the support and prayers.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Update For Ben

It's been pouring down rain really hard since late last night. Lynn volunteered to drive down to Kaiser today because I'm already afraid of the freeway in good weather, but we did not take the freeway, she took all surface streets instead. Ben was asleep when I went into his room this morning around 9:00 AM. When I got there, I asked if I still needed to gown up and use gloves and mask, but they said he was no longer being isolated, so I could go in without all of that stuff. I asked who was his nurse today and they told me Lisa, but she had just taken her other patient for a Cat Scan, so I had to wait for her to get back. It took her quite awhile because she stayed with her patient for the Cat Scan and then when they got back, she had to hook her other patient up to everything again and give her the meds, etc. so it was about 45 minutes before she ever got to Ben and me. By this time, Lynn was really nervous because I had not come out and told her to come in from the waiting room yet, so she just came in. Lisa told me that Ben had a slight temperature again. It's been around 100° most of the day. His other vitals are good though. They are trying to wean him from the ventilator again. He was initializing most of his breathes on his own today. I think because of the fever, he was a little disoriented today. He seemed more alert yesterday. A nurse had suggested I bring a DVD he liked for him to watch, so I took my laptop and an Andy Griffith Show DVD and played three or four episodes for him, but he seemed to sleep through them. He may have been listening to them though. The ICU doctor really wants to start giving him "real" nourishment through his NG tube instead of the liquids through the IV, so that he can start gaining back some of his strength, but he said it's up to the surgeon when they are going to do that. I sure hope it is soon. He also said that he is now leaning away from doing the Paracentesis procedure because he thinks Ben's stomach problem is working itself out on its own. I was standing next to Ben's bed and I heard his stomach growl very loudly and his nurse told me she had heard it this morning too. The ICU doctor told me that his kidney function was a little better today than yesterday and if you all remember, he had said that yesterday was better than the day before. They have stopped giving him diuretics because they want his body to try to get itself working naturally with no help from drugs, etc. When I told Ben that Lynn and I had to head for home because of the heavy rain, he became a little agitated. Don't know if it was because he didn't want me to leave or because he was worried about us out in the storm. I finally got him calmed down though before we left. The hospital was very quiet today because there were not very many people in the halls, etc. due to the storm. My hiking buddy Linda is supposed to drive me down to the hospital tomorrow. I hope she won't back out because of the weather. Lanny was going to try to be there today, but couldn't make it do to the flooded streets and also the Los Angeles Marathon had several streets closed. Please continue your prayers.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Update For Ben

Today, Ben was much more alert than he was yesterday. His color was so much better too. His fever was gone and when I left the hospital, his temperature was 98.3° and his B/P was 113/70. They are trying to wean him off the ventilator again. They had it set at 30% so he was doing 70% of his own breathing and his respiration was good. His pulse was around 78, his oxygen saturation was at 100. He is still considered "infectious" so we still had to gown up, wear glove and mask when we went in to his room. He is still a little bloated. His diarrhea has stopped, the sore on his bottom is almost healed. One of the best things is that his stomach is now working. They are hearing normal stomach sounds again. They are still "beefing" up his blood by giving him Vitamin K and Plasma and giving him red blood cells. They want to do that Paracentesis procedure on him tomorrow to find out what exactly is in his stomach. They are still giving him the anti-biotics as all of his cultures are still coming back negative and the still think the infection the gave him the fever was C.Diff. Ben was squeezing my hand a lot while I was there. He was a little confused when he saw me in the mask and gown because I don't think he recognized me at first. I think he thought I was a nurse, but then I think when he heard my voice, he was ok. He's moving his arms around a lot and kicking his legs now and then. They are hoping that after they do the Paracentesis that they will be able to start feeding him through his NG tube so he can start getting some nourishment. The ICU doctor said that he felt Ben's kidneys were about 10% better today than they were yesterday. Hopefully, they were recover like they did before. His nurse today was Janice. She was really sweet. She has been a nurse for 27 years and loves her job. She was very religious and kept telling me that God was filling the room with love for Ben and watching over him. She told me that every day before she comes to work, she prays for the Lord to give her the tools and knowledge she will need to take care of her patients and she says every day the Lord comes through for her. When I got there this morning Ben's temperature was 101° and she told me she would have it down to normal by the time I left to come home and she did just that! She told me to bring a portable DVD player with some of Ben's favorite movies or shows (like Andy Griffith) for him to watch because she says that it will remind him of being home and that will give him encouragement to get well. I priced some DVD players today and they are NOT cheap and the screens are so tiny, so I thought maybe I could take my smaller laptop and play them for him on that. They don't have WiFi there but I don't need WiFi for just using the DVD slot on the laptop. If they had TV Land on their televisions there, he'd be perfectly happy, but their service does not carry that channel. Anyway, I feel a little better about him this evening than I did yesterday evening.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Update For Ben

Just as we were going out the door this morning to head for the hospital, the house phone rang, but I didn't get to it in time, so then my cell phone rang. It was the ICU doctor. He needed my permission to give Ben some blood. I hate it when I get those calls, because I'm always thinking the worst. The main change in Ben's condition today is that they consider him "infectious" so we had to wear gowns, gloves and masks whenever we went into his room. Until they can actually figure out what infection gave him the high temperature, this will continue. The cultures have been coming back negative so they are thinking he has C.Dif or Claustridium Dificile. You can Google this if you want. It's a common infection patients get when they are being given so many anti-biotics. Right now he is on four anti-biotics. They are Diflucan, Vancomycin, Merrem and Flagyl. Most of these are to fight yeast infections, help stop his diarrhea and to fight the C.Dif. He is still sedated and intubated, but he does open his eyes a little and he reacts to my voice and he will squeeze my hand when I ask him to. They had to give him a blood transfusion because with all the liquids they are giving him, his blood count is getting low. His B/P dropped a lot this morning, so they put him on medications to raise it back up. He still has a little fever. It was running between 101 and 102 while I was there. Once when I was in his room, a Kidney Doctor came in and said she is watching his kidney function. She said it has taken another hit, but because his is urinated quite a bit and the color of it is good, she is optimistic that he will get all function back again. I would go in and sit with him for about 20 to 30 minutes and then I'd have to go back out to the waiting room with Lynn because I just get so stressed seeing him that way. Once I started crying while his nurse Alana was in the room with us. She saw him wrinkle his forehead and act like he was stomping his foot and she said she thinks he was trying to tell me not to cry. I would hold his hand and he would squeeze on it then kind of shake it, so I know he knew I was there. Once when a tech was putting a new picc line for his IV, he was kind of agitated. I was waiting outside the room while she was working so she would tell him I was outside waiting to come in and she said he would calm down when she told him that. Lynn and I went into the chapel to get away from the other people in the waiting room and I sat and prayed a little. It was a nice release. After we got back to my house this afternoon, we headed out for a walk and we get about 1/4 mile from the house and my cell rings. It's ICU telling me that the GI doctor wants to do a procedure called Paracentesis. They needed my permission to do it, but told me that they had to test him first to make sure his blood would clot. They told me there were three slight risks with the procedure. The first was bleeding, the second was infection and the third was bowel damage. During the procedure they stick a needle in his stomach and draw out fluids to do cultures so they could figure out why he is still distended. After running the tests, they could not do the procedure because his blood is too thin. They are now giving him Vitamin K to thicken it up. Problem was, they had already given him morphine to make him relax when they did the procedure, and then they didn't do it. But at least the morphine is making him sleep. I don't like it when they give morphine. I received a phone message from a social worker at Kaiser, but when I tried to call her back, I had to leave her a message. She said she was just checking to see how I was feeling and if I had plenty of support at home. Please continue the prayers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Update On Ben

Ben made a turn for the worse today. My friend Sandi came to drive me down to the hospital this morning and was I ever glad she was with me. We walked into his room and they had him on a portable ventilator. I panicked. His temperature had spiked to 102.6° and they had him on a cooling pad and they told me they could not arouse him this morning when they came in to take his vitals. He was having trouble breathing on his own too. They immediately called the floor doctor in who sent him to ICU. They then sedated him some and put him on a regular ventilator again. They got his temperature down pretty quickly when the changed the antibiotic they were giving to him. The surgeon who is on his case ordered a Cat Scan on his belly and on his brain. The belly one showed no reason for the spike in temperature. They were thinking a suture had come loose or something, but that was not the case. The brain scan was to make sure he had not had a stroke, which they told me he DID NOT (thank God). The surgeon told me now it is up to the medical doctors to figure out why he got the fever. I decided to have Sandi bring me home because I started becoming very stressed and I was afraid that my B/P and my pulse were going to go sky high, plus it seems that when I am there, Ben becomes more agitated because all he wants me to do is bring him home. He keeps reaching for my hands wanting me to pull him up and when I tell him no, he gets upset and seems to get worse. So I think sometimes it's better for me to get out of there for awhile to let him calm back down. He thinks when I'm there, he's leaving the hospital. Both his sister and brother rushed to the hospital when I called them this morning but his sister had to leave to go home to Vegas and about 20 minutes after that, Lanny left to go home, so Sandi and I stayed at least until he was out of the Cat Scan. I don't think he even knew much that I was there today because he was so out of it. His temperature was 98.3° when we left the hospital. My friend Lynn is coming up in about an hour to spend the night with me because she knows I'm worried the hospital might call. Sandi is sitting with me until Lynn gets here. Sandi lives about 3 miles from me. Please continue all of your prayers for my sweet husband. I had the hospital chaplain pray with me today and when Ben's sister was there, she and I prayed together over Ben. My brother Keith emailed his churches website asking that they all pray for Ben too. I just called the hospital. Ben's nurse Alana says they had to give him something to go to sleep because he is so agitated, they were having trouble taking his vitals when he's awake because he's fighting them all the time. She could not give me a B/P for him yet because every time they try, he starts fighting them. She said his over vitals are ok now. His temperature is back to normal. She again told me that his brains scan and belly scan were normal. She said the Internist in ICU gave her instructions on what meds to give to him and that he will talk to me tomorrow when I'm over there. So he is resting right now.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Just got a call from my friend Lynn. She lives very near the hospital where Ben is so she went by to see how he was doing. They think she is my sister. Anyway, she sat with him for about an hour and said he seems to be resting ok. She said they are giving him an antibiotic into his veins.

Wednesday Update For Ben

Well today was a little scary. I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 AM. I walk into Ben's room and there are nurses all over him. I panic. They tell me his temperature has spiked to 101.6° so they are trying to take specimens to run cultures to figure out why his temp has gone up. They have a lot of student nurses there working with him. Their training instructor took me aside because I was crying and she was calming me down. She told me that his other vital signs were good and that they would get his temperature down and find out what the problem was. His Internist was out in the hallway and she tried to calm me down too. She is so nice, but she won't be with him now again for awhile because they rotate they floor doctors. Tomorrow will be Dr. Monroe. They were having trouble getting blood from his IV to use for a culture, so they had to have some lab techs come up and draw it from his arm somehow. The took his spittle and his urine to culture too. They told me the sore on his bottom was a little better today. They have been putting antibiotics on it. His temperature did go down to 100°. Even though I don't have minutes on my cell phone, I called my friend Lynn who lives just a few miles from the hospital and she rushed right over to be with me. She took me out of his room and calmed me down quite a bit. I also called Ben's sister who came into town last night and his brother and his sister came right over to the hospital. His brother got there a little later. Ben was a little out of it when I first got there, but later, once his sister was there, he seemed to be focusing on us a little better and trying to communicate. He has lost his voice because they still have the NG tube through his nose and down his throat and they cannot give him water. They have been swabbing his mouth, but he is so dry. The Internist said she heard very faint stomach sounds, so it's still not working yet and they cannot give him food until it does. They said if his stomach is not working, the food could back up into his lungs and stop his heart. They are giving him nothing but sugar into his veins to keep him "fed". Because of this, they have to track his blood sugar constantly and give him insulin. They are giving him saline because his was getting dehydrated. His hand were a little swollen again today. They looked better yesterday. I hate leaving him there like that, but I have found that I become more stressed when I'm there than when I'm at home. I feel so guilty about that, but I'm so afraid that I'm going to get sick again and then we'd really be in a mess. I know my B/P is up and my pulse is up. I'm taking my B/P meds, but the stress just "overrides" them I guess. I've been trying to eat good and I did get about 7 1/2 hours of sleep last night. I've been trying to exercise. Walked last evening for 20 minutes and did 20 minutes of aerobics with Exercise TV this morning. When I explain to Ben why I cannot stay longer with him, he nods that it's ok. He knows how bad that traffic is coming up here in the evening and he knows I'm not a good freeway driver or a good night driver. Tomorrow my friend Sandi who lives just a short distance away is going to pick me up around 9:00 AM and drive me down to the hospital and sit with me there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ben's Tuesday Update

Well last night after getting home from Kaiser around 7:00 PM, I had dinner, talked to a friend on the phone and then stayed up until midnight watching TV. I just could not go to sleep. I know I was upset about the disability papers and the lady and Kaiser in Panorama City not helping me. I turned the TV off and fell asleep in a few minutes and slept for about 4 hours then work up, but I dozed off and on after that. I had emailed Ben's and my primary Kaiser doctor last night and he said he would OK Ben's disability and told me to take the paperwork over to the Kaiser office here in Santa Clarita and find the Insurance office. I headed over there around 8:15 AM and found the Insurance office. There were 2 very nice ladies there. After I explained to them what was going on, they told me not to worry that they would help me. They were so helpful and understanding. So I felt much better about things when I left there. I came home and got some stuff together (like my lunch) and headed for Panorama City. There wasn't much traffic so I got there in about 30 minutes. They had some student nurses helping out today. They were a couple of young kids (a guy and a girl) and they were so nice. Didn't care much for about Ben's regular nurse Letty. I kept telling her he wanted ice chips and she said he could not have them, even though I told her the surgeon last night put it in his order that he could have them. I bugged here several times to check the order and she kept telling me she could not find any ice chips mentioned. Finally my friend Lynn came by to see Ben and went to the charge nurse and asked her to check the order. When she did, she found the OK for ice chips. She told Letty to get him some and Letty got mad. Anyway, when I first got there, the were dressing and sore on Ben's butt. They think he got it from lying too long in his own excrement at Henry Mayo and when I looked at it, it does appear to be from that. Ben could not talk today. He kept trying to, but nothing came out. They told me a therapist had come by and sat him on the edge of the bed, but did not get him up off the bed because he is so weak. They still have him restrained because he still keeps try to get out of the bed by himself. When he saw me, he kept mouthing "I want to go home". I feel so bad for him. The floor doctor came in to talk with us and to examine him. She is a young black woman named Dr. Freeman-Jordan. She was very nice. She said she had read his report from Henry Mayo but asked me to tell her the entire story because she feels she gets a better idea of it all from the family. She told me that Ben will probably not come straight home from the hospital, that he will probably have to go into a nursing home for rehab and therapy. They are going to have to teach him how to walk again and help him with his speech, plus re-teach him how to do his everyday things. He's not going to like that at all, but there is nothing that can be done about it. I checked and there is no charge for skilling nursing facilities for 60 days. they said he may need a "home" nurse now and then too. I got a call from the woman at Kaiser that I sent my grievance to about them sending him home all the time instead of finding out what was really wrong. She told me that he should NOT have to pay anymore co-payments for the rest of the year for the hospital, doctors, etc. because he has reached his yearly out-of-pocket maximum. This is strange because Member Services told me he would. The woman at the grievance office told me to see if I can make an appointment with the Financial Consultant at the hospital and they will go over all of the charges with me and let me know what we will have to pay. I'll have to try to do that tomorrow, so Lanny, if you are there, maybe you could help me with that. Would you believe that it got up to 89° here today? I left the hospital at 2:00 PM because I needed to come home and go do so grocery shopping to pick up a few items I'm running out of. I want to go for a walk, but I'm waiting for it to cool down a little. It is 4:38 PM and still 83°

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Ben Update

Well, today was good for one thing and crappy for another.
First, Ben's conditions was downgraded from critical to serious, but because of this change, Kaiser insisted he be moved to their Panorama City Hospital. Both Ben and I are very upset about this, but there is nothing we can do because if we refuse, we would be liable for all of the medical bills and there is no way we could afford that. He was getting such good care at Henry Mayo and they had just started his physical/occupational therapy with 2 really great ladies. They put him on a floor that is not ICU, but also still not a regular room because he is supposed to be watched very closely by the nurses still. When I got there, I find him in a room way down the hall and isolated away from the nurses' station. There is no way they could watch over him like the should especially when he keeps begging me to bring him home and he keeps trying to get up out of bed. He is so weak that if he got up, he'd fall and get hurt, so they have restrained him to the bed. My friend Lynn told me to go out and complain to the charge nurse about where they had him, so I did. She told me they would move him. When I got home and called to check in on him, they had moved him. The restrained him to the bed which I agreed to. They said they explained to him why they had to do that and they said he was starting to fall asleep.
I'm a nervous wreck because I kept trying to get with the social worker at Henry Mayo to get his SDI started. She didn't show up until they were transporting him out of there and she handed me some SDI papers and told me to take them to the Disability Office at Kaiser and they would help me fill them out and get it started. The woman there tells me Henry Mayo should have started the SDI because he was there for the first 2 weeks. But then she told me to call Ben's and my Kaiser primary doctor and ask if he will ok the SDI for Ben. He knows the story because I told him what was going on when I went to see him after my ER visits. I have emailed our primary doctor and I am also going to try to leave him a voicemail tomorrow morning. I sure wish my cousin Lynda was nearby to help me with this because getting SDI for people is her job. Lanny, Ben's brother said that if I still have problems after asking our doctor to OK it, Lanny will help me at Henry Mayo to get it straightened out. Problem is, the lady at Kaiser Disability told me that Ben has to sign the papers. He cannot even hold a pen from the edema. He is still very swollen due to the fluids they are pumping into him.
I hate that Kaiser is 25 miles away and HM was only 8 miles away. Plus I cannot leave until later in the morning after all the rush hour traffic from the Antelope Valley has gone through on their way down to Los Angeles for work. I was able to get to HM around 8:30 AM, but I won't be able to get to Kaiser until around 10:00 AM or later.
I was successful in getting his pay checks deposited into our bank account.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Update On Ben

Lynn and I got to the hospital around 8:45 AM or so. When I walked into the room Ben said "Where have you been"?
They sat him up in a "cardiac chair" for a few hours today. They had to use that chair because they didn't have any other kind they could use. All three of his doctors came by early this morning. The surgeon is the one who told them to put him in a chair. He said that laying in bed on his back prevents his stomach mechanism from moving like it should. They said even though he has been having BMs, they are coming from his lower intestine and they need his stomach to start working again. They still are not hearing the normal stomach sounds in there. The therapy people are hopefully going to start working on him tomorrow to get him moving around and they said that now, moving around is the ONLY thing that is going to help his stomach start moving again. There is no medication that can do that. Ben is improving each day, but it is a very slow process. He still tries to talk to me and sometimes I can understand him, but there are times I can't and he and I both get so frustrated. He's still begging me to bring him home. Even though I tell him that he has to stay there to get well and he says "I know", he still tries. Ben's brother Lanny and his wife came by around lunch time and spent some time with him while Lynn and I went outside to eat the sandwiches we had made and taken with us. Tomorrow I have to take his last 2 work checks over to our bank to see if they will let me deposit them into our joint savings account without him signing them. I also have to call the American Medical Transport people because they billed me for one of my ambulance rides instead of sending it to my insurance. Our ambulance transports are covered 100% so I have to have them bill Kaiser. I don't know why, but I get so exhausted just sitting over there at the hospital all day. Lynn has to go home tomorrow, so I'll be alone. But at least I know that Ben is pretty much out of the woods now so hopefully I won't need a babysitter anymore. But it sure is going to be lonely here alone.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Update On Ben

Lynn and I got to the hospital around 8:30 AM. Ben was propped up in his bed and recognized us when we came through the door. First thing he said to me, in a raspy voice, was "GET ME OUT OF THIS PLACE!" Naturally I had to again explain to him that he could not leave because he has to get better and he can only do that in the hospital. I brought him is TV glasses so he could see the TV better. They were showing "The Simpsons Movie" today, so that kept him occupied for quite awhile. Sometimes I can understand what he is saying, but sometimes I can't. Then he gets mad because I cannot understand. Nurse said that early this morning he had 3 small BMs which was really good and she said she did hear some very soft gurgling in his stomach, but not a lot. We kept trying to get him to cough and to move his arms around. Sometimes I'd help him with his arms because they said the more he moved his body, the more his stomach and bowels will improve. They had him on a nebulizer for awhile to try to clear the mucus from his throat. They gave us a thing for him to suck on to see if he could make a little ball in it rise. He kept trying to blow instead of suck. They are trying to get him to inflate his lungs better so he can breathe easier. Late this afternoon, he had a very significant BM. So each day he improves. Lynn and I had lunch in the hospital cafeteria. We cannot believe what good food they have there and how reasonable it is. Yesterday we had wild salmon there and today we had meat lasagna.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Great News About Ben

Lynn Toler is staying with me over the weekend. We headed over to the hospital around 11:30 AM to meet Lanny Ben's brother. While all of us were there, they decided to wake Ben up completely and remove the breathing tube and take him off of the ventilator! He opened his eyes and looked at me and I told him I loved him and he actually said "I love you" back to me. I started to cry. They he said in a very raspy voice "I wanna go home". He was looking all around the room and trying to communicate with me. I kept telling him where he was and why he was there. I'd ask if he understood and he'd say a raspy "yeah". I was so excited I didn't want to come home, but I know he is worn out and he should rest, so Lynn and I left around 5:00 PM to come home. I cannot wait to get back over there tomorrow morning to see him.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday Afternoon Ben Update

Keith and I went over right after lunch to stay with Ben for a few hours. We were both very encouraged by his improvement. When we walked in, the nurses were turning him and cleaning him up, brushing his teeth, checking his vitals, etc. They had him weaned quite a bit from the sedation, he still has the breathing tube but they set it so he was breathing on his own. If his breathing got to low, the machine would kick on, but he was doing pretty good on his own while we were there. He was breathing  15 to 18 breaths per minute on his own. His B/P was 122/64. His pulse was 98. His eyes were 3/4 open and he was moving his head around and kicking his feet. They have his hands tied down so he cannot pull the breathing tube out. He looked at me and I took his hand and he immediately squeezed my fingers. You can tell that he's trying to talk but can't because of the tube. I asked the nurse if they told him where is was and why and she said they do that every day, but that it would probably be good to hear it from me too. I explained it all to him and he looked at me and moved his head and squeezed my hand. He wrinkles his forehead when I tell him he has to stay there until he's totally well before he can come home. After awhile, he fell asleep, so we left. I asked the nurse if I can bring my laptop there when I don't bring other people with me and she said yes. They have free Wi-Fi. Keith will stay over tonight with me and go to my doctor appointment in the morning with me and then Lynn is supposed to get here around noon and spend the weekend with me. I guess after that, I'm on my own. Lanny, did you want to meet me over at the hospital tomorrow afternoon sometime? Let me know. My doctor appointment is at 9:00 AM and I have to be here at noon so when Lynn arrives.

As Of 10:50 AM My Time

Not much to report yet today. I called the hospital around 8:30AM for a check on Ben. They told me he is still stable and there is not much change right now. He has been opening his eyes and moving some. The doctors had not yet been in to see him. Keith and I will probably go over after we have some lunch. The sedatives they gave me while I was in ER really knocked me out last night. Slept through the entire night until I woke up at 6:00 AM. I went to bed around 7:00 PM last night and feel right to sleep. They make me very groggy after waking, so I'm going to only take them when I feel I need them and only take about 1/2 of the pill instead of the whole thing. I'm the kind of person that can take 2 aspirin and get drowsy. Keith and I went over to the grocery store to pick up a few TV dinners which will be easier for me to fix and eat once I'm back alone again. Also picked up some fresh fruit. I have a lot of food at the house but it's just a matter of defrosting it and cooking it. Once I get into some kind of a routine again, I'll be more settled. Tomorrow morning I have my 9:00 AM follow-up with my Kaiser doctor for the time I was in the ER at Henry Mayo. I feel so much more calm today than I did the other night. Will write more after we visit Ben

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Keith and I went over to see Ben for about 30 minutes this afternoon. I was too weak to stay much longer than that. His nurse Kelli said she is really worried about him. She told Keith that she wishes he' d start progressing a little faster. He was moving around a lot. He seemed really agitated. Kelli said she kept coming in to find him with his legs almost of the edge of the bed like he was planning on getting up. This time he actually did squeeze my finger. The other time he didn't. He kept trying to lift his head and shoulders. Looked like he wanted to talk. Kept wrinkling his forehead like he was mad. I know inside he was telling me he wanted to go home.

They had the vent turned off for awhile, but still inserted. He was breathing totally on his own, but he started getting tired, so the turned it back on. His B/P was about 118/74 but pulse was still around 96. They were giving him another unit of blood. Kelli said it's because his body cannot produce its own very well with him lying on his back like that. The special x-ray they did was inconclusive because the intestines didn't start to move after they inserted the dye. Kelli said she put a call into the doctor about that.

I'm pretty sure Ben could see me. He opened his eyes about half way and just kept staring at me.

While I was in the ER this morning, I explained my plight to them so they knew why I was in there. They told me that as long as he is on the vent, HM will NOT transfer him to Kaiser. Also if he is NOT completely stable, they won't transfer either.

Here We Go Again

Well, yesterday after I got home from being with Ben for about 2 hours, I tried to settle down and rest, but my pulse was beating wildly. I assumed a nice bath and some rest would take care of it. I crawled into bed around 8:30 PM. I tossed and turned but could not fall to sleep. I kept turning on the TV and watching a few shows, but I was so anxious that I just could not relax or concentrate on anything. Around 2:00 PM, I finally fell asleep, but it was a fitful sleep. Around 5:00 AM, I woke up and felt my B/P was high and my pulse was racing, so I woke Karren up and she took my B/P. It was 194/124 and my pulse was 107. Karren called 911, so off against I went in the ambulance over to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial. They ran tests on me and said my heart was fine, and that I was just having an anxiety attack. They gave me some meds to lower the B/P and also give me a pill to relax me because I explained to the doctor what was going on in my life and he said that I'd probably been trying to be strong and I was holding everything in and it just all finally came to a head. He said my heart is healthy, so are my kidneys and my liver.

So Keith came and got me and brought me home. The ER doctor gave me a prescription for the relaxant pills, which Keith has gone to pickup for me. I made a follow-up for Friday with my primary doctor (at Kaiser) to see if maybe he has any suggestions about my medication doses, etc.

Karren is going home this afternoon because Keith is going to stay with me tonight and tomorrow and the will drive me to and from my doctor's appointment Friday, they my friend Lynn Toler is coming up to stay with me for a few days.

Talked to Ben's nurse. She said the have taken him almost completely off sedation and he is moving all over the place and he has his eyes open and responds to their commands. The x-ray the surgeon ordered was inconclusive, so she has called into the doctor. If I get a little stronger by late afternoon, I will have Keith drive me over there. Hopefully more later.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Latest On Ben

Lanny, Ben's brother came by and picked me up around 12:00 noon and took me over to the hospital to see Ben. This is the first time Lanny has seen him since he's been in there. I'm so glad Lanny was there because he is a lawyer and the surgeon was there and Lanny knows the right questions to ask. The surgeon says, yes, Ben is very sick, but they are very optimistic. Right now he has paralysis in his intestines, but that's because he is not taking anything orally and this is very common. The surgeon ordered a special X-ray to check things out but he said that it just appears that Ben is having "normal" post operative things going on. He explained, in detail for Lanny, how things were before the surgery and what they did during surgery. Someone from the respiratory department came in while we were there and explained a lot of stuff to us too.
They had lessened Ben's sedation, so he was opening his eyes a little and he was moving around a lot. Moving his legs, etc. I asked him to wiggle his toes and he did, so I don't know if he did it because I asked him or if it was just reflex. When I would talk to him, he would open his eyes halfway and look at me. He seemed to see me and know I was there, but I'm not certain. They kept telling me to "interact" with him to stimulate him.
Lanny seemed pretty encouraged by his moving around and opening his eyes. We stayed with him for a couple of hours, but Lanny had to get back to Los Angeles for a meeting and I was starting to feel a little weak.
They seem to really be taking excellent care of him. I just with Kaiser had done as well. I feel a lot better now seeing him open his eyes and move around as he did.
God is Great.

Starting To Get Worried

I just called the hospital. Ben's nurse rose said that they turned the vent down yesterday to try to let Ben breathe on his own, but after 2 hours they had to bring it up again because he was getting tired. They had lowered the B/P meds for awhile, but they his B/P started dropping again and they had to put him back on the meds. Right now his B/P is 120/71. What worries me the most is that she said yesterday, his stomach was starting to get hard and distended again, so they ran a cat scan on him. The doctor will go over the results today sometime. She said his creatinine is 1.6 right now. His temperature is 98.1. He's still making urine ok. She said they have upped his sedation a little again so he can rest. She said when they bring it down, that is when he is responsive. I'm worried about the stomach again

Monday, March 7, 2011

Call From Cardiologist

.I just got a call from a cardiologist at Henry Mayo who asked me some health questions about Ben because they noticed he had a little heart arrhythmia so the called the cardiologist. Dr. Yee says it's not severe but they want to monitor it and treat it and make sure that Kaiser follows up on it. We knew Ben has a heart murmur and they did an ultrasound on it last week at Kaiser. Anyway, he needed to know some information about Ben's family history, etc. I called Ben's brother and left him a message so that he can call this doctor and tell him anything else that I might not have known.

Latest Ben Update

Latest update and this is a GOOD one! If I feel a little better this afternoon, my friend Linda is going to drive me over to the hospital.

As of 10:17 am

just talked with dr dhanda--he saw ben this a.m. and he's doing well. has eyes open and squeezed dhanda's hand. can't talk yet 'cause of the ventilator, but is initiating breathing on his own, assisted still by the vent. do you want me to come and pick you up to go to the hospital?

Ben Update

Karren had to leave for her doctor appointment. Her husband is trying to sell his late mother's home so they have a gas company guy coming to check out a furnace problem at the house too. This means she cannot come back down until after the gas company shows up because she no longer drives and Wally has to bring her back down. She is going to stay with me for at least a couple more days. I won't be able to go see Ben today because I do not feel like driving myself over there.

I just called the hospital to check on Ben. His nurse Rose said he pretty much the same. His B/P is 124/76 but his heart rate is a little fast at 110, but she said that is not extremely high. He is still making urine ok. She said he is still stable and they are going to try to wean him off the induced coma a little again today. She confirmed for me that "stable but critical" does mean that he needs to be in ICU but that he is progressing normally.

So I'm just going to be hanging here on the sofa watching TV.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Update On Ben

Karren and I just got back from visiting Ben. Even though I took a "light" sleeping pill after lunch, I still could not go to sleep and I told Karren I thought it was because of my anxiaty about not being able to see Ben, so we went over there and spent about 45 minutes. YES I WORE A MASK.

His B/P was 114/88, pulse was 74, didn't get the rest of the numbers as the pulminary doctor was checking him and we wanted to get out of their way and I was getting a little weak standing there waiting. They asked me if his belly looked normal sized to me and I said yes. Then they mentioned that he had an irregular heart beat and asked if that was normal. I told them he has a heart murmur. They told me that his B/P was a little lower than they want it to be, so they were going to put him back to sleep a little more, but not as much as they had him before. They also told me that the irregular heart beat is probably because he is waking up and realizes that things are "not right" and so it's causing some stress. Also because he is in the bed slightly elevated, the lungs are probably pressing up on his heart and causing the irregular heart beat. His color looked good. I was talking to him and holding his hand and he was moving around. Tried to lift his shoulders and looked like he was trying to say something. I kept telling him not to try to talk. Karren saw him slit his eyes open once, but I didn't see it. The Wednesday nurse had told me they would shave his face. I had told her I had his razor but she said because of the breathing tube, they would do it, but no one had done it, so I asked Manny (his nurse today) and he said he would do it.

On the way home, Karren and I stopped for a slice of pizza and a coke.

Latest Update

Sorry I didn't email earlier. I didn't sleep at all last night. Went to be at 9:00 PM thinking I would but then tossed and turned all night long. Finally fell asleep around 3:15 AM and work up again around 7:00 AM. I still do not feel all that well. Ate breakfast then Karren and I watched "Mama Mia" as she had not seen it. It's a "feel good" movie and I needed that. I'm going to try to get some sleep after I read my emails.

I called Ben's nurse and he told me that Ben was still stable and doing well, then I got an email from Lanny who had also called him and the nurse told Lanny that they are starting to take Ben slowly off the sedation. Was getting 15cc now only getting 5cc. Ben is taking 3 breaths on his own and the machine does 12 breaths, whatever that mean. Lanny said they told him it's a slow process bringing him off of the sedation.

Sunday Morning

Tossed and turned most of the night even though my friend Karren is staying with me. Just could not get to sleep for some reason.

Ben's brother called hospital last night at 8:30 and was told the pulmonary doctor still did not want to "wean" Ben awake. Maybe today

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Latest Update

Latest Update

I called the Hospital around 2:30 PM. They said Ben is still sedated and still very stable. My long-time friend Karren Meggitt is here staying with me for a couple of days. She lives in Lancaster, CA. Her husband drove her down and while he was here, I had him check out Ben's car because when I tried to start it the other day, the battery would not roll over. Wally jump started it and then went and bought a new battery and installed it. Karren has a doctor's appointment Monday morning, so Wally has to come get her and take her back up to Lancaster, but she said if I need her, she will come back. Hopefully I will be much better by then and not need a "babysitter". I am so grateful for my friends. My neighbor Charlene came by around noon and fixed some soup for me and sat with me for about an hour before Karren got here. It is so lonely here all alone.

I contacted Kaiser to find out if all of my co-payments are the same even though he is not in their hospital and they assured me they are…not that it's still going to cost a lot of money before it's over. I also asked them about when I had to go to the ER the other night. They said my ambulance fee is totally covered by my insurance but if I get a bill, to just call them and let them know. They said my ER visit is only $100 co-pay.

I had sent an on-line grievance to Kaiser about their Panorama City ER and Hospital not finding what was wrong with Ben and then sending him home without really know what was going on. Today I get a letter from them addressed to Ben asking his permission to let me represent him on this grievance, but he cannot sign the form because he is still totally sedated. I'm going to call them Monday morning and tell them about this and see if there is any other way without him signing. Guess he and I should get a "power of attorney" on each other.

Another Email From Lanny

Ben's brother just sent me another email:

just talked with dr. dhanda--says ben is "dramatically better", and he's waiting for the pulmonary guy to come by and see if ben is able to be taken off the ventilator (by gradual weaning) and the sedation. didn't know when that doc will be coming, but i'll call in later in the day.

now kay, REST!!! lanny

Email From Ben's Brother

Just got this email from Ben's brother:

Ben seems be doing much better, though still not wakened. his creatinine reading (a measure of kidney function) is down to 1.3 (normal is 1, upon arrival at hospital his was 5!). his b.p. is 121 over 82, pretty close to normal. he is putting out about 50cc of urine at each check, which is good. this info from manny, his nurse (seeing ben for the first time today). manny says it is not unusual to keep people under sedation for a considerable period after surgery. i left a message for dr. dhanda to get more info. they don't know when he'll do rounds today. his number to be paged (to be used only in case of true emergency) is 661 288 5051 lanny

Early Saturday Morning

Thought maybe today I was going to feel up to going to the hospital, but right now I don't. Still very weak and my lower back and ribs are hurting me from all of that violent vomiting I did the other night. Stayed in bed all day yesterday and went into a "solid" sleep last night around 7:30 PM. Only woke up about once to go to the bathroom. Maybe if I stay in bed all day today again, I'll be able to visit Ben tomorrow. Will have to call later to see how he is doing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Called ICU

I called ICU earlier this afternoon and they told me that Ben is still sedated. They are still not happy with his B/P.

Linda Just Came By To Check On Me

Linda just came by. She brought me 4 big bottles of PowerAde, which is like Gatorade and she brought a big jar of applesauce and a couple of health bars and she brought a bottle of Robitussin DM because the doctor last night told me to take it for the congestion in my chest. Does NOT contain any codeine.

Email From Ben's Brother

Got this email from Lanny, Ben's brother, around 11:00 AM.

just called the icu--christine says she's waiting for the pulmonary doc to come along and evaluate whether ben can begin slowly being weaned from the ventilator--she thinks it might not be until much later in the day, but isn't sure. says he's doing 'really well' otherwise.

Had A Very Scary Night

Well I had an unforgettable night last night. I spent it in the Henry Mayo ER because I had to call 911 for myself. I thought I was having a heart attack. I felt bad all day yesterday. Headache, sore throat, coughing. I had my friend Linda take me to Kaiser because I need to stay well so I will be able to concentrate on Ben. The Kaiser doctor said I had the flu and gave me Tamiflu and some cough syrup with Codeine in it. Well, I had a violent reaction to the Codeine. When we got back from Kaiser, I went straight to bed after taking the new medications. I just kept feeling worse. I started throwing up and then my chest hurt with so much pain. I had never experienced anything like that before. You know that if I called 911 for myself I really had to be sick. I have never had pain like that in my life and have never felt sicker. Ambulance and paramedics showed up and rushed me to Henry Mayo and I was throwing up all the way there. Was able to call my friend Linda from the ER and she said she'd be on her way, then I called my brother Keith who lives out in Orange, CA and he rushed up here too. I have never been so scared in all my life and what with Ben being in ICU at Henry Mayo, it made everything worse. Well thank God it was not a heart attack, it was a bad reaction to the Codeine. They said all my tests were fine…EKG, blood, urine, etc.
Now my problem is…Keith has to go home sometime today and I am so weak that I can hardly move. I don't know how I'm going to take care of myself, like fixing something for me to eat, etc. I don't even really feel much like eating, but I have to get my strength back, plus I don't have much food here since Ben has been gone.
Anyway, I'm on the road to recovery (I think).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm Home From The Doctor

I went to Kaiser in Valencia to see a doctor that had an opening. She said it appears I have the flu. My B/P was a little elevated, but not as much as I expected. My temperature was not up. I told her my "sad" story about Ben. She said I probably picked something up at the hospital. She gave me Tamiflu and cough syrup and told me to come home and go to bed.
I owe my hiking buddy Linda so much. I don't know what I'd do if she was not here for me. There is no way I could have driven myself over to the medical center.
I love you my buddy.

Now I'm Sick

Just tried to get appt with my dr as I have headache, sore throat and coughing. He was booked, so they set me up with another dr. Linda is taking me. Have to be there at 2:50 PM.

Finally A Little Good News

Ben's brother Lanny just called me. He had just talked with Dr. Dhanda, the primary doctor working on Ben's case at Henry Mayo.

Dr. told Lanny that when Ben came in, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being good, 10 being bad) that Ben was a 10. He is now a 5. They have him on the heavy sedation because with the ventilator, they don't want Ben waking up and moving around a lot and maybe pulling it out. The reason he is on the ventilator is because the kink in the intestine had caused pressure on his lung, so they want to make sure the lung is working properly. He said Ben's kidney function is not up to 30% (it was 20%). The doctor said he feels Ben is doing very well and he is very optimistic about his total recovery. He told Lanny they may start to bring him off the sedation a little at a time starting tomorrow or Saturday.

Lanny also told the doctor that I really was hoping that they would not let Kaiser transport Ben down to their hospital because Henry Mayo is taking such good care of him and that I felt that Kaiser dropped the ball. Lanny said the doctor laughed and said they hear that a lot.

Now that I have this information, maybe I'll start to feel a little better.

Thursday Morning Ben Update

Well, I woke up with a headache this morning and I'm a little afraid to drive so I called the hospital to see how Ben is doing. They said there isn't much change and they are probably going to keep him sedated again all day today. I told the nurse I felt bad about not coming over in case he woke up and wondered why I wasn't there, but she said that he probably would not be awake again today and that since it is drizzling outside and the fact that I have a headache, she didn't see any need for me to come over this morning. If my headache gets better, maybe I'll try to get over there later today. I just hope I'm not getting sick because if that happens, I can't go over to be with him because I wouldn't want to infect him with anything. I'll try to take a nap and see if that helps.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Today's Update On Ben

Well, this morning I got a phone call at 5:50 AM from Henry Mayo Hospital. Scared me to death. I picked up the phone and the nurse tells me who she is and my heart stopped beating. Then she says she needed my permission to give Ben blood transfusions. It seems they didn't have me sign anything for that prior to his surgery and the Internal Medicine doctor who is handling his case wanted to give him 2 units of blood because since they are pumping so many fluids into him to keep his kidney functions working and bring up his B/P the liquids are diluting his blood levels so they have to give him transfusions to keep it up. Needless to say, I was relieved even though they have to give him blood. The nurse assured me that this is common.

I drove over to the hospital around 8:15 AM. When I got there, they told me that they had also upped his sedation because they could tell by the way he was "twitching" and moving around and grimacing that he was in some pain. They want to keep him sedated for awhile so that his body can heal without him being awake and moving all over the place. Which is good because he is NOT a good patient.

They told me to hold his hand and talk to him, that even though it doesn't seem like it, they think patients can hear loved ones and recognize voices. I was holding his hand and leading down by his ear telling him that he has to be good and get well so he can come home soon. When I did that, he kind of shook my hand a little. The nurse said that he may have heard my voice and understood and he was trying to let me know.

They said his kidney function was somewhat better than it was yesterday. He has a catheter so his urine is going into a bag and they told me that there is more in the bag today than there was yesterday which tells them that his kidneys are working a little better. They said there are no signs of infection so that is very good because that's one of the things they have to worry about most. They said his B/P is stable even though it is lower than they'd like. He is still on the ventilator. His belly has not bloated back up again and it is soft now instead of hard like it was.

The nurse showed me his bandage on his belly. The sliced him from lower belly up to his chest. He's going to have some scar.

I sat with him for 3 hours and the nurse told me I may as well go home and rest because she told me I looked very tired. I have lost 5 lbs so far in one week. I'm eating but sometimes it's hard because I'm just not hungry. My friend Linda texted me asking if I wanted to meet for coffee, but I don't drink coffee, so I texted her and asked her to meet me for lunch because I needed to just get out and "gossip" with a girlfriend and it's easier to go somewhere and get something instead of coming home, not knowing what I want to eat and then end up not eating at all. We stayed out for about 2 hours.

Got home and called the hospital and they told me there was no change with Ben and that if I wanted to stay home and rest to do so and that they would call me if need be. They are taking such good care of him over at Henry Mayo that I'm hoping Kaiser doesn't come along and want to move him down to Panorama City. I feel they dropped the ball on this.

Will email again when I have more info.

Phone Call

I was awaken about 10 minutes before 6:00 AM with a call from the hospital. They said Ben's blood levels were down and they had not gotten signed permission to give him transfusions if necessary and they were asking me if I would ok the transfusions. Of course I said yes. I asked why his levels are low and they said there is no leakage from the surgery wounds but it is probably because he is so fresh out of surgery. The nurse (Jessica) said there was no reason for alarm but now I am getting really worried.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thanks To Everyone

Thank you all for praying for my Ben. Over on Facebook, my friends have a prayer chain going around for him. They are all posting where they live so we know how far away all of the prayers are coming in from.

Here is a photo of Ben so you know who you are praying for.

Update On Ben

I went over to Henry Mayo this morning. Ben did not open his eyes at all while I was there even though the nurses kept telling me to squeeze his hand because that's how they got him to open his eyes. Is B/P is still low. They are giving him IV liquids for that. Because of the low B/P, his kidneys are not working properly. They said once they get his B/P up his kidneys should heal themselves. There is a slight chance the may have to have temporary dialysis but they are hoping that will not be the case. He is hooked up to all kinds of machines including a respirator. This is because the want his B/P up before they remove the breathing tube and also want him to get as much sleep as possible. He looks so helpless lying there in that bed. While I was there the hospital chaplain came by and asked if I wanted her to pray with me and we did. She was very nice asking me about Ben and myself and about our family.

I am going to call ICU in awhile to see if he is more awake. If not, I don't think I'll go back today because I really need some sleep so I don't get sick. If he is awake, I'll go back for a little while. I'm just glad that he is at Henry Mayo 8 miles away instead of at Kaiser 25 miles away.

More later.

Ben-Emergency Surgery

Around 2:30 PM Monday Ben was really feeling bad. He asked me to take his blood pressure and when I did it was only 74/59 so I was going to rush him over to Kaiser, but it's 25 miles away, so I took him to our local hospital ER. They checked him out and said he needed emergency colon surgery. The pumped about 3 buckets of bile out of him from his stomach. The inserted a tube into his nose which went down his throat to his stomach.

My hiking friend Linda (love her to death) came and stayed with me at the hospital so I would not be alone.

The surgery was at 10:00 PM and lasted until midnight. The surgeon came in and told me that Ben's lower intestine/colon (right side) had somehow twisted itself and was "kinked" so that nothing could flow through it. When he untwisted it, he said it was "floppy" so he removed that section of the intestine/colon. Surgery went very well, but they are a little worried about his kidneys because the were down to 20% function. They say the kidneys should heal themselves and work just fine, but they are keeping an eye on them. So that is our only big worry right now.

I went into ICU to see him before I came home. He will be sedated for a long time and will probably be in the local hospital for at least 5 days and then if Kaiser wants him transferred to their hospital over the hill, they will do that. But the surgeon said he may not even have be transferred over there if he seems well enough to come home in about 5 days. But knowing Kaiser, they will probably insist their doctors look at him.

Got home at 2:00 AM and I am still very wide awake. I was a little sleepy in the waiting room, but the ride home woke me up.

I will keep you all posted. Prayers are appreciated.