Let’s just jump in and get you updated. Last Friday morning, after a long week of fairly hard work (both physical and mental), I dragged myself out of bed and got ready to go to work. I went downstairs, had a seat and started having kind of attack- I started shaking, my breathing was labored and uneven, I lost color, was exhausted, I became a little disoriented, and I started throwing up. Normally, that’s something I might wait out for thirty minutes or so, then head on into work. Thankfully, in a rare moment of common sense, I asked Denise to take me to the doctor. Once I got there, they got me hooked up to an IV and administered whatever, started running labs, and I fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke, I was still tired, but otherwise fine.
The doctor came out a few minutes later and had the gall to tell me that he was admitting me to the hospital, on a Friday! After having worked a hard week, I was looking forward to that weekend at home with the family. I argued my case, but lost. I had an awful feeling about this hospital admission. It was only supposed to be for the day- but the last time something like this happened was last Fall in Houston. You may recall that I was supposed to go into the hospital for a day, and came out almost a month later and 35 lbs lighter. I also got the parting gift of all sorts of new hardware inside and outside of my body. It’s fair to say that I didn’t want to do this. I actually considered making a run for it, but D was driving so we ended up at the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital, checked in, headed to the room, got my gown on, and before I could get my non-slip socks on, a crew of folks bum-rushed the room, and said “we’re going to ICU…now.” Which is fine by me because (not to sound too callous but) the customer service is better, as is the information you get. Once they got me plugged into all of the sensors, probes, monitors, and collected some data, and get some lab results, they made the call – sepsis. Yes, ladies and gents, for the second time in less than a year, I was in an ICU fighting for my life (dramatic, huh?) against my own body. Sepsis is pretty serious business. As with last Fall, however, after a couple of hours of working all manner of IV meds and administering some pressors, they were able to stabilize me. The funny thing is that in both cases, I don’t remember feeling particularly bad during the “fight for life”, in fact, I think I was texting people this time around.
After they got me stabilized, they turned their attention to finding the infection. They sent all of my cultures off to a remote lab, but naturally it’s the weekend, so there’s no telling when those are coming back. We did however, have time for a CT scan to see if it could tell us anything. It did. The apparent source of my problem is an abscess in my liver. It’s basically a portion of tumor that the chemo has killed. What was left behind are necrotic cells, a pocket of air, and about 40 cc’s of fluid- prime breeding ground for an infection.
On Sunday they went in and installed another liver drain (I’ve got a pair now!) to drain the air and fluid. They sent some samples off for labs, and when they came back we found that I’ve got some form of gram-negative bacteria running around in there. Fortunately, there exists just the right antibiotic to treat my specific bacteria. Story over, we’ve got a diagnosis, a course of treatment, and I’m ready to go home, right? Wrong.
Monday: Sorry, you can’t go home, we’re starting the IV antibiotic that will fix you. For the next fourteen days you’ll get it every eight hours, and each dose runs about four hours. (Uh…excuse me? IV antibiotics? Fourteen days? Starting now?)
Tuesday: Sorry, you can’t go home, but we’ll let you out of ICU. How do you like your new antibiotics (giggles).
Wednesday: Sorry, you can’t go home (we just like saying that). But when you do, the deal still stands with the antibiotics- It’s an IV treatment for twelve days, every eight hours, four-hour doses. We’ll get you an IV pole and infusion pump. Don’t plan on leaving your house. (Uh…excuse me?)
Thursday: OK, we’ll let you go home, and since we’re in a generous mood, we might just hook you up to this new-fangled portable IV pump that runs for 24 hours. That will allow you to leave the house from time to time- but there’s a catch, you have to wear a large fanny pack. Oh, and we’re sending home health care workers to your house every day.
The final accounting for this 1-day hospital visit: 7 days in the hospital, 5 days in the ICU, and 6 lbs. lost. Not as bad as Houston, but not good.
I woke up Friday morning in my own bed. Oh, the pure and utter joy of relaxing in the bed, enjoying memories of being reunited with the family the night before, as well as the familiar sights and sounds of the Rushing house. Later in the morning, I joined the conference call for the Design Studio Board Meeting. What a breath of fresh air- and literally the first time in a week I’ve spoken with people who aren’t in the medical field or related to me. As our Chairman was in the process of noting who was in the room, who was going to miss this meeting, and who was on call, he introduced me: “and from the small grey box on the table, we have our Executive Director, Christian Rushing”. To which I replied “Mr. Chairman if you refer to me as being in a small grey box again, we’re going to have a problem”. Hilarity ensued. (queue the laugh track).
This weekend I’ve been at home enjoying being with the family, wearing my fanny pack of IV chemicals, and meeting with a new home health care nurse every day. I’ve had some pain from my new liver drain, some general soreness, and considerable fatigue. On the bright side, each of those issues seem to be trending better. I now get to return from the bizarro-land that is American medicine, and resume LIFE. I’m not completely out of the woods, but things seem to be looking up. I’ve got the next 8 days to balance work and rest, and I’m going to try to try to maintain a balance…seriously…I mean it.
I love ya’ll, and I hope you’re all well and enjoying your lives. Every note, text, email, and card you send is a blessing, and is genuinely appreciated (prayers especially). Ya'll are the best group of friends a man could ever ask for- I'm blessed indeed. So, until next time, ya’ll be good.
Tune for the week. A very tough call, but in the end it’s got be something that expresses how angry I was for most of the week, and with a title like Waiting Room, the title also touches on the value of time.