Today is day eight of our saga. Last Sunday my wife Phoebe started running a fever and when I checked her left foot it was extremely swollen and hot to the touch. We made the decision to go to the emergency room At Emory of Decatur, we should have just driven back to Columbus and gone to St Francis to start with, I guess we thought that with Emory’s reputation it was the best place to go. Little did we know we would see a pair of podiatry residents who apparently did not know big words such as sepsis or basic signs of an infection. Their solution was to put a cast on it, the only thing that saved Phoebe was the ER doctor we saw for just a few moments at the beginning of the night had labs drawn to test for infection and to order Vancomycin to start treatment. Perhaps like us he believed when he turned her treatment over to the residents that they would have a clue about her condition and treat her accordingly. So they put on the cast, wrote a prescription for some low level antibiotics since I asked them about the infection and discharged us from the ER with instructions not to put weight on her foot to further aggravate the bone that showed broken on the x-ray.
We proceeded to head home cancelling our plans with family for the Fourth of July. A few hours after we arrived back home we received a call from a Nurse Practitioner informing us that there was an infection in blood stream and that Phoebe had sepsis. We proceeded to the ER at St Francis after grabbing a quick bite to eat, in hindsight that was a mistake as we were up against a clock. When we were called back to triage, Phoebe’s blood pressure was extremely low in the 70/40 range they tried a different cuff with the same results, and rolled her immediately back to a room. Different machine and same blood pressure, went to a smaller blood pressure cuff and same reading. Through out this Phoebe was in an extreme amount of pain, she was dizzy and getting delirious. By this time we had been up for better part of 48 hours. They moved her to ICU. The next 24 hours were very rough as she was in pain and complaining she could not breathe. visiting hours in ICU are very limited and they called me in the middle of the night as she was being very belligerent and insisting they call me. I tried to get her to calm down and unfortunately it was not working. When I was finally allowed into see her she was so angry with me and the world in general. it was a very long day, trying to keep her calm and not hurt herself by pulling out an IV or the central line they put into the vein in her neck.
The days have been a blur, Orthopedics operated on her foot Wednesday draining 100CCs of puss of of her ankle, the cast had done nothing but exasperate the situation. She came back from surgery on a ventilator which she is still on and will probably be so for several more days. They had her on a cocktail of fluids, paralytic, sedative, antibiotics, various electrolytes, etc. 2 IV poles full of pumps and all of the various bags. Slowly they have weaned her off of the paralytic, reduced the sedative, tried to reduce the medication keeping her blood pressure up but she started going down again so they readded it. She has a great team of doctors and nurses caring for her it helps to reduce some of the stress, just being able to ask questions and getting back clear answers.
The hardest part of all though is the waiting, the long hours just sitting by her side, having to leave her side when visiting hours are over. There is the guilt I feel for sleeping through the night because of the medications I am on to combat insomnia. Then there is the guilt that I feel for being on mood stabilizers that keep me from being overly stressed. I know these are important medicines without which I would be a manic depressive mess, but it does not relieve the guilt that gnaws at me. I want to take her pain and carry it for her, taking on her suffering so she does not have to endure it. Phoebe is my heart and soul, without her I am nothingness. So I sit here with her every moment that I can, waiting for her to wake up, letting her know she is loved.