Monday, June 18, 2012

On the Mend

          My husband has been home from the hospital for about two weeks now and thus far, no major issues. It's almost always a bad idea for me to say that, because past experience has taught me that nearly every time I do, badness follows quickly behind. I'm going to take a chance anyway and throw caution to the wind, since we're nearly fourteen days removed from medical incarceration and doing alright. No more tiny strokes, no severe back pain, nothing that's sent us running for the emergency room. The nice thing is, I don't feel like this is the calm before the storm, a sensation I've often experienced before. This time, it feels like we may actually be reaching calmer seas after fighting to keep afloat in a months-long hurricane.

       I spoke last time of my husband being admitted to the hospital after I took him to the ER to be treated for severe back pain. We both assumed that he would be given his standard round of IV-administered painkillers and sent home with a prescription for more, which is the typical outcome of those visits. What I wasn't expecting was a 3:30 am phone call from him telling me that he was being admitted in the wake of the previous week's neurological scare. I can only assume that the doctors were nervous about letting him go home again after so recently being seen for a T.I.A. Then, too, there was also the small matter of his INR levels being all wrong.

     After the mini-stroke scare, my husband had been sent home with orders to complete a round of Lovenox injections over the course of the next seven days. Lovenox is a type of blood thinner which can work alongside warfarin, his daily dose of which my husband was supposed to continue to take. Mind you, all this was after he'd spent roughly twenty-four hours on a heparin drip in the hospital. So after all that, to show back up in the emergency room less than a week later, I would say the doctors were right to be a little overly cautious and re-admit him for observation, especially since his INR was STILL only at 1.4 (it's supposed to be between 2.5 and 3.5). That definitely registered pretty high on my oh-what-the-hell?! meter.

     I had to go to work that day, but I went over the hospital as soon as I got off to assess the situation. It wasn't quite the same set-up as usual, because he was in there for lingering issues from a previous incident and I can't think of another instance where that's been the case. Besides that, there was the fact that at this point, his stomach was bruised and bloody from all the Lovenox injections that he'd been given and yet his INR was apparently refusing to budge. Day two of his hospitalization came and went and the blood was still too thick, registering at 1.7. I was at work during the days, of course, but my husband would call me from the phone in his hospital room whenever the nurse or one of the army of doctors would give him some new bit of information.

     At first, I was more than a little concerned he was going to suffer another, possibly more debilitating, stroke while he was chilling in the hospital, waiting for his blood to thin out to the appropriate levels. When I mentioned this to my husband during one of his updates, he assured me that the whole point of the Lovenox was to ensure that this didn't happen. As I understand it, the way the drug works is by preventing the proteins in the blood which are responsible for clotting from allowing them to do that in the first place. Those same proteins are the ones being measured whenever his INR is checked and since the Lovenox doesn't actually thin their ranks, but rather just prevents the ones that are there from clotting up, that seemed to me to be the answer as to why his blood wasn't registering as any thinner, despite the abundance of blood thinners coursing through my husband's system.

     I've had to do this once before while writing this blog and I find myself compelled to do it again, because I just spit out a bunch of medical nonsense. I'm sure everyone is well aware, but I'm nothing even close to a reliable source of medical information. I regurgitate, as best I can, what the doctors tell me with regards to my husband's specific situation and I try to do it as accurately as possible, even going so far as to use that infallible research tool, Google, to try and deepen my understanding of things. My ramblings should not, under any circumstance you can think of, be construed as medical advice or knowledge. It's not and I would never in a thousand and two years purport to be able to do something like that. Just throwing that out there before we continue on with the actual important part of the saga...

     My husband called me on the fourth morning of his hospitalization and told me that he was, barring any unforeseen complications, being released that day. I was at my parents' house when the call came in, as I'd gone there after class the previous evening to spend the night since I was off work the next day. I paid particular attention to the part of the conversation in which my husband said he was being released "today", not "right this minute". As anyone who's familiar with oft-hospitalized people know, the process of actually being released can easily be an hours-long ordeal. I never go get my husband until he tells me the paperwork is being drawn up, and even then I usually have to cool my heels for half an hour or so.

     Knowing this, I finished up whatever it was I'd been doing at that moment and lounged around a bit longer before I headed out. It's nearly an hour-long drive from my parents' house to the hospital in the city, so there was a good three-hour gap in between when I first got the call and when I got to the hospital. I figured that surely the paperwork would be in process by then, if not completed. Yeah, about that. Whatever, the delay just meant we could get some quality Food Network time in before we were finally able to go home three hours later. By that point, I was so happy to have my husband home and not have to sleep alone again that I would've waited another six hours if that's what had been needed.

     My husband's condition since then has been so far, so good, with a few minor hiccups which will be related at a later date. Overall, though, I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that we seem to have left the whole stroke issue behind us. His blood is actually a little too thin at the moment, which is part of the thing, that will be related in a future post, but that's not a huge issue. It makes him overly bleedy, which is annoying, but not overly dangerous. Also, he's super-tired because of it, but that should resolve itself as his blood gets itself balanced out again. We both feel as though we're headed into a better place now; a new chapter, if you will. This T.I.A was one of the most serious things that's yet happened to us with regards to his Marfan's and we've come out of it relatively unscathed. That has to count for something.


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