Monday, July 15, 2013

Anatoly Hospitalized part 4

Then there is the pain.

Toly was in so much pain. He had been in pain for days, and with the infection worsening the pain increased by the hour. The Fentanyl had been effective, but he would not be given it again. They put him on Motrin and Morphine with Tylenol for fever. But it was like the Morphine had no effect on Toly.

His whole body was twisted in pain, no muscle relaxed. The pain was in his shoulder, his arm, his elbow, his wrist. Between the constance of his suffering and the endless stream of new blood draws, I fell apart.

The doctors were good. Our hospitalist was Dr. Theodore Chaconas. He is a trim, kind man who rapidly won our trust, vulnerable as we were. We would find out later that he shares our faith as Orthodox Christians. He and his residents worked with us on pain management and in a day or so Toly was off the morphine and given Dilaudid, which was effective.

Dilaudid meant Toly was out of pain long enough to eat. 


I am starting to lose track of the timeline. That's because of the no sleep, the pain, the tears. Holding Toly down for blood draws twice a day while he begged them to stop. Fevers. They were taking blood cultures a lot because they were positive.... The infection was in his bloodstream now.

The family visits were hard because of the pain. 
Lots of TV
And brief Dilaudid-induced happy times.

And the cultures helped. Between the blood cultures and the bone culture, they found the little beastie that was causing all of this pain. It was a garden variety Staph, so they changed the IV antibiotics from big guns to a specific weapon.  The doctors reassured us that this was a very good thing and that we should see improvement soon. They also decided to schedule Toly for a PICC line insertion to ease the pain of blood draws.

The PICC insertion would be done under general anesthesia, Toly's third time under. If you recall, his first experience was rotten but the second had been great, so we went into it without fear. I made sure they remembered that he didn't want the mask.

They brought us into the room where they had an air mattress on his table full of warm air to keep him snugly while he slept. It fascinated Toly. He was so excited to climb up and not afraid at all. They attached some tubing to his IV and told him, "This might sting a little." Toly watched them inject the milky white medicine through the tube.

Uh, yeah. Toly began to scream and squirm instantaneously. He wailed and nearly fell off the table, kicking at me as I tried to calm him. Then, he fell asleep. It was as if he had died. With the anesthesia in effect they rushed me out.

In recovery after the PICC
Toly woke up remembering the pain he fell asleep in, angry. He fixated on the "white medicine" as the root of all evil, swearing he would never, ever let them use it again.

The PICC really did make things easier. Blood draws were now poke-less. No more IV.

No more needles for those twice-daily draws!
He still continued to have severe pain and high fevers, but the cultures taken in the photo above turned out to be negative: the antibiotics were working.
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