February 23, 2017
Dennis had a horrible night, which means I had a horrible night. His back hurt so bad that I woke up one time to find him crying in pain. When the Tylenol didn’t help, I suggested calling the LVAD Team. This was definitely not normal and something was definitely wrong. He put me off until Em was up and getting ready for school. When I talked to Colleen, she asked the usual questions…fever, recent fall, etc. After a quick discussion with her, it was decided to take him into the ER to be evaluated. So we dropped Em off at school and headed in to the hospital.
We arrived at the ER at 845AM. Den was quickly put into a cubicle and evaluated. He had no fever and his MAP was fine, as were his LVAD readings. They did and EKG and took some x-rays. Den got some relief when the doctor ordered some Valium and Dilaudid for the pain and anxiety that come with the extreme pain that he was feeling. Den felt almost immediate relief and seemed to settle down quickly. I felt very helpless watching him struggle with the pain he was in every time he tried to adjust himself in the bed, but there was absolutely nothing I could do for him.
The doctor came in to let us know that the x-rays had come back and there were some changes in Den’s spine since his last set a few weeks ago. There was some concern that the blood infection may have settled in Den’s spine. They were going to admit Den to do some further testing. The doctor said that Den’s Rocephin IV had been ordered. That could be done while we were waiting for a room. One possibility that Den didn’t like the sound of was a bone biopsy to see exactly what was going on in the spine. (He was afraid of adding more pain to his already painful state. )
I had to go home to get Em from the library around 4PM. Before I left the ER, Den and I made up our usual list of things that he needed me to bring back with me….his Bi-Pap machine, some shorts, his kindle and charger and toiletries. I had called Em when school let out to let her know what was happening, but I called her to let her know that I was on my way to the south side. I put in a call to the infusion center to let them know that Den was being admitted to the hospital and would not be in for a while. The last call I made on my way home was to my sister, Meg. I told her what was going on and she said that she would be down after dinner and rush hour traffic had broken up. When I pick up Em, we got some fast food for dinner and headed home. Em and I ate our burgers and then she helped me pack up what I needed to head back to the hospital. Meg arrived and I headed back to the U of C.
Den called me while I was driving to let me know that he was in a room and where to find him. After I hung up, a friend of mine called to let me know that a long-time friend and mentor of mine was also at U of C. She said that he was in pretty bad shape and didn’t get too many visitors during the week. I said that I would go see him as soon as I made sure Den was settled. When I got to Den’s room, I let him know about Pa Hess. He was shocked that he was there and wanted to see him if they would let him. I said that we would ask in the morning.
I decided to so see Pa Hess sooner rather than later. He had been diagnosed with cancer a little while back, but I hadn’t heard much about how he had been doing lately. When I got to his room, he was sleeping, so I told the nurses that I was there with family and I would be back in the morning.
Den and I spent the evening trying to keep his pain in check. The nurses were wonderful trying to help us get the timing right for the pain meds to keep Den pain free as long as possible. Hopefully, tomorrow we would get some answers and a plan to help Den get some long lasting relief.