Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bumpy Ride Part 1

Wow.  It's been a bumpy ride since my last post.  I know I posted a one liner when I got my transplant call.  I didn't give any explanations or anything.  It was pretty shocking.  When you get the call, you're literally trying to make sure you have everything together and are making phone calls to everyone to let them know what's going on.

I should start from the beginning.  On February 13, I had gotten back from Stanford for a regular follow up clinic appointment. I wasn't feeling well (trying to recover from a nasty cold).  I went to bed feeling worn out and was hoping that sleep was all I needed.  I woke up two hours later with my heart racing and feeling like I was suffocating. I checked my pulse and oxygen levels.  It was a heart rate of 157 and O2 of 86%I called 911 and they took me to the local hospital.

The local hospital wasn't equipped for dealing with trauma, much less a CF emergency.  I was complaining that my head felt funny, I was hot to the touch (but no fever), couldn't breathe, I was scared.  The worst part was nothing was being done.  The doctor hadn't come in to see me, but had ordered no water, no liquids, not even ice.  I was dying of thirst.

SB met me at the hospital, and was getting impatient when I wasn't receiving help.  I had been there for two hours and nothing had been done.  SB wound up calling my CF hospital and got some advice from the on call pulmonologist.  If you are at a hospital and you feel you are not receiving adequate medical care, you can request to be transferred to another hospital.  It is your right.

So two hours after I showed up in the emergency room, the doctor finally came to see me and said she thought it would be better if I was transferred to my CF hospital.  She had made contact with the pulmonologist there (same one who told SB to request the transfer).  I was going to be transferred by helicopter.  They gave me some Ativan to calm me down (I was freaking out over the fact I couldn't breathe).  It didn't seem to be kicking in though.

The helicopter arrived and the two nurses came in to get me ready.  They were light-hearted and did a good job keeping the mood calm.  While they did a lot of joking around, I knew they were more than capable to handle anything that might occur while we were in flight.  My mom showed up before they wheeled me out, so she was able to see me off.  I was loaded up in the helicopter and we took off.  Unfortunately, I can't say much about the ride because the Ativan decided to kick in and I fell asleep.  When I woke up we were landing on the roof of the hospital and I was being wheeled into ICU.   It was 6am on Valentine's Day when I made it to ICU. I fell back to sleep.

At some point, they determined that I was severely dehydrated and CO2 was getting trapped in my lungs.  This was making my heart work on overdrive.  They hooked me up to fluids and set me up with a high flow.  The high flow was a pretty neat set up.   It allows for a higher flow of oxygen than the normal hospital set up.  It's moisturized so the nose doesn't dry out. The higher flow can force the trapped CO2 out.  When I got set up with the high flow, my heart started to calm down.

Because I missed out on Valentine's Day, SB came to the ICU with the works.  He brought fake flowers (no real flowers or live plants allowed in the ICU), chocolates, a Teddy Bear, and Date night.  We had dinner by light saber and watched Return of the Jedi.  All the nurses thought SB was such a thoughtful guy.  I have to agree with them.  He really knows how to make a girl feel special.  Even when she's hooked up to IVs, a high flow, heart monitor, and pulse ox.

I was eventually moved to the floor.  Progress was slow.  They were trying to wean me off of the high flow.  I was working on being able to move around again without short of breath.

I had been in the hospital for nine days when my sister and I were having a Girls' Night. We were watching The Wedding Planner and I was about to dig into some Mac and Cheese. My cell rang.  I wondered who would be calling since I was low on minutes and I had told everyone to call the hospital phone.It was Stanford.  A set of lungs were available and it was a match for me.  I was in shock.  It suddenly went from my sister and I having a Girls' Night, to us trying to get things ready for Stanford.

We made calls to everyone, telling them what was happening.  It was pretty crazy.  I was trying to process the news, nurses were trying to get things prepared for my transfer, hospital staff (whom I've known forever) were dropping by to wish me luck.  I felt pretty overwhelmed.  My doctor called to wish me luck.  SB was on his way from work.

I got news that I would be transferred by helicopter.  It would be the second time in a month that I would be traveling by helicopter.  Since space would be cramped, I had to arrange for my sister to take all my stuff to Stanford.  All I would be taking were my glasses and slippers.

SB arrived at the same time as the helicopter.  We did a lot of Goodbying.  We took pictures of us (SB, my sister, and me) and did more goodbyes.  SB and my sister came along to the elevator where we did our final goodbyes.  It was hard and there were plenty of tears.

This ride I stayed awake for.  Night flights are really cool.  All the lights look like jewels on a black background.  It was pretty.  Even more beautiful when we got to the Bay Area.  There's even more lights to look at.  The trip seemed to end quickly.

I was wheeled into ICU.  The helicopter nurses wished me luck and headed out to their next assignment.  The ICU nurses got me cleaned up and ready for surgery.  At the same time they did all the admitting paperwork.  I could tell that they do this type of multitasking often.  By 12:30am on February 24, I was in the operating room.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I attended the Stanford clinic years ago, and was very impressed with everyone there at the time. I hope it's still a good place and that you've had a good experience with them as well! I hope and pray you continue to heal and enjoy your new lungs! Looking forward to reading the rest of your story once it's posted.