19 March 2014

Roller coaster week

Damn.  That’s one week I really don’t want to repeat any time too soon.  It’s been a real roller coaster ride for us down here.  Highs and lows, tears and laughter, angst and whatever the hell is opposite of angst.  

To get perspective, I need to dial back to two weekends to put things into perspective. Two things have been occupying our focus right now:
  • Family mini-reunion
  • SIL status
My parent got it in their mind to hold a mini reunion with the family.  To make things easier on everyone, they rented a beach house down in Galveston for the week.  The plan was to set up shop for the week and everyone could come by as they got the time.  For my brothers and I, that meant we were planning to set up camp down there and live out of the house for a week enjoying the sand and surf.  We were hoping that the grandkids and their families could come down at their leisure.  Lots of food, activities planned.  Fish fry Saturday, cook out Friday, pasta Sunday.  Nobody was going to starve.  

Two weeks ago Sunday, our plans took a serious detour.  SIL was slowly recovering from her cancer surgery back in November.  She had just started on her first round of chemo (home dosage) and was starting to feel better and get some of her appetite back.  My wife took her back into hospital on Sunday to have the shunt (for the chemo) removed and she was feeling restless and short of breath so she checked into the ER to get checked out.  Next thing I know, she was in ICU because she had double pneumonia and had fluid in her lungs.  They put her on antibiotics and various meds to fight the infection.  She seemed ok and not too concerned, so we figured this was for a day or so.  On Monday, they decided to put her on a ventilator to help her breathe but "it wasn't a big deal" (she even asked for it).  ICU would keep her overnight and monitor her vitals to see if she could fight back the infection.  Early Tuesday morning, her condition rapidly deteriorated and she started having heart failure.  Subsequently her kidneys were shutting down and she needed a heart pump installed to survive.  My wife called me at work in tears telling me that her sister was borderline and we needed to get up to the hospital ASAP.  I dumped everything and told my boss I was leaving and did not know when I would be back headed to the hospital to meet my wife.   SIL is only 5 years older than we are and this was a total state of shock to us.  Several scenarios went through my head on the drive up to the hospital, none of which were good.  This was one of those moments in life that you are never fully prepared to face.  

We arrived as they were transferring her over to the cardiac care center.  We spent several hours in the waiting room until they had her set up in her room.  Finally got in to see her around 5 pm but she was all wired up with electronic monitors and iv drips.  We stayed with her for most of the evening and things were looking pretty grim.  At one point, the docs were telling us that SIL had a 20% chance of turning this around.  20%??????  Are you f#@!%# kidding me?  Three days prior, we were debating the merit of cats verses dogs and now she was on life support.  We were trying to grasp the possibility that she may not survive.  We spent several long days/nights in the ICU at her bedside waiting and praying to see which way this would go. 

After multiple treatments and drugs, they finally managed to get a handle on her situation and things turned around late Thursday.  Her condition stabilized and they were able to start weening her off some of the equipment/drugs.  Things started to improve and by late Thursday they removed the heart pump and by Friday they took her off the ventilator.  She is conscious and alert, albeit weak and nauseous.  Slowly, she is working her way back to normal.  Over the weekend, they transferred her to the intermediate care unit where things were less intense.  They project she will be there another week before releasing her to a recovery unit to get some of her strength and energy back.  The docs finally figured out that it was the chemo that started the ball rolling on the infection and the rest of the issues followed.  That pretty much means no more of that kind of chemo.  Not sure what that means for her regarding her long term health issues, but we are just happy to get her back to some level of normal.  Right now, we just looking forward to be able to take her home soon.   


Abby said...

I'd rather ride a real rollercoaster. And I hate riding real rollercoasters.
Thoughts and prayers for your SIL, Mrs. Agg, and you.

ShadowRun300 said...

And I was complaining about MY week. I had it pretty good in comparison.
Thinking about you all and hoping your SIL continues to get stronger and finds a chemo treatment that works for her. She seems so young to be fighting so hard!

Rock Chef said...

Wow, what a sharp reminder of how fragile life is! I hope they can find a good alternative treatment for her.
Thinking of you all.

Brigid said...

I will keep SIL and all of you in my prayers. Thank you again, in dealing with all of this, for still taking the time to offer some words of support on my end.

That speaks much to the kind of folks you all are.

terri said...

I'll say some prayers for your SIL. What a horrible, scary thing for her and for you. I'm so glad she came back out of it and hope that her recovery continues in a more positive vein.