Back in touch!

I arrived safe and sound in Oregon on Tuesday evening.  Sherill and Fred don’t have a computer, so I brought an old hotspot with me and got a new SIM card on Thursday.  I had been trying ever since to get back online, but I couldn’t get connected.  This morning, I took my laptop and hotspot to a Verizon store and they couldn’t help me get on either.  I finally bought a new hotspot, so here I am!

Wednesday, I took Fred to the hospital so we could visit Sherill.  They had her on Oxycontin which is an opiate and it was doing weird things to her mind.  We hadn’t planned to be there all day, but that’s what happened.  While we were there, we saw Sherill’s pulmonary doctor, two internal medicine doctors, her heart doctor, and a physical therapist.  What we learned is that Sherill has a rare heart condition called Broken Heart Syndrome.  This means that the bottom part of her heart isn’t pumping.  This can be caused by stress and anxiety (which Sherill has certainly had), chronic illness (which Sherill has), or constriction of the heart (which, since she broke some more vertebrae, she has).  On top of this, they said that the bottom lobe of her left lung had collapsed which is why she was having so much trouble breathing.

On Thursday, they did a test on Sherill where they put a probe down through her carotid artery into her heart to see if she had too much liquid or not enough in her heart.  They were saying on Wednesday that this test would determine whether they could give her a particular treatment that might help her.  Mom called my younger sister, Lauryn, and said that she might want to come up to see Sherill this weekend.

Yesterday (Friday), Mom and Fred and I went back to visit Sherill.  She seemed ever-so-slightly better yesterday.  We saw her physical therapist and her hospitalist (doctor in charge of her health care team).  The physical therapist told us that Sherill was going to be transferred to a rehab center near Mom today.  The hospitalist said that the results of the test they did on Sherill on Thursday indicated that Sherill’s heart moisture was right on the borderline and he didn’t think that the treatment they had in mind for her would do much to improve her situation, so that was why it was determined to send her to rehab.

While Sherill was in the hospital, I told every doctor or therapist that came into her room that I will be here for four months and can help take care of her.  They said that I may be able to get some training at the rehab center for how to work with her to help her when she comes home.  The main goal will be to get her lungs opened up again.  (Turns out that the bottom lobes of both lungs have collapsed.)  To do this, she will need to sit up to eat, get up and walk and move around, and use these little breathalyzer things to practice blowing out and breathing in.  Also, she will need to eat more.  She has had almost no appetite and she weighs less than 71 pounds.

Through all of this, it has become apparent to me how much Fred is lost without Sherill.  He doesn’t know how she does all the things she has always done to keep them going.  On Wednesday, we had to bring a bag of Fred’s medications to Sherill so she could tell me which ones he’s supposed to take in the morning and which he takes at night.  That’s only one small example of what it would mean to Fred to lose Sherill.

I wrote the above before we went to see Sherill in the rehab center this evening.  She has been hallucinating all day.  When I first walked into the room, she said she had been talking with me all day.  I asked what we’d been talking about and she said I told her I was going to throw a party for her at 7:00 this morning.  Mom, Lauryn, my nephew, Nate, Lauryn’s husband, Rob, and Fred and I spent time visiting with her this evening, and we all walked out of there feeling sad.  This is a bad situation all the way around, and it’s possible that Sherill can see it in our eyes.  Please continue praying for Sherill and Fred and our entire family.

L-R: Lauryn, Sherill, Mom (Donna), and me. Note how thin Sherill’s arms are.  (Picture taken by Nate McCroskey-Izzett)

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