Bill’s eyes well up with tears whenever he thinks about these past four months (January 1 – April). He said last night, “I know I’ve said it already, but again, I don’t know what I would have done had it not been for you these past four months.” Bill is not an emotional guy. In fact, he fights his emotions like his dad did. And it has not served him well. He knows his dad ended up with health problems because he bottled them up inside. But he’s working on it. “We are all works in progress!”
Let’s start with the positive ending to this miraculous journey. Note, his destination for healing was at the waters edge! Anyway, we KNOW God orchestrated our journey looking for a “cure” for his problem. He developed obstructed bladder outlet. We believe it was divine intervention that brought Bill to the Medical Doctor (M.D.) at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, he needed “for such a time as this.” The M.D. was able to guarantee Bill he could “cure” his condition. And cure it he did. Bill just finished his mandatory four week recovery – of no lifting anything over 10 pounds for a month. No exercise, just mild walking. Since December 2016, Bill had been on a wonderful work out regimen so we could optimize our time and lives for our grandsons!
Now a little background to bring us to this miracle. Bill’s only real health issue until December 2016, was suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) — also called prostate gland enlargement. It had been going on for at least 20 years. It’s not an every day topic for men to talk about. I have a theory: For us women, we start talking about our “curse” when we are as young as 12 or so. And it consumes our lives until we hit menopause. We learn to be in “touch” with our bodies and learn when an ache or pain is not normal and what is just that time of the month. As we age, talk about hormones, then change of life, etc. Men on the other hand, have no idea what is “lurking” out there – and usually not just prostate issues. Bill said this is probably why women generally outlive men! So they don’t get in-tune to their bodies until they are too old to figure out what is happening. And it happens to most men as noted from the below quotes:
BPH is a common condition as men get older. An enlarged prostate gland can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms, such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. It can also cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems.
Risk factors for prostate gland enlargement include:
- Aging. Prostate gland enlargement rarely causes signs and symptoms in men younger than age 40. About one-third of men experience moderate to severe symptoms by age 60, and about half do so by age 80.
- Family history. Having a blood relative, such as a father or a brother, with prostate problems means you’re more likely to have problems.
- Diabetes and heart disease. Studies show that diabetes, as well as heart disease and use of beta blockers, might increase the risk of BPH.
- Lifestyle. Obesity increases the risk of BPH, while exercise can lower your risk.
Bill didn’t really fit into any of the risk factors – except his started to grow earlier than most men. He was in his mid 40s when he had to start taking medication. He was never considered overweight, no family history, no diabetes or heart disease, until diagnosed in that milestone date in December 2016. (It was written about extensively starting here.) BTW, he believes he has reversed his heart disease as he is no longer on any heart medication and he passes all yearly EKG/cardio tests with flying colors.
Finally, after about 20 years of medication, he had a new urologist who asked him if anyone ever talked to him about surgery. “Wouldn’t you like to get off the medication?” SURE! But Bill took a whole year to research it and decide. He had the outpatient surgical procedure (called Urolift) in October 2018 – a procedure that meant he could get off the medication. And that is always a good thing, right?
January 1, 2020 No. The unthinkable eventually happened. One of Bill’s ears began hearing a LOUD whistling noise – and wouldn’t stop. This had started happening for the past month or so, but only after exposure to loud noises. But this morning, it woke him up! I said we best go to an Urgent care and see what’s going on to head it off. He was so miserable. He has suffered from tinninitis for years – a dull ringing from NOT wearing ear protection while using loud equipment. (MEN – take heed, if you don’t wear ear protection in your younger years while doing loud things like riding lawn mowers, motorcycles, listening to loud music, working in industrial settings, one day your ears will not only start the VERY annoying ringing, but you will need hearing aids at some point. Bill is still resisting them but it may happen sooner rather than later.)
Sorry, Bill and I have a tendency to get on our soap box when we think we can save someone else from the DUMB mistakes we have made in life. As it turned out Bill had a sinus infection – which happens a lot when we are in Virginia. We joke he is allergic to the state. That’s another long story I need to blog about….Anyway, the doctor put him on an antibiotic, suggested daily using Flonase and Muscinex. So off to the pharmacy we went and stocked up.
January 3, 2020 Bill and I headed down to Newport News to be with mom again. She was released from the hospital on this date and moved into a Rehabilitation Center. I wanted to be there to help get her set up as well as spend more time with her and my sister, Marsha. Mom’s spirits were good and she was determined to get her strength back. Her mind is still so sharp and she amazed EVERYONE there that she was 96 years old. I felt like she was in good hands, so we headed home on January 5, 2020. I had hoped to be able to stay until January 9 – when Mom was scheduled to meet with the oncologist. But Bill was starting to have some new symptoms and felt he needed to be home.
Sometime during this week, Bill was convinced he had ingested something that was causing him bladder problems. We went over everything he had eaten in the past week. He hadn’t eaten anything new. Then I noticed the Muscinex box sitting close by for his daily does. I grabbed it and read the “caution” – DO NOT TAKE IF YOU HAVE BPH. Oh NOOOO. You are kidding? A doctor prescribed this when his medical history was on file? And then I had the Pharmacist help me pick the best one for him as there are so many versions. Certainly you’d think she knew their client – she just filled his anti-biotic and she had to see he was well into his 60s. She should have question it. NOPE. And there in began a faster spiral downhill.
Bill’s brother and sister-in-law are nurses. David is Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and his wife, an RN, both work in an outpatient surgical center. They are our go-tos for any health concerns. Oh we are so blessed. We touched base with them. Bill was in pain – so they suggested taking Tylenol. He did and that helped. But then he had problems sleeping. We had Tylenol PM on hand. Why not? But then, after a few good nights sleep, he was now more miserable. I finally looked at the caution on the packing and guess what? DO NOT TAKE IF YOU HAVE BPH. The ingredients we discovered are his new culprits – anti-histamines and decongestants.
January 10, 2020 Bill was due a visit to the dermatologist. We had made an appointment a few months prior. He loved the dermatologist in Fredericksburg, but it was no longer feasible to see her. It caused too much interruption because when we were there, we are with our grandsons. And they love to jump and play – on Bill – too much. He almost always needs a biopsy or pre-cancers sprayed so that adds to the mix of not being feasible. Bill never watched out for the sun – until we finally moved to Florida in 2004 – too late for his Irish skin. We were grateful to “stumble” upon a new practice so we got in pretty quickly. Actually, I have to say this was another “divine intervention we found him. Dermatologists are in HIGH demand in Myrtle Beach and we just couldn’t find one we thought would work – until we learned about a newly relocated dermotologist. We have been so pleased with all of the doctors we have interacted with since moving here a year ago.
January 17, 2020 Bill finally HAD to see a urologist. We also did not plan to find a local one as we loved the one he had in Fredericksburg. Especially, since he surgically implanted the Urolift. But now Bill was in crisis mode. They “squeezed him in” and the doctor was basically able to prescribe a medication to ease his symptoms. They scheduled him for a cystoscopy on February 4 to “see” what the actual problem might be. One of the worst things a man has to endure. I could compare it to what women endure, pap smears for 30 to 40 years and that may be the equivalent of just one cystoscopy! This was going to be Bill’s fourth one in about 10 years.
January 18 – 24, 2020 It was time for me to visit mom and help my sister with her care. While Bill really didn’t want me to go because of how poorly he was feeling, he knew mom’s time was short and I needed to go. We only have one car and I just felt he needed to have it while I was gone. So I tried out Amtrak – which I wrote about in the last post. It was during this week that Bill just got worse – because again, we didn’t realize he ended up taking some more OTC medication that contained either anti-histamines or decongestants. He was fighting more sinus issues and then he got the flu! The print was so small on the boxes and they were for fighting “colds and flu.” Sadly, he was so sick he became dehydrated over three days and that probably contributed to what was coming.
January 27, 2020 It seemed Bill’s health was a little better once I was home a few days. But by 9:00 pm, he was so unbearably miserable. I don’t think I had mentioned, he hadn’t been able to sleep more than 3 or 4 hours a night ALL MONTH. He was dead man walking. But this night, he KNEW something was seriously wrong. I took him to the local Emergency Room. The GREAT news was there was hardly anyone else there. The nurses were GREAT and the doctor was beyond the BEST! It was a simple problem, Bill had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). This is somewhat a common issue with BPH. Bill actually slept a little better but it was recommended to see his urologist in two days for follow up.
January 29, 2020 Bill was again “squeezed” in to see his new urologist. We were so impressed with him and the practice. The final lab result was in and it was a more serious bacterial infection and needed a stronger antibiotic. Bill then complained about how little sleep he had been getting on all month (up every hour or two with frequent urination issues). The doctor offered to put a catheter in which would help him. Bill said “no way.” He had no idea how that could have helped to hold him over until the February 4th date for the cystoscopy. BUT he was in so much pain, he didn’t want anything invasive and in fact, doubted he could do the cystoscopy at this point. It was not the most pleasant appointment but we still really liked the doctor. He was so patient with a very wounded and hurting man.
January 31, 2020 I was walking home from our neighborhood gym around 8:45 am. Bill called me in agony! He said something was terribly wrong. He needed help! I called 911 and ran the rest of the way home. The ambulance arrived within 5 minutes. Long story short after alone ride to an Emergency Room near Murills Inlet – about a 30 minute ride that day – during rush hour. The other ER was only five minutes away but they were diverted due to how full it was. After nearly a month of issues, Bill’s bladder completely shut down. He HAD to have a catheter installed. They called the one he was given a “leg bag.” It was strapped to his leg and was the most miserable situation he could never imagine. And thus the tears as he recalls the unknown journey he was on.
February 1, 2020 What a way to celebrate our one year anniversary in our new home! We were back in the closest ER. Something was wrong with the Catheter – we learned it was a little “maintenance” issue. It only needed flushing but we weren’t “warned” it would be needed. The RN tried to give us some “patient training” but neither of us could “grasp” the magnitude of what a burden a catheter is.
I did as much research as I could and finally found a “help line.” The website talked about how catheters are put in without patient education nor alternatives. I called it regularly – but there was never an answer. I even had it on speed dial. It was staffed by MDs. Then more research-but no answers. It looks like they need educational and support groups for people suddenly living with a catheter. I finally found a FaceBook page that helped a little. Everyone has such a sad story. It actually helped Bill to know he was not alone – but there didn’t seem to be any solutions for him.
February 4, 2020 Bill had the cystoscopy. The urologist learned his prostate had grown from 50 grams to 84 grams. Normally they are anywhere from 7 to 16 grams. It was measured in October 2018 for the Urolift. This was a new procedure for BPH that “promised” to eliminate the need for medication. Bill took a whole year to research and think about it before he decided to opt for outpatient procedure. The side effects of any medication were hardly worth it when offered a chance to get off.
Bill was now living such a healthy lifestyle, he felt a little hampered because of medication (Finasteride). Our theory became that all the antihistamines and decongestants caused a growth spurt coupled with him getting dehydrated over four days the week I was gone – he had the flu but felt so awful he couldn’t get himself a drink. He wouldn’t let me call one of our wonderful neighbors. He was just too sick. (p.s. No MD could ever explain why his prostate grew so fast in such a short time. They also said our “theory” was improbable. Bill now thinks he should have continued Finasteride.)
So now what??? The urologist could offer two solutions here in Myrtle Beach: A TURP or Rezūm.
Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a surgery used to treat urinary problems that are caused by an enlarged prostate.” Click here for more info.
Rezūm nights without bathroom breaks. Rezūm Water Vapor Therapy is a natural alternative to surgery. It treats the cause of your BPH, so you can get back to your life.” Click here for more info.
The TURP is considered the “gold standard.” If you know anything about prostate surgery, you may know that the TURP pretty much ends one of the best things about manhood, if you know what I mean. Once the MD explained about the Rezūm, we were encouraged. But he said, take your time. Think it over and do your own research. Then let us know your choice. We will have to run it through your insurance for pre-approval – code word, it will take time! I wanted to say, sign us up – but Bill is the cautious one. To cut to the chase, I called the next day and said go ahead and what’s the soonest he can get it done. The catheter had destroyed Bill’s quality of life! Can you believe, it was going to be six weeks – March 20! That seemed like an eternity….
February 5, 2020 Back to the ER! He said something was wrong. As bad as the catheter had been, it was now even more miserable. After lots of tests, etc., he had yet another UTI. But the only relief they could also offer was to remove the catheter and put another one in. We went back the the ER that was far away because Bill preferred their catheter bags. Yes, there are differences in them.
I am usually the researcher Bill had to do his own research for a “cure.” He was so depressed at the thought he had to have it for six more weeks. He had to figure his future out. ALL HE KNEW was he wanted to get rid of the catheter. Bill was now a slave to the house. He had to empty his leg bag every few hours. He couldn’t exercise. He couldn’t do yard work. BUT he could at least sleep!!! That was the only good side effect of the catheter – no more waking every hour or two to use the bathroom. But he was turning into a slug – he could just literally “lounge” around the house. When he did complain to the MD, the doctor got a bit frustrated with him and said he lots of men learn to live with them in fact, we could easily go out to eat! HA, the doctor was talking to the wrong couple – we do EVERYTHING we can to not eat out. Bill was a germaphobe before we all had to adapt to the Coronavirus! And one of the things he can’t trust is how other people’s hand washing habits that prepare the food….I digress….
Bill finally realized he needed to figure it out his best options. He found a few Urology Conventions where doctors gave presentations on the different surgical options and what and their research reflected. After hours of listening, he learned what he wanted was the Holmium laser prostate surgery:
Which is a minimally invasive treatment for an enlarged prostate. Also called holmium laser enucleation of the prostate (HoLEP), the procedure uses a laser to remove tissue that is blocking urine flow through the prostate. A separate instrument is then used to cut the prostate tissue into easily removable fragments….
….As with other types of prostate laser surgery, HoLEP can offer faster recovery and symptom relief compared with traditional prostate surgery. Rarely, re-treatment with HoLEP may be needed for urinary symptoms.” Click here for more information.
What Bill really liked about the Urologist who gave the presentation on the HoLEP was that the MD said, “It’s really good for my patients.” Now we had to find out where they do the HoLEP procedure. We called all over the US to see where we could be seen the soonest. Again, long story short, we heard the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville was one such place. Bill has an affinity for Jacksonville – it was where he lived before we married – and the place he had hoped we would live after we married. If you followed our RV travels, you know we went there at least once or twice a year. The only place we visited more was Myrtle Beach!
February 11, 2020 Bill had an appointment with an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) MD. He had an excellent exam including a thorough hearing test. By now, we decided to add to all medical records, Bill is “allergic” to Anti-histamines and Decongestants. The ENT MD was on board. He came up with a solution for Bill’s lingering sinus problem. Nasal cleanse (he’s using NeilMed) each morning, followed by Flonase. IF this did not help in three months, then he will order an MRI to see what else might be going on. But from the exams, he couldn’t detect anything. The good news is that it seems to have helped. Only a sudden loud noise triggers the whistling noise. So this was a positive event, or as I like to say, Divine intervention! (ps – and it has continued to work! No MRI after the three months.)
In addition to all the doctor plus ER visits and trying to be comfortable, we had a few warranty repairmen scheduled to come do some work on the house. It is always something isn’t it? But at least Bill was in his own home and didn’t have to make the repairs himself! This month was our one year anniversary in Myrtle Beach home and the warranty matters had to be addressed!
February 24, 2020 We felt the clock ticking. Twenty days had passed and less than a month for the Rezūm. Bill was sort of on-board but there was just something that made him hesitant. He didn’t like the percentage of “re-treatment options.” We say his Urolift failed, but the name the urology profession calls it is “re-treatment.” And now Bill was laser-focused on those percentages. On this date, we convinced his Urologist to let him have the catheter removed to see if the prostrate had “shrunk” enough for him to live without a catheter. He had been off all antihistamines and decongestants for a month. We had prayed and hoped, prayed and hoped….But the “test” failed. He could not urinate on his own. So back in the catheter went. While we have loved this practice, this was a VERY bad experience. Have you ever seen the Seinfeld TV show where Elaine was branded “difficult?” We’d rather not share much more at this point except to say, we think the nurse saw that word in Bill’s medical record. 😢
We came home discouraged. But we found an MD in Oklahoma who could do the procedure in two weeks. BUT the thought of flying out there, flying back, ugh. What if there were issues? We just weren’t comfortable with the distance. We found another doctor at the University of North Carolina who could do a different and even less invasive procedure, but its success rate was still virtually unknown. Tick tock tick tok….then the phone rang. We had asked the Urology office to fax the information the Mayo Clinic needed the week before. We were told we would hear back from them within days. I called them every day to see if they received the fax. I was told we’d hear from them soon. We pretty much gave up…and then….the phone finally rang. We were collapsing from exhaustion and Bill didn’t want to talk, until I said, “It’s the Mayo Clinic!” Thank you Jesus!!! Just in the nick of time.
YES, after a brief interview coupled with the medical records, they said he was a good candidate. Could we be there on Wednesday??? And the soonest they could do the procedure was March 25. Well, it was a week later than the Rezūm, BUT it was THE procedure he wanted.
February 26, 2020 We got up early and headed to Jacksonville for the actual consultation and exam. His appointment was at 3:00 pm. According to WAZE GPS, it was a six hour drive. We decided to leave early, made a reservation on Amelia Island, Bill’s dream location. BTW, that was where he wanted to live when we got off the road, but it was TOO far from Fredericksburg. It really wasn’t an option. But he still dreamed. Anyway, we started out early and according to WAZE, we should be at the hotel there by 1:00 pm. That would give us two hours to get settled in and maybe take a beach walk! But wouldn’t you know it. One of the worst accidents in years happened on I-95 South, just 100 miles away from the hotel. Tick tok tick tok, we crawled along at 5 mph for two hours!!! If we could starting going the speed limit, we would arrive at Mayo Clinic exactly at 3 pm. Oh the anxiety. It’s so hard to sit in a car for 6 let alone 8 hour with a catheter. It’s just flat out difficult to sit comfortably with that blasted thing on according to Bill.
Divine intervention, we arrived at the Mayo Clinic just in time! We were both so frazzled. It was nerve wracking. But we immediately were met with peace and tranquility. Just EVERYONE was so nice and helpful. We can’t say enough nice things about the ENTIRE Mayo Clinic operation. Everything went so smoothly. And the MD was AMAZING. He said he could “guarantee” he’d get rid of the catheter. Music to Bill’s ears. Now if we could stay over one more day, they could do all the pre-op testing and then we wouldn’t have to return a day early before the actual surgery. SURE we said. We were done with seeing the doctor a bit after 5:00 pm. They close at 5:00 but the employees are so dedicated. They really stick to the schedule but she said she’d be happy to take care of us. It took her nearly a half and hour, but somehow she made all of our needed appointments. BUT she couldn’t get us in on one more appointment the next day, could we stay one more day? We had no choice so she set it for early the following day. Oh well, we could stay one more day and this way, if they had a cancellation, we could come earlier than March 25, 2020. The scheduler said it only happened twice in the few years she had been scheduling – but we said we believed in miracles! And oh how we were praying for one or two….
February 27, 2020. We were back at the Mayo Clinic at 8:55 am. The hotel was 45 minutes away. We were still recovering from the tortuous 8 hour drive the day before. But again, the people were all first class – we felt like we were the only people in the world that mattered. We met with so many different nurses and staff members. We’ve never seen such GREAT caring and consistency. They have everything set up for the ease of the patients. The last appointment was set for 8:25 am the next day. This was our schedule for this day:
8:55 am Electrocardiogram Testing
9:15 am Pre-operative Visit
10:20 am Blood test
10:45 am Assisted Urine Collection (what could this mean???) We were actually behind a bit as it was now close to noon by the time the “assisting” was over.
We went into the cafeteria on a bit of a break to accommodate the “Assisted Urine Collection.” It actually worked out perfectly as was time for Bill to take the “pee” test – to get a pure urine sample. The catheter bag was drained and plugged. Now he learned that is how you are supposed to go out and do what you want to do to not have a splashing leg bag. Anyway, he needed to drink about 16 ounces of water over an hour. Timing was everything.
While we were settling in, we got a phone call. Could we come at 1:05 pm today instead at 8:25 am the next day for the Preoperative exam? WOW, are you kidding? More divine intervention! This was great. It would save us one more night of high “rent.” We had actually checked out of the Amelia Island hotel. We found a cheaper hotel nearby but now, we could start heading home! Bill hoped we could drive at least go three hours up the road whenever we were done. Did I mention Bill was only comfortable at home? After we were done, around 3:00 pm, we headed to a hotel three hours away in Georgia. We were exhausted.
February 28, 2020 We only had three more hours to drive home. We were finally feeling rested and were thanking God for Mayo Clinic. It was virtually a painless process – except the drive there! The trip home was almost ideal. But we made one wrong turn and ended up wasting about 25 minutes wandering around the back roads in South Carolina. But Bill at least had a “cure” to look forward to. And now all I wanted was to go see my mom….But things kept coming up with Bill….I didn’t think I could wait until after the surgery. But Bill was so desperate to get the surgery as soon as possible, we agreed to be put on a standby list. IF they had a cancellation, we could be there the next day – if I was in Myrtle Beach that is! We were only six hours away – unless there is another horrific traffic accident! It would be risky to be with mom in Newport News, Virginia – 5 1/2 hour drive north from Myrtle Beach. OH what to do.
March 3, 2020 Bill had an appointment with the dermatologist. While being examined by one of the RNs at the Mayo Clinic, she saw a suspicious mole. Bill had just had his full body scan January 10 and it wasn’t seen. But both Bill and I remembered seeing what we thought was a pimple on his neck. Long story short, he had a biopsy that came back as basal cell carcinoma and he would need it removed by Moh’s Surgery. This would be Bill’s third such procedure. The doctor said it could wait until after he has the surgery on March 25. I had a sore on the top of my hand that wouldn’t heal, so I showed it to him. He said I needed to make an appointment for a biopsy. I had my full body scan done in Fredericksburg in August. This wasn’t there at the time. More Divine intervention! It turned out mine was a squamous cell carcinoma. Having the biopsy would have to wait.
March 11, 2020 My mom is taken to the ER. I wrote more extensively about this in my the first blog post in this series. And now the Coronavirus is taking over the headlines. Life seemed to be on a collision course. Bill is barely hanging on – what will be his next disaster? We were a bit gun shy. What else can go wrong with a catheter, his hearing, his sinuses, what could possibly be next? But now I KNOW I had to go see my mom. She was admitted with double pneumonia. My sister said, she was still asymptomatic from her Stage 4 lung cancer, accept these frequent infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia are actually symptoms. BUT no one explained it to us – I looked it up. She was placed in the ICU-Oncology Ward. Mom actually didn’t think she would make it out of the hospital alive. In fact, she had to be put on a respirator in the ER. She was in bad shape. But she pulled through.
My daughter and I both agreed we had to go for the weekend. I wrote extensively about my last weekend with my mom in my first post in this series. But remember, I said what else could go wrong with a catheter? The leg bag drain lever fell off! Bill called me in a panic. Where is the replacement leg bag? We were given one by the Mayo Clinic but he couldn’t find it in his panic! Did we mention how wonderful they were? Oh this is almost too much to bear….How am I holding up???? Only by God’s GRACE.
March 16, 2020 This was supposed to be my last morning with my mom. But by now, the coronavirus had caused hospitals to stop allowing visitors. Are you kidding??? And surgeries are being cancelled. Our world was turning upside down. Again, the details to this day are in my last post.
I finally headed home at 1:00 pm after I did all I could to help my sister prepare for mom to move in. My phone rang as I was about to leave. Bill asked me to please not talk on the phone while I was driving so i was about to put it on “Do not disturb.” More Divine intervention. The Mayo Clinic had an opening for this Friday, March 20, could we be there? ABSOLUTELY! Thank you Jesus!!!
This was the date Bill was to have the Rezūm. Isn’t that amazing? But what about the coronavirus? Not to worry, I was told, this procedure would not be cancelled. But still, we didn’t make a hotel reservation until March 18 – we wanted to be sure. And the great news was that the prices were going down because people were fleeing from Florida. Did you know the peak season rates in Florida are from January through March 31? So we got a break, a condo right on Jacksonville Beach and only 10 minutes from the Mayo Clinic. That was where Bill had hoped to recover! The beach is a healing place for him. What a miracle we not only got the reservation, but we got a break on the price. Sadly, thanks to the coronavirus. As bad as life looked right now, we could only stand on God’s promise:
…we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
March 19, 2020 We drove to Jacksonville Beach, Florida. We breezed there in six hours. Smooth as silk trip heading southbound. But oh, the northbound traffic was like a parking lot. We could see long lines trying to use the rest stops. It was a mess. Vacationers and snow birds were fleeing Florida due to the coronavirus. Life was changing rapidly. And that sore on my hand? Oh it was worse because of all the extra hand washing and hand sanitizer….
March 20, 2020 It’s the day of Surgery with an overnight stay. Bill is like most men. They don’t handle health care issues very well. The one good thing initially, I was told I would be able to spend the night with Bill. This procedure was actually terrifying to him. He’s only been in the hospital over night one other time – a gall bladder attack that they though was a heart attack. He was like a little boy there….he was so dependent on me. Well, now we are back to the coronavirus and my heart aches with others going through this. I couldn’t be with him and he would be “strapped” in his bed for 24 hours after the surgery. They were going to have to “flush” him full of IV antibiotics and fluids with a catheter, until the next morning. Would he survive without me?
I had a catheter in place after I had my daughter. I remember asking the nurse when could I get up to go to the bathroom? Certainly it was time. She then realized they forgot to remove my catheter bag. It was full to almost overflowing giving me the urge to go….Nurses are not perfect and my mind went there….what if this happened to Bill and he was literally unconscious from the anesthesia? I was reassured by the nurses that they would step up their game for such a time as this. And I could call them anytime I wanted to check up on him. I had to just rest in the Lord’s hands and TRUST HIM!
At least I was able to wait for Bill’s procedure in the hospital surgical center waiting room. I was so thankful for that but only one person per surgical patient. SADLY, I saw what appeared to be a daughter come running in, crying, looking for her mom. They embraced and staff led them away. Oh no, it looked like someone didn’t make it….How heart wrenching. It was the longest wait ever. We were there at 7:00 am and I was able to kiss him goodbye at 7:03 – they were ready for him. The procedure would be about 90 minutes long. I was sent text messages as to his status. He was taken to the Operating Room at 9:19 am. Poor guy had to wait by himself for over two hours! Oh my faith is being tested. I was in constant communication with Bill’s brother, wife and our daughter. That helped my comfort level! But what if….I couldn’t think the unthinkable but what if….
The procedure began at 9:42 am. The next text at 11:06 am said the procedure was starting to close. Then the MD came out to talk to me. The procedure went very well! He expected Bill to be released the next day, catheter free by around 12:00 noon! I began praising God. But I wouldn’t leave until I knew he is in his room.
Next text, 12:57 pm, transported to his room. My sister in law replied, “Should be sleepy for a few more hours. Should be trying to rest extra today. Because there is no big incisions or dressings it’s easy to be deceived into thinking this was minor!” She added, he will be sleepy most of the day.
I was finally able to relax so I leave shortly after this. I needed to go shopping for chicken breasts! It was interesting to see how the shelves looked similar to Myrtle Beach. I had to go to three stores to find the breasts. It was time to make the chicken noodle soup for Bill’s homecoming to start his healing journey.
I couldn’t wait any longer, I call to check on Bill at 3:30. I woke him up. He said he was fine, but so sleepy. He said he ordered chicken noodle soup for lunch. All he had to do was call down to the kitchen to place an order for whatever he wanted! It was good but he was so groggy. He wanted to go back to sleep. We only chatted a few minutes. I asked him to call me the next time he was awake.
He called me at 7:06 pm. We talked for about 25 minutes. He had slept through dinner. Oh no, he needed me with him. He had fasted for 24 hours virtually, then just had a bowl of chicken noodle soup? He needed nourishment. The nurse felt badly they let him sleep through dinner. She looked around, could only find pastries and other processed foods he won’t eat. He assured me he was OK. Otherwise, he recounted what he remembered. He was most impressed with everything, other than missing dinner!
March 21, 2020 I made my phone call to the nurses station to check on him at 5:04 am. He was stabilized and had slept really well. That was a relief.
He called with positive updates on his progress: 8:16 am, the catheter was out! We were now in constant contact.He didn’t feel a thing. They said if he could urinate a certain amount by 11:00, he could be out by noon. Next calls he gave me the details of his progress: 9:09, 9:39, 11:00. He was on track to get out by noon!!!
I headed out the door at 11:45, plenty of time to make the 10 minute trip. It’s a Saturday but for some reason, there was a traffic jam! I checked WAZE and it said I would arrive at 12:10. Oh no, I promised I’d be there on time – I couldn’t be late. So I called the nurses station. I got a brand new nurse. I told her I wanted to know Bill’s status as I was on my way, but was running about 10 minutes late. She said she didn’t have a HIPPA release on file so she couldn’t tell me. ARE YOU KIDDING????
She said she’d go get his permission to talk with me and would call me back. I NEVER heard back from her. I parked my car close to the door and ran inside. No Bill. PHEW. I spoke to the clerk at the entrance. I explained my situation and she did what she could to help find out his status. It took a while, but I was finally able to talk to him. He explained the nurse was brand new and didn’t see the HIPPA but she was so sweet for me to not worry about it….but my blood was boiling. It was so stressful. Thankfully, he sounded GREAT. He was just waiting for them to finish unhooking him and then he had to get dressed. I said he might as well order lunch! He was so glad he did as he didn’t get out until 2:30 pm.
Slide show of our next few days. The beaches are closed and it looked like all the families we had seen when we first arrived had left. It was almost a ghost town.
March 25, 2020 It was time to go home. I was getting anxious about my mom. My sister had sent me a picture of mom on Sunday, sitting up and smiling. She looked great. As we started the journey home, Bill said he was feeling so good, that we should plan on going to see mom March 30 – enough time to recover from our trip home. All went very well. There was hardly any traffic. The rest stops were all clean and not many people traveling. The few people was saw were all pleasant. No signs of a pandemic but yet, you know the world was different now.
We arrived home around 2:00 pm. I called my sister but no answer. She texted she would call me in a little while, she was meeting with Hospice. WHAT???? And now you know what lead up to the day of my mom’s passing, as written in my last post. Divine intervention again….I thank God we were through with Bill’s surgery and now to focus on family time as we began to mourn the loss of our dear mom and Nana.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18