Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Nightmare

I wanted to share what had been going on this past week in our home.

 I guess you could say it started around the summer.  Angel had been retaining water in his feet.  We didn't think much about it.  Especially since I have also been retaining water and noticed if I watch my carbs it gets better.  Other than that, there was not much going on.  Angel did start to sleep more during the day and less at night.  However, he has always been a night owl.  So once again, we didn't think much about it.

Around Halloween we had noticed that his stomach seemed bigger than we remembered.  The swelling in the feet and calf was pretty bad.  We didn't really understand why.  He did gain weight .. about 27lbs.  Angel, however, doesn't keep track often so we didn't know how long he had been gaining.  He is a night eater.  Loves to snack and such.

Two weeks ago he decided he was cutting back.  We cut out meat and most carbs.  We focused alot on salads, fruit and yogurt, oatmeal for breakfast.  He was feeling better.  Swelling was going down.  Weight dropped about a lb or two.  We were on the right track.. or so we thought.  We did have some slip ups.. like the night he wanted pizza.  But other than that we pretty much stuck with it.

Then two Saturday's ago, we were taking Anna to ballet.  We did not want to ruin the diet so we stopped at stop and shop for their salad bar.  Ate in the car.  Then to the theater.  Angel wasn't feeling well.  His stool was really black and tar like.  Also the swelling was starting up again, actually worse than before.. the swellign went up his legs.  He did not want to go to the hospital.  Our co-pay is 100 and we have a 400 deductible.  He promised he would call first thing monday morning. 

Monday morning he called.  The receptionist said the doctor would not be in til Tuesday.  Angel told her his symptoms and she scheduled him for Tuesday at 2:45. Angel also had not eaten much since Saturday and he wasn't  hungry. 

During all this time my gram was not doing well in the hospital.  Angel decided we would go up and see her .. however, she died before we could go.  I lost it.  I was crying and just couldn't stop thinking about the horrible month we have had.  My 16 year old cat died.  Family members hospitalized.. etc.  It was so overwhelming. 

Tuesday came.  We went to the doctor and ended up waiting 2 hours.  When we finally saw him, he didn't think twice before sending us to the hospital around the corner.  He told me I had to find a way home.  We were not anywhere near our town.  We were about an hour away actually.  At the hospital as soon as they confirmed it was blood in the stool.  They were all over him.  He was bleeding internally.  His liver was having a problem.  They put a tube in him and suctioned out all the blood.  During this time the liver started to fail.  I was there the entire time, just watching in shock.  Angel was awake and I took every  minute I could to touch his hand or hair.  He was very scared.  They managed to help the liver and had to give him 2 cc's of blood.

They explained that his liver was in trouble.  They had to stop the bleeding.  The choices they had were not simple.  They were only capable of one choice.  If it failed it would not go well, so they decided to send him by helicopter to the Hartford Hospital.

There is a blur of activity from there.. running home to get clothes, talking to anna, phone calls to be made, which my friend handled that part for me.  When I got to the hospital (which is further away) he was stable.  I stayed in the ICU with him for two days.  They ran tests, took pics of his chest to make sure nothing else was swollen, ultrasounds, just everything, in that first full day we were there.

What they found was he has Cirrhosis.  They do not know why.  All of the usual reasons do not make sense.  They talked about liver biopsy and possible liver transplant.  His liver is scarred.. more than one area.  Also a little shrunken.  They have decided that he needs to go in as an outpatient about 2 weeks from now, for another Endoscopy to see if the banding of the esophagus is still in place.  They have been keeping a close eye on his blood count and did blood tests daily.  I have a list of symptoms I need to look for.  He is on alot of meds.  He also needs a low sodium diet.  We have to make sure he has protein also.  He can not have anything that may rip open the esophagus.  No pretzels, popcorn, nuts, etc.  He needs to move more and get his endurance back.  After 5 days in bed only, it will take awhile.  I will add more details later but this is the basic of what is going on. 

Here is the terms of what has happened to Angel.

Albumin is a protein made in the liver. If the liver is badly damaged, it can no longer produce albumin. Albumin maintains the amount of blood in the veins and arteries. When albumin levels become very low, fluid can leak out from the blood vessels into nearby tissues, causing swelling in the feet and ankles. Very low levels of albumin may be a sign of liver damage.

Portal hypertension. Normally, blood from the intestines and spleen is carried to the liver through the portal vein. But cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood, which increases the pressure in the portal vein. This condition is called portal hypertension.

Esophageal varices and gastropathy. When portal hypertension occurs, it may cause enlarged blood vessels in the esophagus, called varices, or in the stomach, called gastropathy, or both. Enlarged blood vessels are more likely to burst due to thin walls and increased pressure. If they burst, serious bleeding can occur in the esophagus or upper stomach, requiring immediate medical attention.

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