Monday, July 21, 2008

flight through fire

I'm listening to Fireflight right now, and I'm in love with them. It's a newly found love. I fell for this ploy at a Christian bookstore and bought them, because I liked one of their music videos. And then I didn't like them for a while. But now I love them. They're gutsy. And they're kind of hard for a band with a girl as lead. So I like that.

I've worked five twelve hour nights in the last week. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 7p to 7:30a.
I've been taking care of a man. He has a really thick Norwegian accent, so he reminds me of my family and all of the old men back home that I love. He says, "Oa, yah." And I just die. I've become attached to this one. I'm scared. I haven't let anyone in like him yet. He has acute myelogenous leukemia. A lot of our patient population has that. That's what yellow man had. Myelofibrosis that turned into AML.

He's here for induction chemotherapy -that is, his first round of chemo. He's been complaining of this headache for about a week. It's recently developed into serious sinusitis. He looks like he got smacked hard in the eye with a shoe, but the problem is from the inside out. The surgeons came in before his emergency sinusotomy. "We're going to go in and scrape out your sinuses. We're going to find out what you got in there. It's either bacterial or fungal. I don't expect it to be fungal, but there's a chance that this infection could be. If it is, it is very likely that this infection will take your life. If it's fungal, we're going to be as aggressive as we need to be. There's a chance we'll need to take your eye. Do we have your consent to be as aggressive as necessary?"

"Yes. Right Darla?" She nodded her yes through tears, "Yeah."

And the bustle continued as we got him ready for surgery. He left our unit at about 8:30 PM. We got a call around 1 AM. Bacterial. The report was that it was bacterial. Good news? There's good news here, too? I guess there's good news here. Really good news.

His left eye is swollen shut now and he can't see anything out of it or move it, and the left side of his face is numb. They're thinking there's an abscess underneath there.
I don't know how that works, because he doesn't have any neutrophils. His CT shows some possible brain involvement, symptoms show definite nerve involvement. I heard something about the optic nerve.

I sat with him for a minute today after the ophthalmologist visited him. He tried so hard to see. He tried so hard to convince himself that he could see. But he can't see. I sat on his bed and held his hand and we had a little chat. I wish I could give the moment to ya'll, but I can't, really. We talked about how tough it is. We talked about how unexpected it is. We talked about how fast it's gone. It snuck up so quickly and has taken his whole face over, it seems. Can't breathe through his nose. Bloody mess. But he took a shower this morning before my shift was over. He looks like a million bucks. Funny, as if this load wasn't heavy enough, that's how much this is going to cost him.

I heard today that they're going to take him back to surgery to take his eye out. More grief. More coping. Death takes all forms. More difficulty breathing. It's all in his face, so breathing comes hard, especially after general anesthesia. Surgery has a way of screwing up your oxygen.

I wish I was working again tonight. I'd like to be there every night with him, making his wife comfortable, making sure his oxygen saturation stays up where it should be, making sure he's safe and comfortable. It's funny how I feel so much ownership, even though I barely do anything. He makes me want to be competent. Really, he makes me want control. But I have no control. None. He might die. And I might be there when it happens. He might struggle to breathe and die because he gets tired and gives up for a moment.

I've been talking to my mom a lot, and she said she was getting sick. And I got paranoid about it. I tried to just relax and be like, "kt. people get colds; it's cool. chill." But inside, I was feeling this urgency for her to stay in bed and drink hot fluids and be by her side while she sleeps. I hope my parents don't get sick. I'd be hyper-vigilant crazy nurse daughter who drives all of the nurses nuts, because they didn't string the tubing "right".

We got an admit just before I left this morning. A woman had come to the emergency room unable to speak suddenly and showing all kinds of CNS symptoms. She's had history of cancer, but I'm not sure what kind. I don't know anything, but this looks to me like brain mets (metastatic tumors to the brain). I had a friend in high school whose mom died of brain tumors. That's what she looked like. They looked the same, even physically. Her family hadn't slept all night. This is the beginning for them, and it's starting out with no sleep.

Somebody asked me if it gets easier - easier to take care of people who are dying. I don't know yet. So far, it's only gotten more rewarding. I'm still okay. I'm still very okay. Not even depressed, I don't think. Doing good. Just learning. But I'm scared for Norwegian man. If he doesn't make it, I'm going to have to figure some stuff out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey kate, I caught up on all your blog messages today. Quite the experiences you are going through, it's so nice to share a bit of them through your blog. What a ministry- helping people and watching out for them as they go through the process of such hard diseases. Showing them love and care and letting them taste of the Father's love for them. Oh for the day when all disease and pain is gone!!
Yeah, I have a cold, I think I caught Krista's drippy nose, now I know why she felt so whiney! I hate colds! But that's all it is. I'm drinking lots and slept in til 9:30 this morning, so rest assurred yourself. I'm doing fine.
I love you! Have a happy, peaceful day!