Friday, July 30, 2010

Wow – I had not realized how long it has been since I last posted. Sorry about that! My life is in kind of a holding pattern right now, and unfortunately that makes everything lock up; my brain, my body – everything.

The move is still on; mom is coming the week of 8/23 to help me pack. It’s kind of sad and humiliating when you are 43 and you need your 74 year old mother to fly out and help you pack, but let me tell ya: she is a packing machine. That woman can have me and my 2-bedroom duplex packed and move ready in about three days. Seriously. I will want to suffocate her in her sleep by the time she leaves, but it will be totally worth it. And this way she knows that all of her china and crystal stemware that she gave to me will be properly packed and she won’t have to worry about it. Because, trust me; she will.

Bruiser, my sister’s Flying Cocktail Weenie Dog of Death, has severely injured his back. He accidentally fell off of my mom’s bed when they were visiting earlier this week, then Wednesday he injured himself pretty badly when jumping on or off the couch. Sis took him to the vet immediately and they didn’t think he had done any real damage; they gave him some pain meds and Sis took him home. She tried to keep him moving around a little so that he didn’t get stiff but kept him on the floor and didn’t let him up onto the furniture. Yesterday he was curled up in his little bed on the floor next to her computer; she realized he’d been in there for several hours and decided to wake him up so that he didn’t get stiff and sore. When he crawled out of the bed, his little body was curled up almost like a U, with his hind end trying to be next to his head, and he was dragging his back feet. She called the vet immediately and ran down to the office to get a powerful muscle relaxant for him. Later she took him back to the vet and they took some x-rays; he has damaged three vertebrae in his spine. They said he has a “good 50/50 chance” of recovery, but Sis is just devastated. She has been crying for two days straight; the vet said that this is much harder on her than it is on Bruiser! She is already thinking of getting him a little doggie wheelchair/cart thingy, and the vet said that surgery could help him but it would be $3-5k and she would have to save up for it. I am trying to be encouraging and trying to help her see that this could just be temporary and Bruiser could be in good shape again once all the swelling in his spine goes down. When I was a freshman in high school, our weenie dog Alexander actually broke his back jumping off the back porch (do you see the pattern here?). I was in the middle of band class, out in the middle of the football field in the middle of a formation when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was my mother in hysterics. We had to drive about an hour into the Bay Area to get to the specialist vet that would save our Alexander from death and being permanently paralyzed. Mom spared no expense on his surgery and treatment, and he eventually completely recovered. So there is hope for our little Flying Cocktail Weenie Dog of Death, but since he won’t be flying anymore, I guess I will have to come up with another nickname for him. Poor Bruiser; poor Sissy!!

Speaking of close medical calls, I still cannot believe what happened to the kids’ cousin. His sister sent out an email to the family on Tuesday to give us the whole story:

My younger brother Justin (29 yrs old), went into the hospital very suddenly last week, and we almost lost him. He was very fortunate to have an amazing medical team, wife and his young age on his side! It started a couple of weeks ago when he popped his neck (like I do 10 times a day w/o even a thought!) and when he did, he felt instantly sick at his stomach and dizzy. He had a lot of neck pain, and a terrible headache for the next 2 weeks. The beginning of last week, he started having headaches so severe that he would immediately vomit if he stood up, turned his head, or any movement at all. Then on Wednesday night, he was feeling really sick, and he stood up to go to the other room and he just collapsed to the floor. His wife helped him up and to the restroom, then got him into bed to help him feel better. The next morning, he was still really sick but went to work anyway. He got so ill while there that he waved down a coworker who could see something was very wrong, and they took him to the urgent care nearby. When the urgent care Dr read his chart and why he was there, and then walked in the room to see him, he knew something was wrong, and told him it was "out of his league" and he needed to go to the hospital asap. They taped his head to a stretcher and called for the ambulance. They were fast and awesome, got him transported, checked in to the ER and had dr's working on him right away. After 2 cat scans and most of a day of testing while trying to get him comfortable, they discovered he had torn one of his main arteries in his neck. They admitted him to the hospital and started him on blood thinners and pain medicine right away. That night they moved him up to the neuroscience unit and had a watch on him overnight until the specialist could come the next day. When the specialist arrived, he ordered an MRI to confirm his suspicions of strokes, and he was right. There were 2 strokes, one smaller one, that occurred the night he popped his neck, and the second one was much larger and occurred the night he collapsed. They said if he hadn't come into the hospital when he did it would have been almost certainly deadly.

After 5 days at the hospital, a ton of pain medication (not only for the torn artery but also for the neck pain he had to start with and the injuries he got to his neck when he collapsed as well) and pill form + shot injections of blood thinners, tons of tests and dr visits and daily physical therapy, they let him go home last night. The main reason being, there is nothing they can do for him there that he can't do at home. He will still need to attend the physical therapy regularly to relearn his balance and regain his ability to walk ok. He also has to have blood tests every 3 days to monitor the blood thinners in his system, regular dr appts to monitor everything else, and he will need to use his cane and wear his neck brace for a while until they say otherwise. He was soooo fortunate. The doc told us that most people who have the kind of stroke he had come out of it being paralyzed from the eyes down! He has no paralyzation or loss of speech at all so far. The biggest impact has been on his balance, which although sounds somewhat minor... causes him to not be able to stand well, walk well, and also causes constant dizziness and nausea. But, they said the first 18 months is when you relearn your abilities the best so he will be working hard to do so with therapy. Fortunately he is young, and he had a wise dr who recognized something was seriously wrong immediately, and those combined with the fantastic unit in the hospital at Salmon Creek Legacy in WA, he's doing much better. He's off work for now until further notice, and he's mostly in bed from all the meds and from the dizziness. But he's with us! And he's home now! And he will be able to recover over time. The torn artery will heal itself, and in the meantime they will keep watch on the 2 blood clots they found and make sure his blood thinners continue to work. It will be quite a long journey, but he should have a full recovery.

So, thanks for reading my novel! I decided it was much easier to send one long email to everyone than to type it out a whole bunch of times individually. I am doing much better now that I know he's not in as much of a danger zone as he was before. We really thought we were going to lose him last week by the way the dr's were talking to us. One dr said that every morning when he woke up and got ready to start his shift, he wondered if Justin would still be there. That one scared us! My family is soooo happy and grateful that he's ok, and that he's back home with his wife and his kids will be home shortly. A couple of days with their grandparents will entertain them while dad gets settled in at home. His wife, Star, is amazing. She had to be trained by the nurses to give him the shots a few times a day in his stomach for the blood thinners, and she never left his side thru the whole hospital stay. She's a great little care taker and she's home caring for him until he goes back to work or as long as they can both be home.

Unbelievable! So, so, very, very lucky. He has been doing well while he’s been home, and we are so very grateful and glad.

I am currently without cable at home, so that means no TV and no Internet access. The no TV is weird but I’m getting used to it; hopefully I will use the down time that I usually spent on the couch watching TV and eating crap to do something constructive instead – like pack or clean the house before Mom arrives. But so far I have just been reading books, going to bed early, and watching my DVD collection. Currently I am hooked on my BBC version of The Office.

My last day at work will be 8/31, so I won’t be able to post anything to my blogs after that until I get to my new home in Washington, but I’ll try to keep you up to date until then.


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