Charity Faith Love


I got a little excited about finishing the long saga of MacDougal, not because I was tired of writing it, but because people kept asking me when I was going to be done!

In my haste to sum up, I forgot to mention a few things:

  1. In spite of the many surgeries and close calls, all of MacDougal’s parts survived.
  2. There will probably be one more surgery in the near future to address the large amount of scar tissue left behind.
  3. In the last two years, I have taken no time off except to care for/be in the hospital with either MacD, Ladybug and Mr. Vixen. In spite of the fact that I earned two weeks vacation last year and three weeks vacation this year, I am currently a whopping 80 hours overdrawn in my PTO account. That means I spent all my vacation time (200 hours) PLUS 80 hours too much time in a hospital/physician setting. I deserve to be honorary CEO of the hospital or something (a frequency discount?).
  4. Does anyone know of a part time job in which I can earn enough to buy one of these? Apparently maternal promises made under duress, must still be kept. Hmph.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 2 and 3 Revisited Part 4

Part 5

We arrived at the ER in about 15 minutes. MacD was in pain and very down. Someone from the lab came to draw pre-surgical blood. Her name was Jocelyn, but we ended up calling her the blood draw beast from hell. She stuck MacD three times before she got the blood she needed. Then she came back five minutes later and said the blood “hemolized” and she had to re-draw it all. That also took three attempts in the other arm. The regular nurse had difficulty getting the IV started. MacD complained long and hard that it didn’t feel right and was very painful. Just then an ER doc came in to check him over and admit him for surgery. I told him what MacD said about the IV. He glanced at it passingly and said it was fine. He went back to questioning MacD about his history. The nurse in the room looked at me and mouthed silently that she would replace it in a minute. A moment later, I looked down at his hand where the IV was; he was bleeding and there was already a small pool of blood on the floor. The doc looked embarrassed and quickly left the room.

As we were waiting for MacD to be taken to surgery, he began talking to me earnestly about how he didn’t feel good about this. It felt wrong. He was afraid he wasn’t going to make it. He said he had a good life and was tired of this fight. He was tired of being in pain and tired of having surgery. I was so upset. I tried everything to cheer him up, to lift his spirits, to revive his spirit. I finally ended up promising him a concept Camaro if he would fight and live. I still owe him that car.

This surgery took an hour or so. I noticed immediately after we finally got back to the room that MacD looked better than he had since this began. His color was better. He recovered from the anesthesia quicker and was joking around with the nursing staff who knew us very well now. They said he was there so much, he should have a wing named after him. By the second day he was circling the nurses station on his walks.


It was not all fun and games after that. Recovery was slow and painful. There were many more doctor visits and the entire summer was spent with CT recuperating but alive.If you are one of the poor people who have read my blog in depth, you will know that in 2005 I lived through participated in witnessed two miracles. I am very blessed and thank God every day for my life. Now that this saga is over, you are all probably disappointed that the final entry is so tame. That is ok. My point in sharing this story is to raise awareness about diabetes. MacD is now in complete control of his diabetes, on the lowest medication, and there is a possibility he will be able to discontinue oral medications altogether soon. But he will have to remain vigilant his entire life, as he is a diabetic.

Things you should learn from this story (in my opinion): Love well and hard every single day, you never know what tomorrow will bring. Keep your faith even in the most trying times. My son is awesome. Get a physical every single year. What doesn’t kill you? It makes you stronger.

The End

Don’t forget to check my 365 Project

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 2 and 3 Revisited Part 4

Before you continue on, please go back and re-read Part Four. I got confused about the timeline regarding his last surgery (there were so many).
He was released from the hospital in just enough time to attend graduation, albeit in a wheelchair.

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I thought maybe, just maybe things were going be ok.

A few days after graduation, MacD wanted to go to the fair. I didn’t feel comfortable with that, but he pulled the “I am 18” card and went anyway. His fiance and her family wheeled him around all day. That night when I was changing his dressing I noticed more redness. A tempurature check revealed a slight fever. I called Dr. B and he told me to take him to the ER for probably surgery. I prayed and hoped, but inside my heart was breaking again.

To be continued…

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

At home I began the task of nursing and mothering. I have a strong stomach and a natural ability to switch into auto-mode when necessary. However, no mental shutting down while caring for MacD could keep out the pain if felt seeing him try so bravely to not let me know how badly I hurt him during wound care. He became sullen and withdrawn. Bored and antsy. Depressed and hopeless.

We followed up the second day with his primary care who scarcely believed our story. She asked us to wait and went out to have the records faxed over from the hospital. She was stunned. We received our “official” diagnosis of diabetes and a medication plan. Less than a week later, the world crashed down around me again.

Physically, it appeared things were running along smoothly. Not progressing so much, as it was going to be a very slow process, but remaining the same. I worried about his emotional and mental well-being and closely monitored and cared for his wounds. We followed up with doctors every few days and kept him as free from pain as I could. One morning, at dressing change, I noticed a very slight increase in redness around one portion of the gaping wound. I peered closer and to my dismay discovered the redness spread over to the unaffected thigh/testicle. I called Dr. B’s office and left a message with the nurse. She said it was likely nothing more than irritation, but would let the doctor know when he got into the office after surgery later that afternoon. Unbeknownst to her (and me), Dr. B had flagged MacD’s chart and was to be paged immediately if I called, no matter what I said. He called back in 5 minutes, asked me to explain him what I saw. I really didn’t think it was bad at all, but I had become very overcautious. He agreed it was possibly nothing, but said he trusted my opinion and instincts. He insisted I bring MacD to the office immediately.

At the office, only a short while later, Dr. B examined MacD. The redness was brighter and swelling had begun. He felt it was a small infection and moved us into his office surgery suite. He thought he could drain it easily and avert any further problems. MacD was brave as I held his hand and prayed aloud with him. Dr. B lanced and drained. The nurse actually started crying (a lot of nurses cried, which should have made me feel even worse, but just intensified my resolve to be strong for him) and encouraged MacD to be brave. He completed the mini-surgery and we went home. MacD was in extreme pain and couldn’t get out of bed for days.

Days went by and he continued to improve a bit some days better than others. This day he was able to come visit us on the patio, but shortly after this picture he had to go lie down.
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To be continued…

Part One

Part Two

It was 10am and I didn’t even have time to call Mr. Vixen at work before they wheeled MacD off again.

As I sat in the waiting room, I made phone calls. Suddenly the world started heaving and rolling beneath me. Dear God, I thought, it’s an earthquake. We are having an earthquake while someone stands over my son with a knife in his hands. Employees were running up and down the halls. As I sat stunned, I called home and told the kids to check the TV. Sure enough, we had just had a 5.7 earthquake. The kids said they had barely felt it. I was concerned because “barely felt” was nothing close to what I had experienced. I grabbed one of the nurses in the hall and was informed that the hospital was built on rollers to withstand damage during an earthquake. This made the tremors feel more significant inside the hospital. I went around the corner to the chapel again, dropped to my knees and began praying.

This surgery took almost two hours. Dr. B came out and explained that the disease had spread again, closer to MacD’s abdomen. He felt sure that this time he had gotten it all. I was curious as to how this could be so bad so fast? Dr. B said this disease appeared in the body like tiny vines, was hard to see, and spread very rapidly. This time, Dr. B said, he had left the wound open to better monitor. This meant the healing process would be much, much slower as we would have to wait as MacD healed from the inside out.

Upon return to his room MacD began vomiting uncontrollably. He was in terrible pain, opened up from rear to front, and retching. He was given a morphine pump. The nursing staff moved a bed in the room for me. The room was small and during the day they folded it up, put it in the hall, and marked it with a note that said “Do Not Take.” It was stolen borrowed every single day and each night we had to search for another. At one point we required something and were ignored for hours. I became angry and confronted the nurse. He explained he was new and quite busy, as the lady in the room next to us and passed away. As the shifts came and went we had good nurses and bad nurses. The packing in MacD’s wound had to be changed twice each shift. It was terribly painful to remove and to repack. One nurse actually cried, silently, at the pain he had to endure. One nurse, known to us as Jennifer Devil, RN was abrupt and unfeeling. At one point during a dressing change, MacD cried out that the morphine was not working. She rudely informed him that it was the same amount he always received added to his IV. I actually had to yell at her to stop what she was doing for a minute. Then I pointed out that she had indeed added the morphine to his IV, but had forgotten to open the drip up. She apologized, opened up the drip and told us she would return in five minutes after the medication had time to work. MacD was shaking violently with pain. That evening MacD was very thirsty. I had repeatedly asked for more water/ice and it had been an hour. I found Jennifer Devil RN at the desk. I repeated my request through the window. She pointed to her watch (it was 7:05 and shifts changed at 7:00), shook her head no, made a slicing motion across her neck and went back to her paperwork. I was furious. I complained to the new nurse and to the head nurse. After that, I found out that she requested to be assigned to another section of our floor as long was we were there.

MacD slowly improved. He was more coherent and didn’t need the morphine as much, except during dressing changes. Dr. B had been continually asking me if I was a doctor. At one point as a nurse was changing his dressing, she asked for my assistance. She said that Dr. B had told the staff that I was a nurse. I do have a long background in the medical field, but I am no nurse. I learned as I went and I learned fast. One day when MacD was very hungry I asked a CNA to find out what he could have. After some time, she returned and gave him a Boost. When she left the room and I grabbed it and read the ingredients. I called the nurse into the room and asked if someone who’s blood sugar was often nearing 600 should be given a sugar drink? Of course not. There were so many instances like that and I knew I was right to never leave his side.

The days were long and difficult. His friends came to visit and tried to cheer him up. I was not paying very close attention, but there was something about ‘assless chaps’ and the Village people. I laughed until I cried. Sparkles came daily and fell in love with the food cart girls. He would leave his phone number on the board and ask me to pass it on to them. One day MacD’s phone rang while I was at the cafeteria and it was in my purse. It was a friend of his who had been in a horrible car accident the night before, in which another friend of theirs had died. I told him not to call and kept it a secret from MacD until he was stronger.

On the seventh or ninth or eleventh day (I honestly can’t remember), Dr. B said that MacD could be discharged, but would still need wound care twice a day. We could go into a nursing facility or “would you, Dr. Mom, like to learn how to do it so you can keep him at home?” MacD thought that was a good idea. I wasn’t so sure, but for my son, I would do anything. Training began and by the next morning we were able to go home. As we were discharged, I asked Dr. B about MacD’s diabetes diagnosis and what medication he would take for that. Dr. B said he could not make that diagnosis (although the boy was on insulin the entire time we were there) and we should follow up with his primary care for that diagnosis.

To be continued….

Read Part One here

She looked at us with compassion, caring and understanding and said “How blessed you are that now you get to see him graduate.”

Mr. Vixen and I must have looked like the proverbial deer caught in headlights. Nurse Helpful did an immediate flip turn and headed back to recovery. “Wait”, I said, “What do you mean?” “The doctor will be out to talk to you shortly, I can’t say anymore” she said over her shoulder as she disappeared through the door.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDr. B appeared before I could even process what had just happened. He came into the hall and said he was sorry it took so long and that he couldn’t have let us know during the surgery what was going on. He asked us about MacD’s tattoo. He kept pointing to his left arm and asking if “he had just got that?” I was so confused, for once in my life I was speechless and just kept asking “what?” over and over. He looked like he was talking to a simple child, slowed down and said “The tattoo on his arm, did he just get that?” We replied, yes it was just weeks old. Dr. B said “Well it is quite amazing, as he surely does have have the luck of the Irish. That is the only way I can explain it.” Truthfully, I had no clue what the HELL he was talking about. Did the tattoo have something to do with this? Did it cause him to get sick? What was his point?

My husband figured it out before me, as he remembered the tattoo our son had designed and went and got without our permission (his first I am 18 and can do what I want moment). He reminded me of the tattoo. “Honestly” I said to Dr. B, “What are you talking about?”

Dr. B proceeded to explain that MacD had Fournier’s gangrene (“….a necrotizing infection…that constitutes a surgical emergency and can rapidly progress to sepsis and death. Physicians unfamiliar with this disease will often misdiagnose it, and those who have seen it will never forget it”) A condition that in all his years of practice he had never seen in a patient so young. He said that MacD’s condition was critical. Once the disease reaches the abdomen, death is imminent and unavoidable. “If you had taken him home, within a few hours he would have been dead” he said, “You should go and thank the ER doctor. You owe him your child’s life. If not for his insistence, we would never have known until it was too late. And that tattoo, it tells the truth. We were able to save his penis and both his testicles, although one of them was completely engulfed and there is a chance we may still lose it.”

No one will ever understand that shock and fear that struck deep and painfully into my heart at that moment. Immediately, all I could think of was getting to his side. Of assuring myself that he was truly alive and breathing. We rushed into the recovery room. MacD was slowly becoming conscious. He kept asking, “What happened?” I would say you were sick and you had surgery and he would say “Noooo, what happened?!?!” He knew it wasn’t right. The nurse would explain, “MacD, you have necrotizing fasciitis (like he would know what that was) and we had to do a lot of surgery, but you are going to be alright.” He would drift off, awaken and we would have to repeat the entire scene over and over again. Part of that was the anesthesia making him forget and part of it was him knowing something had gone terribly wrong. As he became more coherent, Dr. B came and explained in more detail, in the clinical and frightening way that doctors sometimes have. To this day, MacD says all he remembers is some doctor telling him “we saved your penis and hopefully both of your testicles” and he could not for the life of him figure out what that had to do with a cyst on his rear-end.

The next two days were a horror of bandage changes, uncontrolled blood sugar, insulin injections, infectious disease specialists, and pain. I never left the hospital. I slept in a chair (on a good night they could find me a roll away bed). I kept asking about the insulin and they kept telling me his blood sugar was uncontrolled because of the severe infection. It was common, they said, for blood sugars to go crazy when you were this ill. On the third day, MacD worsened. By this time, he was over his shyness (or he just didn’t know that I watched every single thing they like a hawk protecting its nest) and I had noticed that one side of his testicles was black. Not black as in the color bruises turn. But the black of dead tissue. I asked the nursing staff to call Dr. B, although he had been in the day before. Dr. B arrived took one look and announced he needed to go back to surgery immediately. It was 10am and I didn’t even have time to call Mr. Vixen at work before they wheeled MacD off again.

To be continued……

It has come to my attention, via text message from MacD’s work that I inadvertantly omitted some important items of these parts of the story. One of them I swear I wrote, but reading back over them I an unable to see what happened to it…I should know better than to compose in wordpress itself, and stick to another program, save, copy and paste.

During that week and half, MacD began to feel better and became very bored. I had purchased a laptop for his graduation and gave it to him early. His adoration for Batman and Legos, known far and wide, had gifts of related items being delivered. He and I spent our days on the ‘net (via Netzero, no wifi then) and putting together intricate Lego Star Wars crafts. He dressed one day in a Batman outfit, complete with plastic gloves that shot rubber darts we shot at the bad nurses as they left the room.

Just before the second surgery, I had called the monsignor at our church. He said there was a priest from a church closer to the hospital that visited daily and he would have him stop by. I asked MacD if he would like him to stop by and he requested and received confession, communion and Last Rites, just in case. For those of you who don’t understand my faith (I don’t mean the Roman Catholic Church beliefs, but my own personal faith) know that this was a comfort to both of us.

On one particular day, a few days before we were discharged, Ladybug visited. At the time, she didn’t have any words, as she was only two months old. When we handed her to “Undle” with tubes coming out of his nose and looking peaked she made a sounded like “ugly”. He still hugged while we laughed and laughed.

Before he could be released, they required that he walk a certain amount of time each day. It was incredibly painful for him, as you can imagine. There was no way I could entice him to do it. Until his Dad thought of something. You see, MacD smoked cigarettes at the time (he has been quit now for almost two years) and he was “jonesing” for a smoke. So his Dad, said “Hey, MacD, if you walk around the floor enough times with your portable IV that the nurses feel comfortable with you going off the floor I will tell them you want to try other floors and we can sneak out down at the 2nd floor and smoke.” I know, I know probably not the best enticement, but it worked!

Back to the story a little later (probably tomorrow, as Ladybug just got here to visit!)…

myspace-diabetes5I am a diabetic. Adult onset, diagnosed in my mid 30s. I suppose it was inevitable. My mother was diagnosed in her 30s, my brother in his late 20s, and I had gestational diabetes with one of my pregnancies. Just one of them, the middle one, which is fairly rare. That pregnancy resulted in my only son, who arrived weighing in just 4oz shy of 10 pounds. My girls were 7lb7oz and 7lb5oz. After he was born, I weighed 30 pounds less than I when I became pregnant (I was at least 20 pounds overweight going into it) just from the diet I was on and the exercise of being pregnant and chasing a two year old around.

Starting off as a pretty cuddly, big baby boy (we won’t mention his super cute double chins or thunder thighs here or he will be embarrassed); MacDougal grew to be an averaged weight toddler. He was still usually bigger than most kids his age, being tall and big-boned. Around age of 9-10 he became larger than the other kids his age. He was physically active, ate the same food as my other two, and was generally very healthy. He even played football from pee wee to freshman year in high school. But he was still a big boy. I know it bothered him and I know other kids taunted him, although he never complained. He had regular check ups and was often tested for diabetes, as I often reminded his pediatrician of the family history. He was never even considered borderline and he often would have growth spurts of height that would make him appear very healthy.

(more…)

It is Veteran’s Day. My grandfather served during WWII. One of my ‘adopted’ sons served in Iraq. God bless our veterans today and every day.

veteran_1

Heroes

By Jared Jenkins

In war, there are lives risked and lives taken

Men and women giving their best to defend what they love

They defend their country

Their honor

Their people

Some call them soldiers

Others call them heroes

Our veterans have risked their lives for us

They have lived through hell and fought with honor

Many have killed

And regret doing so

For every life, there is a soul

For every soul, there is a life

For those who have died, we show great appreciation and remembrance

For those who live, along with them live the horrific memories of battle

Some, memories of defeat

Some, memories of victory

Our veterans were more than soldiers

They were, and still are heroes

Read the post below this one. Watch this video of our street and help me write the best little note EVAH. You can do it. I believe in all of you.

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