Right after lunch Lea’s nurse came in and removed the Foley catheter and told Lea that if she was able to consume enough fluids to get her bladder working normally again the IV could be removed. The fluids were left in place for the time being, however, to make sure she was getting enough fluid to get the bladder functioning. That made her feel good, as seeing the catheter go away was evidence that she is getting better.

Early this afternoon Lea was hurt enough to make her cry out sharply when her surgical support hose was being put over the operative area on her right leg. The therapist got the hose onto her foot and up to just below her knee when she had to release the hose to get a different grip so she could pull it up over the operated area. Unfortunately, she released the hose right over the badly bruised and swollen lower incision, and then she had to force her thumbs into the bruised flesh to get under the hose again, which caused even sharper pain.

Lea was on the phone talking to our son Link at the time, and was telling him that she was feeling much better today, had a very good lunch and nap, and had just gone walking and gotten back into bed. She then yelled out loudly, began sobbing, and wasn’t able to continue talking to him. I almost felt as sorry for him as I did for her. He had called yesterday and had the misfortune of calling during her really painful sessions. I’m sure he felt badly all day for her. And, then he called back today and had this happen!

It took her over an hour to overcome the pain, and she was concerned that her tightening up and the hard crying was going to hurt her internal organs or skin graft. That made me feel bad, because we had taken her binder off earlier in the day to give her lower back a break, and I hadn’t even thought about her not having it on when the therapist got her out of bed to go walking. If she had stumbled and fallen without the binder on it could be catastrophic, and I didn’t have the presence of mind to remember that she didn’t have it on! I can be so thick headed sometimes I astonish myself!

The nurses were trying to wean her off the morphine at that point, and had taken her PCA away from her. They wanted her to be off the morphine for as long as possible so they could start her on Dilaudid. The PCA was still connected, but the button was hanging out of her view, and she handling not getting any morphine just fine. When she shouted out and began crying uncontrollably I went to the other side of the bed and pressed the PCA button to give her a dose of morphine, but it still took a long while to take the edge off the pain.

About three o’clock the nurse came in and gave her a 3 mg Dilaudid and said she would get another one every six hours to control her pain. Lea almost immediately laid her head back into the pillow and relaxed, knowing that relief was on the way. It made me smile as I remembered our days in Hartford Hospital where she often would immediately drop off to sleep before the medicine had a chance to take effect.

About 5:15 PM she needed to go the restroom and rang for assistance. It was a long, uncomfortable wait until our nursing technician got free to help her, and Lea wasn’t sure she could hold out. I told her not to worry about it, if she couldn’t hold it, we’d just have to clean up her bed. I’ve done it before. I didn’t feel comfortable helping her into the bathroom by myself yet, as I would have to help her balance in the walker, protect her leg and drag the IV tower along as well.

The nursing tech arrived just as Lea had reached her bladder limit, but we were not yet prepared. The tech had to run to find a raised seat for Lea to use, and came back with one so oversized it would only fit over the stool at an angle. But, we weren’t going to argue at that point. The important thing was to get relief! We don’t know what her output was as we didn’t have a measuring bowl.

At around six o’clock the effects of the Dilaudid were wearing off and she was feeling considerable dull, throbbing, pain again. She rang for help. After talking with a new nurse who had just come on duty and helping her understand the situation, the nurse had to go check some details before she could do anything. Lea’s pain continued to increase, and she began to become frenzied.

Eventually, the nurse contacted Dr Cittadine and got authorization to give her an injection of morphine to try to stabilize her until the next Dilaudid dose at nine o’clock. The doctor also increased her Dilaudid dose to 4 milligrams, every six hours. I regret seeing the dosage go so high, and the frequency increased again after we have worked so hard to reduce it over the past several months, but, admittedly, I can’t stand seeing her in pain, either.

We also had some very pleasant events today. My mother came up to the room carrying a tray of food from the cafeteria, and joined us as we were preparing to have lunch. We had a pleasant lunch together, and mom sat and visited with us until late afternoon. Lou came back, and got to see Lea in better spirits than yesterday. Lou’s grandson, Brandon was with her, and it was a delight for Lea to see him again. Unfortunately, they happened to be visiting while Lea went for her walk, and then was hurt so badly.

At dinner time, our neighbor, Teri, her daughter, Madalynne, and a playmate, stopped by with a beautiful flower basket and a gift bag stuffed with Starbucks goodies. Although Lea was in quite a bit of pain during their visit, she was elated to see them, and was able to visit a little. They didn’t stay long because our dinner trays had just arrived and I was trying to get Lea interested in eating.

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After dinner Lea had to go to the restroom again. She asked me if I could help her, and I replied that I would rather she rang for assistance. She did. And, we waited. We waited until she couldn’t any longer, and said I was just going to have to do the best I could to help her, because she was going to go to the bathroom! (That’s my Lea.) So, we went to the bathroom without any problems, and just as I was tucking her back into bed the nursing tech arrived. She helped me rearrange the bed, measured Lea’s output, and went off to help the next patient.

Lea slept most of the evening, waking long enough for us to put her leg in the CPM for another two hour exercise program, but then went right back to sleep without a whimper. She slept through the two hour course without any problem, and should be just fine now that the dose levels are high enough to be effective. Hopefully, she will have another great night and make more substantial progress over the weekend. If that happens, it may be possible for us to go home on Monday.

Oh, Father, I pray tonight for peace and comfort for Lea. Please continue to place Your hand in the healing process that she might recover quickly and without complications. Give us patience with our caregivers who are stretched so thin it is very difficult to give the quality care we know they would like to provide. Bless this hospital administration and leadership with the wisdom they need to continue improving the services they provide to this growing community. Bless, too, those wonderful friends who have provided support and expressions of compassion and love during this difficult time. Thank You, Father, for the privilege of being a messenger of Your divine will at work in our lives, and for providing for our needs. We give You the glory, Lord, and lift these things up in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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