We had a tough week: Pneumonia

Two weeks ago, everyone got sick that was home.

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I called home and Holly said they were all sick: Holly, Mark, Luke, and John. Well, everyone but Meg and me got sick. They were all coughing and hacking, having trouble sleeping, blowing their noses. The usual, I figured. Just in the summer instead of the winter.

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When I went home for the weekend after fishing, I did like I  usually do and pretend I never get sick. We ate at the same table, drank out of the same cups, lolled around in the bed sleeping in until 6:45 Am or so.

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So I went out fishing again, expecting everyone to be better by the time I returned again on Thursday or so. Then Holly took Mark to the clinic on Monday because he did not seem to be getting better.

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When I called from the fishing grounds on Monday night, Holly said she’d taken him to the clinic and the diagnosis was not good at all from Dr. Nobel Anderson: pneumonia!. But, that he’d probably be better by Wednesday if the antibiotics worked. So I didn’t think too much of it again, but I could here him coughing in the background. But no one wants pneumonia!

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We got home at night and I went in to the room and listened to him. He sounded awful: very short breaths, very rapid, interrupted by extreme coughing and hacking, followed by more restless sleep. Also, he was on the floor instead of in his bunk (well, all three boys were on the floor). When I talked to Holly, she said he did not have the strength to get into his top bunk.

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She said he seemed slightly better on Wednesday, so she hadn’t taken him to the clinic. We decided to give it another day. I tried to get him to drink some fluids as he lay in his perch on the couch all day, but he would only take a weak sip from time to time, and ate no food. Holly said he’d lost five pounds by Wednesday. He hadn’t been to the bathroom except a couple times a day, with almost no urine splashing off the walls. That was a joke. I meant no urine production.

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Thursday night was a tough night. Long coughing spells, night terrors, and small rapid, shallow breaths. I decided to take him to the clinic first thing on Friday Morning. They checked his O2 saturation right away and put him on Oxygen, as he was down below 90%, and then took a good look at him and decided to start hydrating him with a saline drip that would allow a quick dose of new antibiotics as well. Adam was Mark’s nurse and did a great job, especially in the X-Ray room where Mark almost collapsed from fatigue just trying to stand up in front of the big red X.

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Holly, John, and I took turns reading to him throughout the day and by 2 PM on Friday it was obvious he was doing better, but his 02 SAT was still too low. while on 2L/min O2, his O2 SAT was at 96-99%, but whenever we took him off the O2 and let him breathe just room air, his O2 SAT would tank, dropping down to 89-91% within a few minutes. The clinic said he had to go to Juneau. They just did not have the 24 hour care needed to make sure he was okay. Ron Horn came by to see if we needed anything before we left.

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They said, that in kids they don’t worry too much about cardiac arrest, it’s respiratory arrest that gets them. Well, I didn’t have anything to argue about, there. I asked if we could take an O2 bottle and an O2 Saturation tester to take home, but they said no, it wasn’t worth the risk, plus it wasn’t policy. Mark had a fun time trying to keep his saturation level up above 96%. In the photo above, you can see his Saturation level is at 97%.

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Plus there was a pediatrician in Juneau who was good with this type of thing. The clinic called up the medivac team and we went to Juneau. First we were in the ER for about four hours because they were backed up with patients. The nurse in the ER saw his excellent O2 Sat numbers and immediately took him off the O2. It took about 45 minutes for his O2 SAT to drop, but it did: right back down to 88 at one point.

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At about that time, the pediatrician showed up and looked at things and decided to keep him for the night at 2 LPM O2, and changed his antibiotics to two other drugs, and move him upstairs where he’d be monitored. They put us in a negative pressure room that kept all the germs in. And boy did they keep the germs in. I got sicker than a dog in that room—I’ve never been that sick in my life: vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, and I won’t even go into what happened to my prostate! I was so sick I checked myself in the ER and signed up for some meds. Thankfully, I ran into Penny Fossman, and I was able to borrow a vehicle to run some errands (get some meds). Thanks Penny!

The worst moment, for me personally, was in Wal-Mart, when I had to sprint to the bathroom to avoid vomiting on the good folks at the pharmacy.

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It was kind of weird to have everyone wearing masks around us. But what could we say? “We really did just brush our teeth!” No. I couldn’t really blame them. In the picture above you can se the ante room where both doors have to be closed before one can be opened again. On the other hand, he did have a cool bed with lots of controls for the middle and each end, plus a handy lit-up button that would reach the nurse without-fail via an intercom. I’m still not quite sure if we just happened to get this negative pressure room, or if it was necessary, but by the second day, the masks weren’t really in use any longer.

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Right before the second night started, at around 7 PM, they took him off O2 and let him breathe room air for a while. His O2 SAT dropped from 99% to 95% and leveled off. cool. She said we’d be able to leave in the morning if that kept up through the night.

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Holly, Meg, and Holly’s brother John, took the ferry down that night and stayed in this room at the Bartlett House across the street from Bartlett Hospital. In the morning I went there to rest, as I was still sick and my back started to ache whenever I wasn’t lying down. At around noon Mark was discharged from Bartlett and he and Holly went on a Costco run for an hour, then they came back and we all crashed.

We took the Ferry home the next morning. but I was still sick, nausea and weariness.

Thank God Mark is better now. He is not back to his old self yet. He still lies on the couch some of the time, but he’s taking his meds, drinking his fluids, and resting like he’s supposed to. I’m not sure what the next step is. Presumably, he’ll have a full recovery and be sprinting up and down the court dribbling at full speed again someday. Well, that’s the hope.

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As soon as Mark’s aunt Dorothy Beeman (Margaret’s sister) heard that Mark was sick, she put together a care package for him with a new shirt, a new hoodie and two boxes of honey-nut cheerios! They were in the mail when we got home and greatly cheered him up! Bless Dorothy for her kind heart!

Thanks to Bonnie Shanrbroich for the bread & jam, Lucinda Boyce for the Geos (they were a great success), and to Serena Badgley for taking care of the younger two boys so Mark could rest. Thanks also to Bob and Margaret who ‘camped’ with the younger two boys for two nights while we were in Juneau.

Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers—Matt, Holly, Mark, Luke, John Caleb, and Meg.

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