Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back in the Hospital

I guess I have to start doing updates again; Susan's back in the hospital. We had a disappointing weekend. After having the fluid drained on Friday, we had big hopes that having done that she would have relief and be able to eat and catch up on the needed nutrients and calories she was missing because she couldn't eat due to the distention. Turns out that the fluid just came right back in less then a day causing discomfort all over again. Real frustrating for Susan. The procedure is painful and she was hoping to get relief and a new start but didn't get any. She wasn't able to eat much all weekend despite our best coaching efforts. By Sunday she was noticeably weaker, so we decided the best thing would be to get her back on TPN (IV nutrients) on Monday. It was a good thing we did. After doing more blood work, we also found out that her electrolyte balance was off (sodium low, potassium high), which is very dangerous if not dealt with carefully, and her white blood cell count was quite high (sign of infection), and she was dehydrated, and malnourished. This time we're not at the Mayo we are at Banner Dessert where her Oncologist is. The Doctors here have been really good at looking at the whole picture and they helped us understand better what is happening. A lot of things that are going on with Susan are having an additive result and negatively effecting her. We learned that the reason the fluids built up so fast was that she was already malnourished and lacking calories and protein along with a sick liver. Protein in the blood helps the water stay in the veins. Since there was no protein, the fluid built up in the abdomen. Then, because the fluid built up again she wasn't able to eat, causing more malnutrition, dehydration and weakness. To help stop the fluid from building up in her abdomen she has been on two diuretic drugs for the last 3 or more weeks. Sometimes diuretics may cause the kidneys to excrete more sodium than water, resulting in low sodium. This in one reason she felt so week and confused. One of the diuretic drugs she was on also had the effect of reducing the amount of potassium excreted by the kidneys, resulting in high potassium, a dangerous situation. The fact that we were feeding a diet high in potassium probably didn't help either. I'm sure this is a very simplified explanation of a complex problem, but it's beginning to make more sense why progress is so slow. After being on the TPN for only 24 hours you can tell a big difference in her. She's actually making some jokes and her little attitude is starting to show through. We heard that if she's here over Thanksgiving they can give here liquid turkey and mashed potatoes in her IV. She's real excited.

18 comments:

Brew 1 said...

Hey guys, sorry to hear about the setback, but I'm glad to hear that they seem to have some answers. Any engineer knows you are nearly done once you can identify the cause of the problem. We are still praying for both of you...

Adriana said...

Thanks for the updates! We love to hear when she is making jokes :D
We wish her the best liquid turkey ever!

THE MORTENSENS said...

I am sorry to hear this has been such a horrific ordeal. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be. Hoping and praying things get better....
Hang in there!

Melanie said...

I am so sorry to hear this. I will say an couple extra prayers for her :) Goodluck to the both of you. Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Pam said...

You're in our prayers. Hopefully your burdens can feel lightened during this major trial.

thearringtonclan said...

oh dear Susan.. how difficult this must be..We are so sad that you are having to deal with this.. It's gone on way too long.. time to get it sorted out once and for all... you are sooooo in our Prayers.. Please keep us all updated... Maxine and Mathew

Anonymous said...

Not only are our thoughts and prayers with Susan, but they go out to you Justin as well.

It's not just Susan who is struggling with this, but all those who love her and are there supporting her - including you.

To provide strength and compassion, to be understanding and caring, to hold it all together for the person in crisis (while silently troubled inside), that is the sign of an unselfish man. Susan is lucky to have you in her life. Your support of her is admired by all of us on the outside. May God bless the both of you as you both go through this journey.

thearringtonclan said...

Justin...
from one caregiver to another.Stay strong and lean on others for support. Everyone has been so helpful to me since Mathew got Cancer and I don't know how I would be doing if it wasn't for all the love and support from others.
Susan and YOU are in our Prayers...

Kyle said...

Oh man! Bad news! I am glad that she still has her sense of humor...you guys will have to have a Thanksgiving dinner re-do once she feels up to it :)

hlmortensen said...

Susan,
I am so glad I got to spend the night with you last night. :) That was my first slumber party in a hospital. :) It reminded me of the good ole days at U of A. :) Try to keep your chin up. You are doing a fabulous job of doing your best given the incredibly difficult situation. I know you have your moments, but you're still being brave and are an inspiration to us all. Hope you get home soon and start feeling better even sooner.

Justin,
Thanks for the updates again. Hope you are hangin' in there too. You are doing such a good job of supporting Susan. SERIOUSLY!!!
You are!!!

Heidi ;)

Andréa Morrow said...

Hey, we came in to say Hi to Susan and I hope she comes home soon. Tati's home now and doing better. I hope Susan doesn't think I didn't want to stay longer..I went in to wave and her and I thought Brant was telling me to quickly get out for some reason, so I just left without saying bye..anyways,a bit awkward, so I hope Susan knows I care about her and we're praying for her always. If she's still in after Thanksgiving I'd like to visit again :)

thearringtonclan said...

Hello to you both..
Just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving despite your ordeal.. Some people think we don't have much to be thankful for with having a spouse going through chemo.. I am here to tell you that we are soooooooo thankful for our many blessings and the friendships we have and all the love and support we get. I hope this rings true for you guys too.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING....

Anonymous said...

Susan, I am sorry you have had to spend so much time in the hospital. I am very glad for all your updates. You are always in our prayers, and I hope you start feeling better soon. If you every need help with some of the medications, let me know :) Stay strong!
Whitney & Sean Shields

Kristin Hamblin said...

I hope you had some great liquid turkey and gravy. :) I am sorry to hear that your recovery has been so slow. At least you are getting the nutrients you need and the care you deserve. Hopefully things will balance soon and you can get on to healing.

Thanks for the updates Justin!

Kate said...

Susan and Justin, my heart goes out to both of you. We will continue praying for your recovery and that the pain goes away soon!

- Kate

Corissa and Spencer Smith said...

Hi guys! We love the updtes and you both are always in our prayers!
Can we bring you a couple meals?? We want to help!!
Love,
Corissa and Spencer

The Boover Bunch said...

Hi. My name is Emily. I know Stephanie Moore. She shared your blog with me. I have been sitting here reading your posts. Thank you for your strength and faith. You both are in our prayers. I know as you do that miracles are real. We have a tiny baby in the NICU that was born 14 1/2 weeks too early. She is getting by on faith and prayers and the miracles of modern technology, of course. thank you for sharing your story and know you are loved by some who you do not even know. Good luck and may the Lord continue to bless you and your family.

thearringtonclan said...

Hello both.. Just wondering how Susan is doing.. are you up dancing and having fun?? We sure hope so lol
Just letting you know we are thinking of you and hope the next update brings good news.. so that we can celebrate with you...