Lea seemed to take a bit of a turn for the worse today. She didn’t feel well when she got up this morning, and was lightheaded, a little dizzy, and wasn’t hungry. I was able to get her to eat a little breakfast cereal, but by the time she finished eating she was nauseous. It reminded me of Hartford. She went through this stage when she was in the step down unit at Hartford Hospital, and got jaundiced by the combination of chemicals she was getting. Dr Mah ordered a CT scan when the condition continued for three days, and that’s when they discovered the liver damage.
Her liquid food was changed, and she was taken off medications that metabolize in the liver, and the condition was quickly reversed. However, I recall how miserably nauseated she got, and how long it was for her to get over the sickness. The poor thing was going through that sickness when her friends Lou and Sherri flew out to be with her for a couple of days. My concern today, based on what I saw back then, was that she was getting enough Tylenol, and medications that have Tylenol in them (such as her prescribed Vicodin) that she may be getting some liver damage again.
She doesn’t have a lot of margin for error when it comes to her major organs. They are good enough to take care of things as long as we don’t upset them in any way, but any trauma, physical or chemical, can get very serious very quickly. So, I got her situated on the couch in the living room, with her leg in the CPM machine, gave her the TV control, a crossword puzzle book, and a tall glass of ice water, and started the CPM machine on its exercise routine. I don’t think it took her 15 minutes to fall right back to sleep. As soon as I could get through to the doctor’s office, I made an appointment to get her in right after teaching my mid-day class.
When I woke her to give her the noontime doze of Dilaudid, she was sicker and weaker than she was earlier in the day, and didn’t want to eat any lunch. I took her temperature a couple of times, and had her do an extra blood sugar test, both of which were just fine. She made herself start getting ready to go to the doctor, and, as often happens, by the time we arrived at his office, she was feeling a little better. Dr Miller didn’t find anything obvious wrong with her.
Her blood pressure, lungs, sinuses, pulse, wound in the operated area, everything checked out okay. If anything, her blood pressure may be a little low. As she responded to his questions about what she was experiencing, she told him about the dizziness, nausea and the general weakness. I filled in detail about feeling hot and then cold for extended periods, feeling intense, dull, pain for periods in between doses of medication, and that she seemed to have gotten sicker each of the last three days.
I commented that I was concerned that she may experiencing some liver damage from the Tylenol pain medications she is taking, and he agreed that we need to check that right away. He said he also suspected she may be a little anemic from not eating her normal diet. He ordered blood work, and told me to take her to the hospital right then to get the blood work done. He said he would check it and call us that same night with the results.
While we were at the hospital, as I was pushing her past the cafeteria on the way back from the lab, she decided that maybe she could eat a snack. We looked over the selection of deli items available in the middle of the afternoon, and she picked out a tuna salad croissant sandwich, some jalapeno potato chips, and a diet cola. We sat in the cafeteria watching folks come and go while she consumed her snack.
From there I took her back home, and she lay down on the couch, exercising her knee again. We later had a light supper of soup and sandwich, and she went right to bed, saying she didn’t feel well. I knew it would be several hours before I would hear from Dr Miller, so I busied myself with watering the lawn, pulling a few weeds, doing dishes, and whatever else I could find to take my mind off my concern for her health. I know this is all in His hands, and this is all part of His plan, but I can’t help fearing that things can go wrong.
I have felt so aggrieved over her pain and suffering so many times over the past couple of years, that I have asked her from time to time whether she is happy to be here, in spite of her condition. She says that she is happy, but that she would just like to have her health back. She misses the ability to walk normally. She misses being able to drive herself when she wants to go somewhere. She misses being with girlfriends. She simply misses what we think of as a normal life. Hopefully, this knee replacement is going to eventually let her regain the ability to walk normally. (Please, God!)
Dr Miller called late tonight (I wonder when he ever gets any sleep?) to report that the lab results showed that her liver is just fine. The hemoglobin levels are normal, lipids are normal, and there are no indications of jaundice. Praise God! However, she is a little dehydrated, and her potassium is way high . . . nearly three times normal. So, we are going to try a couple of things. First, he is having us stop her nightly dose of one of the blood pressure medications, which will reduce the daily intake of potassium, and he wants her to try to drink as much as possible over the next couple of weeks to see if she can get her electrolytes back in balance.
He also is switching one of her pain medications to Darvoset, which metabolizes outside the liver, and will reduce the chance of any negative effects the Tylenol may be causing. All in all her labs look pretty good, and the Lord has lifted another heavy weight off my shoulders. Thank you, Father, for our many, many blessings! Amen!