Monday, March 12, 2007

The Sick Rose

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

My wife Jan is currently hospitalized at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. She is in the 4 Center Medical / Surgical wing after suffering what has been described so far as a moderate stroke.

This past Wednesday Jan was visited by a home health nurse, who when listening to Jan's lung sounds noticed they were very diminished on her right side, where her tumors are. She felt strongly enough about the situation to schedule a chest x-ray and appointment with Jan's medical oncologist, Dr. Donna McFadden, at the Advanced Medicine Pavilion at St. Mary's. This x-ray along with an ultrasound showed an almost complete collapse of Jan's right lung due to fluid buildup in the posterior chest wall (pleural effusion). It was decided to schedule Jan for a needle thoracentesis on Friday to drain some of this fluid off. She was also in need of another blood transfusion due to anemia.

Both of these occurred on Friday. The tap of her chest produced a little over a liter of fluid. Additional chest x-rays and a CT Scan were required to attempt to verify that there was no additional fluid. Jan was tired and sore when I brought her home, and had difficulty climbing the small stairs to our front door.

On Saturday Jan was moving with a little more ease, walking with a bit more energy than in previous days. Later that evening I heard her moaning. I asked her what was wrong; she did not answer. I went to her and saw that she had raised her left hand in a strange way, was looking at me with a look of bewilderment, and her right arm was hanging off of the bed. I tried to ask her what my name was, what day it was, and then called 9-1-1.

After being evaluated in the ER, Jan was admitted to St. Mary's early Sunday morning after a CT scan showed an ischemic stroke on the left side of her brain that affected her speech and her entire right side. I left the hospital at about 4:00 AM with Jan settled in to sleep the remainder of what was a very hectic night for all of us.

Sunday morning Jan had an MRI which showed additional brain metastases not seen on previous scans. There is no indication as to the cause of her stroke, which is a blockage as opposed to bleeding in her brain. Jan remained asleep for the entire day, opening her eyes only briefly in response to touching or being moved.

We were visited by a neurologist, Dr. Joel Dean, who said that typically in people Jan's age who have a stroke, the first 3 to 7 days are crucial, and where slow restoration of some functions may occur as the brain will sometimes route these functions to another non-damaged area. Along with watching for these improvements, Jan's ability to swallow will be tested to assure that if/when she does become more alert she can ingest food and liquids without an increased risk of aspiration.

I will be meeting with representatives of Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado to begin planning the next phase of Jan's treatment course.

Our son Evan has been holding his own through these last couple of days. He seems to find some stability in his regular activities and friends, but is also willing to talk things out and ask questions. I am trying to make sure he has something positive and active to do each day of this spring break, and many friends have agreed to try to help with this.

Early this morning I put on one of Jan's favorite movies and began writing this, perhaps in an attempt to hold on to something of a loving, gentle, independent spirit that I was blessed to cross paths with, and who is now approaching the end of a very brave and valiant struggle.

I won't be posting much of anything except updates to Jan's
Yahoo Group for immediate family and friends. Thanks in advance for any thoughts and prayers you may be able to muster our way.

1 comment:

Yadah said...

John . . . Many of the women who used to meet on Wednesday nights love Jan so much. We're praying for her and you guys too. When you can, drop a note here about her because not all of us have access to the other Yahoo info. (and I understand . . . no prob)

Blessings on you John . . . keep dropping in those familiar movies or special songs, etc. Love to your family . . .