Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Nearly two weeks since I've written....time flies when you're swamped! Randy has now had all his staples and stitches removed and is doing just beautifully. His cardiac surgeon is really pleased with him. They sent a notice to cardiac rehab in Bristol to contact us. I asked if they'd be able to set up his rehab visits after my work hours; the cardiac nurse said she wasn't sure, but if they weren't able to we shouldn't worry about it. We should just go walk. Randy's been walking and is getting stronger all the time. His biggest complaint is that the hair growing back on his chest is all itchy and aggravating. We have an appointment to see his neurologist on the 23rd.

Christmas shopping is finished (I hope) and wrapping's all done. I've already exchanged gifts with my friends at work. Made homemade fudge (chocolate and peanut butter) Sunday afternoon while Randy was "Mom-sitting" while Sharon & Bill went shopping.

I've tried to get in bed early for the past several nights without any luck. I announced during a phone call to Randy earlier today that this evening, regardless of whether anyone wants to come visit or not, I'm going to go home, eat a hot dog, and go to BED. Anyone who drops by unannounced will be deprived of the pleasure of my company!!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Dinner last night was great; Randy's chili was wonderful, as always, and Dewayne and Kim enjoyed it. Like the song says, the weather outside was frightful, but the fire was so delightful! I just love a good excuse to have a fire in the fireplace.

I tried to get Randy an appointment with his neurologist, Dr. Z (who he's supposed to see every six months). He missed an appointment with him on September 29 because of all the things he had going on with his heart. As it turns out, Dr. Z is based in Norton, VA and only comes to the neurology group in Kingsport one morning a week. *sheesh* So, we called Dr. W, the neurosurgeon who was so wonderful when Randy needed his shunt relocated before bypass surgery. Dr. W will accept him as a neurology patient, so we're very pleased. I'm going to call the neurology office in Kingsport after lunch to have his records transferred.

As if I'm not fighting enough battles with medical offices these days, I just found out this morning that my dentist is not a participating provider with my insurance company. He never HAS been, but it was never a problem before now. I work for the state, and the state is self-insured. Up until July 1, Trigon was administering their claims; only July 1 they switched to Anthem. Trigon never had a problem with my dentist, but apparently Anthem does. I might have to change dentists.....and I LOVE my dentist, dadgum it. My dentist, though, is checking with Anthem to see how much grief it is to become a participating provider. (He has several patients who have the same insurance I do.) So right now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't have to switch. What a day.

Right now I'm also hoping that some predicted snowfall arrives in our area early enough to get us sent home a little early today. I could use a couple of extra hours at home.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Dewayne and Kim (and maybe Kim's sister Crystal and her baby) are coming to our apartment tonight for Randy's chili. I'm worn out, but Randy's having a ball cooking while I'm at work.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

We were both so worn out this evening we went to bed really early and watched a movie all snuggled up with Meggie. This is a really busy time for me at the office, and after all the strain of Randy's surgery I guess I finally came unwound!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Gladys, Anita, Lindsay and Noah came to visit and brought Randy a really nice fruit basket. Meggie and Noah became fast friends immediately. Randy was a little tired when they left, but they always make him a little tired. *LOL*

Monday, December 01, 2003

He continues to do really well; the sutures in his leg are looking much better than they did for a few days. I was beginning to get a little worried. His chest incision still looks great.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Randy wanted to go walking on the new walking trail near our apartment this afternoon and walked a mile with hardly any effort at all. He felt fine afterwards; Meggie and I needed a nap.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Randy's helping with some light housekeeping stuff (unloading the dishwasher, folding towels, and such) and walking a great deal. He'll be happy when the staples come out of his chest incision (Dec. 10), but seems to be resting better at night now.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Randy gets stronger each day; still badly bruised from the IV incident and fussing about not being able to sleep because of incision but otherwise great.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Had a great Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad came over to spend the afternoon with us, and we all ate too much terrific food. Meggie is noticably protective of Randy, making sure no one gets too close. :-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Some problems sleeping because of post-op pain, but otherwise he's doing great.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Back to Dr. W's office to have sutures removed from the incisions made to relocate the brain shunt. Incisions look good, and steri-strips were applied.

Monday, November 24, 2003

The second chest drain came out this morning, and I was able to bring him home this afternoon, thank goodness! He's tired, but seems to feel better just because he's finally home.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

One chest drain came out, but one had to stay. Dang it. Bill, Gladys, Jeff, and Lindsay came to visit. I took a quick shopping break to go to Target while Randy was watching the Cowboys play.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

I went home for a couple of hours this morning to do a load of laundry and check on Meg. I figured since it was Saturday Randy would have tons of visitors. As of 4:00 pm (when I went to the cafeteria) no one had come or even called. Not a soul. I asked about 3:00 if he wanted to call his granddaughter, Sky, and we did. I was furious that none of his family checked on him today. Dr. K came by and said his chest drains should come out tomorrow and he will probably go home Monday or Tuesday.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Oxygen and chest tubes still remain. A blood test resulted in a dose of iron and potassium and a unit of blood. The IV they'd left after surgery had collapsed, and it took the nurse several sticks to get another started. There was only a small amount (30 cc) of the unit remaining when the IV stopped working. It took two nurses and several more sticks to get another IV running enough to get the rest of the unit in. Randy got so sick he couldn't eat dinner until several hours later. His sister Sharon and her husband Bill came to visit. His son Dewayne and his girlfriend Kim came by later.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I ran home for a few hours to check on Meggie, get the mail in, and such. No visitors, but that was okay since we were both so tired.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Randy's cousin Kathy and another cousin, Jimmy visited in the afternoon. Gary came to visit after work. Bill, Gladys, Anita, Lindsay, and Noah came, too. Randy was very tired, but glad to see them.
Surgery lasted about 4-1/2 hours. Dr. K did three bypasses and said everything went really well. Mom and Dad came to wait with me, and Randy's brother Bill with his wife Gladys and daughter Anita. Randy's brother Gerald also came to wait. Anita had to leave around noon to take her son Noah to the doctor, and Bill & Gladys had to leave just arter 2:00 to be home when Anita's daughter Lindsay got home from school. Mom and Dad waited until I was notified that I could go to ICU to see Randy. They had driven up from Pigeon Forge (where they were taking a mini-vacation) and were heading back to their camper. Gerald went back to ICU with me. I was prepared for the IVs, ventilator, and drains, so the only surprise I got was that they had shaved Randy's head. (In case they had to do more than relocate the brain shunt.) He was pretty uncomfortable and fighting the ventilator, so our first visit was short. A couple of hours later, he was more alert but still fighting the ventilator. Gerald went home, and Randy's brother Gary arrived. He stayed a good while, until 8:00 or so. He went to ICU with me twice. As he was leaving, their cousin Kathy arrived and stayed a little while. When I went back to see Randy at 8:30, they'd removed the ventilator but were having trouble controlling his pain. Morphine in his IV didn't seem to be helping. When he became alert enough later to take oral pain medication, it made a big difference. At 9:30 they asked me to wait in the waiting room while they put him on the side of the bed and let his feet dangle for a few minutes. When I returned, they'd moved a straight-backed chair into the room and left a pillow and blankets for me to stay the night, even though they advised me to go home and rest. I told them that 1) I wanted to stay with him, and 2) I'd been up since 3:00 a.m. and it wasn't safe for me to drive anyway. So I managed to sleep a little. He had a pretty good night, all things considered. ICU isn't the best place to try to get any rest. At 6:00 I went to take a "bird bath" in the ladies' room, changed clothes and had a light breakfast. Then I made all the ncessary calls.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

We arrived at the hospital a little earlier than our 5:00 a.m. appointment, but were not kept waiting long. After we checked in, we were escorted to Room 2323. Randy was asked to change into a hospital gown. After he was in bed, vitals were checked and blood was drawn for type and crossmatch. He was told that he wouldn't be transferred to the surgical holding area until 7:00 and we were left for him to rest until that time. He turned the TV to ESPN to watch "Sportscenter" and promptly dozed off. When the nurses arrived to take him to the holding area, they had to actually wake him up to give him Valium. I went to the ICU waiting area and spoke to the family advocate who assured me that I would be given frequent updates by cellphone, but it would be awhile since surgery was scheduled for 9:00. I went to the cafeteria for a light breakfast and called Daddy and Randy's sister Sharon to let them know that my cellphone was on.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Yesterday we went to Dr. K's office to get the paperwork for Randy's pre-admission labwork. We thought this would involved drawing blood and going home. WRONG! We went to short-stay surgery to get the work done; they were very busy, so we waiting a hour and a half past his appointment time for them to even start on him. However, once we were in their pre-admission testing area, everything went along quickly. They did a urinalysis, took blood, and did a new chest x-ray. They we went through orientation sessions with a pre-admissions nurse, a representative of cardiac rehabilitation, and an anesthesiologist. They gave us lots of reading material and a videotape telling us what to expect during his hospital stay. The pre-admission process took much longer than we'd anticipated, but they went to great lengths to make us both feel well-prepared for his surgery.

We have to be at JCMC at 5:00 a.m. next Tuesday; his surgery is scheduled for 9:00, but they have a lot of prep work to do before surgery actually begins. He has to shower Monday night with a special antibacterial scrub and again before we leave Tuesday morning. So, my best estimate is that we'll have to be up by 3:30 a.m. Tuesday at the LATEST.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Randy's "nitro headache" was back yesterday, but he just generally felt bad all day. (Probably from being out and about too much on Sunday.) Hopefully today will be better. He didn't sleep very well last night, but he has a lot on his mind. Surgery's a week from today, so that's a lot to think about.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Dr. K's office called; Randy has to have pre-op labwork done on Nov. 13, and surgery will be on Nov. 18.
The new pill to replace the nitro patch seems to be working better. He had only a slight headache yesterday afternoon, so we're hopeful. Still waiting to hear from Dr. K's nurse with a firm surgery date.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

The new pill has given Randy another headache. I told him that we'd give it 2 or 3 days, and if he still has a headache he'll have to choose which one gives him the lesser headache because he'll have to use one or the other until he has his bypass surgery.

Friday, November 07, 2003

I called Dr. P's office (cardiologist) to see if anything can be done about the headache Randy has the whole time he's wearing a Minitran patch. We thought it would wear off in 2 or 3 days, but it hasn't. Dr. P's nurse returned my call and said that some people never adjust to the headache from the patch. She'll call in a prescription for a long-acting tablet to see if that works better for him.
I called Dr. W's office, but they were closed. I called Dr. K's office and spoke to his nurse. She'd been trying all day to get surgery scheduled. They're going to do only one surgery (thank goodness), with Dr. W moving the shunt out of the way just before Dr. K performs the bypass surgery. She said it looks like the surgery is going to be on Monday, November 24, possibly Friday, November 21. She said she will call us Monday with a firm date. She said that Dr. K "went along" with doing both surgeries and the same time and that he's comfortable waiting until Nov. 24.
I called Dr. B's office and informed them that Randy wants to cancel the scheduled surgery next Wednesday because he wants the surgery done in Johnson City. The lady I spoke with said she'd tell Dr. B.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Randy received a call at 10:29 from Dr. B's office telling him that surgery was scheduled in Bristol for Wednesday, November 12 to relocate his shunt. Randy told them we had an appointment in Johnson City to see about having surgery done there. They said if he decides to have surgery in Johnson City to call and let them know; otherwise he should come to Dr. B's office Friday to preregister for surgery. 1:00: Arrived at Dr. W's office and found that his office is next door to Dr. K's (cardiac surgeon). Staff was very friendly and handled all questions in a prompt, courteous manner. We were seen on schedule. Both Dr. W and his assistant were knowledgable and answered all our questions. Dr. W's opinion was that two separate surgeries would not reduce the infection risk unless there was a year between the two surgeries. Dr. W said he would confer with Dr. K on Friday and come to a final decision about whether one or two surgeries would be necessary. He said we would hear from either his office or Dr. K's when the decision was final.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

After two nights using Ambien, Randy seems more rested and calm.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Dr. K's nurse called and said that we have an appointment with Dr. W, a neurosurgeon in Johnson City, on Thursday, Nov. 6 at 1:15, but we should arrive at 1:00 to do the paperwork.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Dr. R's nurse called Randy and told him Ambien was being called in to our pharmacy for him. Dr. K's nurse called and told him that Dr. K wanted Dr. B to go ahead and reroute the shunt before bypass surgery (two separate procedures). Randy called me at work, very upset. He did not want Dr. B to perform surgery, and he did not want any surgery to be performed at BRMC. I called and left a message for Dr. K's nurse to call me. While waiting, I spoke to Dr. P's nurse to ask for guidance. She told me that legally Dr. P cannot intervene in Randy's case until 90 days after bypass surgery. When Dr. K's nurse returned my call, I explained that Randy, for personal reasons, did not want Dr. B to perform his surgery and wanted a neurosurgeon in Johnson City to perform the procedure. She said she'd get an appointment as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Picked up films from BRMC.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Randy saw Dr. P (cardiologist) at 10:00 for a follow-up on his cath site; all was well. Dr. K's office called Randy and told him they'd finally heard from Dr. B. They will call him as soon as they have more information. They said we should check the films out at BRMC to bring them to the neurosurgeon in Johnson City, and that she'd call us Monday with an appointment for the neurosurgeon. Randy told Dr. K's nurse that he's having trouble sleeping. She said we'd have to call Dr. R (internal medicine) for a prescription. We made repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact Dr. R; our calls were continually routed to a "nurse's line". Our call was finally returned by Dr. R's nurse about 5:30. She had only received one message, and that wasn't until Dr. R had already left for the day. She said either she or Dr. R would contact Randy Monday morning without fail.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

We went to BRMC at 4:00 for the CAT scan and abdominal x-ray. When we came out of radiology, I found that we still hadn't heard anything from Johnson City. I called Dr. K's office and learned that they'd never heard from Dr. B. I called Dr. B's office; his assistant told me Dr. B "probably forgot", and that she'd remind him to call.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Dr. B told us that he didn't want to put Randy to sleep to relocate the shunt because of the risk to his heart. He said their were two options: 1) us a local anesthetic and route the shunt to a bag outside his body until after his bypass surgery or 2) refer him to a neurosurgeon in Johnson City and have the shunt relocated after he's put to sleep just before his bypass surgery. We agreed that the second option was preferable. Dr. B said he would call Johnson City the next day (Wed. Oct. 29) to talk to a neurosurgeon there and tell them what needs to be done. He also scheduled a CAT scan and abdominal x-ray at BRMC.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Dr. K's office called to tell us to expect a call from Dr. B. She cautioned me that if we did not hear from them early in the day, I should call Dr. B's office. Over the course of the day, I called three times and left voicemail for Dr. B's assistant, but received no reply. I called Dr. K's office; they couldn't reach anything but voicemail either. After I left the third voicemail, I called Dr. B's office again and explained to their receptionist that I hadn't reached anything but voicemail all day. She gave me another number to try; it turns out that the number she gave me was form Dr. B's insurance clerk, who couldn't help us. She said I needed to talk to Dr. B's assistant; I explained that I'd left three voicemails, but had no reply. She asked me to hold a moment; the next voice I heard was Dr. B himself. I explained that Dr. K's office had told us to expect a call; Dr. B said he'd talked to Dr. K and would be glad to take care of Randy, but that he wanted to talk to me first. I said that would be fine; Dr. B proceeded to tell he that he wasn't going to have anyone yelling at his staff. I was stunned, and told him I hadn't yelled at anyone. He curtly informed me that his office would contact Randy to make an appointment. I waited a few minutes, then called the insurance clerk to ask if I owed her an apology. She said no, that I was fine. She had just told Dr. B's assistant that I was upset because no one had returned my calls. The assistant apparently wrongly assumed I'd yelled, and told Dr. B as much. Later, the assistant called Randy and gave us an appointment for Tuesday, Oct. 28. Randy was upset because Dr. B had spoken so rudely to me. I told him that I deal with jerks every day, and one more wouldn't make any difference. As long as Dr. B took care of Randy, I could get along with him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Reported to Cardiac Cath Lab at JCMC at 7:00 a.m. Dr. P performed cardiac catheterization. He found "multiple extensive" blockages and referred us to Dr. K, a cardiac surgeon. During Randy's "waking up" period from the cath, we were visited by an anesthesiologist, a representative from cardiac rehab, and Dr. K. Dr. K explained that multiple bypasses are necessary. Randy has one cardiac artery that's half as big around as it should be (born that way). He has long areas of narrowing in his coronary arteries. Dr. K said that there were only three treatment options: 1) let nature take its course--not an option in Randy's case; 2) medication--this would relieve the pain, but would not reduce the imminent risk of heart attack; 3) bypass surgery, which would correct the problem. Dr. K asked about previous surgeries. Randy has had a total of six brain surgeries, starting in 1988. The first surgery was to remove a cyst in the third ventricle of his brain. Successive surgeries were necessary because: the flap of skull began to sink, requiring a plate to be put in; adhesions developed, causing seisures; and a shunt had to be run from his brain to his abdomen to regulate the pressure of the fluid in his brain. When I pointed out Randy's scars from the shunt (at the top of his breastbone and on his abdomen), Dr. K became concerned that the placement of the shunt might have it in the way. Randy was sent to x-ray for a chest x-ray and carotid ultrasounds. X-rays revealed that the shunt does, indeed, run midline through his chest, putting it in a bad position for heart surgery. Dr. K's office contacted the office of Dr. B, the neurosurgeon who performed Randy's brain surgeries. They told us that Dr. B would contact us re: relocation of the shunt prior to bypass surgery. Bypass surgery had already been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 27, but is now postponed until the shunt is relocated.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Reported to Dr. P's office at 8:00 a.m. for blood work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Saw Dr. P at 3:15 p.m.; he read Randy's stress test results and said they indicated reduced blood flowto the front of his heart. He scheduled a cardiac catheterization.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

During the stress test, Dr. R didn't see much of anything in the EKG, but the photos taken before and after the test indicated reduced blood flow to Randy's heard. Dr. R. referred us to Dr. P, a cardiologist.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I've decided this will be the simplest way to post information about Randy's situation and make it available to friends and family. To avoid possible litigation (*LOL*) I'm going to use initials instead of names for the doctors involved.

Because of increasingly frequent pain and pressure in his chest with any physical exertion, Randy saw Dr. R. (internal medicine) at 2:30. When he heard Randy's symptoms he scheduled a stress test.

Thursday, August 07, 2003 this site is helping me get control of the clutter in my "new" apartment. I still call it "new" because I've been there nearly 3 months and still haven't finished unpacking. *LOL* Quick break between office tasks. It's 82 degrees and climbing in my office this morning. The air conditioning is ancient and cranky to boot. Our maintenance guys say we probably won't have any a/c until sometime late this afternoon. I'm mellllllllllllllllllllting!

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

My Dream Job....if only I had the necessary education....and experience....and talent....and lived in California. *LOL*
You DO Google, don't you?
I was a fan of the Brunching Shuttlecocks, which is, alas, no more. Here's a link to The Book of Ratings, which is authored by Lore Sjoberg, one of the creators of the Brunching Shuttlecocks. It doesn't appear to be updated very often, but its humor is offbeat and I do like offbeat. :-)

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Man, what a day. How many Mondays ARE there in one week, anyway? And there's still plenty to do when I get home. I'm on "flex time" now, working four 10-hour days, so I'm pretty well whipped by the time the workday is over. It sure is nice having Fridays off, though. :-) I'll soon be going back to five 8-hour days; it'll take a little getting used to. It's nearly the end of the workday now, though, and there's not enough time to start another project, so I'm taking a moment to make a quick post. Maybe soon I'll be able to actually start a true blog. *LOL* A moment ago I added a link to Dave Barry's blog. It's always entertaining, often bizarre. :-)
"....I'll add more later," she says. Okay, so it's later than I intended! *LOL* Still no time for a REAL post, but I'm making some template changes and thought I'd drop a quick note. More :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

So, after I posted that little test yesterday and updated the links on the template, I got much too busy to make an actual post. *LOL* You know how dreadful I've been about keeping in touch lately (busy, busy, BUSY), so I thought this would be a good way to touch base with all my friends and family at the same time. Just posting this quickly on a coffee break, so I'll add more later.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Okay, here goes......testing.......testing 1-2-3......