Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Mom's going home! My sister called me today and said that since Mom's walking now, they're going to try it. We have no idea what will happen and how long she'll be able to stay there, but she wanted to go home, and now she is.
Pretty amazing! This is the woman who couldn't move herself in bed last week, and now she's walking!
Also, my freshman comp students rock. Usually it's difficult to get three-page essays out of this population, but three of my current students have come to see me with drafts that are seven-to-ten pages. They've been worried that the papers are too long, bless them! And the students have been writing about really brave topics; I even had one guy volunteer to workshop -- which means he'll be showing it to the entire class -- an essay about a very painful family situation.
Less Good News
Dad's better in some respects, but still rocky. His vitals are good and his lungs are better than they were, but he still has tremendous edema in his legs. The first lasix they had him on, furosemide, didn't work very well: he's producing urine, but only a third of the amount they'd like to see each day. So today they switched him to a more powerful diuretic, Bumex. We'll see how that works.
Meanwhile, his nurse tells me that he has a "big, boggy heart." His heart isn't contracting very well, so they're going to fuss with meds to try to change that. They're hoping that losing the extra fluid will help. One of the tests they do to assess congestive heart failure measures something called BNP, a hormone produced by the heart when it has to work too hard or when the muscles are stretched. A normal value is below 100, and 900 is considered a marker of severe heart failure.
Dad's BNP is 1,900.
Ouch. The minute the nurse told me this, I whipped out my BlackBerry and started doing Google searches. The higher the BNP, the higher the mortality rate (duh!). The nurse says they'll measure it again tomorrow, and at some point cardiology will be called in -- I'm not sure why they haven't been already -- and will tinker with meds to try to improve Dad's condition. The nurse said that if they can get Dad's BNP down to 1,000, everyone will be really happy.
So Dad's going to be in the ICU for at least another few days; from there he'll go to a medical floor before being sent, probably, to a nursing home. That's if he makes it out of the hospital, of course; we're basically in watch-and-wait mode. He was more coherent today than when I saw him yesterday: he's been giving the nurse a hard time (the nurses love him because he has so much personality), and asked me to feed him the mashed potatoes and apple sauce on his dinner tray. He also talked very briefly to my sister on the phone, but at least it was a conversation. He's very sleepy, though, and was pretty out of it during most of my visit.
At least I know he's getting the best possible care. From that standpoint, it's a relief to have him in the hospital.
Today on campus I saw this guy, The Littlest Snowman. Someone built him on a wall next to the campus daycare center. I love the outstretched arms: he looks like a toddler asking to be picked up, doesn't he?
And here's a wider view where you can see the flowers near him. Even with snowkids on campus, spring's not far away!