Thursday, October 22, 2009

Close to Death

Hi everyone, I guess by now you have noticed that I have been missing for about a two months. On Aug 20 I had surgery to remove the hardware in my back that was put in a year earlier, but when they got inside nothing had healed properly. They had to replace the hardware with more (bigger and stronger) and start the fusion process all over again. They added some bone growth protein and put me back together. I lost a lot of blood and they had trouble getting my blood pressure to come up and get my kidney’s working properly.

On September 10th I woke up to 102.6 degree fever, sweats, body aches and immediately went to my doctor. They thought I probably had a virus. On September 15th I went to my Spine Surgeon and he ran an MRI to look for infection. Nothing showed up definitely on the MRI so they sent me back home.

I was sick for the next 3 weeks and finally I called my doctor on September 29th and told here something was very, very wrong. I went to the doctor the next morning on September 30th. We also noticed that morning that 3 sores had appeared under the back incision. I got to the doctor and was still running a fever and my blood pressure had dropped to half of normal 60/40. The doctor looked at the sores and said they needed to be cultured. She told me to go immediately to the hospital and they sent us to UAB Highlands. I got into a room and my blood pressure had dropped even more. After my evaluation by the UAB doctors they said that I was being transferred to ICU. I was very dehydrated and they ended up giving me 15 liters of saline. For all of you guys they had to put a catheter in and boy did it hurt. My kidneys were in stage 4 failure and hardly putting out anything. My white count was so low they said that my body had used up all of the white blood cells and my bone marrow could not keep up with the production. I did a lot of praying that night and by some miracle I made it through the night. I was diagnosed with Sepsis and I learned later that very few people survive sepsis. My doctors actually did not think that I would make it through Wed night but fortunately I did not find that out until late Friday evening. I stayed in ICU for 3 days on massive IV antibiotics and then moved to a step down room for the next 5 days. I think I was taking five different antibiotics at one time. On Friday they did a biopsy on the sores and started growing a culture. On Sunday it came back as Pseudomonas. Pseudomonas is second only to staff as a bug that you can pick up in the hospital. They put a PICC line in the subclavian vein in my left arm and the tubing runs up to the vena cava right above the heart. They were also giving me Potassium, Magnesium, and other items that my body had used all up in fighting the bacteria. I began to get better on Saturday and my blood pressure was returning to a more realistic number. They finally sent me home on Wednesday, 8 days later for home IV antibiotics. They had a home health nurse come out and show us how to setup the IV, which I have to take every 12 hours. It takes about an hour to infuse. The nurse also comes out once a week to change my bandage and do blood test. I am feeling much better, no fever, and good blood pressure. I am down to 188 pounds from my original 215 (27 pounds lost) but my appetite is back and I am eating well. This is about as close as I have ever come to dieing and it has given me a new prospective on what is important and to take each day as a present and not to waste it. I feel like God still has something for me t do before I leave this earth. Apparently this pseudomonas got into my system through the back surgery site and no one picked up on it until it was ready to do me in.

Well, what can I say? I kept telling my doctors that something was wrong but no one seemed to take me seriously. The doctors ending up running 3 MRI's, a CT Scan, an ultrasound, an echocardiogram, and many, many blood cultures and blood test. They checked everything from urine to stool trying to find the source. I was stuck like a pincushion until I got the PICC and then they began taking the blood out of one of the ports. I think I had close to 6 doctors working on me at different times. We have to clean and flush the ports daily and they sent me home with all of the supplies. I can setup or lie down and go back and forth to the bathroom. Hopefully this is behind me now and it will clear up over the next three weeks. Then more test and they will decide if I need another round of 3 weeks IV antibiotics. What can I say, I feel better, I am alive and life is good. I just wished someone had taken me more seriously when I kept telling them that something was wrong. They said that if I had waited one more day that I would not be here now. That is pretty scary! They said this bacteria is microscopic can hide along the hardware and the blood does not get to the hardware so the antibiotic can't get to the exact spot where it is needed. Right now the plan is to just do nothing but the IV antibiotics and hope it gets rid of everything. Keep me in your prayers and hopefully I will beat this and get back to normal.

I had 3 doctors’ appointments last week I am getting stronger and better. My ports flush but they can't draw blood from them anymore, so now I have to get stuck every Monday for me blood test. I can only set for a short while and then I have to lie down or walk. I am constantly changing positions. We are really getting good at the IV and so far have not had any reaction to the antibiotics. I get one IV at 8 AM and another at 8 PM.

Hopefully I will be back to posting soon with more stories of Emma who I might add has stayed by my side and watched over me except for the 8 days I was in the hospital and my sweet daughter stepped up and shared her home with Emma. My lovely wife took on all the responsibilities and wore several hats. Please keep me in your prayers that this bug is killed and I don’t have any further problems.


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