Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hospital Mania

So as you know my father moved in with us in November. The week before Christmas he was back in California packing the last of his stuff and moving it into a storage unit and cleaning out his apartment. While cleaning out a fish tank he scratched his knuckle on the index finger of his right hand. He didn't think much of it and kept on working. About an hour later he noticed that his finger was throbbing and a bright red ring and pustule had formed on his knuckle. After trying to lance it he opted to spread on some neosporin and put on a band aid. Later that night his hand was swollen and the red ring had turned into streaks running up his hand and arm. He called a friend and asked for advice and decided to see the doctor in the morning if it still hurt. He said that was a really long night as he couldn't sleep, the pain was so bad.

The next morning he went to the doctor who cleaned the wound gave him a shot and put him on oral antibiotics and pain killers and sent him on his way. Unfortunately due to gastric bypass surgery the year before the oral antibiotics were not digested into his system so the finger got worse. My sister was to do her temple work later that evening so he got himself in his truck and proceeded to drive to Utah. (Thankfully he made it safely, we found out later he had been taking the painkillers while driving.........:( ). We met him at the temple that night and saw his wrapped finger for the first time. Ouch! We noticed the finger had gone dark and his hand was extremely swollen and red streaks were once again making their way up his hand. Unfortunately we were not able to talk him into going to the ER that night......

The next morning (after more pleading) I finally got him to go to the ER. The doctor there said it looked bad and said he most likely needed surgery so he sent him to a neighboring hospital who accepted his insurance. I met up with him there. The new ER physician was not as proactive as we would have liked and thought the discoloring was from bruising and not gangrene. It took him over two hours to hang IV antibiotics and only after I insisted twice! He finally managed to track down a hand surgeon who was not on call but came in as a favor to see it. He walked in the room and immediately said he was headed to surgery. 20 minutes later Dad was there.

After the surgery the surgeon met me in the waiting room and told me things did not look good but he did his best to save the finger. He said Dad would need to stay for the next few days and then be on IV antibiotics for the next several weeks. This was Friday afternoon. Sunday night he was released and late that night a nurse came over to train me how to take care of things from there. (Unfortunately his insurance did not cover a nurse everyday so we had to learn how to change the IV's and the dressings). Let's just say it was not a pretty site and the smell wasn't good either! The medication had to be changed every 8 hours and one had to be pushed over a 5-8 minute period. I once again felt like I had a newborn in the house with all the late night alarms.

Late Tuesday night I noticed a patch of skin (not much remained) that was again going dark. The nurse was to come the next morning to draw blood and check things out so we decided to wait to see her. She wasn't much help so I called the doctor to see if he could see us early. We were there in about an hour. The doctor removed the remaining skin in his office and drained a few more pustules and checked his blood results. He told us after looking at things he didn't think we were winning the battle with the infection and he would need to go back to surgery. 2 hours later he was back under the knife. Unfortunately the finger was necrotic and had to be removed. We found out the bacteria was a strain of Strep A (strep throat family). This isn't MRSA but it is its own form of flesh eating bacteria. An aggressive one as all this took place within 7 days!

He was discharged the next day which happened to be Christmas Eve. He had planned to fly to MN to be with my sister for the holidays but obviously that had to be changed. With all that was going on and with our own hustle and bustle at home things were nothing short of chaotic! Before picking him up from the hospital Joseph,Charley and I went on the hunt to find things for Papa to make the holiday a little brighter. We managed to find a stocking and holder, and found a puzzle he could do. We also found one of those foam hands with the index finger raised at the craft store. We picked it up and grabbed some makers and decided to have all the family sign and decorate it. It was so cute and Papa loved it. Later that night another nurse came to train us on the new IV medication that we now had to give. This time it came with a pump. One medication is on a 24 hour drip but the other was again on an 8 hour cycle so the late nights persisted for another week. We also had new instructions on how to change the wound. I now have significant supplies to add to our first aid kit with the left overs from the first surgery. His bedroom is looking more like a hospital room with the IV stand and boxes of gauze, ace bandages, and IV flush supplies.

The week after Christmas he was then scheduled for 2 hand therapy sessions a week with blood draws and doctor appointments once a week. He is now continuing the therapy and the doctor visits and is still on the 24 hour pump. We are hoping the stitches come out this week and that the IV treatments finish as well. We will just have to wait and see.

Through all of this Ronny and the kids were real troopers. I was either away at the hospital or taking care of Dad most of that week and Ronny stepped right in at home. Many nights I saw the kids for the first time as they went to bed. Exhaustion finally won out on one of the days and I was an emotional wreck, Ronny again stepped in and took over. This was certainly not in our Christmas plans but we got through it and was grateful Dad could be home with us on Christmas morning. We certainly felt the prayers offered on our behalf and truly appreciate them.


Christa said...

you are a strong woman Denise! that's all I can say! You are strong!

Sants said...

You and your family are such a blessing to others! I am so glad your dad is okay. I am glad you were assertive with the Drs and everything is finally going to be okay. I think the number one finger is so funny!

Jennifer said...

Your family seems to have a lot of adventures. (And not usually the fun kind.) I hope the recovery goes well for your Dad.