Friday, August 17, 2012

Getting Better All the Time

Having the PICC line removed was such a wonderful feeling. There would be no more end caps swinging and smacking my arm as I rolled around the house or down the halls of the hospital to meet with Dr. Femino. There would be no more continuous tucking of the IV line and end caps under the mesh sleeve which was used to cover them from other peoples view and to aid in keeping them clean. There would be no more sudden pulling or catching of the lines and end caps while I lay in bed watching television or tried to roll on my side will I slept. There would be no more trouble with those things, and I couldn't have been happier. (PICC stands for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter, which basically means that a small, flexible tube is inserted through my vein in the arm around the bicep until it reaches a larger vein near the heart for medications to be administered for longer terms. A PICC line allows a patient to not have multiple IV's run through their hands or wrists as those veins can get tired and wear out easier. PICC's allow for longer term care.)

Dr. Richard Faraday
It had been four days since Sarah had taken out the PICC line and I was getting ready to have my appointments with both Dr. Zand and Dr. Faraday. Dr. Faraday is a part of St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, which was one of the rehab facilities my parents had visited as a potential place for me to get my in-patient therapy. My dad had not been part of these appointments we had been having with the doctors, and so he decided to stay home so he wouldn't ask a lot of questions to try to get caught up with my treatments.

Mom and I met with Dr. Faraday first at his private practice office off site from St. Jo's. During my time with the daptomycin antibiotic and the prednisone steroid, I had been checking my blood sugars and documenting them for Dr. Faraday. If there were elevations in any of the days, he would be concerned if it were dietary or if it were the steroids causing the lift in the numbers. I could explain my dietary intake over the week if he needed.

However, Dr. Faraday was pleased with the numbers of my blood sugars and decided it was no longer necessary to monitor them. He searched the rashes mostly found on my legs at this time. He could see that the steroids were taking affect and doing exactly what he wanted them to do, reverse the affects of the allergy and put me back to health again. He was very happy with the progress and gave me a game plan for weening me off the steroids by the end of the year. He also lowered the dosage of the steroid  from 30mg to 20mg. He felt good about where we were heading. He wanted to schedule a few more appointments over the next two weeks, but he was fairly confident that I would be able to return to Colorado and my job soon if I could find dermatologist to manage my care until the end of the steroid course. Mom and I were more than pleased to hear this news as it meant I was getting better, and vowed we would find someone before we got back to Colorado to continue my treatment.

Dr. Alex Zand
We scheduled our next few appointments with Dr. Faraday's office assistant and left for Dr. Zand's office just around the block. Parking was a complete nightmare. His office is in the building adjacent to the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and shares their parking structure. After several times around the block, mom finally let me out at the front door of the building and I went up to his office.

There were at least 10 other patients and their family or friends in the waiting room when I arrived. I went to the front desk to check-in and signed the check-in form as instructed by the sign sitting on the counter in a plastic stand. Mom finally came in about 10 minutes later. I was still sitting there waiting to be called. After several people had been called back, including people that had arrived after me, mom went to the front desk to inquire about how long it would be before I was to be seen. She was asked a bunch of questions by the lady behind the desk, and finally was told I needed to complete ALL their paperwork. "WHAT? You had got to be kidding me? Why couldn't they tell me that before instead of me sitting here for 20 minutes? I could have been done with it by now." In my opinion, this was an annoying staff and poorly run office. I was not happy about their lack of service, but Dr. Zand was such a nice man, I decided it wasn't worth getting upset and overlooked their lack.

I had a slew of papers to fill out and mom helping me with getting insurance cards out, reading numbers for me and then putting them all back; I was getting through this load of papers they had given me. When I finished, mom was kind enough to take them back up to the front for me. I think she was more worried that I would say something inappropriate to one of the staff and was trying to run interference, not only for me but for them too. So far, I had been in this doctors office for 45 minutes and hadn't even been to the patient rooms yet.

Finally after close to an hour, it was my turn. My name was called and I was taken to fairly large room in the back. All my vitals were taken as is the case with most doctors office visits for me these days. The intern who was brought in to my room to take vitals was very nice and pleasant to speak with. The nurse he was assisting was less friendly and was not a pleasure to be around. Several minutes went by and Dr. Zand finally came into the room. He talked with mom and I for several minutes before taking a look at the rashes on my legs, which were the only remaining part to show for my allergic reaction. It wasn't long sitting there talking and being examined that Dr. Zand decided that he was satisfied with the treatment I was receiving from Dr. Faraday and he recommended I complete my treatments as instructed. Dr. Zand said his goodbye giving me a letter stating I was released to go back to work.

Cool! I was released by Dr. Zand. I would finish my next three appointments with Dr. Faraday and maybe be able to go back home to Colorado.

My workplace, Focus on the Family (2008)
Work had been nice and understanding about my being out on medical leave. The certified nurse in the health office at work who had been my contact for my time off was beginning to send emails and call the house and cell phones notifying me that time was running out on my medical leave allotted and I would need to have a plan in place to return or resign my position. So, this was a breath of fresh air for me to know that I was nearing the end of my treatments and would possibly be returning to work within the time frame for me to not have to make the decision to resign my position. Pretty much a load off my shoulders and a blessing from heaven for sure.

Mom and I called dad when we were back on the road and let him know we had been detained because of the doctors office staff, but we were heading back home now. It was well after lunch by the time mom and I got back to the house that we just had a couple of snacks as not to ruin our upcoming family dinner. While mom prepared dinner, I sat and talked with dad about what each of the doctors had to say and asked his opinion of when mom and I should start heading back to Colorado comfortably if Dr. Faraday released me as well. Based on my conversations with the nurse at work, I had to return to work by November 17th in order to keep my job. That was also my dads birthday and I was torn with staying longer to celebrate with him or to head back and keep my job. Today was October 30, 2008, and I had just 18 days until my work had to begin again, or else.

In talking things through with him, dad made it clear he wanted us to go back to Colorado and for me to keep my job. So that was what we were going to do. At my next appointment with Dr. Faraday in a few days, I would let him know about the decision I had to make and see if he was going to release me from his care in time to return for work or if I would be staying much longer than I had anticipated or even hoped. After finishing my talk with dad just as his favorite news talk shows were about to begin, I felt a wave of peace flow from my head down to my toes and I knew, without a doubt, everything was going to work out just fine.

With the minor set-backs we had experienced with the infection and the allergic reaction to Vancomycin, blessings were beginning to replace disappointments one-by-one every few days. It was incredibly refreshing to know that after everything my family and I had experienced and what we had endured for these past two months, God was now turning around for the good. His timing is nothing we can predict. But we still need to have the faith to know He is there for us and will take care of us, even if no one else is.

While dad and I were finishing talking, mom was cooking dinner and my grandparents stopped by the house. My grandparents would usually stop by my parents as they were on their way home from Costco shopping or medical appointments at City of Hope. My grandfather would always come in say hello to dad and I after they first arrived, then go back to into the kitchen and talk with mom while she cooked. Grandma usually just stayed in the kitchen with mom until they were close to going home, then she would come into the doorway of the den, say hello/goodbye and maybe give me a hug before heading back to the kitchen to leave. This was the routine they were known for because dad was always watching Fox News during the dinner hours and didn't want to talk, so they took the hint and left him alone. Mom was always really good about filling my grandparents in on the conversations with the doctors since they couldn't talk with me in the den while my dad was watching Fox. That was okay, because he was the most informed in the family about what was going on in the world and the world of politics.

I was going to have another physical therapy session in the morning, so I would be talking with Dr. Christian about the potential plans to leave and see what he thought about our proposed schedule. If all the doctors were on board, I would be back to work on Monday, November 17th. I could hardly wait to let me friends know once I knew for sure. But, I started texting them and calling anyhow, as I could hardly contain myself.

Next..."Making Plans."

"The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace."
Psalm 29:11

Has there been a time when you felt the peace of God come over you during trouble and you knew the Lord was going to work everything out? Share that moment with us here.

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