Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wife in Hospital in Critical Condition

My wife is in the hospital, in critical condition, with severe asthma. She's in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator. This is the fourth time this has happened in the past five years.

She's stable with her most serious form of asthma most of the time, except when she comes down with a cold. Then it's a fight to get her through it. About half the time, she can throw it off without going to the emergency department, but sometimes she can't. This is one of the latter times.

It's especially difficult when one couple has both with serious medical conditions. So far, when I've been really ill, she's been healthy and able to take care of me, the house, and the critters we include in our furry side of the family. This time, she can't do anything, obviously. I'm healthy enough, thank God, to pick up her responsibilities, but she does a lot, and I gain a new appreciation for how helpful she's been in the quotidian responsibilities of running a house.

Unlike me, who has always been a worrier about my health, she hates going to the doctor. That's bad, because with crashing asthma, she needs to have regular visits from her doctor. She hates the current doctor she has at UC Davis. As this crisis started to unfold on Monday the fourth, I put in a call to Davis to get her an appointment with a different doctor. They told me I couldn't change her doc. I asked to speak to a supervisor. Unfortunately, the supervisor called my wife and not me, and she told them she didn't want to see the doctor.

I suppose she avoids the doctor for two reasons, the doc's attitude and for cost reasons. The latter shouldn't be a problem, because our Blue Cross plan picks up 80 percent of most costs, and the only fee for a doctor's visit is the co-pay. However, this doc runs up thousands and thousands of dollars for 'tests', which except for the blood work, never seem to get done. And he is abrasive, and is very judgmental as to how my wife is managing her asthma.

The doctor she likes is with Kaiser, the plan she used to have. She has seen him occasionally over the years, and he was available through UC Davis, but I have no idea where he is now.

She now we wait. She has a son and a daughter. Her daughter has the power of attorney for health care issues, which is unfortunate because she's one of those people who haven't had a lot of experience with medical issues, and tends to slavishly follow my wife's blurted out thoughts that she would rather be dead than 'hooked up to machines'. What doctors know all to well is that when people are suddenly in the position of needed a machine to stay alive, the patient will almost certainly take the route to staying alive. The will to live is strong in most of us.

She's told me in the past that she didn't want to be ventilated again. However, at Kaiser emergency department, when she couldn't breathe, she did not refuse to be intubated again. That explains a lot about her thinking. Yet I'm afraid if she needs, for example, to have a tracheotomy, her daughter will refuse because she thinks she understand what her mom wants.

A similar experience occurred with my own mother. She apparently told my dumb sister that she never wanted to be 'tied to machines'. When she was on a ventilator herself, and the doctors said she needed a tracheotomy to help wean her off of the ventilator. My stupid sister refused. I hired an attorney to sue my sister to remove her from being the attorney-in-fact for medical issues. The hospital was in an uproar. They solved the problem by slowing bringing my mom out of her sedation, and asking her herself. My mom nodded 'yes' when asked if she wanted a trach. When people are actually faced with the immediate situation they feared, they tend to chose life.

I really, really hope I don't have to fight her daughter to save my wife's life. That ruins relationships for good.

If you are a praying person, and want to say a prayer for my wife, I would appreciate at it. Her name is Tonniette or Tonia for short. We would both really appreciate it.

It's difficult being the caregiver for a change.


Anonymous said...

I will pray for your wife right now. My aunt has severe asthma and has been on a venitlator many times and thankfully, the Lord has spared her life many times. Praying also for peace with all of the relational turmoil that you are concerned about. God bless.

justme said...

I'm praying for you both right now.

Barry B. said...

Thanks to you both! She is now home and doing better. It obviously was worse for her, but it had me worried sick. Her two children were great and visited her almost as much as I did.

Anonymous said...

What an answer to prayer on many fronts - I have checked on your blog to see if you had updated on your wife. Keep looking UP!

Barry B. said...

An update:

My wife is doing much better. Her asthma is much improved, and she is sleeping 12 hours a day, obviously recovering from the trauma.

I suppose the reason for the lessening of the asthma is the high doses of prednisone she's on. That can't continue, but the improvement has held in spite of her tapering down the level of the steroids.

God does answer prayers.