Two Months and Four Hospital Visits, Part 2

IMG_5649

After being told to stop taking Xarelto due to excessive internal bleeding, mom developed a blood clot.  As you can see in the photo, it caused her hand and arm to swell.  She began to notice the swelling on a Saturday during the day.  She kept thinking that it would get better, but by early afternoon on Sunday, she was heading back to the hospital.

Her arm had begun “weeping” during the night.  When I arrived at the emergency room, her hand was incredibly swollen, and she had towels under her arm to catch the fluid that was randomly finding places to escape her arm.

Arm Weeping

Her heart was still racing and somewhat out of rhythm, but the doctors were more concerned with the blood clot at this point.  She was placed on Heparin and was again being treated for pneumonia that was found during the last hospital stay.  I am still confused as to the severity of the pneumonia and why she was released previously without explanation of the condition of the pneumonia.

[Side note: As you are with your loved one in the emergency room or in the hospital room, do not be afraid to speak up for them.  Be respectful, but you know your situation, and the information that you have is incredibly valuable to the team providing care.  Also be aware of when the breathing treatments are coming.  The ER staff will be concerned with other things, if you are there for something that is not breathing related, so stay on top of keeping the breathing treatments happening at the prescribed timing.  Mom went about 8 hours without a treatment while waiting in the emergency room.  She is supposed to have them every 4 hours, or less if needed.]

This hospital stay was away from her lung doctor’s “jurisdiction.”  They (mom and pop) decided to go to a hospital much closer to their home.  Both the proximity and the care that they gave her the last time she was there were the deciding factors.  The doctors did not seem to be overly concerned with this entire situation, so we too were much more relaxed.

The one big problem with this hospital visit was the number of times that they were taking blood.  It was 3, sometimes 4, times per day, and during one of the times that I was able to stay with her, they were unable to get a vein to replace a blown IV.  After a couple of sticks, they decided to get the shift lead.  Someone with seemingly much more experience.  This person brought with him an ego that could barely fit through the door.  We have come to learn that about 90% of the time, when someone comes in saying that they are the “best in the building”,  “don’t worry, I’ve got this”, or “they come and find me when no one else can get it”, it is going to be bad.

Mom and I have both dealt with small veins.  For her, it is so difficult because of the amount of blood draws that they attempt in any given month.  Add to that the fact that they could only use one arm because of the blood clot, and you have a very, very sore arm.

We require anyone drawing blood or insert an IV to place a piece of fabric (we provide) underneath the tourniquet to protect her skin because her skin tears very easily.  This man took the fabric, placed it under the tourniquet, then tightened it so tight that I saw my mom consider quitting for the first time, ever.  It was all over her eyes.  He poked and pulled at her skin.  He blew two veins, and when he was about to go for a third, I told him that it was time to approach this a different way.  They could come up with another plan or send in a different person, but he was not going to try again.  Mom cried that day.  It was the first time that I have seen her cry because this kind of treatment.  She does not cry often, because she says that it hurts too much to cry.  She would rather breathe than cry.

Our nurse during this particular night, was watching what was happening and was already working with the doctor to get one of her medications changed so that they did not need to continue finding a vein for an IV.  This made a huge difference in mom’s outlook for the evening, but I could still see in her eyes that this all was getting to her.

During the evening, she began to get confused.  She was saying things that just didn’t make sense and asking what things were, things that she should know.  I asked the nurse to come and check on her, and they decided that it was the fact that she had barely slept in 2 or 3 days.  They did give her a Benadryl just to be sure that there was not an allergic reaction happening, and they stayed away a little more during the night to let her sleep.  It seemed to work.  She perked up a little the next day.

A couple of days later, the doctor came in and asked if she would like to go home.  We were honestly shocked.  Mom wanted nothing more than to get out of there and save her one good arm.  She would be released as long as someone could give her a blood thinner shot twice per day.  I gladly volunteered.  I did not want to see mom getting poked anymore.

She was home for three days, doing great.  Then, out of no where, she began to get nauseous and stopped eating and drinking.  She would not eat anything!  She only took a few medications, and even those few were not consistent.  Then she stopped drinking even water.  We later found out that Lovenox, the blood thinner shot, has a side effect of nausea.  Unfortunately, it was time to go back to the hospital.

-To Be Continued