Birthday Celebration in Chelsea’s Hospital Room

Chelsea update: Chuck, Cameron and I went to see Chelsea tonight and had kind of a birthday celebration for Chuck in her room. He opened his gifts, and we brought her a piece of fish, coleslaw and two hushpuppies from Long John Silver’s. I also brought her a bottle of Sunkist orange pop, some summer sausage and one of Chuck’s birthday brownies.

It did this mama’s heart good to see Chelsea enjoying her food so much. She was only able to eat half her coleslaw, however, and only one of her hushpuppies. She took two tiny bites of the brownie, and she said that took her “to the edge.” She said it didn’t make her feel sick, but she wishes she hadn’t taken those two bites of brownie, even though she said it was very good.

Dr. James had told her that she is still malnourished, having not eaten anything for over two weeks. She told us she had ordered a tuna sandwich for dinner last night and had eaten half an omelet for breakfast, but she didn’t have any lunch.

The summer sausage she can nibble on through the day tomorrow if she feels like it. She was thrilled to see me pull it out of the bag, but she wasn’t able to try any of it tonight.

She had called us today to see what we thought about their moving her today to Kindred. She said a bed had just become available. I THOUGHT that was pretty sudden and knew she couldn’t leave without being released by Dr. James, and I doubted very much if he would be on board with her leaving just a few days after her surgery. It turns out he was out of town and the doctor on call for him said he had received no orders from Dr. James on Chelsea’s release and he couldn’t do it. So she remains at Centerpoint, and they will revisit her discharge on Monday.

She said the chaplain was in to visit her the other day when he was suddenly “needed” in another room. She said that was kind of creepy. Apparently a man just a few doors down from her passed away. His son was wailing, “No! No! Don’t go, don’t go!” Chelsea said there was a lot of loud sobbing in the hallway. The man was scheduled to be sent home that day, but instead he died–quite unexpectedly.

I am thankful Chelsea is looking so much better now. My sister said when she, Michael and the boys had visited, Chelsea just wasn’t herself. I know exactly what she means. Now, though, other than being bored out of her gourd, she seems healthier and is in pretty good spirits, but she is beyond ready to put Centerpoint behind her and continue to the next step of her journey toward coming home.

Our church family has been wonderful in coming to see her, and we do not take those visits for granted. They have meant so much to us AND to Chelsea, as have the visits from our families and friends. The phone calls, cards and gifts, too, have been a real encouragement to her. Thank you so much, everyone.

They took away her pain pump today, but she seemed to be doing pretty well and her pain appeared to be only minimal, with a couple of isolated larger pains, while we were there. They will bring her something for pain if she asks for it, but she says she’s trying not to take anything.

Bowels are moving and the horrible taste in her mouth is gone. Praise the Lord for progress! Her appetite is returning. After not eating for so long, it doesn’t take long for her to get full, but it is wonderful to see her eating!

Surgery #3 How the Day Panned Out

How the day panned out: Short version: Surgery went well, and Chelsea’s feeling a lot better already. Long version: Keep reading…

We arrived at the hospital a little before 6:30 this morning. Chelsea was still in her room and the lights were out, but she wasn’t sleeping. She was turned over on her side and moaning in obvious pain.

“We’re here,” I announced.

“I know,” she answered.

We didn’t talk too much before her surgery because clearly she didn’t feel like talking. Joseph, her night nurse, came in to check her vitals, trying to be quiet, and she told him, “It’s okay; I’m not asleep.”

She mentioned to him that she was in a lot of pain, and he said, “Since you’re getting ready for your surgery, I’m not sure what I can give you.”

Before long the transport nurse was in her room, unhooking all her machines and getting her ready for the long trek down to pre-op. She said she was just going to take her in her own bed; that would be much easier on Chelsea than to transfer her to another one.

Chelsea said, “Take it easy on the corners.” The nurse said something like “Don’t worry. We won’t run you into any walls,” but Chelsea meant that she was feeling sick and was afraid the trip downstairs would make her throw up. The nurse asked if Chelsea would like to take a bag (vomit bag) with her just in case and grabbed one on the way out the door.

The nurse was a little gal, and I had to help her maneuver the bed through the door, into the hallway and through a couple more tight spots on the way down to the first floor.

When we got to pre-op, the pre-op nurse introduced herself as Cathy, and I asked her if we had spoken on the phone before maybe. It seemed to me that someone named Cathy had been Chelsea’s post-op nurse after one of her recent surgeries.

I saw a chair on the other side of Chelsea’s bed and sat down in it so that I could see her and she could see me. The nurse was busy doing all the things she was supposed to be doing to get Chelsea ready for surgery.

Before I knew it Chelsea’s eyes got very wide and she put the bag up to her mouth and started throwing up. “Get out,” she said.

Then she threw up again and repeated, “Get out.”

I quickly got up and left the room with Chuck in tow. Immediately I realized I had left my crochet bag with our books and stuff in it beside the chair. I hurried back in and said, “I forgot my bag.”

“I’m sorry,” Chelsea said weakly.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” I said. The nurse escorted us out to the waiting room and said she would try to get us back in before Chelsea went to surgery.

We signed in at the same-day surgery desk, and the attendant gave us a slip of paper with Chelsea’s patient ID number on it and the name of the surgeon. Up on the wall was a flat screen with patient numbers, doctors’ last names and which stage of surgery the patients were in. At any time we could find out what was going on by looking at the big screen.

The pre-op nurse came out at 7:31 and said they had already taken her back and she was sorry she didn’t get us back in to see her first. She said, “We gave her something for her nausea, and then they gave her something else for her anxiety. She’s feeling pretty comfortable right now. As they were wheeling her into OR she raised her fist up in the air and said, ‘Woo hoo!'”

We laughed. It sounded just like Chelsea. She was relieved to finally not be in pain or throwing up.

The big screen told us that the procedure began at 7:51. The nurse had told us that we had an hour and a half to go get something to eat if we wanted.

We went to Corner Cafe and were back in plenty of time. It was nine or after when Dr. James sent for us. He told us the bowel had indeed been twisted and that she should be seeing immediate results as far as pain goes. Of course, she would have the post-operative pain, but the other pain from the twisted bowel would be gone. He went over the other standard stuff with us, and we went back out to wait for Chelsea.

She was in recovery for quite a while, an hour or so, and then they called and said she was put into the system for transport back to her room and should be back in her room in thirty minutes or so.

After that call, Pastor Jeremy called and said he was ten minutes away from Centerpoint and asked if we were still in the lobby. I said we were, and he said he would see us in a few.

He had been there probably fifteen or twenty minutes when the post-op nurse called and said Chelsea would be up to her room in a few minutes and that we could go on up to wait if we wanted.

She looked a little loopy, of course, from the anesthesia, but, on the whole, she looked much better than she looked before she went into surgery. She said she already felt better than she felt this morning. She said her anxiety level was less than it had been the previous two surgeries. “No tears this time!” she said.

Chuck and Pastor stepped out as the nurses were all scurrying around her, checking her blood pressure, hooking up her machines, and getting her situated in her bed with pillows, etc. I asked one of them to get her some ice water for her mouth swabs, and then I started offering them to Chelsea when she motioned for them.

I was so happy to see her face and so happy that she was feeling better. There will be the post-surgery pain to deal with, but I think she welcomes that after what she has been experiencing, particularly in the past few days.

It will be a couple of days before she can eat, but she’s already thinking about food. When I gave her the second or third mouth swab, she mentioned, “See, that tastes good. Before, everything I put in my mouth tasted awful. Last night I wanted to eat my Arby’s so bad, and I tried.”

“I bet that orange pop tasted good to you, didn’t it?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “until this morning. Then I wished I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything.”

We left her at about 12:25. I wanted to get back to Higginsville to at least drive my afternoon route–because, surgery or no surgery, bills still need to be paid. Chuck was able to take a paid vacation day for today, but to bus drivers vacation days only come in July and August and the only pay they get comes in the form of unemployment.

We were talking briefly after her surgery about all the thoughts that come into one’s head before surgery. I told her I could relate because when I had my first C-section I had never had anesthesia before, so I had that nagging thought that, what if I never woke back up?

Chelsea added, “Right, because you never know.” Then she said that before every surgery she always thinks about that horror story that my sister told us about some guy who went into surgery and woke up half way through and could feel everything they were doing to him, but couldn’t speak or move.

I said, “Yes! That is a horrible story to tell anyone who has to have a lot of surgeries!” I think that would go through my head, too. I shudder to think about it!

This morning the peace kicked in and I was so thankful to God for it and grateful to those who were praying for peace for me, but last night was hard for me. I was thinking, “Okay, I trust God, but bad stuff still happens. Godly men and women still have to go through terrible things. Look at Job. He was a godly man and he lost, not only one child, but ten, all at the same time. And there was this one guy we knew, a wonderful husband and father to three daughters, if I remember, a very godly man, and he got stomach cancer and died. And all kinds of people were praying for him.”

I surmised that trusting God did not mean that something horrible was not going to happen, and I was grappling to reconcile the meaning of trust through pain and trial. So it became a question of whether I was trusting God that something horrible wasn’t going to happen or trusting that God would pull me through it if it did. I decided it was easier to trust God that something horrible wasn’t going to happen, but realized we don’t get a choice which kind of “trusting God” we get. And I didn’t want to think about the other kind of “trusting God” before the fact.

It’s easy (and marvelous) when God gives us a glimpse of how He was working things out even during the “bad” moments of our lives (when those events are already in the past), but I catch myself thinking up scenarios of why God WOULD (hypothetically) allow this or that–when it hasn’t even happened, yet. And I started thinking about how God allowing me to think about stuff that MAY happen before it actually happens would be kind of like “breaking my fall,” as in falling out of a window and hitting a tree or something before you hit the ground.

Too much thinking and too much rambling, I know.

Chelsea just called. She is feeling a lot better and sounds a lot better. She also said, “Guess what! I have ‘output’!” So things are “moving along” even better than we expected. I suspect Dr. James will be very happy to hear about that tonight or tomorrow when he comes in.

Thank you again, everyone, for your prayers. It has meant so much.

January 8? 9? 10?

I got a phone call from my sweet daughter earlier today. She sounds a lot better than she has sounded the past couple of days. Yesterday she slept most of the day, but she woke up at nine today and she feels pretty good.

The x-ray she had a couple of days ago showed nothing out of the ordinary. Dr. James asked if he could push on her colostomy, but there was nothing there. Still no bowel activity. She’s on liquids still, too. She said every time they bring the cart around and knock on her door, she calls out, “No, thank you” because she knows what’s on there for her and she is so sick of apple juice and jello.

She said she is craving Red Robin so bad she can’t stand it. I bet we haven’t eaten there in a couple of years or so, but I promised her as soon as I can spring her out of that joint (actually I guess it will be the rehab joint) she and I are going to Red Robin. I may have to bring her a Whiskey River BBQ burger as soon as she’s allowed to have solid food.

Our house just isn’t the same without her here. Cameron says all the time “I miss Chelsea.” I do, too.

I trust that everything is going fine. It concerns me that she hasn’t had food for a week, but she said Dr. James said it’s normal. I just pray that her bowels will start working soon. I know it has to be frustrating for her.

She called me back a few minutes after she hung up the first time and said the nurse told her she could have some chocolate ice cream–so she wasted no time in ordering some. She was almost giddy. Her nurse had told her before that she could suck the chocolate off the Dove dark chocolate with almond pieces that sweet LouAnna Wrisinger had brought to her, but then the nurse looked at them and said, “No, sorry, I can’t let you have those. I didn’t realize the almonds were all crushed up in there.” Chelsea is looking forward to the day she CAN have those! lol

The physical therapists were there again today, and Chelsea felt like she did pretty well. She said she sat on the edge of the bed and shampooed her hair with one of those magic shampoo caps. I have no idea how those work. They may not work great nor the results last very long, but it’s better than nothing.

The last time Chelsea was able to have her hair thoroughly shampooed was the day after Christmas in the hotel Chuck booked in Branson. It had the best wheelchair accessible bathroom I had seen so far with a giant shower with a drain in the floor that Chelsea was able to roll right into. I put the plastic shower curtain under her hair and behind her chair and draped it over her left shoulder. She leaned back as far as she could and I washed her hair the best I could with the hotel shampoo. It looked great after it dried, but I was dubious, to say the least, as I was washing it because I wasn’t able to work up m̶u̶c̶h̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶a̶ any lather. If I had known how great the shower was going to be, I would have brought my own shampoo! Anyway, that gives you an idea of how ready Chelsea was to be able to wash her hair! Poor girl!

Her creatinine is down to a 2.7. More great news.

It was so good to hear her voice. She said one of the guys who comes into her room to ask her if she needs anything was able to round up a word-search book for her.

Just keep praying specifically that her bowels will start working so we can move on to the next phase in her healing. Thank you! ♥

Post Surgery #2

Quick Chelsea update: She was able to tolerate twenty minutes of sitting on the edge of her bed today, brushing her hair and washing her face. That’s ten or fifteen minutes more of balancing herself than she did yesterday.

Dr. James took her off the continual drip of pain medication. Her bowel still hasn’t woken up from the surgery, and he thinks maybe the pain medication may be partly to blame.

She has to hold a pillow on her abdomen when she coughs because of her staples. It’s also probably difficult to roll over from side to side for the same reason.

Dr. James said she’ll only need the wound vac for two months; after that she should be healed. I hope he’s right. He said she should heal a lot more quickly from this than she does, say, from a pressure sore. She’s been battling the one on her heel for three years.

After she is discharged from Centerpoint, they are moving her to Kindred, a long-term Acute Care facility, so that she can still receive IV antibiotics and physical therapy to build up her strength. I don’t know how long she’ll have to stay there or even when she will be discharged from Centerpoint. She won’t be going anywhere until the bowel kicks in.

The hole in her back is the fistula, he told me. He didn’t close it up. It’s still open, but will heal from the inside out.

She has been plagued with indigestion, so I asked Dr. James if she could have her chewable Tums. He said yes, that that shouldn’t hurt her–just not to eat the whole bag. lol

She is still not allowed to have any solid foods, and she has no appetite to eat anything, anyway. Before we left today, I talked her into at least trying some chicken broth and the nurse ordered her two, just in case. I forgot to ask her how that worked out for her.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Just talked to Chelsea. She sounds very chipper. She said she has hardly had to push her pain button at all (she pushed it once when we were there this afternoon), but that she can’t cough because of her stomach. She said she’s doing well, that she’s been sleeping off and on all night.

She said she called the nurse’s station at a few minutes before midnight and told them she was watching the ball drop on TV if any of them wanted to come in and watch with her. Three or four of them did.

She told her nurse, “I have an Oreo ball over here. Can I eat that?” Her nurse said no. I had to laugh. I said, “What, were you trying to catch her in a “Happy New Year” mood?” She laughed and said, “Yeah, Oreo balls for everyone! But, don’t worry; I didn’t touch it.”