Monday, April 25, 2011

The Septic shock newsletter Vermont

Posting from Gib
"It’s been a rough week for us in Vermont, but fortunately it is now much better.

Last Tuesday (19 April) about noon, a large stone in Sharon’s left kidney—Sharon has a history of kidney stones—moved so as to obstruct the flow of urine from that kidney into her left ureter. That blockage caused an infection in her kidney, which later that same day spread to her bloodstream, producing a condition known as “sepsis.” This in turn resulted in a drop in her blood pressure and the loss of fluid from her blood vessels into the surrounding tissue, a condition known as “septic shock.” Sharon underwent emergency surgery early Wednesday morning to open up the blockage. This was done by inserting a small plastic tube—a “stent”—from her bladder through her left ureter to her left kidney. Although the stone wasn’t removed, the insertion of the stent allowed the infection in her kidney to drain. After surgery, her blood pressure remained unstable for several hours, and the hospital staff worked heroically to keep up her blood pressure and prevent further complications of septic shock. By Wednesday night, her blood pressure was reasonably stable, but she remained critically ill. Thursday through Saturday, she gradually improved, and by Saturday night she was well enough to be moved from the intensive care unit to the medical ward at the hospital. On Sunday, she continued to improve and was able to stand unsupported and do most basic tasks by herself (eating, washing, dressing). Fortunately, it does not appear that any of her organ systems sustained any significant long-term damage, and she should recover fully from her ordeal, although it will take several weeks for her to be back to normal. She will still need surgery to remove the stone, so that a similar event doesn’t recur. This surgery will probably take place in early May.

Today (Monday, 25 April) Sharon’s condition continues to improve. Hooray! She has no fever, her blood pressure is normal and stable; her platelets (important for stopping bleeding), which had been low, are increasing; her white blood count, which is indicative of infection and was very high, is closer to normal levels; and her lungs remain clear, although she has some fluid in the space between her lungs and her chest wall. She is now eating (and enjoying) solid food and is up moving around to use the bath room. All indicators are positive at this point. The foci of treatment at this point are keeping Sharon’s lungs clear and free of infection, reducing the edema fluid that she accumulated during her crisis, and reducing her pain and discomfort from the kidney stone.

This afternoon, I am well enough to contribute to the narrative with Gib. I think of this as the septic shock newsletter and there are a few themes:

1. First hand experience is updating my medical knowledge. All things are connected. The theoretical interactions learned in medical training about fluids, electrolytes, platelets, infection, shock, are amazing. Personally experiencing these terms from my bedside while floating in a spiral fog will take awhile to absorb.

2. The body exists in the moment, in here and now. I crashed into the moment with identical body time, thought time, and emotional time via severe illness, and I am stunned with gratitude.  The kindness of my brothers and sisters-in-law, Abdi & Hassan Iftin in Nairobi (see post about this story! Abdi escapes Somalia) , Gibs' family, and friends such as Mel and Rodney Reis, who knew  what was happening and kept track of our crazy course with support and encouragement is overwhelming.  I kept sending out little messages via Gib saying "hold us in the light," and the notes came back and they helped.  Wednesday night I believed I would live, and I listened to the weekly webinar on "the body" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in my ICU room.  I had dreams about that community of people and their support that night, and it was a rich source of connection between before and after. (See Sounds true: Clarissa P. Estes and The joyous Body

3. In keeping with "health through imagery" (Health through imagery) I have commented on and critiqued all pictures around me, and people have been very patient with me.  The images in our environment matter-- I have asked Gib to link to two favorite pictures. First, is the trio of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica-- thanks, Mom, for a name I would never have known otherwise) sitting on the strand of barbed wire at evening time. I hope to donate it to NVRH  when I leave here. It would look so good on the wall in my hospital room.   Tres Barnswallows

Second, Ecola Bay State Park and the Oregon Coast. This is a favorite -- the sea air, the sunset, the sound of water on rocks, and wind comes fresh and fully to mind.  Ecola Bay, Oregon Coast

4.  It only hurts when you don't laugh. I have named my spirometer (the little plastic toy-like object for maintaining lung function) Steve Too after my brother Steve, who calls each day to remind me to BLOW BLOW and Blow.  Natalya left me with a drawing on a white board with numerous sayings, including "Never give up never surrender," and humorous greetings from our pets.

My husband is amazing.  I knew how sick I was by watching his face.  His wonderful and even his most irritating trait have wound around each other  into an indistinguishable collection.   He has done so much to help me survive and want to survive than I can say.

I shall leave this to Gib except for the last line about him.'
Love to all"

Sharon (and Gib)


citizen said...

Omigosh! I am so sorry to hear about this. I have passed two kidney stones in my life and believe that it is the most painful and debilitating experience of my life. And mine were both on my left side too! All the best to you guys. Be well and heal.
I am so sorry that I did not know about this. julie said...

Wow. So glad you are feeling a little better after such an ordeal. Hope you can rest and recover.

I will send you healing thoughts,


Cori Princell said...

Hi Gib and Sharon,
Thank you for letting me know!  This sounds like it was very serious, and it's really wonderful to catch up through Sharon's spirited writing now that it seems everything is okay.  I'm not surprised that Abdi, Hassan and their mother kept you supported - they are friends for life.  I'll be ready to hear your ideas whenever you're feeling well enough.

Ila Irwin said...

Holy Crap!! I wondered why I hadn't heard from you. I 'm late for work so more later.

Jenny Hyslop said...

Jenny Hyslop posted on your Wall.

"Can we help? I make a mean casserole. I am also a very good hand holder.
Heck, if it would be helpful, I can come over and clean a bathroom or
two...(although you might not guess that from looking at mine).

Thinking of you all, and wishing you the peace of a steady recovery."

Jane Flink said...

Sharon -- That's the understatement of the week.  Be well. Jane

Rosemary Orgren said...

I just heard about your recent scare. My god. I am kind of glad I didn't know before now - your contributions to the "Septic shock" newsletter suggest you are nearly yourself again. I am leaving shortly for a 10 day vacation and will keep you in my thoughts.


Unknown said...

OMG! That explains why you hadn't answered your phone or come over. I am really sorry that you had to have this medical trauma! I am very happy that you are on the other side of the event but my thoughts and good wishes for an even speedier recovery are being sent as I write. I never would have thought to look at your blog to get this update so I'm glad I did. I can drive now so if you want me to do anything please don't hesitate to ask. Mags

Nancy Lou Saidi said...

Oh my gosh. I am trying to get the chronology straight; but it seems
to me that it was Monday, the 18th that I saw Sharon looking well and
lovely-- and then to get the news that such a traumatic event befell

Thank goodness for miracles: timing, care, her entourage, not to say her own mental entourage, that wonderful brain that just soaks up all the sensual, intellectual, vital life signs, symbols, and salves.

Here's to you, Sharon, and your health, (and your hubby who has had
quite a scare)!

Nancy Lou

P.S. My mother and I were surprised and delighted to receive a call from a horse at the back door, accompanied by Natalya. I was at a loss for words-- I couldn't
offer tea, and Natalya thought that carrot salad might not be a good idea. Please thank her for stopping by. Hopefully, we will see you all again before you leave for Maine (Natalya is excited about having her "own personal barn".)
Be good and take care.