Tuesday evening at 5 pm I was just finishing dinner when Kurt came into the kitchen and leaned over onto the counter and said "my stomach suddenly hurts." I asked him questions like: what happened? What does it feel like? He said he stood up and it felt like something popped or ripped or fell or something weird. I wasn't too terribly concerned but thought the description he gave was kind of odd. We sat down to eat and he wouldn't eat. He wanted to but just felt too icky so he laid down on the couch. He had an appointment with clients at 6 so he went. I thought he couldn't have been too bad if he was going and thought he probably just had gas. Hey, you wanted the details so there you go. =-)
At 7 he was suppose to go to a church youth activity after his appointment but he came home instead and laid down on the couch again saying "man, my stomach really hurts." I asked him if he wanted to go into the ER or Med7 or something and he said "no. I just want to lay here and see if it goes away." So I took Hailey to her church activity at 7 and then went to pick her up at 8. He called me while I was at the church getting Hailey and asked when I would be home. I said I was waiting for Hailey to finish. He told me to hurry. I knew something wasn't right. He then text me a few minutes later "where are you?" I was about 5 minutes from the house. By the time I pulled in the driveway, he was walking out to get in the car. It is now about 8:15 and the kids still were not in bed yet. He said "we need to go. I can't take this anymore." I said "let me at least put T to bed and then we will go." I can't remember exactly what he said but it was something like "no, let's go. Hailey can do it." So we left.
We have a Sutter hospital 5 minutes from our house but unfortunately it is not on our insurance. We are on the Mercy system and there are 2 hospital within 20 minutes of us. So I start typing in the address for Mercy San Juan and he says "what are you doing?" Me: "Finding the address to the hospital." Kurt: "We are going 5 minutes away. You know how to get there." Me: "No, we can't go to that hospital." Kurt: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!" He knew this since T wasn't born there but he apparently had forgotten in his pain. So a mild argument pursued as we tried to agree where to take him. He didn't want to go to Mercy San Juan as it is an older hospital and he doesn't like the area that it is in. So we decided to go to Mercy in Folsom. The whole way there he is telling me how to drive: "Go faster." "Go around that guy." "Change lanes." Just for the record, I was driving pretty fast but he was just so miserable, it wasn't fast enough. It was a rough trip there. I also called our friends, Marty and Lorraine, and asked if one of them could go be with the kids. Marty went over and put the boys to bed and stayed at the house with them.
We arrived at 9 pm, signed in and sat down. Except Kurt couldn't sit still. He kept squirming and shifting and then he would walk and then he would sit down again. He was just hurting so bad. We were called back into the triage room at 9:15. They could tell he was hurting and immediate ordered the ct scan. I thought "great, this is moving right along." It took about 15 minutes for the ct guys to bring the nasty drink down that he had to drink. They said that the clock would start from when he finished the liquid and 1.5 hours after he finished, they would do the ct scan. I have never seen Kurt drink something so fast in my life. It was a huge cup of nasty tasting stuff and he drank it like it was water and he hadn't had water in days. 9:35 the clock started and we were looking at an 11:15 pm ct scan.
So we waited. And he squirmed. And we waited. And he squirmed. We watched people come and people go. The nurse gave him an iv so that he would be ready for when the ct guys came for him. They finally called him back to do some blood work and then we sat and squirmed some more. 11:15 came . . . and went. Finally at 11:30 I asked them about the ct scan because Kurt was just miserable. They said they were waiting for the lab work to come back because they had to make sure his kidneys would handle the dye that they use. I asked if they could check on the labs and wouldn't you know it - they were back (and apparently no one notice???) so they called the ct guys to come get him. And we waited some more. Sheesh. Nobody rushes in hospitals! They finally came and got him just before midnight. He came back and said it would be about 30 minutes before we would have the results.
WEDNESDAY - Ok, so no one rushes until there is a problem. Only 20 minutes later, the nurse came and said "we have a room for you." I thought "wait. We have been here almost 3.5 hours now, isn't it about time for us to leave? Why put us in a room now?" That was my first red flag.
We go in the room and she asks Kurt to undress and put on a gown. Red flag #2 as I realized we weren't leaving anytime soon - if only I knew what was to come.
Then she asks "did we do an EKG on you?" Whoa. Now the warning bells are ringing in my head so I asked her "Why would he need an EKG? The pain is in his abdomen." Her response: "The doctor will talk to you about it." And turns around to enter more stuff into the computer.
Now the bells are screaming at me. She starts calling out for different medicines (pain and blood pressure meds) and asked the other nurse to bring in the EKG machine and then the doctor came in. He explained that they found an aneurysm on the iliac artery. That is a BAD WORD! VERY BAD WORD! I know what an aneurysm is and never wanted it used in the same sentence as my husband.
An aneurysm is a bulge (kind of like a bubble) that forms on an artery and if it pops people can die within minutes because all their blood flows out of the arteries and into the body. The iliac artery is the artery that branches off the aorta artery (the main one that runs down your whole abdomen) and it feds your liver, spleen, stomach and a few other goodies you have floating around in there.
Then he says it looks like it has started leaking blood.
Shock. That's all I can say to explain what we felt. Pure shock. And the knowledge that this was bad.
The nurse then comes back in and gives Kurt another iv in the other arm explaining that if he crashes (or "pops") they need to be able to access his veins right away. Totally freaked us out! They also said that he would not be leaving the hospital and would need to be transferred to another hospital that could handle this and that he would need surgery to repair it. We couldn't believe everything that was happening.
At 12:30 am we decided to call my dad and Karen and have them go be at the house so Marty could go home and get some sleep before he had to go to work. About 1 am we then found ourselves alone in the room and we just looked at each other.
Then Kurt started to give me reminders on how to raise our children. "Remember to keep Trevor out of the street." "Make sure Evan feels confident and strong." "Remember this or teach the girls that" I started crying. I told him "YOU ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE! YOU WILL BE FINE! DON'T YOU DARE THINK THAT YOU ARE LEAVING ME!" Oh man, that was tough. The tears are flowing now just trying to type this. It was horrible.
We felt like he was ticking time bomb that could go off at any minute. Every dr. or nurse that came in the room said something like : "man, are you lucky you came in." Even the nurse from the front of the ER came back to check on him. I guess people rarely walk in with this condition. They usually come in via ambulance bleeding or don't even make it to the hospital.
At 3 am they loaded him onto the gurney and into an ambulance to transport him to Mercy General in downtown Sacramento. The seat belt went right across his abdomen and we were worried that the belt might cause a problem or even just the bouncing of the ambulance might cause something to happen. They reassured me that he would be in good hands. I followed the ambulance for the whole 30 minute drive and I just kept thinking "Don't turn on the lights. Please don't turn on the lights" because I knew that if they did that he would have "crashed" and we were in trouble.
We made it to the hospital with NO lights turning on around 3:30 am. He was taken straight up to the Cardiac ICU. After trying to find my way around the hospital, I finally located him. They got him hooked up to machines, took his stats, and his medical history (which he has none because he has never been hospitalized before). His room was freezing and I mean FREEZING! I was so cold. Mercy General is a really, really old hospital and doesn't have individual room thermostats so we had no control over it and they said that room NEVER warms up. Great. So they brought us lots of heated blankets.
About 4 am a general doctor came in to check on him. He went over everything again and told the nurse not to let the first number in his blood pressure get over 130. So I watched his blood pressure like a hawk. They had given him blood pressure medicine at Folsom (it was one of the meds the nurse was calling for when we first got in the room) so his blood pressure remained stable.
Around 5 am they drew blood and then things settled down a little bit. We had now been awake for 23 hours straight and were exhausted. We tried to close our eyes for a little bit but it was impossible to sleep. He had monitors beeping and the blood pressure cuff was going off every so often and I was in a really old, uncomfortable chair and was still freezing. Plus they checked on him a lot and had changed his pain med to morphine. It wasn't working nearly as good as the previous one so he was hurting again. I think we were able to doze a little here and there but we didn't sleep.
I think about 5:30 they came and took x-rays. After that we were wide awake again trying to cope and deal with what was going on. We were told that the vascular surgeon would be in to talk to us about what would need to be done. We waited and hoped that he would be in before he started his day. We asked for the better pain med because the morphine just wasn't cutting it. They were able to get the other one approved (I can't remember the name of it).
At about 6 we started calling and texting family to let them know what was going on. I had Kurt's phone and my phone on my lap and they started going nuts with family and friends calling and texting as the news spread, letting us know that they were there for us if we needed anything. We needed that love and support. It was so great! The kids were also texting trying to figure out what was going on. I didn't want to scare them so I just said that daddy had a boo boo on a blood artery that they needed to look at. I didn't have them go to school because I just couldn't coordinate finding uniforms, packing lunches and transporting them. I had Trevor's car seat in the Tahoe at the hospital so it was just better that everyone stayed home. I was suppose to work that day so Ashley, our nanny, was already scheduled to come. She stayed with the kids all day.
At 7 we got a new nurse and we really liked her. The other one was okay but we really felt this one cared and was invested in Kurt. She was really on top of things and made things happen. We liked her a lot.
At about 8:20 Sean and Dan arrived to give Kurt a blessing. We are so grateful for friends who are willing to take time out of their work day to come and take care of Kurt. At about 8:30ish, Rick arrived. He spent the day with us and are so grateful for his presence! Kurt was exhausted (he doesn't function well normally when he is exhausted plus add on the stress of everything and then mix in some serious pain meds and you have one sleepy Kurt) so it was so nice to have another set of ears to hear everything they are telling you because they tell you so much so fast, you can't catch it all.
Our nurse said that if the vascular surgeon hadn't come in by 9, she would page him. At 9:10 she came in and said "I just paged him so hopefully he will be here shortly." She was just on top of things. We never had to remind her or ask her to do anything.
I think he came in around 9:30 or 10 and he brought good news. The aneurysm isn't as bad as Folsom had thought. It wasn't leaking blood and it wasn't even a full blown "bubble" aneurysm. Kurt has what is called a dissected artery. That means that the inside lining of the artery has been damaged somehow and that blood is leaking between the layers of the artery. He doesn't have a "bubble" that is ready to pop any minute. THANK GOODNESS!!!! The artery is swollen and obviously has a problem but it isn't as serious as they had thought. His plan of action was to actually wait and see if it repaired itself so that meant no surgery for Kurt on Wednesday! Some people can have the dissection heal on its own. Obviously if it isn't treated and doesn't heal itself then it will lead to the bubble aneurysm (that is my term, not a medical term) but we were so blessed to have caught this early. If it doesn't heal on its own then they have to go in and put a stint in it to repair it. So the doctor said that he could be moved out of the ICU (as long as his blood pressure stayed down) and into a regular hospital room but that he would have to stay for a day or two to be monitored and checked.
At 10:30 am, I finally went down and got some breakfast because I was starving. Kurt was starving too because they wouldn't let him eat or drink anything thinking he was going to have surgery that day. By the time I got to the cafeteria, breakfast had been put away but lunch wasn't out yet so I just got a bagel and a juice. I went back to the room and shared it with Kurt. Things settled down again after that and we made more phone calls and sent more texts updating everyone. I think we were able to doze a little bit more again. We weren't very good company for Rick but I know he understood. Around 11 or 11:30, Rick went down and got us some hamburgers for lunch.
I can't remember what time exactly he was moved out of the ICU, I think it was around 2. He was receiving pain meds when he asked for them which was about every 2 hours. My dad showed up to visit Kurt and we got settled in the new room. I think my dad and Rick left about 3. They finally brought in the lunch that we had requested for Kurt and it didn't look good so I went to the cafeteria to get him a hamburger and fried because he said he was hungry. When I got back he ate a few fries but didn't touch the hamburger. He wasn't feeling good suddenly.
It was 4 and we decided to try to rest. It had now been 34 hours with little rest and the exhaustion was catching up to us. I curled up at the bottom of his bed and we feel "asleep". I say "asleep" because it was constantly interrupted by them coming in to take stats or to draw blood or to give him pain medicine or by a phone going off but it was the closest thing we had had to sleep in a long time.
They were drawing his blood every 4 hours to watch his blood count and his liver levels. Since this artery feeds the liver, they were watching it for signs that it wasn't getting enough blood. They also had him on heart monitors watching his heart rate to look for any signs of danger that way too.
We were back up at 5:00 pm when they came into do something. I can't remember what it was but I had to get off the bed. We told the nurse about his stomach not feeling good. She gave him more pain meds and an anti-neausea medicine. By 6, when dinner arrived, he was hungry again and ate all his dinner. I left at 6:30 and got home at 7 to be with the kids and to get them ready for bed. By the time I got in bed at 9 pm, it had been 39 hours since I had really slept. If you told me I would stay awake for 39 hours, I would have said you were nuts but I guess you do what you have to do when you have to do it.
He slept good Wednesday night and didn't ask for any pain meds until about 6:45 Thursday morning. The pain was different that time. Usually the pain was around his belly button and would spread to his back but this was more of a sick feeling, not so much a direct pain. He thought the pain meds were upsetting his stomach but once he took he pain med, he felt much better. I arrived at 9 am this morning and he took more medicine at 9:45 but didn't take any all day long. He has felt really good today and was able to get up and walk the halls with me. He wanted Chipotle for lunch so I was brave and explored the one way roads of downtown Sac to get him Chipotle, which he ate all of. We are hoping the dissection is healing itself and that maybe, just maybe, he might come home tomorrow. They are going to do another CT scan in the morning and then we will go from there.
Here is our Chipotle picnic lunch in his hospital bed.
It is now 11:14 pm Thursday night and he just gave us a big scare. His blood pressure has been good all day and stayed at or below the 130 mark. He called me at 9:14 pm and said that his blood pressure was 138 (I can't remember the bottom number). He had been this high once in the ICU but has been lower since he was moved. The nurse gave him blood pressure medicine and then was going to recheck it at 10:15. He text me at 10:24 and it was 143/96! I immediately called him. That is the highest it has been since he went into the hospital. We started worrying big time. It shouldn't be that high. I hate not being there to be on top of what is going on and being able to talk to the nurse myself. She recommended giving him some pain meds because he was having some discomfort. Tonight the pain is more of a pressure pain and higher up in his abdomen. So the nurse gave him more pain med at 10:30 and said she would recheck his pressure at 11:15. I stayed on the phone with him while we waited for the time to pass. He fell asleep but I just kept typing this post and waited for her to come in. At 11:05 she came in and rechecked it. He is now down to 124/83. Whew! I don't like that it went up like that. Don't like it at all. Now I am worried that maybe he isn't healing like we thought earlier. Oh man.
I am going to try to go get some sleep. I think I got everything in here. Tomorrow we shall have more answers. Praying for the best and safest solution for him. Please keep him in your prayers. And a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us out! I can't tell you how much I appreciate being able to be with him all day long and not worry about the kids, or meals, or laundry, or anything else at home. You are all AMAZING! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
(to be continued)