Yikes. Where to even start here?...
For the past 15 days, my husband Jimmy has been in the hospital with severe double pneumonia. It's been the scariest two weeks of my life. Somehow my goofy husband managed to contact Mycoplasma pneumoniae, an atypical type of bacteria, which worked its way into both of his lungs and would NOT go away. The team of doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, one of the best hospitals in the nation, all agreed that this was the single worst case of this type of pneumonia that any of them had ever seen in their careers. Of course. Of course my dramatic husband couldn't just get some simple kind of pneumonia, he had to get the really scary, vicious kind that came gaspingly close to killing him.
It all started the day we got back from our aforementioned trip to Desert Hot Springs. Jimmy came down with a fever, which we assumed was the same virus that Jude had suffered from the week before. His fever spiked up to 104, but then came down, and we thought the worst was over. Little did we know that the evil Mycoplasma pneumoniae had entered his body and was multiplying inside his lungs. Grrrr. The coughing began.
It was then that we decided that it was no longer simply viral, and that it was time for antibiotics. We took him to our GP, who x-rayed his lungs and announced that he had double pneumonia - pneumonia in both lungs. She dosed him with massive antibiotics, and sent him home.
Two days later, he was not only not any better, he was far worse. He woke up in the morning and was weirdly confused - didn't know what was going on or where/when it was. I took him back to the doctor, and it was decided he needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately. Turns out his lungs were so bad that he wasn't properly oxygenated. He was like a deep sea diver or a mountain climber whose oxygen had run out - not enough oxygen was getting to his brain.
They stuck him on a respirator and started pumping him full of antibiotics. Since they didn't know exactly which strain of bacteria was in him, they just dosed him with everything.
But guess what? He didn't get better. He got worse. His body wasn't responding to the antibiotics. And on top of that, the lack of oxygen was screwing with his other organs too. His heart kept going into A Fib. I was sitting next to him in the hospital and about once every hour his heart rate would spike and the damned monitor would start screaming out this pinging noise. His kidneys also stopped functioning properly and he went into renal failure.
It was bad. Day after day, the doctors would come in and tsk and sigh and shrug. It was clear that they were doing everything they could, but nothing was working. What they really needed to do was a bronchoscopy, a procedure similar to a colonoscopy which is basically just a test in which they send a camera down into the lungs to take a look around. They can also grab a tissue sample to biopsy and a sputum sample to test for bacteria. But unfortunately, they couldn't perform the bronchoscopy until his heart stopped wigging out! They also didn't want to have to intubate him (run a breathing tube down his throat) and were hoping for his breathing to improve enough to take him off his respirator for the duration of the bronc (hip hospital lingo for bronchoscopy - yeah, I'm all in the know now).
No one was optimistic. I started to prepare for the worse. I woke up one morning at 4 am in a panic because Jimmy doesn't have a will. I texted a friend of mine who works in estate planning, and she assured me that everything would be fine because of community property. I have to admit that I started planning the funeral. It would have been very lovely. I even thought about the song I would sing at the funeral and who I would ask to be my backup singers. Because...doesn't everybody have backup singers at their husband's funeral?
This went on for days - waiting to do the bronchoscopy. It was during this time that I suddenly realized that perhaps I should reach out to people. I'm an only child, and despite the fact that I spew my guts on a regular basis here on this blog, I'm pretty private when it comes to real crisis. I had told a handful of intimate friends/relatives, but other than that, I hadn't wanted to bother anybody.
But I suddenly knew I had to reach out. I sent emails to my choir, my old friends in Texas, my old college roommates, the parents at Jude's school, and many others. I simply asked for prayers. And man, did they deliver. I can't tell you how overwhelming the outpouring of support and love was.
By the end of that day, things had turned around. His heart was steady, his breathing improved. They ran the bronchoscopy, identified the strain of bacteria, and almost immediately he was improved. When he opened his eyes after the procedure and looked at me, he was back inside his body. It really was like that, I'd look into his eyes and he just wasn't there, he'd stepped out for a bit, but then he came back. He saw me and he knew it was me. It was an unstinkingbelievable relief.
It took another week to get strong enough, but he finally came home yesterday. I made him lobster tails for dinner.
What was Jude doing during all of this? I did my damnedest to keep things as normal as possible. He has a full schedule - half a day of summer school (another post to come) and half a day of junior lifeguards (another post to come) and I was blessed to have friends who were willing and able to carpool him back and forth to these activities. He was very worried about Papa, but he's a strong, stable little boy, and I don't think he doubted for a minute that he would be home soon, safe and sound. Though he did sleep with me in Jimmy's spot for the entire two weeks - not such a big boy after all I guess.
Okay, I have rambled on enough now, nothing more boring than somebody else's health problems. I do have a few last Random Health Crisis Thoughts...
- My IPhone Autocorrect has now learned how to spell "bronchoscopy", "oxygenate" and "intubate".
- When you take your receipt after paying the payment machine in the parking garage at Cedars-Sinai, where they charge you $10 a day to park (yep, do the math), the electronic voice tells you "Thank you. Please come again." Which is a really stupid thing to say.
- People are idiots. One woman whose teenage daughter is a client of Jimmy's (he teaches her acting) came to the hospital during that first week and walked right into his ICU room with her two teenage daughters in tow! The man was unconscious and the nurse had just ten minutes earlier been fiddling with his catheter. I appreciate that she was concerned but really, there are limits!
- People are outrageously kind. So much love. So much kindness. From friends and relatives and from the incredible staff at Cedars. Amazing. Offers of meals and rides and help. THREE friends seriously offered to fly out from various parts of the country and stay here and take care of Jude and drive him to his activities and cook and clean for me. Unbelievable.
- On the day I sent out the emails asking for prayers, my friend Carol left four bottles of wine on my front step. Now THAT'S a thoughtful gift.
- I really need to work at being a better friend. I am simply not as good to people as they have been to me. Or at least it seems that way. I can be so thoughtless - at this very moment I have FIVE sympathy cards on the dining room table that I keep forgetting to write/send. It's such a simple thing to do - I MUST make this effort.
- Prayer and positive thought works.
- I am very happy that my husband is home and on the mend.