Cari’s Blog #3

Cari's Blog
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8/9/2011 Update
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Round 5 – Update #3

Hey Everyone,

As most of you heard Eric is back in the hospital.  Yesterday morning (Monday) and the night before, he had been throwing up blood so we called right away in the morning to see what we should do.  They instructed us to go to the ER up in Two Rivers and get some platelets and they would instruct us if we needed to do anything else.  So, 8 am we went in to the ER.  He was at the hospital there for quite some time, and all they did was take his vitals, take some blood, and kept him on saline.  Apparently they had to order the platelets from Milwaukee.  This is something I will never be able to wrap my head around.  The platelets had to come from Milwaukee? It was going to take an hour and a half to get them up here, and that was only if the driver drove normal, and got out the door now.  We were under the impression that all hospitals had some sort of blood within reach should they need it.  I understand that Two Rivers isn’t Milwaukee, and that they don’t deal with what Froedtert does on a normal basis, but wouldn’t Green Bay be a better place to get platelets from? I will never have the answers, or be able to understand this at all.   Eric says, from now on, we go straight to Milwaukee.

Somewhere around noon Eric was on his way by ambulance to Froedtert, and I was in his car not far behind.   Eric still hadn’t gotten platelets, and we were both getting cranky not knowing answers.  Since he was going by ambulance, I took his car to my parents, quick showered, packed some stuff for another day of hospital stay, and left.  Had I driven him, I very well could have been stuck in Port Washington, not knowing how to save my husband.  Granted, nothing happened in the ambulance and it was an uneventful ride for Eric, but I would rather be safe than sorry.  Eric actually didn’t want to take the ambulance at all.  He told me he knew his body and nothing was going to happen.  I on the other hand, wanted to be safer, than sorry.

We both got to Froedtert around the same time.  Eric was told he’d be going in for a CT scan, they started every kind of antibiotic they could, took some blood work, and that was that.  He was told he couldn’t eat or drink anything, which was annoying, since he hadn’t all day.  Finally after the CT scan was done, and blood cultures were taken, we went to bed.

That brings us to today.  We woke up, Eric still was not feeling well, the CT scan showed almost nothing, we still hadn’t gotten the platelets he needed while in Two Rivers, and we both still had no idea what’s going on.  All I knew is they were checking his blood every 8 hours, and that they had him on antibiotics.  I had been in touch with close friends and immediate family giving them updates, but still didn’t really know anything.

Eric’s fever spiked to 102.7, he also has had a high heart rate, even since he left last week from receiving chemo.  The PA came in and told us that it had looked like Eric had got a rare form of infection in his blood, and that the antibiotics he was initially on, weren’t going to help him.  The strain is VRE. I don’t know exactly what it stands for other than V, is Vancomyocin, and R is resistant.  Meaning, the Vancomyocin they had him on was going to do nothing and that it usually only gets spread around in hospitals to people with weak immune systems.  They told us not to panic yet, and that they would add another antibiotic to his other meds and we would take it from there.  The new antibiotic they have him on should help if in fact it is the VRE.  We can’t really say what exactly he has, since the preliminary blood cultures are all that has come back.  We won’t know anything for sure until a couple days has passed and the cultures have had time to grow in the lab.

What I had heard, and what his mother had heard were two very different things.  I was told with Eric that if it was in fact VRE that they had caught it at an early time, and would be able to treat it with a different kind of antibiotic.  Me being me, stayed calm, because it doesn’t help anyone if I’m freaking out, and it puts Eric more on edge.  However; his mom was told that NO antibiotics could fix it.  She asked the PA if she should come down and she told Mary that if she was second guessing herself and if she would feel bad if she didn’t then she should.  Had I heard what Mary did, I probably would have freaked out.  She was up there in Two Rivers, not seeing Eric, not knowing every little detail, and was just told if she was going to regret not coming she should come.  Her and Brian got in the car and left.

At this point I hadn’t really talked to Mary.  I was being told that to be in the room I need to wear gloves and a gown, and that when I leave the room the gloves and gown have to stay in the room.  Not to protect me from Eric, but because I was in the room I could spread this to other patients.  Eric was going down to get a line put in so that he had something more central than just two IV’s , and I had logged onto facebook just to check it quick for the first time in about two days.  I saw Mary’s status and part of it said “No antibiotics will help him fight this infection.”  I freaked out.  I went straight to the nurses and asked them. I believe my exact quote was, “On a scale of 1 to holy crap, how scared and concerned should I be?”  His nurse told me 5.  That’s right in the middle, so I called Mary.  I think this is the point where we realized we had two different explanations given to us.  As soon as I saw the Doctor and the PA I asked them what was going on.  I was actually angry.  I was thinking they weren’t telling me something that they had told her, and kept me out of the loop.  I got this feeling because a nurse at the other hospital had said something about how young we were, I felt that they were trying to in a way protect Eric and I from what might really be happening.  I thought they told Mary something thinking we couldn’t handle it and she was on her way down to tell us what we didn’t want to hear.

When I asked the PA and doctor again this afternoon what was going on they seemed pretty optimistic that they caught whatever it is early enough that it will be treated, and that all the talk of the ICU was just because it would be a cautionary thing.  Eric was in the best place he could be for now, and if they felt this unit wouldn’t be able to give him the full attention he needs, then they would move him to ICU.  The Doctor looked me straight in the eye and said, “Just because we move him to ICU, does not mean death.”  That made me feel a TON better.  I swear I felt like this huge weight had honestly been taken off my chest.  I asked her what I could do from my position to help Eric in all of this.  I know I can’t give him the drugs, or just take the pain away for him, so I wanted to know if there was ANYTHING I could do at all.  Her exact quote? “Do NOT freak out.  This will be O.K. and we are doing everything we can.”  I called Mary right after I heard that knowing she was on her way down.  I also made sure that the Dr. and PA told her what they just told me as soon as they saw her, because I didn’t want her to think I was in denial, and I figured it might make her feel better.

That brings us to now.  Eric’s temp is starting to go down slowly, as well as his heart rate.  He still isn’t feeling well and is saying he doesn’t want people to visit.  He just wants to sleep and get better.  They’re looking to see if he can participate in a new study about giving people white blood cells after chemo, where they give the white blood cells during infection and see if it can actually help him fight it, and as of 6:30 today, he’s finally getting the platelets we went to the ER for in the first place. Still unsure if he’s going to get those white cells, but at least we know things are starting to get better.

He’s back to sleeping and we’re still not sure what exactly is going on in his body, but we do know that they are doing EVERYTHING they can to fix it, and that he’s in good hands.  He hasn’t vomited up blood since yesterday.  The CT scan showed that he didn’t have anything going on in his abdomen and that there’s a little thickening in his esophagus area.  This could have been the cause for the bleeding.  Like I said before, we will know what kind of infection is happening in his body on Thursday after the cultures come back.  Could be VRE, could be something else.    It’s also sounding like he’s getting a bone marrow biopsy on Thursday, which we weren’t expecting.

I’m going to leave you guys with what my Grandma told me yesterday. This is straight from the mouth of Grandma Jaeger.  “If there is a God, he’s going to cure Eric.  He’s on so many darn prayer chains that he’s got to be sick of hearing Eric’s name so much he’ll cure him so we shut up.”  (It’s been edited a little bit for our younger readers)   I know Grandma’s right.