Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hospital Stay

Craig and I have been in and out of hospitals over the course of the past few days trying to figure out what exactly is causing the redness, swelling and tenderness in his left knee, right around the surgery site. He had been doing so well with his physical therapy and was beginning to see the end of the knee pain tunnel this sudden onset of symptoms really threw him for a loop.

Long story short, he spent Friday night in the hospital running all sorts of tests trying to figure out if there was any kind of infection or blood clot in his leg and eventually all the signs pointed towards "cellulitis" which is a sort of bacterial infection in his knee. We were sent home from the hospital on Saturday armed with antibiotics and pain medication with a follow-up appointment scheduled for yesterday (Monday) morning.

Unfortunately, Monday morning's meeting with the knee surgeon did not yield good results and Craig was sent onto an internal medicine doctor who could better treat Craig's illness. This particular doctor told Craig that he needed to be admitted to the hospital for at least two days in order to recieve copious amounts of antibiotics through an IV in order to treat his cellulitis. Craig's family and I met him in the ER where he was being seen by the ER doctor as well as the internal medicine doctor that was on-call.

As we all probably know, the emergency room is not known for it's quickness and at 10:30, after sitting in the room for almost four hours...Craig and I were getting antsy and angry. A doctor came in and told us that he and this other specialist had reviewed all of Craig's tests and they decided that the best course of action would be to send us home with some stronger antibiotics. Needless to say, we were both upset, angry and most of all confused. Not that I didn't want to sleep in my own bed and cuddle with my puppy that night, but we were both under the impression that Craig's condition was serious and needed to be treated in a hospital. This doctor did not have very good bedside manners and after a tense discussion promptly left our room promising to send the other doctor to see us and answer our questions. To which I answered "when will that be...after ANOTHER two hours of waiting?" I was getting frustrated for Craig - he was sitting on this uncomfortable bed without any of the medicine in his system that this doctor was saying he needed.

We waited a bit longer and then I knew I had to make a decision. Neither of our mother's were there to take control of the situation and as his wife, I knew it was up to me to fight for the care and answers that Craig deserved. I ventured into the hallway and down to the nurse's station where I found our good-natured nurse, Greg. He and I discussed what was going on and he helped me to better understand the nature of healthcare politics...basically the doctor Craig saw in the afternoon did not have the jurisdiction to automatically place Craig in the hospital, but instead had to refer him to the ER hospital doctors to look over and then reevaluate. That was the crucial bit of information that we needed to hear. I asked to speak with the other doctor and told Greg that regardless of whether we were going to be admitted to the hospital or sent home, things needed to move quickly because we're both tired and more importantly...Craig doesn't feel good and he's getting angry.

Shortly thereafter, the ER internal medicine specialist doctor came in and she was truly an angel. She didn't look that much older than me and she plopped herself in the rolling chair and began going through Craig's knee history with him from the very beginning with the surgery in April. She listened to everything he had to say and asked important questions about the onset of his symptoms and the tests that had been run the previous weekend. After Craig said his piece she went step by step through the hospital procedures (diagnosis, admittance etc) as well as thoroughly described the illness that is afflicting Craig at this point in time. She answered all our questions and listened diplomatically as well as compassionately to our frustrations. At no point in time was she condescending or rude and she always made sure to affirm the fact that Craig was in fact, in pain and very ill. She just had a way of calming him down and reassuring us that sending us home with stronger antibiotics would, in fact, be the best course of action at this time. Again...not that we didn't want to go home, we had just been led to believe that Craig's situation was very poor and needed the immediate and intense type of care that only a hospital could provide. In the end I felt like hugging her around the neck, but instead opted for a handshake and a heartfelt "thank you." Craig got loaded up on antibiotics and pain meds and we hit the road to come back home.

We are grateful to be able to take care of his sickness at home and he will be staying home from school for the rest of the week in order to give his body the time it needs to heal itself. I am so glad that all my prayers were answered and through all of this, I truly feel closer to Craig. I also am really proud of the fact that I was able to step up and calmly but firmly make my feelings heard and get the things necessary for Craig's health accomplished.

And on a side note, we got our sod laid down today...we now have a gorgeous and green front yard!

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