Back to work

I went for a visit with the doctor today, to see if I could return to work tomorrow.  After a good listen to my lungs, she stated the obvious, I still have pneumonia in the right lung and she can hear the wheezing.  Her thoughts about the workplace were fairly rigid.  I can return IF I have an office and can close the door AND if I agree to only do telephone meetings and no face to faces.  Have other people run errands for me, no gadding about in any of the shared spaces, just the washroom and my office.  If I find I am too tired then no going in the next day.  Honour system here, after all, it’s my health not hers we are talking about.  Oh, the doctor can be stern when she has too.

So I tell my daughter the doctor’s terms – and she laughs and laughs.  Ya right mom, that’ll happen.  You have been away for a week, a week – do you know how much stuff has gone done?  It will take you a day to get caught up, and people are not going to want to talk on the telephone!  She’s right, a ton of stuff has occurred, staff movement, new work underway – it’s part of the reason I want to get back!  Why does stuff always have to happen when I am off?  It’s one of life’s sure mysteries.

This last week was a tough one, I must have read 10 paperbacks – a couple of which I had hanging around for a while.  Read some new authors as well –  two of note:  Kate Lord Brown, who wrote The Perfume Garden; and Jo Nesbo, who wrote The Bat.  I was particularly pleased with The Perfume Garden, not my usual genre, so I had expected to struggle and didn’t at all.  Loved that book.  The Bat was more my type and style of book, crime/thriller, and I found it full of twists and pits I didn’t see coming, so a good read.  Add in the usual John Sanford, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Robert Tanenbaum and I was pretty much entertained.  It is always nice to find a new author to add into the mix.

So tomorrow, back to the grind.  I have to find a way to stay upright and not nap for at least nine hours. This should be fun.

My Sister-In-Law

I won’t call these updates “surgery” anymore because we are way past that.  My sister-in-law’s condition continues to be troubling.  She HAS developed pneumonia and is now dealing with this new problem.  She is still septic in her abdomen and is not responding well to the antibiotics she is on.  She is on blood thinners, we have been assured, since the risk of a blood clot is a reality.

Today when I visited she had just been fully reviewed by the attending physician, who has ordered another CT for tomorrow morning.  The nursing staff had washed her hair and given her a sponge bath and consequently she looked better than she had in days.  They had also changed all her tubing and replaced all her lines.  She remains swollen from the fluids.  The level of mechanical support has been increased for both sedation and respiration.  Despite this, her son, who was there (as always) was a bit more optimistic than he has been in recent days.  The stress is definitely wearing on him but today he seemed to be cautiously optimistic, exhausted but hopeful.  It could be that he felt an affinity with the Charge Nurse on today – Pam, her name is Pam, and she was impressive in her approach, kindness and outlook. We’ve met quite a few of the nurses throughout this ordeal, and they all leave an impression.

One stark reality of today’s healthcare is that most of the staff are part timers – that way the hospital doesn’t have to pay them benefits, it’s a cost savings.  It speaks to the potential for lack of continuity in care since the only history the incoming nurse is going to look at is likely the last 24 to 48 hours.   For my sister-in-law if we had our way we’d have a dedicated cadre of four nurses looking after her (night/day/weekend); developing a relationship with the family and with her – personalizing this experience.  I know some will not agree with this but it’s how I feel.  I believe that in some areas of the hospital it should be mandatory that the hospital staff areas with full time members to ensure knowledge transfer, awareness and consistency in approach to care – the ICU is one of these.  Use your part time staff in Emergency – where the patients come and go within 24 hours, or even on the Wards; for palliative care, again, use full time staff – it provides a familiar face as well as stability and continuity for patients facing an uncertain and, in some instances, a short future.

Surgery Update #2

There is no doubt that my sister-in-law is a sick woman.  She’s hooked up to all sorts of machines and remains heavily sedated.  Despite her appearance, which is quite unnerving, the nurses and doctor are pleased with her progress to date.  She will remain in the ICU for a few more days.  They plan on removing her intubation in the next 24 to 48 hours, after that they will decrease her level of sedation.  When I spoke to the nurse today she stated that my sister-in-law’s lungs sound clear which is a good thing.  There is always a risk of pneumonia or fluid on the lungs when someone is flat out like this.  Since the risk of infection is quite high, they will continue to administer a strong antibiotic.  She also will receive albumin infusions to support her recovery. Her body appears to be attempting resumption of normal bodily activities and they have heard some activity in her intestines – again a good thing.