Friday the 13th - Part 2 - Wrapping up a Rough Day

Do you remember the first season of 24? Jack Bauer used to say “My name is Jack Bauer, and today is the longest day of my life.” Yesterday was one of those days for us Schanbaums at the hospital. Now, I should be clear that the issues that took place yesterday primarily resulted from Jamie’s doctors getting used to her new schedule, but I’m confident that these problems will be fixed…. I’m so confident that things are going to improve because I was told, specifically, by someone who matters (or so I’ve been informed) that the problems we encountered yesterday were a one-time thing.

I mentioned Shirley McClain’s scene in Terms of Endearment as a way to describe the scene yesterday. While I’ve never seen that movie, I can tell you that I felt a bit like Stephen King’s Carrie going telekinetically ape-shit during her prom and after-party. FLEX!!!!!!! (Read the book to get that reference) [Note: I’ve written and deleted about six sentences that detail how freaking angry I was yesterday afternoon. I think you’re getting the point.] Let me explain how we got to my dark place:

The typical wound care or physical therapy session takes only an hour or two. As I noted earlier, the whirlpool session took 90-120 minutes on its own. Then Jamie was brought up to her room so that

1) the wounds on her backside could be treated by wound care. For months, this was the most painful and worst part of Jamie’s day. Every day. This isn’t the case anymore, and;
2) the bandages on her stumps could be changed and her wounds cleaned down there. This is now the most painful part of the day. Oh my God.

When we’re back in the room, ready to tend to the wounds on her backside, it may have already been over two hours since Jamie received her last pain medications. Typically, this is fine because every other wound care session took roughly two hours. Not this time. This time, as Jamie’s pain meds were wearing off, she was about to have her wounds treated on her rear. Jamie’s right hip/butt cheek were treated with minimal or bearable pain on Jamie’s part. Then, sometime between the treatments on right and left sides, the pain meds wore off. As Michael and Vijay treated her wounds, she protested, tried to get them to stop, cried, then screamed….

Mom, who to this point was not in the room because she’s not allowed to see the stumps/FAMPS, came in to see what the F was going on. Mom flew to her daughter’s side and sent me out to get pain meds. I start storming this way and that, trying to get Jamie an extra burst of pain medication so she can get through the treatment on her rear and her stumps. I’ll skip the details of why Jamie’s nurses weren’t allowed to give her an extra burst of pain meds, but because of some discrepancy in Jamie’s orders, our pleas for pain killers were met by (picture this) the Monopoly guy on the “Pay Poor Tax of $15” Chance card… you know, with the shrugged shoulders and empty pockets… “Hey, I would, but I can’t.” Our best pain reducer at the time was to get a velcro strap for Jamie to bite down on through her screams. At this point, we haven’t even touched the legs.

I run back to the room to find mom consoling Jamie. I felt like I was watching a WWII movie or something. Isn’t this the freaking future? Did they give her a swig of whiskey before tending to her stumps? What is going on here? I’d never seen Jamie or, I think, anyone in that amount of pain in my entire life. She still had not received her pain meds. It had become evident that Jamie’s pain medication has diminished to the point that is ineffective. Finally, after what seemed like forever but was probably only 30 or 45 minutes, we’re able to convince someone to call a doctor to get us some extra pain meds. By the time Jamie got the pain meds, one of her legs had been unwrapped. I mean, it was a brutal, soul-sucking process. Lots of fun.

The legs, well, they looked pretty good. Once we’re able to get over the trauma of today, I’ll let you know what the legs looked like. But, like with the FAMPS, I was very impressed with how they looked. DFD and her crew did a great job. More on this in a later post.

Once things are finally unwrapped, Michael shows us the alternative treatment method he’d mentioned at the whirlpool (about 3 hours earlier). It looks like the combination of a breast-pump and a water gun. It would be pressed up against her raw stump-skin and it would squirt and suck water to clean her wounds. “Oooohhh, no f-ing way!” I said. This wasn’t too unexpected, since Michael had indeed told me that this breast pump gun would be way more painful (because of Jamie’s exposed skin/nerves on her stumps) than dangling her stumps in the whirlpool would be. So, we’ll be dangling Jamie’s legs in the whirlpool this morning. [NOTE: Things did go much better today with the dangling. It was still bad, but we're getting used to it.] We’re just going to have to skip over the details of the leg treatment itself because they’re pretty traumatic, but even with the additional pain meds (which was just an additional 1mg of dilautid) it was kind of bad.

In the next post, I’ll give some details on the stumps, our convo with Dr. Lin and the hospital admin person in today’s post. I’ll also hopefully be able to tell everyone about how our new schedule is taking shape in an orderly fashion.

In a few weeks or months, things are going to be different. Eventually, Jamie will walk again. She’ll be back in Austin and she’ll chill with the kitties on the porch. A few months later, Jamie will be able to take Sake, our dog, on a W-A-L-K – but only if she’s a good girl. But right now, today, things are pretty rough. Nonetheless, I’m sure they’ll get much better… but damn….