Saturday, November 24, 2007

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation

This Thursday I ate my turkey dinner in the car, enroute from the emergency room of Alta View Hospital to the emergency room of UofU Hospital. My husband, one of my daughters, and my son-in-law ate theirs together a little bit later, in the ICU waiting room. Yep, it was quite the day.

And I was wondering if I should post something sweet and sentimental about Thanksgiving…this isn’t exactly the post I was planning on. In fact, it’s one of those entries you hope to never write. It was a holiday none of us will forget. Except for my oldest daughter, who will never be able to remember it. Fortunately for her the entire day is an empty slate.

The story actually begins the day before, when she had surgery to replace her eardrum. Yes, you read that right, they replaced her eardrum. Not your run-of-the-mill surgery, but her old one was full of scar tissue and causing her all kinds of problems, so hopefully it will have been worth it. The surgery went fine, and she was as well as could be expected afterwards. But she woke up the next day feeling awful, terribly nauseous. She and I were sitting on her bed discussing ways to help the nausea when she let out horrible wail. My first thought was that she was in some kind of pain. Then I saw her eyes, which were locked and glazed over. My next thought was that our lives were about to change forever.

She launched into a grand mal seizure. I turned into a basket case. Someone upstairs called 9-1-1 in response to my yells, and her husband bolted down the stairs. The two of us made an Abbott and Costello type of rescue team. Fortunately a cousin, who had made the phone call, came downstairs and started calling the shots.

The next few hours involved two rides in ambulances, two emergency rooms, and eventually an ICU. My usually-sweet and mild-mannered daughter couldn’t calm herself down, even after the seizure ended, and eventually had to be put in restraints to keep her from ripping out her tubes and anything else touching her skin. She didn’t know who or where she was. I didn’t know who she was. I can’t begin to describe the fear that she might never come back.

Fortunately a young doctor who bears an amazing resemblance to Dr. House, and who talked about having to put together a puzzle (but fortunately had a very nice bed-side manner), figured out the problem. In a nutshell, and in layman’s terms, a drug they used during the surgery has a possible side-effect of causing extreme sodium depletion, which can lead to seizures. The next step after the seizure is coma, followed by death. Fortunately he was able to start her on sodium treatments in what I believe was just the nick-of-time. She ended up spending a couple of agonizing days in the ICU while they got everything stabilized. But the good news is that she’s home now, and almost as good as new – except that she can’t hear out of one ear, and she’s got some big chunks in her memory. Hopefully both will improve soon.

I’ve decided the only thing that would be more difficult than watching an amazing, beautiful creature that somehow remarkably came out of your body struggle to hold onto the life you gave her, would be to watch her lose that battle. My heart goes out to all parents who have had to do that. And I’m so thankful I didn’t have to on this particular Thanksgiving day.


Jeri said...

Oh wow! I can only imagine how drained emotionally and how extremely relieved you must be. I'm so glad it all turned out ok.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, Suzanne! I'm so relieved that she's okay. What a terrifying ordeal.