Barbara saw Dr. Mann, an infectious disease specialist recommended by Dr. Denham, our internist. Dr. Mann inspected Barbara's test results, and agreed with Denham that treatment for the MAC was optional at this point. Barbara has chosen to refuse the long treatment with the vile drugs. We will see what Dr. Lenz says.
I took Kanan and his friend Craig to a "Science Saturday" at Caltech. This time the subject was "Ants, They Rule the World." A grad student in biology discussed his current research with microscopic parasite worms which infect insects, eventually killing the insect. He then introduced the movie. Both boys were engrossed in the wide varieties of ant behaviors. I knew that Kanan would be interested; he is always catching insects and studying (or tormenting?) them.
For my birthday, Barbara and I enjoyed Margaritas. This is the first time in years that we have had any alcohol. It made for a festive evening. The next evening, Barbara surprised me with a chocolate cheesecake - my favorite dessert. She had been unable to make it earlier because I was home sick from a back spasm, and the surprise would have been compromised. The cheesecake was delicious! There will probably be enough left to bring to Michelle's this weekend when she cooks a dinner to celebrate my birthday.
Barbara and I attended Kanan's inter-school track meet. Kanan ran two events: the 800-meter run and the 400-meter run. It is wonderful to see how enthused he is with sports - quite a difference from previous years. He was sure that he would place in the 400 meter, but he was up against stiff competition. Check out the photos here. The shot of him running shows how hard he is trying.
Michelle cooked a fabulous birthday dinner for me, with salmon and sweet potatoes and all the trimmings. Here I am with Brent and Mikey ready to enjoy the feast. For dessert, we all enjoyed Barbara's special chocolate cheesecake. Barbara was able to have a long, private talk with Jessie. I think that Barbara's grandmotherly approach may help Jessie in these tough teenage times.
I've been attending a Prostate Support Group at Norris. It's a good place to get answers to all of those "down to earth" questions. Only men are present, and the discussions are very graphic. I realize how fortunate I am that my disease was caught before it escaped the prostate, freeing me from the discomfort and side effects of radiation.
On Thursday, we went to Norris for an appointment with Pain Management. Barbara was dreading the session, since her desires differ from their plan. They want her to increase the background level of Oxycontin and use Actiq less frequently. She finds that the increased Oxycontin makes her continually drowsy. She wants to limit the grogginess to the times when she is actually experiencing bad pain. As it turned out, Dr. Nemat was home sick, so the dreaded discussion was postponed. Instead, Barbara happily left with her normal prescriptions.
Thursday evening, we saw an outstanding play at the Mark Taper Forum, in Los Angeles. The play, "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" explored the human aspects of the Iraq war, revealing the thought processes of our troops, Saddam Hussein's relatives, Iraqi citizens, and unrelated observers (the tiger in the zoo). The acting was superb, and the stagecraft was excellent. I found it to be one of the most thought-provoking plays that I have ever seen.
Friday, we went to the Social Security office to activate my retirement benefits. Nephew Curtis had rightly asked, "Have you started your benefits from Social Security." The suggestion prompted me to do some calculations. Although my benefits would go up for every year that I wait, it would take many years to catch up (like age 82). So, I'll take the money now, thank you. I was even able to have them pay me for the last six months in one lump sum. They warned me that my taxes will jump this year, but my attitude is, "You give me the money, and I'll pay the taxes."
On Saturday, we attended a funeral for our running friend Bill Dietrich. We had hoped to see many of our running friends, but most of them were out of town for the Wild, Wild West Marathon. Still we enjoyed seeing Bry Thorne, Clair Thoms, Suzanne Britt, and Missy and Paul Jennings. We had to sit in a rear corner to have access to an electric outlet for Barbara's heating pad. The priest was very compassionate when he heard of Barbara's disease, and, with her permission, he said a little prayer with her.
This week, I attended my regular prostate support group. Simultaneously, Norris had a special one-time session for the wives of prostate survivors. Barbara attended, and they had a lively session. It was interesting to hear the other side of the post-surgery problems. I think that we are both learning a lot.
For Mothers' Day, the girls put on a very nice brunch at our home. Everyone was working in the kitchen, Michelle, Sherri, Jessie, and Brent (who washed zillions of dishes and cookware). Sherri's friend Beth came by, and we enjoyed having her with us on this special day. Sherri brought her boyfriend Brian, and, of course, Scooter (Kanan) was here with his DS game. Barbara had a pain attack, but it subsided by the time that the meal was ready. For dessert, Sherri had made (from scratch, as always) a beautiful cheesecake with fresh fruit on top. It was delicious. We all agreed that the occasion was a very happy one. I took some fun photos.
Today, Barbara saw our dentist and he prepared her broken tooth for a crown. It took two hours, and Barbara was exhausted. Thank goodness I was with her and could drive her home.
We celebrated granddaughter Jessie's sixteenth birthday. Michelle cooked a wonderful spaghetti and ravioli dinner. Barbara and I enjoyed being with "Punkin" as she becomes "sweet 16." Here are some photos of the fun evening.
Michelle teaches an exercise class several mornings each week at the "Y" in South Pasadena. She has attracted quite a following. She has charged each of them with an enthusiasm such that you could almost call them a "team" with her as their coach. Their moment came last Saturday at the Palos Verdes Marathon and half Marathon. They were trained, and they were ready. They all completed their events, and some broke their previous best times. To celebrate, Michelle threw a party in our backyard, with families all invited. The pool was warm, the day was beautiful, and the group was one of the most enjoyable that we have had here. Some random photos may convey the spirit of the gathering. Coach Michelle announced that their next event would be the Catalina Eco Marathon and 10K in November. We hope that they once again celebrate in out yard.
Today we saw Pain Management. Barbara was dreading the day. She knew that she would have to explain to Dr. Nemat that she was not following his orders to increase her Lexipro dose from 10mg to 20mg. Lexipro is an anti-depressant, and Dr. Nemat feels that some of Barbara's pain may be psychologically induced. Clearly, the modest dose of 10mg isn't making any difference. Nemat feels that 10mg is such a light dose, that she must try 20mg before they can come to any conclusions. As expected, it was a difficult conversation. Nemat was adamant that she at least try his recommended regimen for two months. At the end of the trial period, they will revisit the decision, and determine if the Lexipro is helping. If not, he will discontinue the drug altogether. Barbara is opposed to taking more drugs, especially after our internist, Dr. Denham, said that he didn't think that she should increase the dose.
Barbara rightly feels that she is caught between doctors in several areas. Regarding the lung inflammation, Dr. Hagen (the surgeon), Dr. Geiseler (the infectious disease specialist), and Dr. Lenz all feel that she should treat the infection with the vile drugs which will make her miserable. She tried the drugs for a week, and she was nauseous, lost her appetite, and lost her ability to taste foods. Dr. Denham points out that Geiseler suspects that Barbara has had the infection since her youth in Virginia. Denham asks, "Why treat something that hasn't been a problem for all those years? Why not wait and see if it develops, and then make a decision about treatment?" Meanwhile, Barbara feels that she is being bombarded by doctors, each with conflicting ideas. She just wishes that she could be free of doctors for a while.
Barbara and I had a great time at the Great Western Bicycle Rally. Every Memorial Day weekend, a thousand cyclists descend on the Paso Robles fairgrounds for three days of bicycle riding and other activities. Brent, Michelle, and Kanan parked their new motorhome next to ours, and we enjoyed the festivities together. Barbara shared her pasta and desserts with them and we watched the Lakers game together. Kanan was in a bit of a funk. He aborted out of a ten-mile ride that Brent, Michelle, and I were doing just for him. But then he redeemed himself by riding - and completing - the ten mile time trial. He was in a big age group (0 to 14), but still managed to take third place.
We all enjoyed the day at Star Farms, where the owner invites all of the cyclists to enjoy his man-made lake and sand beach. Check out my rally photos.
Saturday was Norris's yearly Festival of Life. All of the Norris cancer survivors and their families and friends are invited to the pageant, which lasts all morning. There are display booths from each of the hospital entities, and we enjoyed talking with people from the pharmacy, pain management, the nursing staff, and the volunteers, many of whom have become friends. The program featured Barbara's own surgeon, Dr. Rick Selby. He gave a wonderful talk, tracing his medical background through med school through transplant surgery experiences. He had many amazing anecdotes. The panel moderator commented that this was the best talk he had ever heard from a physician. We agree, having attended this event several times now.
Bobbie, the parking supervisor at Norris, took a few photos of Barbara and me at the Festival. Click here.
We had a nice chat with Selby, and we learned that he is an avid bicycle rider. He has done some awesome century rides, including the Heartbreak Century, and the Mulholland Century. He regularly rides up to Chantry Flats on weekday mornings. I used to do that ride when we lived in Sierra Madre.
We watch another Laker game at Michelle and Brent's. Barbara again brought dessert, and we got to take advantage of Brent's expert knowledge of the sport and the players. He was able to explain the confusing referee rulings, and he often called out a foul before the refs called it. Fun.
Barbara and I went to Norris for his-and-hers blood tests; mine for prostate (PSA) and hers for CA19-9 and other indicators. Barbara sees Dr. Lenz this Thursday.
Sandra came for a visit. She, Josh, Jaedon, and Nathan drove nonstop from Colorado. Nathan is Josh's boy from a previous marriage. The swimming pool got lots of use by the boys (and me). I wanted to take them all to the Griffith Observatory, but they were more interested in swimming and then going to McDonalds - no surprise there! I took lots of photos.
We saw Dr. Lenz and brought Sandra, Jaedon, and Braxsyn for Taline and Lenz to meet. Then the others left and Taline brought in a nursing student who is learning from Taline. It was interesting to hear Taline describe Barbara's condition to another medical professional. I had never heard Taline specifically mention "adhesions" as a suspected cause of Barbara's pain. Barbara's CA19-9 is now 64 - not much of a change.
Yesterday was Fathers' Day, and I spent the day with Sherri and Michelle on the waters of Castaic Lake. Sherri's boyfriend Brian has a 24-foot party boat, and he invited me, Michelle, Brent, his own father, and others, to enjoy a boat outing on the lake. It was a relaxing time (for all of us except Brian), and we passed the time eating, drinking, swimming, and feeling decadent. Here is the group on the front end of the party boat, and here are Sherri and Brian enjoying the water. Barbara wasn't feeling too well, and she stayed in the motorhome in the launch area. She claims to have enjoyed reading her book and having some peace and solitude.
Barbara and I drove up into the Angeles National Forest to see the remains of the forest after the Station Fire. We were especially interested in what remained of the Angeles Crest 100 racecourse. As you can see from the photos, some areas were badly hit, which other areas were untouched. Chileo Flats was missed by the fire, and the aid station area and the visitor center all remain as before the fire. Three Points was lightly hit - the outhouse remains, and the vegetation damage is hit-and-miss. Shortcut was scorched, as was the AC100 course both into and out of Shortcut. Since Angeles Crest Highway is still closed, we had to drive up Big Tujunga Canyon, and for the entire route up to Shortcut there was nothing but burned vegetation. About three miles above Three Points, we drove out of the burn area, and everything was untouched by the fire.
It was a long drive, and Barbara was in some pain, but she enjoyed getting out and seeing the forest. We have an inverter in the car, and she plugs in a heating pad for comfort.
The last two weeks have been quiet. Barbara still endures pain attacks several times a day. She has been having come issues with Pain Management. Their theory is that breakthrough pain means that the background level of Oxycontin should be increased. But Barbara's experience is that increasing the Oxycontin does not lessen the breakthrough pain, but instead makes her drowsy all the time. She would rather be alert most of the time, and take the Fentora when the pain hits. Pain Management also increased Barbara's dose of Lexipro, an antidepressant. They felt that some of the pain was caused by the stress that Barbara feels. After an argument, Barbara got them to agree that the Lexipro would be tried for two months; if it didn't help with the pain, then it would be discontinued completely. Now that it hasn't helped, let's see if they do indeed stop it.
Yesterday we saw Dr Geiseler, the infectious disease specialist. Barbara was apprehensive, since she had discontinued the MAC drugs shortly after he prescribed them in April. He understood her reasons and wasn't surprised at the bad side effects, which are quite common. He explained (and we hadn't understood this) that the MAC infection showed up only in the sputum sample, and not in the lung biopsy. He prescribed the drugs to determine if the infection was in the tissues of the lung, or merely opportunistically riding in the sputum. If she had responded to the drugs, then the infection would be in the tissues and would need further treatment. Otherwise, it can be ignored.
The other way to determine if the lung is involved is to watch the cat scans over a period of months. The disadvantage is the delay in the diagnosis, and the need for cat scans. Since Barbara is having cat scans every three months anyway, we all agreed that we will just rely on the cat scans. The MAC infection would become of more concern if Barbara's immune system were compromised. If she were to go back on chemo, we would need to revisit the whole MAC issue.
Tomorrow we have an appointment with Pain Management. We expect to have some tense discussions over the use of the pain meds, including the proper background level and the frequency of breakthrough pain. Barbara also plans to propose discontinuing the Lexipro, since she has completed the two-month evaluation period as agreed. The discussions will no doubt be stressful.
We saw Pain Management, and it was every bit the disaster that Barbara had anticipated. They insisted that Barbara was taking too much pain medicine for breakthrough pain. They continue to think that stress is a big part of the pain. When we pointed out that the Lexipro wasn't doing any good, they told her to double the dose. What happened to the plan to discontinue Lexipro if it didn't work?
Then they went off further in that same direction, insisting that Barbara needs to see a psychologist and a psychiatrist. They made referrals and gave us the information. Worse yet, they prescribed an inadequate amount of breakthrough medicine for this month. Barbara is currently needing the meds 5 or 6 times a day, and they prescribed only enough for 4 times a day.
In the hospital, one sees notices that it is a patient's right to have his pain addressed, and mitigated as much as possible. Why does Pain Management want to cut Barbara off from the meds that she needs. If they are worried about addiction, then let's have that conversation, and develop a plan. It's not acceptable to yank her off the drugs abruptly, when intense pain and possibly withdrawal may result. Barbara is now compiling statistics of her past usage to show them that she is not asking for an increase, but merely a continuation of the previous level. They are the ones who have changed the plan, for some reason.
We spent the last week at the Colorado River. Brent has had a long-standing tradition of vacationing at the river, staying at a beautiful campground at Park Moabi, just south of Needles. The campsites jut out into the river, and you park the RV on the peninsula with water on three sides. In between the campsites are protected bays for swimming and mooring the boats. We had a nice group: Michelle and Brent brought Kanan, his friend Matthew, Jessie, and her friend Britt. Brent's good friend Dan brought his family (and his boat). Others joined us for a few days: Sherri and Brian came for an extended weekend, and Brian brought his party boat. Brent's daughter Heather and her friend Jason stayed for a couple of nights.
It was very hot, over 105 degrees every day, and we spent much of our time in the water. We went on several boat trips, including a cruise down to Lake Havasu City. Everyone (including Papa) got a chance to go tubing on a floatable that they drag behind the boat at high speeds - fun! The rest of the time we kicked back, watching TV and reading. I played with my scanners and computer. It was a nice change of pace.
It was a lot of work for Barbara fixing food for 8 days. Also, our RV's air conditioner has trouble keeping up with the sweltering heat. The only solution was to sit under the awning at the beach and dive into the water whenever you got hot. I was surprised how good 70-degree water feels when the air is 105.
I have a few photos from the trip here.
I just got a few photos which Bobbie, the parking supervisor at Norris, took of Barbara and me at the Norris Festival of Life. Click here.
We had an enjoyable weekend at Dockweiler Beach in the motorhome. Our excuse was that we wanted to be near Torrance where we attended the 60th wedding anniversary for Ralph and Laverne Boethling. They are the couple who ran the Great Western Bicycle Rally for many years. We love the two of them, and the other 200 guests obviously felt the same. They had friends from cycling, from their condo, from their philanthropic activities, etc. It was fun mingling with everyone. We had to leave a little early when Barbara had yet another pain attack, but we were glad to have shared the celebration with Ralph and Laverne.
Our stay at the beach was relaxing. We don't really need any excuse, since we enjoy hiding out in the motorhome. One of our campground neighbors had a huge group and they celebrated into the night. We enjoyed seeing and hearing their festivities.
Barbara saw the psychologist who is affiliated with Pain Management. I was asked to wait outside. Barbara did NOT want to see the shrink, but Dr. Nemat had made it clear that it was a required part of her treatment. After the session, Barbara expressed some relief that the psychologist seemed to understand Barbara's plight. In fact, the lady suggested the word "bullied" to describe Barbara's feelings. Barbara felt that "bullied" was the perfect work for the situation. We were about to leave Norris when it occurred to Barbara that we still had the issue about the pain medicines. We returned to Pain Management and the psychologist was talking with Pamela. We brought up the pain medicine subject, and Pamela hardened, again expressing Dr. Nemat's desire that Barbara cut back on the breakthrough meds. Unfortunately, the psychologist followed Pamela's lead and suggested that Barbara cooperate. Pamela continued to chastise Barbara. We felt like we have nowhere to turn. We expressed dissatisfaction with the new attitude of Dr. Nemat. He is no longer the ally in this battle, but he is the adversary. We told Pamela that we want to change to the other doctor in the office, and she replied that we must bring up the subject with Dr. Nemat. The result of the med discussion was for Pamela to rewrite the prescription to allow Barbara to obtain the medicines on Friday instead of Monday (we didn't have enough to last through the weekend).
Barbara is very despondent. For much of her life she had been dominated by people who didn't have her best interests as their goal. Now, it is happening all over again. They think that she needs the psychologist because she cried in their office a month ago. Who wouldn't cry, given all that Barbara is going through?
Today, we took Michelle and Brent to Foxy's restaurant for a birthday brunch for Michelle. The restaurant manager, Sean, sang "Happy Birthday" in a booming operatic voice. It was wonderful. Then we retired to our house for Crème Brûlée, which Barbara had made especially for the occasion.
We saw the psychologist. It was not a pleasant meeting. The lady is indeed very nice, but she made it clear that her goal is to help Barbara adjust to a lower level of pain medicines. She's not interested in discussing why the level needs to be lowered when it has been constant for over a year now. In their first meeting the shrink said that Barbara's perception was that she was being "bullied". In this meeting, the lady concept of the situation was quite different. She suggested that Barbara should plan to "get away" every so often - probably a good idea, but not one which will cure Barbara's pain attacks. She also suggested that Barbara try to reduce her need to help others. But that is part of the "real Barbara" (and part of why I was attracted to her in the first place). She would never be happy attending only to her own desires. As we reached an impasse, Barbara announced that she would not be continuing the sessions. The psychologist accepted the decision, and graciously offered to be available if Barbara ever felt the need to meet in the future.
Now, we will see what happens with Pain Management. They will no doubt view this as "non compliance." We have also asked to meet with a different doctor in the Pain Management office. There's a storm on the horizon.
This week I will be undergoing yet another heart ablation. Hopefully this will cure the remaining trace of atrial fibrillation.
I had my cardiac ablation early this morning, and I was back at home by 5pm. Dr. Nademanee told Barbara that everything wet well during the procedure. Hopefully this will clear up most of the fibrillation for good.
This weekend, Barbara and I supported our son-in-law, Brent, who ran the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. He ran with his buddy, Garry Curry, as they have done several times before. We brought our motorhome so that Barbara would have a place to retire if she didn't feel well - and I would be able to lay out all of my radio gear to monitor the race frequencies. Brent and Garry were paced by Ron and Jolie from Chileo (53 miles) to Chantry (75 miles). Jolie stayed with them to Shortcut (59 miles). Then Michelle paced him from Chantry to the finish. Here they are at Islip Saddle (26 miles) waiting for Brent to arrive. Barbara and I enjoyed being a part of the crew, even though the drive up is long and curvy. We saw some of our running buddies from many years, including Bob Moses and Brad Norris who run Catalina 100 every year. Bob saved us a special parking spot at Shortcut. We also ran into Jack Slater and Katie, and Ralph West. We hadn't seen them for years. I also got to chat with Nancy Tinker at the finish line. Tinker and we have done zillions of runs together over the years. It was fun reminiscing about our shared experiences.
Here are my photos from the race.
We met with Pain Management. It was a fruitful and encouraging meeting. Dr. Nemat started off stating that he was aware of our discontent, and that he too has some issues that need a frank discussion. He stated that he felt that he is still the best one to be guiding Barbara's battle with pain, since he knows her so well and he is willing to go to battle against other doctors to obtain the best care for Barbara. We know that he has stood up for Barbara numerous times.
He explained that he had discussed Barbara at a conference of medical professionals, including other pain medicine doctors, psychologists, and social workers. He now wanted to present the plan to us.
The big concern is the amount of breakthrough medicine that Barbara needs. She has been using Fentora and Actiq, which have the same base ingredient. She is at the maximum dosage which any of the professionals could condone. On the other hand, she is taking a relatively small dose of Oxycontin, and could easily tolerate more. So, the new plan is to discontinue the Fentora (and Actiq), increase the maintenance dose of Oxycontin, and use an oral form of Morphine for breakthrough pain. Initially, while her body adjusts to the discontinuance of Fentora, she will take the Oxycontin every 8 hours and take the Morphine halfway between the Oxycontin doses. If she finds that she needs less of the Morphine, then she can reduce it. But she is to continue the regular doses of Oxycontin regardless. He also prescribed a pain patch to be applied to her abdomen at the site of the pain. Each patch would remain in place for a week, if it doesn't fall off in the shower. If she finds the pain patches helpful, he can supply them without restriction.
Barbara is very upbeat about the new protocol. She is willing to give it an honest try. It certainly seems more promising that merely cutting her back on Fentora and expecting a psychologist to help her adjust mentally to the increased pain.
The only negative moment in the discussion was when Barbara had tears come to her eyes, and Dr. Nemat told her not to cry - that we could not have a reasonable discussion if she cries. We both thought that he was callous in that remark, but we held our tongues.
My worries are that she will go through some withdrawal symptoms, with the stopping of Fentora. I also mentioned that Barbara had become nauseous from Morphine just after one of her surgeries. Dr. Nemat said that the Morphine was not used with proper caution. At that time, Barbara was "opiod naive" and they used too much Morphine.
The new plans have left Barbara feeling much better and less stressed. This is certainly a welcome change.
We attended a reunion for our old running club The Foothill Flyers. It was lots of fun seeing all of our buddies from our running days. Tom and Maryann O'hara are still mainstays in the club, and Tom maintains the club's website. They do a lot of traveling with the Hash House Harriers. Missy and Paul Jennings were fun to talk with - Paul has had many top jobs at Caltech, including Provost, and Missy is now quite active bicycling, especially on her tandem. Paul doesn't ride, but instead follows her routes and stops at primo fishing spots while waiting for her and her co-rider. John and Elaine Murphy were there: Elaine is still running. John and I had a long talk about prostate cancer, our common affliction. Laura Williams, whose husband Glenn ran Angeles Crest 100 the same year that I ran it, compared notes with me about ultra running.
Barbara and I chatted with Claire Thoms, Sesile Parks, Bob Speers, Nancy Gilmore, Mark Ryne from our JPL running club, and, of course, Suzanne Britt, who has maintained close contact with Barbara.
Noticeably missing were our friends Bob King, John Darrow, and Steve & Irma Cunningham.
The club did a 4-mile run visiting the sites of all of the running stores which have hosted the club since the early 1980's. Barbara and I joined the walkers, but we peeled off after a mile or so. Barbara needed to sit still in the car with the heating pad so that she could participate in the barbecue and festivities. It was fun remembering all of the fun that we had with these people in our running days.
Yesterday was truly frightening. Barbara was scheduled for a routine cat scan. In preparation, she had had nothing to eat since the night before. While waiting for the cat scan, which was delayed over two hours, she had pain and took a Morphine pill. The waiting room was very cold, as was the procedure room. During the procedure, she was injected with a contrast solution. Unlike any of her previous cat scans, the infusion caused a lot of pain in her arm, and waves of strange sensations swept over her body, especially her neck and groin. When she emerged from the procedure room, she was shaking uncontrollably. I thought that she was merely cold and would come out of the shaking if I took her outside into the warm weather. But she had to urinate first. She was unable to pull open the door to leave the ladies' room, and I had to help her. She complained that something was "very wrong." I changed plans and took her into the nearby day hospital, where everybody knows her. They immediately put her in a bed and started treating her. After hearing my narration of the events, they decided that the Morphine pill on an empty stomach had caused an overdose of narcotics. So, they gave her a dose of Narcan, which reverses the effects of narcotics. The reaction was quick. Barbara started into a seizure, much like an epileptic fit. They summoned Taline, who called in Dr. Lenz. The Narcan had reversed all of Barbara's pain medicines, and now she was apparently undergoing withdrawal symptoms. In Barbara's words, it was the most terrifying experience in her life. She saw a kaleidoscope of colors, semi-transparent faces, and heard sounds and speech without being able to understand or respond. At one point, her seizure changed from wild shaking to comatose: her eyes were open, but she did not follow movement. She said nothing and appeared to be paralyzed. Someone suggested calling a Code Blue, but Dr. Lenz intervened, pointing out that she was breathing and her heart was beating and her blood pressure was ok, although elevated. They decided that she was indeed experiencing withdrawals, and started giving her small amounts of IV Morphine, and Dilaudid. They measured her glucose level, which was 59 - normally it would be around 100. After perhaps two hours, she started coming out of the horrible event.
Once she had recovered, they decided to admit her to the hospital for observation and for an MRI of the brain, to rule out a stroke. So, an ambulance was called and she was transported to University Hospital. She spent a night with very little sleep, due to the heart monitor which kept beeping any time her heart rate dropped below 50, which was often. Finally, this morning she was taken for her MRI. We are now waiting for the results, after which she is to be discharged. She wants "out of here."
Looking back, the original symptoms were caused by either hypothermia from the cold waiting room, or hypoglycemia from not eating, or a reaction to the IV contrast used during the cat scan. I favor the first two explanations, and Barbara is convinced that the contrast solution was either tainted, or wrong, or given too rapidly.
We're looking forward to having her home in her own bed.
Update at 3:30 PM: Barbara's MRI of the head was perfectly normal. She was discharged and is resting at home. We will certainly sleep well tonight.
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