A blessed day

Dec 25

A blessed day

        Maren woke up first this morning.  I listened to Brad tell her that we would have to wait for Greta to wake up.  I stirred and asked her if Santa came. “Yes!” she beamed. I dragged my gympie self out of bed to the bathroom and Maren slithered into my warm spot. I came back: fresh, ready for Christmas.  Maren, still in our bed, reported Daddy was wrapping something he forgot.  She and I laid head-to-toe and chatted.  After a wonderfully idle, anticipatory conversation with Maren, I suggested she go brush her teeth–cough, cough loudly–in the bathroom next to Greta’s room.  These were my favorite moments with her today out of many favorite moments.  Such beautiful behavior to be so very patient on Christmas morning, such a lovely spirit of excited anticipation.   Greta was inseparable from her new doll.  They went everywhere together, and they are truly just alike because they both partook in Greta’s customary seventeen outfit changes today.  She would whirl off to play, but every hour she came back to me, snuggled in, pressed her ear to my arm, smiled into my ribs, perched on my chair, spooned into my legs.  She was so tangibly sweet today.  She caressed my arm, she slept on me–a rare treat if there ever was one, and she said, unprompted, “I love you Mama.”  It was her closeness that I treasured today–though a close second was seeing the magic through her eyes.  She’s all in, my G.   My favorite moment with my love was at the end of the night.  It doesn’t sound romantic: I needed him to redress my hospital wounds.  We have all the first aid paraphernalia on the bathroom counter.  I can’t reach, and he’s not quite sure what it is I’m asking him to do.  He’s an engineer and, though the bandages and gauze pads are square, my wounds and I are not.  I found myself laughing through tears as he measured and stuck (and unstuck) and taped.  It’s always in those most unexpected moments that he loves me with a  depth that struggle to comprehend.  I am so grateful that to see myself through the eyes of my husband...

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Joyful ugly

Dec 23

Before my 1pm x-ray, Nurse Rozzer (who had shown up to try to bring me home at 9:30am) and I had a long conversation with the charge nurse.  Charge is awesome; a great nurse and advocate.  We broke the scenario down into Best Case Scenario, Worst Case Scenario, Best Worst Case Scenario, Worst Worst Case Scenario, Everything Sucks Scenario.  As you can see, once we left “Best Case Scenario” there was no way to avoid more hospital procedures, more hospital time, and Christmas Happiness getting moved to Hospital Christmas Happiness.  Just so you know, the word hospital mixed with Christmas Happiness doesn’t fool anyone.  There are some families who make hospital happiness happen when the rubber hits the road, but — dang it — I was not ready for my family to do Hospital Happiness this year. Charge Nurse gave me a slightly-higher-than-10-%-chance of Best Case Scenario–the get out of jail free card where, after my “no change” x-ray, I get to head straight home.  I was not pleased with those odds and, truthfully, I began to mourn my what-would-have-been. I got back from my 1pm chest x-ray and went to the bathroom for a sponge bath.  Because you know, sponge baths are so revitalizing. I finished in the bathroom, and found that housekeeping had re-made my bed.  I sat my (relatively) clean self down in my clean room, and I began to mentally prepare how I was going to make joy today.  Chest tube, shmest tube.  Spending the day with my girls is always a good thing.  So what if we had to play games in the hospital instead of at home?  I can still see people who love me; I am blessed that I need not ever question whether my loved ones will come to me.  This will be one rocking hospital room if need be.  I sat contemplatively in my chair, arranging my brain, arranging my emotions, stilling my heart. Then three nurses entered my room, each of whom I’ve had care for me on different days over the past week.  The last one to enter, today’s nurse, waved her hand and said, “It’s good!  You get to go home!” I said, “Are you serious?”  as I looked at each of...

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Prayers please!

Dec 23

Grrrrrr. This morning’s x-ray showed that the pneumothorax (air inside the chest cavity) has gotten slightly larger, which means that the right lung is still leaking air. So, instead of signing my discharge papers, the team has ordered a new x-ray at 1pm. If the x-ray shows “no change” from the previous x-ray, I get to go home. If the x-ray shows that the pneumothorax is growing, I will probably have to stay in the hospital and I will probably be getting a new chest tube.  And, honestly, I will probably cry. Would you please pray, pray, pray that my lung seals, my pneumothorax disappears, and I am discharged???  I try to reserve my asking-for-a-miracle-here-God moments for actual life-or-death scenarios.  This one is just a mama moment in a week where I’ve already missed a week’s worth of mama moments.  I want to be home with my family; happy, healthy, NED, together. Thank...

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Chest tube status change

Dec 22

Today’s chest x-ray: largely unchanged from yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. So, the good news about this is that my lung is stable.  It’s not really improving, but it’s also not deteriorating further.  Today, stable is great news.  Stable means that the doctor ordered my chest tube removed!  Hallelujah!!! In case anyone doesn’t remember, a chest tube is a garden-hose sized tube that is sutured to the skin through an incision under the arm.  It squeezes between muscle and rib bones and about twenty inches of tube coils inside the chest cavity with about six feet draining to a sterile box on the floor.  The chest tube allows both air and fluid to drain out of the chest cavity.  Chest tubes, frankly, hurt like hell. To control the pain from the chest tube, I had a pain pump (a trigger button where I could release narcotics on demand), a pain ball (an epidural-type pain block that wrapped around my ribcage), heavy duty muscle relaxers, and big time anti-inflammatory meds.  Even after all of that, I still wanted to smack the doctors when they asked me to cough so they could check for air leaks. To make sure my body could tolerate all of that pain medication and still maintain normal functions, I had to wear a wire to monitor my oxygen saturation, a heart monitor with five leads, oxygen via cannula, and a saline drip via my port. With the removal of the chest tube, I’m now only wearing the heart monitor/leads and the port access tubing.  It’s a “If you give a mouse a cookie/If you give Jen a chest tube” kind of story.  I am THRILLED I’m no longer carrying/rolling fifty pounds of equipment with me every time I leave the bed.  We’re down to six wires/cords.  Totally do-able! I’ll follow up on the lung status over the next few weeks.  One doctor estimated that I’m leaving with 60% of the lung capacity in my right lung that I came in with, but we expected to lose a significant percentage by removing the upper lobe.  Folks can live normal lives with only one lung, so I’m certainly not stressing percentages here....

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Hospital time is a thing

Dec 20

I know, I know, you’re all dying to hear what the big news is from hospital today, right? Here’s the newest update:  I need a haircut. It’s both the real update and the facetious update.  My brand new pulmonary team seems play in the “watch and wait” realm–not where I am used to setting up camp.  Each morning I have a chest X-ray, and the radiologist reads the film, and the pulmonologist compares the image(s) to the previous images.  One pulomonologist also ordered a lung CT with no contrast, so that one is in the mix too.  Respiratory therapists visit me every 4-6 hours and work my lungs out.  By the time the reports trickle down to me in my hospital room, I get the line:  “Everyone hopes “tomorrow’s films” will show that the lung is no longer collapsed and that there will be no more air leaking out of the lung.  So, we wait for tomorrow, okay?” And I nod and agree.  “Okay.”  And it really is okay.  Remember?  Nice people bring me meals on a tray.  My nurse shampooed my hair for me today.  My goals for the day are: eat, walk two laps in the hallway, pee, poop, take medicine, breathe, and don’t let the pain get ahead of the pain meds.  It’s hardly intense–except for that last one about the pain.  That can be intense.  Once the films show improvement, things will happen quickly: they’ll detach me from my seventeen cords, they will make sure I’m stable, and they will send me home.  Ahhhh, home. I feel confident I’ll be home by Christmas Eve, and I’m not stressing about it.  I’m doing my breathing exercises and making the most of hospital life. Haha… so, some stream-of-consciousness writing now; I just had the respiratory therapist come into my room for “treatment”.  This involves him putting some foul tasting/smelling liquid into a nebulizer (aka air compressor) and has me try to breath evenly with that in my mouth.  I did this for the first time last night and I had to have the lady give me countdowns like you do in sports.  “Okay, Jen, you’ve got two minutes, you can do this.  Okay, you are twenty-five percent...

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