Monday, June 23, 2008

One Step Forward, 212 steps back

The good news is I'm back blogging, the bad news is because Hope can't and we're in ICU in Tampa again, this time at Tampa General Hospital. We had to come here because Moffitt does not have an ER and I'll explain that in more detail in a bit. Most importantly right now, the Red Sox traded for a tough as nails guy like Kevin Youklis and his first ever walk-off home run kept the Red Sox up on the very game Tampa Rays that everyone around here is cheering while I quietly curse them when I get out once in a while. Hope by the way is sleeping with a lot of morphine and we are awaiting surgery for her to have her nose feeding tube removed and a stomach tube put in. The nose feeding tube had been an absolute nightmare so they're making the switch at our request. This kind of feels like Groundhog Day, without the annoying sales guy but unfortunately with more nurses and doctors that I could imagine. At least I have my Andie MacDowell in front of me rehealing.

We got home late Friday, let Hope shower and set up the house the best we could on Saturday for her recovery along with getting our two little wonders home. It was really great to be home, we even had a home nurse come by to assist. The kids came home early Saturday morning, and the love and fun was aplenty. They kept commenting on Hope's swelling, but the nose tube didn't even seem to be a bother. It was really great except the struggle Hope was having with the feedings, and some other issues with her mouth and trache hole that were more for scenes from Texas Chainsaw Massacre then anything else I'll put in detail. Did you know they actually made a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre recently with Matthew McConaughy (sorry ladies if I screwed up his name). I came across it one late night edited for TV. It lasted about 10 minutes edited and I currently have a law suit with Mr. McConaughy asking for my 10 minutes back.

By the way he is on Hope's list so there's that much more reason for the lawsuit. If you don't know about the list it goes back to a Friend's episode. You can list 5 famous people you are allowed to sleep with without repercussions. Let's just say for me if Queen Elizabeth ever comes to Melbourne Hope better hope (that kills me for some reason) I don't turn on the old charm like Leslie Nielson did in the first Naked Gun Movie. By the way, that scene is still one of my top 10 of all time for comedy scenes when he goes to the bathroom with the microphone after just making fun of the English government.

Sunday morning we had the kids playing and Hope doing her normal mouth vaccuuming when she started bleeding profusely through the mouth and trache hole. I immediately got the kids into our bedroom, got Hope calm and called 911. Hope's mom ran over (thank goodness she lives nearby) and we ran off to the ER. The kids never even saw the ambulance or Hope bleeding because I had them in our room with the door shut watching TV. They thought we just had an appointment. At the hospital, they did not want to mess with surgical repaired mouth/tongue so all they did was give her some pain meds, fill her mouth with gauze, and try to stop the bleeding. We had no idea what was wrong and neither did they. The amount of blood was unbelievable and I won't go into any more detail then that.

We got in touch with her surgery docs and they insisted she immediately be airlifted to Tampa so they could see what happened. So that put the local ER on alert that they were done with us except to keep the bleeding stopped. That meant we sat their for hours holding gauze up against her mouth as they "immediately" worked on the helicopter. Hope started passing out from the pain meds so I got to hold the gauze for a good part of the time. I could not leave the room easily to get updates so we sat and sat and sat. Finally we find out thunderstorms were keeping the helicopter grounded so we'd go by ambulance. Great, they would obviously have to have an ambulance around at the hospital, right? Right!?! Nope, that's a special transfer ambulance but we were assured it would be there in 30 minutes. Almost 2 hours later the EMT guys come strolling into our room so I asked what happened. I learned a long time ago not to immediately be upset because some times it was a delay for a heart attack or something more urgent. They just said nobody told us we should use the lights and sirens. I wanted to scream like any victim in any Friday the 13th movie (can you believe they actually made 13 of those movies). My personal favorite was the one with the girl scantily dressed heard a strange noise in the woods and then walks out to see what it was by herself calling out to her boyfriend after already hearing the stories about Jason and the fact that her boyfriend disappeared just minutes earlier. Oh that's right, that was all of them!

They finally take her by ambulance to TGH and I drive separately after running home to say goodbye again to the kids and pack some things still having no idea what was wrong with Hope. Saying goodbye to two sick kids crying for their mommy and asking me not to leave was one of the toughest things I've ever had to do. I stayed strong though and told them that Mommy would be fine without a tear (of course knowing nothing at that point except they thought it was bad enough to need a helicopter and the ER doc warned us she could bleed out, lose the artery, all sorts of other horrors "just so we were aware" of the dangers he said). We drove through horrific storms, sometimes going as slow as 30 MPH on the highway just to see enough to keep going. I was not stopping though. I figured I'd make it to the hospital driving or riding in the back of another ambulance if necessary. Well to make a long story short, the directions given were wrong, the storm made it impossible to see at times, I have to thank Man-Marie (no typo again Anna --- that's her endearing nickname) for helping me over the phone even though the maps she was looking at were not updated with the construction out here. It was kind of like that one episode on Three's Company when there was a misunderstanding, oh that's right that was all of them.

The hospital is freaking huge, kind of like the Pentagon except with better security. Later on when we were in ICU I told the nurse that this was the biggest ICU I had seen (and we've seen a bunch of them across Florida and even in SC) and she said this was only 1 of 10. This place is freaking huge! I finally make my way to the trauma room of the ER and they keep it 90 degrees because it's good for trauma patients. Well it's not good for poor Hope who had a 103 fever and they insisted on keeping covered up. So there we sat again for at least another hour or two, I started to lose track at this point. I told the nurse they wanted to fly her over but they drove instead of the weather. Couldn't the ambulance had let you guys know when they were getting close to get the doctor here when she arrived or soon thereafter??? One doc finally gets there but he doesn't want to do anything until another one arrives. By this time I'm losing it when I find the other doc is our original surgeon. You know if someone just told us that's what we were waiting for we would have understood. When Hope realized he was there she was so relieved. After all the drugs in her system she still beamed when she realized it was him.

He immediately went into her mouth and to his credit let me stay the whole time and watch. Hope gets freaked out a lot with all the drugs (see previous blog stories) so I can normally calm her down immediately. This way I get to find out what's up right away and provide input to what she had been given, eaten, and generally gone through over the last 24 hours. I won't go through the next process in detail as it was not fun but my favorite anectdote was as follows (after the fact of course):
  • They kept asking Hope questions and she nodded yes at every one. I would continually correct when the answers weren't yes and then finally told them to quit asking her questions as she's been on morphine since 9 AM - that was approximately 6 PM. The surgery doc says, "she's absolutely drunk."

It turns out her flap came loose and she had an infection. They don't know what the infection is yet, but they think it was caused by her being with our kids because they were both sick. They both had 102 and 102.5 fevers on Saturday so I was taking care of 3 patients that day. The infection caused her to swell back up to her original size approximately so I've got my Peter Griffin back from Family Guy. If only I had the talking alcoholic dog too. Kurt is the closest thing I have to that (I put that in because Mikki said she loves when I make fun of Kurt). For the record, Kurt is NOW nothing like an alcoholic dog. I love horror movies (note the many references herein) and the recent run of Saw movies have been especially good to me. They're great to watch with the kids (I can hear HRS' phone ringing right now --- just kidding about the kids, I thought Ratatouille had too much violence for our kids). I think Hope was feeling like she's choosing between sawing off her leg with a hacksaw or just give up on using the tongue again like in the first Saw at this point. They let me stay with her until 1 AM, kicking me out occasionaly to do a CT scan, put in a central line and catheder, and a few other items. They knocked her out for the night with one more run of drugs and I left the hospital to find a hotel to crash. That's where the fun continued for me...

I was on empty when I got the hospital so I had to get gas right away. I got lost coming in and got lost again going out after one of the toughest days of my life. I luckily find a sign to get back to the freeway since I was lost, and I'm the only one on the road. And I mean the only one so it was a little like Children of the Corn for a bit when they first got to the town. I can't find a gas station anywhere and when I get back to the highway it only has a sign to take it north and I wanted to go south but I wasn't going to waste any gas or time at this point so I just jumped on. At the first exit going north I jumped off and nothing was open (this is 1 AM on a Sunday night mind you). I head southbound past the exit I just got off and was getting very nervous about running out of gas. The next exit I come too has a Texaco lit up so I was thrilled and rode fumes down to off-ramp.

I can only describe this inner city gas station as the worst place I've been in my life. I'm the only caucasian and the place is packed. I also had the only car in the lot newer then 1988. It appears this is the only place open for miles and they're actually more of a package store with a few gas pumps. Everyone around is drinking from brown bags and I literally could see at least a dozen homeless people within my general vicinity. To my surprise they had credit card at the gas pump, I'm not sure I would have even walked into this place if I had to. I was trying to act casual as I hurried to just get enough gas to get out of there and I could see guys starting to point and talk about me. I was sure a couple of them were starting to come towards me when my hero showed up.

A car full of drunk white kids dressed for the hood with music blaring, cursing, and making general jerks of themselves. I finished up and took off before anyone ever approached me. Maybe nothing would have happened but that's as nervous as I've ever been in a bad part of town in a long time. I had a couple of other previous encounters in Orlando but this blog is already too long. The exit if memory serves if no. 42 named Himes-Armenia, and if any of you know Tampa you know to stay away from this area. I told Man-Marie (my previous helper with directions earlier in the day and she just started laughing at the image of me there). All I could think of was Chevy Chase and the Griswald family in his station wagon talking to the gang bangers in Vacation.

Getting back on the highway was equally as scary, and once again I had to get on northbound but I was just happy to be back on a highway. After another U-turn the very next exit to the south was lit up like Clark Griswald's house in Chirstmas Vacation with gas stations open aplenty, strip clubs, bars, restaurants, and thank goodness some halfway decent hotels. I grabbed a bite and a brew at a Bennigan's and found a Comfort Inn to crash at. Welcome to south Tampa! Kurt I'll call you later today about which are the best strip clubs to hit while I'm here. Let me know who to ask for to get into the VIP room and if you still have a credit line so I don't have to carry cash in case I decide to go back the Texaco to pick up some liter beers for the road. Thanks.

Hope is now back in surgery but only getting her stomach tube installed and nose tube removed. As her surgeries goes this is nothing. She's still pretty drugged up with morphine, antibiotics, anti-anxiety, and a few other drugs so she's sleeping 99% of the time. We're hoping tomorrow she'll start being less dopey. Tomorrow we should know more too about how long we have to stay and what the next courses of action will be. Until now, we just wait out our 212 step setback, I picked that number becuase that's our ICU room number. Did I mention this place is freaking huge, much like my blog? Now you guys can feel like you were along for the ride.

Last but not least at all, yesterday was awesome for our family as Will and Anna added a new baby boy. All are fine after some complications and a lot of worrying during the pregnancy and they are still working on a name. Scarlett has a brother though now.


Esther said...

We are always here for you. John and I don't want to sufficate you so we won't call too much but please let us know if there is anything we can do.

AnnMarie said...

Hugs and kisses to Hope.

It seemed like 212 turns in the hospital directions I gave you yesterday. What stress that was you didn't need need at the time!

I wish I could do more for anytime

xoxox Man-Marie :)

Myrtle's Mayhem said...

Your family is in our thoughts. Keep strong.


Anonymous said...

You guys are in our prayers. Let us know if there is anything we can do here to help. Give Hope a hug from us. Cheryl

rach said...

Wow...Hugs and love to all of you. We think about you every day.
Rach, Brad, Liv and Ethan

john said...

Hope is tough, she'll pull through this just fine. We are all thinking good thoughts to help her recover faster.

TGH is a top notch hospital! Esther was born there and she survived delivery without too much damage. She also grew up a few blocks north of that gas station, right off Armenia, and use to get gas there during college. She can go with you next time and provide protection if you want.

It may take Hope a few days to read this entry. Especially if she is still drugged and sleepy, it's a short novel. ;)

Esther said...

It's true, the (not so) secret is out, I lived for 16 years in West Tampa. Hey, I just wanted to let you know you don't have to fear for your life when you stop for gas. They won't kill a white guy in an Infiniti because most of them have been to jail and don't want to go back for very long. The most they'd probably do is steal you wallet and car jack you. That carries a reduced sentence compared to murder. I'm just letting you know the mindset so you feel safer. 8-)

But if it makes you feel better I can go with you and just talk to you in Spanish the whole time. They'll just assume you're a drug dealer because of your car and crazy Cuban friend and won't mess with you. LOL!

By the way, it's Howard/Armenia. The Himes exit is the 'upscale' part of West Tampa.

Jen said...

Unreal, Jake. I can't believe she is having to deal with all this. Please let her know I am thinking and praying for her and you too.

Anonymous said...

What a sad Sunday……….
Hope, I have faith that you are in good hands and am thankful for the modern medicine to get you through this.
Jake, keep being the “SUPERMAN” you are.


Anonymous said...

Jake, My heart goes out to you and Hope. I thought all was well when Hope was home- Didn't read your blog until just now and I couldn't believe what you all are going through. Just know I am sending lots of prayers and love. Aunt Nancy

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