Hope In All Things

If you have ever been in the hospital, you know that you are ready to go home by day two. I think being in the hospital makes you feel worse than if you were at home. Last month, I was in the hospital for eight days, and I am writing this on day five of my stay at the hospital this month. The reality is, the food is terrible; they poke and prod you every hour, so you never get any rest, and the beds are awful. I had the bonus of having a TV in my room about the size of a postage stamp. It turns out having a tiny TV was a good thing; I never turned it on, so I have no idea what is happening in the world right now.

So, last night, the infectious disease doctor who has been managing my case, albeit from afar as it was the first time I had seen him since being admitted, told me everything looked good and that I could go home last night. I was excited. My wife happened to be here already, so she helped me get everything packed up, and then we waited for about an hour and a half. The timing wasn’t great as the doctor had come to see me right around 7:00, which is shift change for the nurses, so I knew it would take a while to get discharged. 

After an hour and a half of patiently waiting for my nurse to come to remove my picc line and discharge me, my nurse came into the room and said, “is there anything you need right now?” I told her that my doctor said I could go home and be discharged tonight. She then informed me that I would not be going home. She said my attending physician said no, and he wanted to wait until today when he saw me deciding whether or not to discharge me.

So, basically, there were two larger than life egos on my care team, and there was only room for one at a time in my orbit, and here I was stuck in the middle. All I wanted was to go home and sleep in my bed and take a shower. Please don’t misunderstand me; both of my doctors are excellent doctors with very nice bedside manners. Apart they are great, but when one massive ego challenges another large ego, look out for the fireworks. My Infectious Disease doctor didn’t have permission to discharge me and should have reached out to my attending before telling me I was going home.

I was crushed. Yesterday would be twelve days in the hospital in the last forty-five days, and I was so tired of being here. The antibiotics they had me on were the big guns, so I was having symptoms related to them; I was nauseous all of the time, and my taste buds were all out of sorts. Before they would let me go home, they wanted to see what the blood cultures showed. The crazy thing about blood cultures are they can come back in as few of days as two up to five days on the outside limits. Mine were taking their good sweet time. It is hard enough to be in the hospital, but I needed this infection to be gone so I could get off all of these antibiotics.

Hope is a precarious thing. It can motivate and help keep one’s spirits up, but it can also be damaging. If you are hoping for something and then it never comes to fruition, it can crush you emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. I have seen it keep a person going, and I have seen it destroy a person’s faith. It is easy to get wrapped up in other people’s issues, and when their problems don’t resolve in the way that they had hoped, they are blindsided.

Hope is defined, according to Dictionary.com, as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. Faith, like hope in scripture, describes it in Hebrews 11:1 (NLT): Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Faith and hope are uniquely tied together. You need to have faith to have hope. That may be faith in God, in science, or many other things. Hope, with the right expectations, can bring peace and give clarity to an unclear situation. Hope should be in all of us, but unfortunately, some people, because of events that took place earlier in their lives, have abandoned hope and cannot cope with any adverse circumstances that come their way. You can have hope again, regardless of where things have taken you. My hope comes from God. Everyone is different, and I am not condemning you if you believe differently than I do. In the deepest part of me, I believe God has a plan for me. If He has a plan, I have hope in the future and that it will all work out to His glory. 

So I am finishing this post from home. The attending doctor in the hospital who wouldn’t let me last night came in my room around 8:00 and said, “you ready to go home?” I wanted to say something inappropriate, but I refrained. Whenever I go to the doctor or am in the hospital, I end up waiting a long time, so I wasn’t surprised when two doctors couldn’t come to a simple decision. No matter the situation and no matter how frustrating it is, I still have hope that it will work out. So what is one more night in the hospital? It is easy to get frustrated at doctors, at hospitals, and circumstances in general, but what does that solve; nothing. It is better to accept your conditions and have hope. Now I am not saying you should take abuse or mistreatment or discrimination. If you are a victim, stand up for your rights and speak up.

The bottom line is you will face difficult circumstances in your life, especially if you have a disability or a chronic illness. It may seem like you are alone in all of this, but if you have hope, you can see yourself through any situation. I know it is what keeps me going every day. If you are reading this and are searching for something to keep you going, try looking past your circumstances, looking for the best outcome, and hoping that everything will work out for the best in the long run.

Life is Precious

Two weeks ago I woke up to some alarming symptoms. Let me back up a bit by saying I have been super careful during this Covid-19 pandemic. Being immune compromised, I have made very few trips out of the house and have spent very little time around other people. When I woke up two Thursdays ago I was convinced I had it. I could barely breathe, I was coughing and I was running a fever.

So we proceeded to call around to see who was doing Covid-19 testing, made an appointment and headed to a local urgent care facility. After I was tested I was told it would take a couple of days for the results to come back but in the meantime I needed to go to the emergency room because at the very least, I had a severe case of pneumonia.

So off we went to the emergency room. They were very efficient. After checking my symptoms they immediately got me to an isolation room and immediately gave me a rapid Covid-19 test that they would have the results in 72 minutes. If you have heard horror stories about the Covid-19 test, they are accurate. They basically take a long swab and shove it into your brain and rub it around in your grey matter for about ten seconds. It’s about as unpleasant of a test as possible.

While I was waiting, the doctors and nurses frantically started working on me. Starting IVs; one in my right arm and one in my left thumb. Yes, my THUMB! I nearly came straight off the gurney and did a round house kick to the face of the nurse putting it in. They then measured my oxygen saturation and it was only 82% so they immediately got me on oxygen and then started drawing blood.

Now here is the scary part of having an O2 Sat of only 82%; the doctor came in and asked if I would give him permission to intubate me and did I have a medical power of attorney. As I think anyone would, I freaked out a title. Here I am, all alone making decisions I don’t want to be making.

The next time my nurse came into my room she didn’t have on all of the PPE that she had on previously which I took as a good sign. In fact it was; my test was negative for Covid-19; I just had severe pneumonia in both lungs and was being admitted for treatment.

Two days later after all of the blood cultures came back I was told that not only did I have staph pneumonia, the staph infection in my lungs had spread to my bloodstream. This brings with it a whole host of complications like endocarditis which damages the heart valves amongst other things. So now for more tests. The next test was called a TEE, a Trans Esophogeal Echo. Basically they shove an ultrasound down your throat to look at your heart to see if there is any damage. Luckily, this test showed my heart was actually in great shape; at least I’ve got that going for me.

Fast forward to day eight. I am climbing the walls and so ready to go home. I am breathing much better and they have weened me off of the oxygen. According to my infectious disease doctor I can go home on one condition. He wants to put in a picc line (kind of like a permanent IV line) and I have to be on IV antibiotics 24 hours a day for the next 39 days.

So now, thankfully, I am home recovering and being very thankful for every breath I take. Two weeks ago I didn’t know how many more I would take. I am so grateful for my wife, my kids and the rest of my family and the many friends who were praying for me over the last two weeks. It doesn’t take much to be grateful. Take a minute to be thankful for the life you have.