Friday, July 29, 2011

I don't know why

my life has to be constantly in turmoil. I don't think I cause it.  I don't think I'm a bad person.  Why does SHIT constantly have to be happening?

I've been told before that I am a rock.

If a rock is constantly battered, it gradually wears away into nothing...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Geoffrey Lynn Howard 2-4-58 to 7-17-11

He died of severe pneumonia. 

I wish I had been blogging every day since last week because something new seems to happen every day.  I was going to blog about current events and then go back and relive that horrible weekend at a later date. Because I need to put it in writing.  I just need to.  But after talking to someone last night who was unclear about his death because my last blog aluded to liver disease, I want to write it now. I will just have several posts of what has been going on.

When I last blogged, Geoff had been sick for over a month.  He kept getting worse.  On Thursday the 14th, my mom called me at 5 in a panic because the ambulance had taken him away and she needed gas in her car to get to the hospital and did I know if Jake was around.  (She has NEVER pumped gas.  She does not know how to.)  She said he was coughing up foul, vile smelling stuff and made her puke and when the EMT's got there, they opened all the windows and doors.  The promptly announced he had pneumonia, worked on him a bit and took him away.  I left work as quickly as I could.  I just had this awful, AWFUL feeling in my stomach. I had to go to the ER and see him for myself. 

When I got there, he was hooked up to oxygen and even so, his SAT level was 92-94.  He kept taking the oxygen mask off, causing it to rapidly drop below 88 and setting alarms off. They were going to admit him for severe pneumonia and run lots of tests on him.  He kept yelling at both of us to quit staring at him and go home. That he would be fine.  I stayed for about a half hour. As I was leaving, I almost just decided to sit in the ER waiting room until he got admitted to the regular room. I should have.  Saying goodbye then was the last time he spoke to me.

My mom called me a little after 9 to tell me that she had left a little before 8. That Geoff was still having tests in the ER and kept insisting that she go home. The hospital had just called her and the CT scan showed a massive mass of infection in his lungs and instead of going to a regular room, he was in the ICU.  They wanted to put a chest tube in him to drain the infection and wanted her permission since it was a procedure with risks.  Then she called at 2 to say the Dr just called her and said that he had taken a turn for the worse and she should come to the hospital because they weren't sure if he would make it through the night. He was on full life support and in a medically induced come, mostly because he was fighting the ventilator and they needed his body in full rest.

Soooo, I hadn't told either girl about him going to the hospital.  I was going to wait until Friday evening when they were both home and we knew exactly what was going on. Karli was at a friends house for the evening and Kallyn had to work Friday and I knew she'd freak about him being in the hospital.  But for me to leave at 2 am to drive my mom to the hospital, there was no way around not telling her.  So the 3 of us went. I chose to not wake Karli at 2.  I asked Jake to get her at 6.   Things really went bad for a little bit right before she got to the hospital and for a few minutes I thought I might have made a really bad decision to wait.

And wait was what we did. The doctors did not give us much hope.  Kallyn was the one with all of the hope. She was by his bed quite a lot, egging him on.  Cheering him on.  They told us that there is scientific proof that when in the medically induced coma that they can still feel their loved ones.  That they can really feel touch.  They while they can't understand what is being said, they can hear voices and be comforted. Kallyn asked the Dr point blank if she had ever seen anyone that sick live and the Dr said "Yes, but I can tell you their names, that is how few."  She was not mean or abrubt about it, she was very caring. Kallyn said "Well, get ready to add another name to your list."  That was Friday.  Saturday morning he was s l i g h t l y better. Not enough to cheer about but enough to give the Dr's themselves some hope.  They told Kallyn to keep doing whatever she was doing.  The whole time my mom was what I would call "pessimistic", but the Dr called "realistic".  And I was in the middle, trying to smooth everyone over.  The Dr's said we were all a good balance. 

We basically moved into the ICU waiting room. The coffee and pop machines were empty for 2 days.  I got them fixed.  All of the magazine racks were empty. My mom filled them. No one cleaned the room for 2 days.  I left a note on the housekeepers supply closet and it got done.  My mom rearranged the waiting room and watered the plants.  Jake ran back & forth to let my mom's dog out & to feed our animals.

Sunday was a roller coaster.  His fever stayed between 103-105.4.  They kept him mostly naked with ice packs on him.  In the A.M. they started slowly  taking him off the paralytic and putting him on heavy morphine.  The nurses say he was responding by moving his eyebrows.  My mom was all excited.  She was acting like he was a real coma patient coming out of it because he could respond to her.  To me, I was thinking he had to be scared as hell and in pain.  He was being awakened into hell. And he did start to get agitated and they had to raise his blood pressure medication again.  Oh ya, his blood pressure was so low that he was on the maximum doseage of 3 different blood pressure meds.  What they desperately needed to do was surgery on him.  Open him up and physically take out the infection. But he needed to be more stable.  Then they gave him morphine to sedate him instead.  The Dr told us he had to be in a great amount of pain with the 2 chest tubes in him and the ventilator tube and the infection.  I didn't think she needed to tell us that.  We counted the IV bags going into him once, and there were 17!

Then the end sort of happened quickly.  I'm not sure what time my mom came in from visiting him and said she couldn't watch anymore. That his Sats were dropping and too many people were working on him. I ran back there and there were 6 people running around.  Someone was actually bagging him. I just sunk into the arm of the chair that was there.  His good friend Tom was sitting in the chair, just stairing at them.  He had been down to 70% oxygen at one point during the day but he was back up to 100% and his Sat levels was all over the place in the 80's, then dropping to 70's.  His blood pressure was dropping.  They change shifts at 7 but his main Dr was still around with another patient having a crisis.  The new shift Dr was scared to do anything but still trying stuff.  They kept paging the other Dr STAT.   It was unreal.  Something you see on a TV show that makes you cry, but it was real life. Someone I loved. Then the Dr finally came.  My mom came back and she started screaming that no one had come to get her.  I thought she couldn't be there but she didn't realize it was SO bad. The Dr looked at my mom and said she was going to do one more chest xray to see if she could see anything she could do.  She said "You are not making any decisions.  I am not making any decisons.  The decision has already been made."  She said if she didn't see anything in the chest xray then she was going to give him a lot of morhine to make him comfortable and take the ventilator tube out of him... and see what happened.  My mom asked how long after the tube came out and the answer was "minutes at the most, it's really up to his body."  She did the xray, looked across the bed at us and shook her head. Then she came over, crying, and hugged my mom and told her how sorry she was. 

I am so thankful that they silented the alarms on the monitor so we did not have to hear that final beeeeeeeeep at the end.  It as all silent and peaceful.  I did happen to be right there when the nurse came in to check the monitor when it as almost 0.   I can say that I watched someone die.  I have kissed a dead person... and I do NOT.  DO. NOT. want to do it again any time soon.

He was 53 years old and if he had health insurance I am 95% certain he would still be alive today.  I would like to scream that to all the fricken people out there against national health insurance or socialized helth insurance, whatever you call it. 45,000 people die in the U.S. each year because they do not have health insurance.  My step father has become part of that statistic.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lovely marred by sad

It always seems to be that way doesn't it? At least for me.  Saturday at 11 I went to a family function on my mom's side. I got to see a cousing that lives in Iowa.  She has theee most adorable 3 y/o daughter.  I admire her a lot.  She had a pretty rough life growing up (not horrible, but very dysfuntional parents) and she has been a cheerleader coach in small town and she is very admired, loved & respected.  She just retired from it and they threw a banquet for her.  She has been going to school on the side to become a teacher.  She finishes in Dec & walks next May.  She just turned 30 last week.  I saw her 2 yrs ago and before that it had been like 10 years. Her younger sister lives here and has a daughter that is almost 1.  I saw her last at about 1 mo old.  She too has done a lot.  She started saving babysitting money when she was young so she could get out of her house.  She graduated early and got out. There was 19 of us there, including my 84 y/o grandma who is the glue that holds us all together.  Because there are so many of us, we don't get together very often anymore.  The 19 was probably 1/3 of the family.  I've lost count of the cousin's & 2nd cousins.

Then at 4 I went to my sister's house (on my dad's side) and celebrated my only nephew's  1st birthday.  He loves trucks and cars right now and kept making a noise like a fire engine.  SO cute. My sister made this adorable dump truck cake.  I plan to post pictures on FB, I just haven't yet.

THEN at 6:30 I took Karli to babysite at a friend's house that is more family.  The girls call her Aunt and her kids are their cousins.  Kallyn came over too and after they came back from their "date night" we ended up talking and staying until 11:30.

So the sad part?  My step dad has been really sick for over a month.  I saw him on the 3rd for the first time (I didn't know until the 2nd that he had been sick for a month).  It shocked me how horrible he looked.  My mom had told me he had lost 25 lbs, but he's always looked about 9 mo pregnant, so I thought it would be a good thing - right?  Well, I wasn't expected his face to look sunken in.  And to me his skin looked yellow.  He looked more like 6 mo pregnant.  I don't think the image of him will leave me for was spooky.  He got laid off in April so he has no insurance. He went to a Community Health Dr and they treated him for severe acid reflux. He's been coughing horribly and complaining of acid coming up when he laid down. I went home and Googled several different things and cirrhosis of the liver fit all of his symptoms. (He is an alcoholic). I told my mom the next day that I thought he looked jaundice and she was quick to point out his eyes weren't yellow. I noticed that too, but his skin was SO yellow.  He got his blood tested last Wed. Mom told me that she is sure he has cancer or something really bad and NOW she think's his skin is yellow.  I received a text at 9 :00 a.m. Saturday morning that just read "Liver disease. ttyl"  They are waiting for more results they don't know if it is hepatitis, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver or just what.

So while having fun with all my family, I kept thinking of my step dad.  He is 53.  Not very old and now there is a good chance that he will not live a whole lot longer.  For most liver problems, you can comfort the person, but you cannot cure it unless you get a transplant and I don't think he's a very good candidate.  My girls do not know yet.  I want to wait until there is an actual diagnosis.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm relaxed and happy, happy and relaxed (at least right now)

Ok, yesterday I woke with a headache (I went to bed w/a pretty bad headache) but when I stepped outside it was like a lightening bolt to my head and it was an instant migraine.  I can be very light sensitive and when I just got my eyes checked 2 wks ago I mentioned it to the eye Dr. (I go to Costco and seem to get a different Dr every 2 yrs), she said that my eyes stay dialated and don't retract and that is why. (as she is shining a light right into them) NO ONE has every told me that before.  I told her that even on cloudy days, or on my way to work at 8 am, I wear sunglasses and she said that cloudy days are often worse because of the glare of the clouds on the pavement. Which is what I've always thought, and it is very nice to have an eye Dr validate it.

It was one of those headaches where I would have called my assistant to come fill in for me if she was available.... if she hadn't quit.  Yes, I no longer have someone to fill in for me... for Dr appointmnents... for sick days... for vacation. And my boss does not seem interested in hiring any one at this time.  Right now I am THE admin person for our Tacoma office, the Everett office (that's where I am) and I have no back up.  There was stuff I left for her to do when she filled in for me, so there is extra work I have to do now that she is gone as well.

Anyways, back to this headache.  I took a migraine pill on my way to work, but I only had one in my purse.  I also took a hydro (which doesn't really do much for me).  2 hrs later my head still hurt just as much.  Jake happen to call and could tell I was hurting.  He was at our house with Karli and he insisted on bringing me another pill. I had told him I was just going to go home at lunch and get one, but he didn't want me driving. It made me go "Awww". I knew my boss was leaving for a meeting & I COULDN'T WAIT so that I could turn off the overhead lights.  He won't let me have them off when he is here because he thinks it looks like we are "closed" from the outside.  HELLO! VERY VERY RARELY DOES ANYONE COME HERE. He is the one that sets up a mtg if someone comes here, it's not like we have clients/customers that stop in.  (He's gone now and they are off.)  By the time he left it was actually time for lunch. 

We have a couch so I grabbed a blanket out of my truck and set my phone alarm and put the blanket over my head.  I was trying to do deep breathing but I was breathing really fast and couldn't seem to get it under control.  I was trying to meditate and having trouble.  All of a sudden the phrase "I'm relaxed and happy, happy and relaxed" popped into my head.  I started breathing with the words. I just kept repeating them. I pictured being somewhere tropical and all of a sudden I could actually feel my shoulders relaxing.  I did end up meditating.  I got shaken out of it by the work phone ringing, but I did feel quite a bit better. I have been repeating those words quite a bit and you can call me crazy but it seems to be working a little.  The pain in my buttcheek/leg is a bit better today.  If I feel it trying to flare up, I focus on that area and repeat my little mantra, stressing on the RELAXED, like that area needs to just relax and quit spasming.  Even if it just works for day, or even the hour - I will take it.

Your mind is a powerful thing.  I know that but somehow I've forgotten and woke up this morning with these thoughts in my (even though I had been having a nightmare at one point last night).  If you walk around saying you are stressed out and in pain or even thinking you are stressed out and in pain - you are telling your brain that and the brain is going to send out signals to your body... pain - pain - pain - stress - stress.  But if you walk around thinking I'm happy, I'm relaxed - the brain is supposed to put out those signals. I'm happy - send out the serotonin. If you smile, even when you don't feel it, your brain is supposed to put out happy chemicals.  It is just all a lot easier to say then to do when you are caught up in that stress and pain cycle. 

I'm still all kinds of stressed, things going to collection left & right & disconnection notices wkly BUT I'm going to tell my brain and body that I AM RELAXED AND HAPPY, HAPPY AND RELAXED (damn it)