Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bob and the Mayo Clinic part 2

Bob was back in the Hospital, this time on the top (7th) floor.
 As you can see by my tardiness in finishing up this saga, tomorrow's are pretty relative for us.  After being away since December 27 of 2011 , we are finally back at our beloved " cabin" in the Colorado Rocky Mountains!  We will only be here for 6 days but so far they have been very rejuvenating.  We have at least seen some sun each day and of course some wind, some rain, and just a bit of snow.  It has been chilly at times but not below freezing, yet.  Bob is acting like his old cranky self which we have all missed for several months!

I  am getting ahead of myself so I must get back to my story.  If you missed the first 3 episodes, refer back to these links:  How Our Winter Went , Annie's Knee Replacement , Bob and the Mayo Clinic Part 1

After Carla left on Thursday our lives settled down to trying to build up strength in Annie's knee and taking care of some things she wanted to get done before going back to work.  We were beginning to make plans for our trip back home.  We had 2 graduations in Nebraska and Rapid City and 2 Doctor appointments in Denver starting in 3 weeks. 
 A week later on Saturday, April 21, Bob was feeling so good he decided we needed to do a little shopping. He needed some cooler clothing. We were planning to come back to Phoenix in June and July to help Annie get her right knee replaced.

Bob and I went to a mall nearby and got him several short sleeved shirts  and a couple pairs of shorts.  He never owned any of these items before!  North Park summers just don't lend themselves to this kind of clothing for these tough old ranchers.  It was a lovely day and when we stopped at Fryes to pick up some groceries, Bob even decided to get his favorite lunch, a loaded hot dog--but he skipped the sauerkraut in accordance with his low fiber diet.  ( Fryes has food vendors out front on weekends.  They had some really good smelling ribs there the weekend before...).  We spent the rest of the day pleasantly, watching a ball game and enjoying the patio.  Bob headed to bed around 9 PM, his usual time.

About 11 PM I headed to bed  ( my usual time) and Bob was having pains in his stomach again.  He had tried all the things the doctors had recommended and even tried a couple of the pills for stomach spasms to no avail.  By midnight he announced that I needed to get him to the emergency room at Mayo's again!  Unfortunately he was going to win his bet with Dr. Frazier. 
Bob, all hooked up for the 3rd time!
At the emergency room we went through the same procedures they had done the last 2 times with the same results--small bowel partial blockage.  They put him in the hospital for observation after CAT scans, X-rays, stomach pumping, IVs (don't even get me started on how bruised his arm already was), and other assorted activities.  Needless to say, he didn't make it to his new room (later dubbed the evil room, although the nurses assured me it was the penthouse room on the 7th floor) until the next morning.  I didn't check it out that much at the time since it was 5:30AM and both Bob and I were pooped.  I knew Dr. Frazier was an early bird but I couldn't keep my eyes open much longer so I headed back to Annie's to get some sleep.  She was just getting up ( another early bird) and assured me she could get her own breakfast and just get some sleep. 

About an hour later the phone rang and it was Bob saying they were getting ready to take him into surgery ( Sunday morning at 7 AM??? ). I got up and headed over to the hospital.  I was just in time to meet the head surgeon and to ask him how long it would be.  He said they had no idea what they were going to find so it could be anywhere from 1 hour to 3+ hours.  We headed out to surgery.

The waiting area.  I took this on another day so there actually were people in it this day.
 Since it was Sunday, the parking lot was relatively empty, I saw very few people in the lobby or on the floor and when they showed me into the waiting room for families I was literally the only person there.  No grey ladies, no volunteers, no families.  Just me.  The nurse said "Oh, it will fill up fast in a couple hours"!  I settled down for the wait.   I called the family and Annie to let them know what was going on, got out my Kindle and settled in.  After an hour or so the piano music started. The waiting room was on a balcony 2 floors above the piano in the atrium.  The piano player was a volunteer and they played a lot of show tunes and old classics
The piano is in the lobby of the atrium.  It is in the back left corner.
and was quite soothing.  Still not one person had come into the waiting room!  After three hours and some reading and dozing and still nobody in the area except me, my kindle, and the music, I started getting text messages from everyone asking what was happening.  Carla informed me she had a plane ticket for Phoenix and would be there the next late afternoon.  Meanwhile I still hadn't heard or seen anyone.  He hadn't exaggerated about the + after the 3 hours!

About 2 :30 that afternoon the main surgeon( Dr. Gray) came into the room and sat down with me to explain what all they had done.  Everyone up to this time had assumed that the problem was adhesions from the surgeries Bob had as long ago as 40 years.  We all had disputed this from the beginning but figured these Drs. had seen more than we had.  They did not want to do surgery before because another scar would cause more adhesions and it was tricky to find and clean up as much scar tissue as Bob has.  They felt they might have to do more than arthroscopic surgery if they ran into problems and that would not be good.  Well, they started with the arthroscopic surgery and it all was going well until they got to a spot on the small bowel that they could not get.  They had to do a 12 inch long incision where one of his old incisions had been to see what was going on.  They found one tumor on the small bowel and another on the inner wall of his skin.  Dr. Gray said they were pretty sure the one on the small bowel was cancer and was the culprit in all the problems Bob was having.  They removed several inches of the small bowel, checked out his liver and all the rest of the system but found nothing else.  They felt the other tumor was not malignant but of course, knowing Bob's history, they were having both tumors biopsied.   Bob was doing fine and would be in recovery at least 2 more hours.  They would be taking him to the same "penthouse" room after recovery. 
The "penthouse room"  AKA "the evil room"!  The chair in the foreground is where we slept.  A window behind me looked out on the helicopter pad several floors below us.
I was so tired by then I went up to the room and asked a nurse if I could sleep in the reclining chair in a little alcove in the huge room.  There was even a love seat and several other chairs in this room.  A nurse brought me a warmed blanket and tucked me in.  I got a nice little nap and before I knew it Bob was back in the room and hooked up to all kinds of tubes.  He was completely out of it and I was assured he would be until the next day so I should go home and get some more sleep.

The next day Bob was still very dopey and he was having quite a bit of pain which he could use the push button every 8 minutes to get more morphine.  He was so out of it he just kept pushing the button like men do with the TV remote until he'd get some more.  Later a nurse told me he had hit the button 468 times in the last 6 hours!  I stayed with him until it was time for Carla to arrive.  She and I went back for awhile but left around 7 to get some dinner and some sleep.  That wasn't going to happen!

About 11PM Annie's phone rang.  It was a nurse who put Bob on to talk to me.  He was on the Magic Carpet Ride for sure!  He begged me to come and bring the police!  He insisted " they" we conspiring against him and we were all in great danger.  Please get the cops and come get him.  I asked him to get the nurse on and she said he had been trying to call 911 and trying to get out of bed.  I said we would be right there.  By the time we arrived a Dr. had come and settled him down and he was asleep when we got to the room.  Carla decided to stay with him at the room and I should get home and get some sleep.

The next day and for most of the rest of his stay it was a wild trip like on magic mushrooms.  Carla and I were upside down, the bed was  hanging from the ceiling, the room was evil, a diabetic group was trying to experiment on him, he was on a snowplow plowing snow in Northern Arizona, there was a big hole in the floor at the bottom of his bed, we were all laying on the floor, and he was on a stage coach out in the desert.  Carla and I were plotting against him and had him tied to the bed ( not a bad idea but not true).

Another view of  "The Evil Room"
  What a trip!  he insisted the room was evil and all kinds of groups of people were floating through it up on the ceiling. The bed was hanging out the window and there were bad things going on in the room.  It just wasn't right.  I believe the feng shui of the room was wrong.  The Chinese are right about this I am sure.  The bed was facing the wrong way in the room and of course the drugs didn't help the feeling.  The very last day he was in the hospital they moved him to a room closer to the nurses station and he felt much safer!  Of course he was finally off the morphine, too.  Bob will never be a good candidate for a drug addict!

Meanwhile JJ and Ozzie had gone to Laughlin for a motorcycle rally and Annie and I were going to meet them in Wickenburg and bring JJ back to help us out with Bob!  We didn't know how or when we all were going to get home.

The next  Friday (the day we had been scheduled to leave for Colorado and 1 day after his birthday) they discharged Bob from the hospital.  Looking back I think we would have been better off to wait another day but at the time we were all happy to get him home to Annie 's.  He was still on the low fiber diet and things were going along OK except there was a little redness around the lower part of the incision but there was no fever and the Dr. seemed to think it was just part of the healing.  JJ was experienced at the packing since she had helped with it when her father-in-law was ill.

By Sunday night (it always seems to be night--have you noticed)?  Bob was acting weird again, feeling pukey and not doing much talking.  He was not running a fever but the redness had spread and we decided we had to take him back to the emergency room!  So Carla, JJ and I took Bob back to Mayo Hospital emergency room for the  third time (4th visit to an emergency room since getting to Phoenix).

Hall to the Emergency Room.  A familiar path for us to take at night.
  At least this time they didn't pump his stomach!  It was going to be a long wait again since they wanted to do another CAT scan and only 2 of us could be in the room with Bob.  So Bob insisted 2 of us go home.  JJ said she would stay and Carla and I jumped on her offer and headed for home.  We were pooped!  The CAT scan looked good.  The incision was infected and they removed staples from the bottom 2 or 3 inches and they packed it and sent him home.  We needed to pack it 2 times a day so it could heal from the inside out.  By Tuesday the rest of the incision was looking red.  Bob drew the line at going back to the hospital, but we called the Dr. and he said since he was going to see him on Friday they would take care of it then.

By Friday Bob's incision looked very red and he'd wasn't feeling that good.  Dr. Frazier took out the rest of the staples in the incision and while casually chatting with Bob and with Carla and JJ hovering above the incision, he took his gloved finger and ran it up the incision like he was gutting a fish!  Bob yelped and the 2 girls nearly lost their breakfast!  I had been hanging back so was glad not to have had a front row seat!  We now had the whole 12 inches to pack twice a day.  The Dr. also confirmed that the biopsy on the small bowel tumor was cancer but the other one was not.  He felt sure they had removed all the cancer, though.  The good news was that Dr. Frazier didn't see anything wrong with us leaving for Colorado the next day as long as we had a Dr. to check Bob wherever we were going.  Our Phoenix stay was finally over!  Annie had been back to work for a week and was doing fine. 

Bob's incision all neatly packed and healing up nicely.  Taken on May 29, 2012.

Now for the trip home, our adventure was still not over!!!


1 comment:

  1. I am thinking of you guys!!! Good luck with the recovery!! Lynnette Telck