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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just keeps on giving...

Riley is holding his own. He seems to be managing to keep death at bay for a while longer. The Veterans Administration has now taken over his case. Today he will be transferred to an approved nursing home where the VA will provide hospice care. This is good news for me because he will only be a 30-minute drive from my house rather than the 2+ hours to the hospital.

When Riley was admitted to the hospital, I relaxed a little. But, I was feeling under the weather and thought that I was just run down. I wanted to shut myself up in my room, but there has been so much to do with phone calls, arrangements, paperwork. Who knew that this would all be so complicated? I just kept plugging along and doing what I had to do.
Last Wednesday I was beginning to feel “flu-ish”. I wasn’t too concerned because I had heard that there was some kind of virus thing going around the hospital staff. It was a four-day thing and I assumed I had gotten it. Four days. I’d be miserable for four days and then it would be over.

When we were in the room with Riley we needed to be completely gowned and gloved. We were told it was because of germs. Uhhhh… yeah… kinda thought that but didn’t push for a more detailed answer.
By Friday I was really sick. I counted back and decided I’d be better in just a couple of days. I rested over the weekend thinking I would start working on my task list first thing on Monday. But on Monday I was no better than I was on Saturday. Now I was getting worried. It was time for me to do some research and ask my most trusted knowledgeable friends for their opinions.

There was some concern. Riley had previously been diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis. I have had salmonella. I’ve been cleaning up after his bodily fluids for quite some time. It was possible that I had not been cautious enough during the clean ups. Now I was doubly concerned about the possibility of hepatitis. I went to the emergency room.

The ER was quiet. I was the only patient at the moment and that meant I got a lot of attention. The doctor took his time and actually remembered Riley being in there just a week prior. He told me that I most likely did NOT have hepatitis, but that since I had been exposed for so long, it would be good to run some tests. After a brief exam, he explained I was very dehydrated and needed to get some fluids into me. He ordered something for my tummy and headache. I lay back in the bed and waited for a nurse to start the IV.

I had drifted off a bit, but could hear a male voice saying, “Mizz Riley? May I call you Linda? I just need to get an IV started. I promise I’ll try not to hurt you.” I opened my eyes and thought I was surely in the wrong place. Looking down at me was a gorgeous face surrounded with long blonde curls. He had obviously spent some time in the sun. His bright blue eyes reminded me of my father’s. I must be on a beach somewhere rather than an emergency room. But the fantasy only lasted a moment when I was pulled back to reality as my eye-candy started searching for a viable place for an IV.

It took several attempts, but it was finally accomplished and a bag of fluid was now dripping into my arm. The lab tech came in and took some blood after failing several times to find a good place for extraction. Again, I could feel myself drifting off.

I could hear the ER starting to get more customers. There was an elderly woman from a nursing home that may have a kidney infection. Then a young girl who could not stop vomiting and then a man who became so weak while walking to the store, he had to call the rescue squad. It was interesting to hear the different stories and I was happy that no one had been hit by a bus or beat up by their spouse. They placed the newcomers at the other end of the examining rooms. I was essentially alone in my little wing of rooms.

The doctor and Blue-eyes came back in the room. Blue-eyes fussed around me while the doctor did some ‘splainin.

I had a gastrointestinal and upper respiratory infection which started out as that four-day thing that was going around. But, I was in a weakened, dehydrated condition. I had not been taking all my meds correctly and had been exposed to excrement.  Because I’ve had salmonella, I’m highly susceptible to stomach issues. All of that made my body the perfect place for that four-day thing to wreck havoc and breed and grow. There was no indication of any hepatitis – good news.

The treatment plan was for me to rest. I was warned that I was on the edge of being admitted. This thing can easily be upgraded to pneumonia or some other awful thing. So rest, have a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and tea), pro-biotic yogurt, ginger ale, and lots of sleep. I was told NOT to visit Riley until I was well. I am NOT to attempt to clean either of the two rooms that may contain more of Riley’s nastiness. I was assured that this will be over in less than a week if I follow his instructions. I said I would.

He further explained that alcoholic hepatitis – while it IS contagious – it is the very least contagious of all the types. It would be highly unlikely that I would get it from Riley. Besides I take proper precautions when cleaning up after him. However, it does not hurt to have the vaccine and be tested every so often. Also, I should be tested for TB. He told me to wait until I’m over this and make an appointment with my primary care doctor. Don’t know why he wanted to wait, but I didn’t argue.
He also warned – again – that I needed to be extremely careful not to let myself get dehydrated. Also, to always stay aware of salmonella possibilities. Since I’ve had it once – it can keep on giving me issues for the rest of my life. Ahhhh… an end-stage alcoholic caretakers nightmare – salmonella and it just keeps on giving back!

While I was at the hospital, Alea had been fielding calls from the hospital, hospice, VA, nursing home. Some refused to give her information and others gave her details of what they needed. I was so very grateful that she was there.
Today, I know I need to rest. However – Riley is being transferred to the nursing home and I must go sign papers for his admission. It’s rainy and would be perfect for just covering up and sleeping. But, I have to go out. I’ll go and get it over with. I’ll be back before long and then – I’ll be in bed with my covers over my head.


poet said...

Keeping you in my prayers & thoughts. Do as the docs suggest, rest and lots of fluids. time to start taking care of your. with love, and *gentle hugz*

Syd said...

We had to put on gowns to visit the FIL when he was in the hospital but it was because of MRSA and not the hepatitis. It sounds as if things will be a lot better when he is moved closer. Take care of yourself!

ADDY said...

There are times when you need to put YOU first and this is one of them.

Linda -- Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

A couple of people have e-mailed and said the hep is NOT contagious if it is alcoholic type. I could have gotten it wrong. I may have misunderstood. I'm not a med pro and I've been so wiped out that he could have told me I had creepy ick and I would have believed him.

Anyway -- thanks everyone for the input!

Gerry said...

Sounds like you are just totally run down and judging from what you have been doing I can see why. I am glad you are getting attention and help in getting done what needs to be done, which I would say you badly needed. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Get well soon and get lots of rest....sending you lots of love from London,
You don't know me but you have been my strength when I felt hopeless, I am always eager to get home and read your blog. Thank you for all your help.

Warmest wishes

Ann said...

I had to gown up when I went to the hospital too, but it was because of MRSA not about his failing alcoholic liver. Maybe now that Riley's care has been entrusted to a medical facility, it will will give you the well deserved opportunity to take care of Linda now. Be kind to your self, get some rest and drink lots of that good ice cold water. (Ice cold water ALWAYS sounds good when you live in AZ!!!!)

jo said...

Alcoholic hepatitis is hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) due to excessive intake of alcohol. from wikipedia. a;s can have it many times, and it is NOT caused by a virus. nor is there a vaccine.

hep a...is food borne.

hep b...has a vaccine. 3 shots.

hep c is contagious by body fluids...blood and iv drug use mainly. transfusions. no vaccine available for it yet.

just a fyi. i have no idea why anyone is gowning up around riley. hep c is body fluids only and thats like direct blood to blood.

hep b is also body fluids..

hep a is relatively minor as a illness.

tb is air ...close quarters for a long period of time.

hosp themselves are hotbeds of germs...nurses prob pose more danger to riley than he does to anyone else.

Linda -- Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Jo -- Riley is C-Diff. That's why we gown up when visiting.

In my opinion -- there is no such thing as a "minor" hepititis.


Eli said...

There's nothing like having a hot nurse to distract you from your misery until the IV cocktail kicks in! I am glad that you are on the road to recovery, both health-wise and Riley-wise. Your strength and honesty are contagious.... in a good way. ;-)

Michelle B. said...

I hope you are feeling better by now. It is time for you to take care of yourself, and let Riley's caregivers take control. Prayers for you and your family as you go through this next stage.

Anonymous said...

Cleaning Riley's "nastiness"...and he is a vet. Sounds like the poor guy is dying alone. That's probably his biggest fear too. Never trust a woman to have your back.