Terry and I have just returned at 8:00 tonight from another sojourn in the hospital. It seems that the complications that Terry was so afraid of before his surgery did, indeed, occur. When we last left our recovering patient, about a week after he returned from rehab, it seemed he had cabin fever, complaining about feeling sick and tired and totally without energy. He was even pining for the days BEFORE the hip replacement. That should have clued me in to a real problem, but he tends to be a complainer when he doesn't feel well (as most men do, I think), so I didn't have a whole lot of sympathy. I didn't call him on it and remained patient towards him, but I admit I did think he was malingering and just feeling sorry for himself.
Then last Tuesday night he could barely drag himself out of his chair and get to the bed. He sank down on the bed, weak and short of breath. When he lay down, he talked of a burning feeling in his leg, the one that had been fixed. He had eaten and drunk steadily less in the last few weeks, and I thought he was dehydrating. I was really concerned by this time. We called the doctor, but he didn't call back. I called 911. They came, but his vital signs seemed strong, so they were reluctant to take him to the hospital because it would not be covered by insurance. They said he would get seen just as fast if I took him, so we bundled him into the car at 3:30 A.M. and headed to the hospital. We sat in the waiting room of the emergency room for 4 hours with only 3 people ahead of us. Seems there was only one doctor, and he was busy seeing people brought in by ambulance! Finally at 8:30, we got to go back. They did tests and discovered that it was highly probable that he had pulmonary emboli, and his kidney function was impaired. He was in bad shape, after all, and was admitted. By Thursday, many tests had been run, and his orthopedic surgeon began treating him for an infection in the incision, which we found out later was staph, that MRSA thing. He was given blood thinners for the clots, and he started eating and drinking, so his kidney function steadily improved. Seems I was right in thinking he was dehydrated. The doctors did all kinds of tests to see if they could find anything wrong with the kidneys, lungs, and heart, but all seemed to be fine. The greater problem is now the staph infection, which is bad news.
However, he can't very well stay in the hospital indefinitely, just to be given a course of intravenous antibiotics every day. The solution was to send him home to get the drugs IV there. They inserted a PICC line so it could stay longer than just a few days, and now we will be spending a few quality hours together daily while he gets the medication. After a home health nurse shows me how, it will fall to me to administer the medicine every day. I am somewhat nervous about this, but everyone assures me that it will be easy. We'll see. I will take copious notes so I remember each step in the process. So far, the antibiotic has had a very noticeabe effect, so we are expecting good results. It may take up to 6 weeks, though.
Meanwhile, I think this is the Christmas season, but it has been pretty hard to get into the swing of it so far. My shopping is only about 2/3 done, and no decorations have even been thought about. I designed a Christmas card, but they haven't been printed yet. No gifts are wrapped. I'm not too sure when I will have time to finish the shopping, decorating, wrapping, and card writing, but it will get done, and I guess I won't have to do my shopping at the hospital gift shop, as Alissa suspected. Life is good! Oh, and Merry Christmas!