Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Charlie's Adventure Part 3

Part 1, Part 2

So Monday rolls around and we are both pretty nervous.  We spent the day watching TV, reading, and praying.  And by we, I mean me, because Charlie was pretty knocked out from the anti-anxiety meds they had given him.  Although not so knocked out that he wasn't still pretty nervous about the entire thing.

I had been praying a few times throughout the day that our favorite nurse Wanita would be back tonight since she was so helpful in calming us and is really just an overall excellent nurse.  Shift change comes around and in she walks!  I really couldn't contain my excitement.

When she came in I had told her that I had prayed she would be our nurse that night and I honestly didn't even know if she was working that day.  I then thanked God for small answers.  Wanita was wonderful.  She spent a good portion of the evening "preaching" to us, calming us, and praying with us.  She was amazing!

The next morning she woke us up pretty early (5am, I wasn't even aware there was a 5am!) to start getting Charlie prepped for surgery.  I was thankful she let me assist with this as it helped to take my mind off of what was coming next.

They took Charlie back and once again I found myself in the waiting room.  This was a longer procedure than the first 2 and was to last around 3 hours.  Our pastor came and sat with me the majority of the time and there was also another group in the waiting room that I talked with some and they were super nice.

The chaplain came in about every 30-45 minutes and updated me on the progress of the surgery and let me know that everything was going fine and just as planned.  About 2 1/2 hours into it he came and told me that they were getting ready to close Charlie up and he would be back shortly to take me to the counsel room to wait on the surgeon.

Honestly, this is my favorite part of the story.  I was sitting in the counsel room waiting on the surgeon to come and talk to me.  I really had a peace the entire time Charlie was in surgery, but the longer I sat waiting and the more times the chaplain came by to see if the surgeon had come out yet really started getting to me.  Crazy things started running through my head and I knew it was Satan putting these crazy thoughts in my head.  I threw my hands up in the air and cried out "Jesus!"  That's all I said, that's all I needed to say.  Just a couple of minutes later, I wrote the following entry in my journal:

"Waiting on the surgeon in the counsel room, getting worried because it's taking longer than I think it should."  I hear a small voice, "My child, why do you worry?  Don't you know that I've got this?"  

It still gives me chills typing it out.  Yes, Jesus, I do know that you've got this, and you have had it the entire time.  At that very moment all worry washed away and I was once again peaceful.  Just a few moments later the surgeon came in and told me that he did exceptionally well during surgery and everything went as planned.  He said we should be able to go home in 3-5 days.

I was able to go back to Charlie's room about an hour after he came back from surgery.  Honestly it was a terrible sight.  He was on the ventilator and had tubes coming and going everywhere.  The nursing staff had prepared me for this but there really is no preparation for seeing someone you love lying in a hospital bed on a ventilator.  They kept him on a ventilator overnight and extubated him the next morning so that his body could have some time to rest and recover from the trauma that was his heart surgery.  

The next few days were pretty rough on him, but he did excellent.  Five days after his major surgery we were released to go home!  We were both pretty nervous because we had had a pretty bad ice storm and the roads were in terrible condition.  But we made it and I don't think he had ever been so happy to see that semi-comfortable recliner that sits in our living room!  

Charlie has made amazing progress and I am so proud of how hard he has been working to get to where he is at.  He has been in so much pain and worked through it through physical therapy to regain his strength.  He still has some ways to go but each day is getting a little bit better for him.  He is now almost 6 weeks post-op and doing fantastic.  He should be able to go back to work very soon (hopefully)!  

We appreciate each and every person that lifted us up in prayer during the time he was in the hospital, and those of you that continue to lift him up for continued healing.  You will never know how much it means to us.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Charlie's Adventure Part 2

* If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

Charlie was being transported by ambulance to Bentonville so that the cardiologist there could do the pericardiocentisis.  I was an absolute nervous wreck.  But when my cousin stepped in the room to transport my husband it really made me feel a little more at ease.  I had just told Charlie a few minutes before they arrived that I had hoped that Brett would be the one taking him over.  Not that I don't have faith in any of the other wonderful EMT/Paramedics that our town has, but there's just something about having someone you completely know and trust being there with him when I couldn't be.

They gave me the directions to the hospital and I took off.  I sat in the parking lot for a good 5-10 minutes waiting for the ambulance to arrive, wondering if I had mistakenly gone to the wrong hospital.  When they finally arrived Charlie and my cousin were giving the driver a hard time because they had never had a family member beat them to the hospital!  And I promise, I drove the speed limit.  I didn't drive fast because I was spending this time in prayer.  It was the only thing that was keeping me calm.

We get up to the ICU and are bombarded with questions.  I'm trying to answer as many of the questions that I can because they immediately started hooking Charlie up to all the different machines and monitors that they needed him hooked up to.  Within about 10 minutes of us being there, they had already come in and started doing several different tests.

About an hour or so after we arrived, our new cardiologist came in and advised us that Charlie would be going to surgery first thing in the morning because there was so much fluid around his heart that it could quickly become an emergent situation.  That really took my breath away.  He doesn't get sick.  He barely gets a cold.  And now we are facing a near emergency surgery!

Honestly, I was scared.  Charlie was scared.  I did my best to keep strong when I was in the room with him, but there were many times I would step outside and cry and scream, beat my fists against the steering wheel, whatever I could do.  I also spent many hours in prayer.  As I said earlier, it was really the only thing that was keeping me going.

The nurse that we had that night before surgery was the best nurse ever!  I know she was sent to be our nurse and God had his hand in it every step of the way.  Her name was Wanita.  She had this amazing accent that I just loved to hear.  I could sit and listen to her talk all day long.  She was from Liberia.  She could see that we were both worried and kept telling us that he was going to be just fine because Jesus had this. She said you just tell Jesus to tell the devil he can hit the road and honey that stinkin' devil ain't got no choice. She said I'm a Jesus praisin' devil stompin' believer and I'm gonna be right here with you and I know you're gonna be just fine. God always knows just what we need right when we need it.

So he gets prepped for surgery, and I go wait in the waiting room.  This is supposed to be about an hour long procedure.  Around the one hour mark, the surgeon came out and took me to the consult room.  He told me that they were unable to do the procedure for a couple of different reasons and that they would be calling in the Cardiothoracic surgeon to make a small incision just below his breast bone in order to do a pericardial window.

So they bring him back to his room and I am able to go back and see him for a little while.  He's in pain, but overall doing pretty well.  Then he looks up at me and asks me the question I had not wanted to answer.  "Surgery?"  I wanted to tell him "No, everything is fine and we'll be going home tomorrow."  But I couldn't do that.  I had to tell him "yes."  I told him through stinging tears in my eyes.  While I watched the tears well up in his.  Surgery is scary.  Anytime.  But when you're dealing with the heart of an otherwise healthy person, it's really scary.

So we prayed.  We prayed hard.  I prayed for him.  He prayed for me.  As scary as it was, this was one of the most precious moments in our marriage.  There is absolutely nothing more amazing than hearing your spouse intercede on your behalf.  As a side note to Charlie's Adventure, I'd like to tell you that if you haven't prayed for your spouse I highly suggest you do.  I plan on doing a post soon about this but just do it!

Back to the story.  They came and re-prepped him for his second surgery and I once again went out to the waiting room.  This was also about an hour long wait, which in the world of heart surgeries is extremely short.  The surgeon soon came and told me that he had done wonderfully and that I could go back to his room and see him in about an hour.  So I ran and grabbed something to eat and came back to his room.

He was soooo sleepy.  He was on morphine.  As much as I hated to see my husband lying in that bed, my husband on morphine is HILARIOUS!  He's always been able to make me laugh in even my darkest days but the words that came out of his mouth while on morphine were fantastic.

The next few days were full of lying in bed, getting out of bed, trying to walk, what seemed like a million different doctors coming in and out, and meds around the clock.  His first surgery was on a Wednesday.  On Friday one of the cardiologist partners came in and told us that the window had not worked.  There was still too much fluid draining and they didn't like that.  So the new plan was to do an open heart procedure to strip the pericardium and also a MAZE procedure to correct the atrial fibrillation.

After having been in the hospital a week at this point and experiencing many ups and downs, I couldn't hold it in any longer.  I lost it.  Right there in front of my husband and the cardiologist.  I had tried so hard to control my emotions and be strong for Charlie while he was in this situation but I just couldn't do it any longer.  The cardiologist was excellent.  He knew exactly what to say to calm us both down and told me in not so many words that he knew I had a great husband because he could see the worry on his face because he knew I was worried.  I was still scared.  Charlie knew it.  We both were scared.  I knew many people that have had open heart surgeries but they were my grandparents and a couple of other people that were my grandparents ages.  Not my husband.  Not someone this young and healthy.

The cardiologist told us that more than likely the surgery would be scheduled for Tuesday because Monday was already booked.  This gave us all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to mull over the seriousness of the surgery and worry.  Because that's what we tend to do...worry.  Even though we shouldn't.  We do.  Because even though we know we have Jesus standing right beside us, we are still human and we still have troubles placing it all in His hands like we are supposed to and not worrying one bit.

This was the longest weekend ever.  Luckily for Charlie he was the patient so the doctor gave him some anti anxiety medication.  I on the other hand just prayed and prayed.  I really didn't know what else to do.

To be continued...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

This kid...seriously.

Because who's child doesn't pretend they are a cat and drinks milk out of a small bowl?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Charlie's Adventure Part 1

November 23-November 26:

We are sitting at home having a relaxing Saturday afternoon just Charlie, myself, and Brooke.
Charlie lays down for a nap, which I thought was unusual considering it was only about noon. He said he was just feeling a little odd. Not sick, just kinda icky. A couple of hours later he wakes up and as he sits up he holds his chest. I ask him if he is alright and he responds that he just feels some tightness in his chest.

About an hour later I realize that every time he has taken a deep breath, he has grabbed his chest and winced some. I again ask him if he's okay and he responds that he's feeling some discomfort. He likened it to when it is very cold outside and the burning sensation you feel in your lungs as you take a deep breath.
I tell him we should probably go get him checked out just to be on the safe side. I called my babysitter to come watch Brooke and we head out.
In the back of my head I figure he will probably be diagnosed with pleurisy or bronchitis,  we'll get some antibiotics and be home in a few hours.

I never in my life imagined how wrong I would be.

Since he had chest discomfort he was taken straight back and an EKG was performed. Shortly after, the nurse asked if he had ever been diagnosed with any heart problems. I asked her if there was something that showed on the EKG, since when she asked she had a semi-concerned look on her face. She non-nonchalantly said he just has an irregular rhythm. Turns out this rhythm was atrial fibrillation.

We were both shocked. Charlie has never had any serious health issues, and frankly, rarely gets sick.  Even with colds.

They also ordered a chest x-ray which showed what looked to be an enlarged heart.
So, he was admitted. My husband has not been admitted into the hospital since he was 12 years old when he had his tonsils taken out.

Fear, worry, anxiety, shock. I felt it all within about .02 seconds. And I know Charlie felt all of these as well. 

Being that it was a Saturday evening and we were in a fairly small hospital who doesn't really do much on Sunday's,  we had to wait until Monday to find out what was going on. Yes, the Dr came in and spoke to us Sunday, but we didn't have any kind of answer until Monday.

They did an echo-cardiogram,  which is an ultrasound of the heart, and also did a 2 part stress test. Monday they did the first part which required an injection of radioactive dye and a ct scan. Tuesday, the second part of the test was completed in which the inject a medicine to stress the heart while they monitor it on an EKG machine and monitor his blood pressure and then they run another ct scan looking for blockages.

On Monday after the echo, Dr.  Butler informed us that Charlie's heart was not enlarged but that he did have a buildup of fluid in his pericardial sac. This is known as a pericardial effusion.

On Tuesday, the cardiologist informed us he wanted us to be transferred to a different hospital to have the fluid drained from the pericardial sac. And he also finished the stress test which showed no blockages.

So, Charlie was transported by ambulance to Northwest in Bentonville to the ICU.

This is getting super long and there's still many days left, so I'll give you a reading break and do a part 2 soon.

You can now read Part 1 and Part 2.

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