Monday, August 13, 2012

Mick McKellar Update -- Day +540

Smug...before dinner...

Back from the Danger Zone again...

Marian and I arrived home safely last evening, thanks to the kind efforts of my older son, Andrew and his wife, Krisanna. They drove to Rochester on Friday (August 10), and expected to leave the next morning to come home. Well, I couldn't allow after our celebratory dinner (at Olive Garden), I became ill and once again experienced respiratory distress — so much so, that I ended up in the emergency room at St. Mary's Hospital after midnight. More tests and another day in the hospital(s) patched me up again, but not until I had delayed everyone an extra day. Therefore, my most recent adventure stretched out from July 30 to August 12.

There and Back Again, A Curmudgeon's Holiday

Sorry Bilbo, I couldn't resist it...

Monday, July 30 started as most days start: surprise and joy at waking up, and then on to the meds. I had a slightly elevated temperature, but nothing to be worried about. Late that evening, as I was preparing for bed, I felt a chill and checked my temperature again...101.7 degrees! The rules say if my temp goes to 101.3 or higher, we simply head for the emergency room. Grabbing my med box, I tottered out to the old Focus and Marian drove me to Portage Health. By the time we arrived, my fever was 102.3 and I was having great difficulty breathing and experiencing increasing pain in my chest. My BP soared. They tested and medicated me, deciding to keep me overnight, so Marian went home to get some sleep.

Things went downhill rapidly. I was having pain in my jaw and left arm. I was floating in and out of they called Marian to come to the hospital immediately. It felt like my lungs were tiny and difficult to operate. However, true to form, after the drama was over — I recovered enough for them to forward me on to Marquette General for diagnosis and further treatment. X-rays and CT scans were revealing nothing.

Destination 2

The ambulance ride was uneventful, even pleasant (despite riding backwards on a gurney) and the fine folks at Marquette General accepted the baton and began searching for my bogeyman. I arrived with a cannula in my nose and festooned with IV's, cardio-sensors, and bandages from all the bloodletting. They began a more detailed search while trying contain the blood pressure monster. However, blood testing, scans, and a nuclear stress test revealed nothing specific. My blood pressure and breathing refused to settle down amicably, so they decided I should be transferred to Rochester Methodist and Mayo Clinic. Marian was staying with her brother in Marquette, and had to drive the old Focus home, to wait by the phone.

The Un-final Destination

Friday finds me strapped on a narrow gurney in an aluminum tube, hurtling to Rochester. I wish I could say I enjoyed the flight, but I was given Lasix just before departure (to help control blood pressure), with the predictable and inconvenient results. I was taken to critical care and moved to the BMT ward a day and a half later — finally able to breathe without supplemental oxygen. Of course, I developed type II diabetes because of the increased Prednisone and other medications, enduring constant glucose testing and Insulin shots. I am still testing my glucose level twice a day and injecting Insulin.

I am taking multiple medications to control my blood pressure and just purchased a home blood pressure monitor, so I can work with the folks at Mayo Clinic to fine tune (and hopefully REDUCE) medication levels.

I was discharged Thursday, August 9, to a motel room near the hospital, awaiting the arrival of my family on Friday evening. It was great to see them, so we decided to celebrate by dining out. Dinner was uneventful, but only a couple of hours later, Andrew was rushing me to the emergency room at St. Mary's hospital in extreme gastrointestinal distress. It quickly degenerated to respiratory distress, resulting in nine hours in the emergency department and transfer back to Rochester Memorial. Released (again) Saturday, and grabbing a few hours rest, I rode home with my family yesterday.

The Situation

Trying to manage all the different (some new) medications, testing, reporting, and monitoring feels like I am juggling cats. When I walk, I am reminded of the old man character Tim Conway portrayed in skits on the Carol Burnett show. My lung capacity is still around 25-27% and seems likely to remain low. Although I qualify, I resist supplemental oxygen. Perhaps the most disappointing result of all the medication changes is another dramatic reduction in my ability to taste food.

On the other hand...

We are home — safe and sound. Everything (including my brain) functions, though most at a reduced rate. And once again, I am certain I was helped back from the proverbial edge by the prayers and good thoughts of our friends and relatives. I thank you all.

Good night, and God bless,


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