New readers, please notice the dates on all entries. Part I of My Bladder Cancer Story took place in 2018 and 2019. I use the actual dateline framework so the story will unfold for the reader as it happened to me. In the last episode, Carol had to call an ambulance because of my collapse at home. It took three strong men to load me into the ambulance.
February 4-8, 2019: The ambulance attendants wheeled me into the emergency room when we got to the hospital. After a quick initial assessment by an E.R. nurse, I was rolled into a nearby cubicle where my status was closely monitored and a variety of lab tests were done, including blood and urine cultures. Then an IV antibiotic was started, and I received a rapid infusion of IV fluids to support my pulse and blood pressure.
Sometime in the middle of the day, the E.R. doctor told Carol that I would be admitted for in-patient care with a diagnosis of Urosepsis. He explained that bacteria from my urinary tract infection had flooded my blood stream and had begun attacking my vital organs. That’s why I had collapsed at home with shaking chills and fever. He could not give her a prognosis, saying it would take a day or two to see how I responded. (I learned later that the mortality rate for urosepsis ranges from 20 to 40 percent.)
The first days in the hospital remain a blur for me. I slept most of the time. I knew that Carol was at my bedside every day, and I was aware that the nursing staff was attending to me. They gave me routine nursing care and turned my body from one position to another every few hours to prevent any bedsores from developing.
The doctors assigned to my case came by to check my progress daily. Dr. G, my urologist, also came to see me, and he conferred with Dr. C, the urologic surgeon specialist. They decided that creating a supra-pubic port would be the best way to divert the urinary stream away from my urethra and keep my bladder drained.
After explaining this and getting my consent, they scheduled the surgery for Thursday, February 7. After the surgery was completed, a nurse taught me how to manage the port and supra-pubic catheter with its drainage system.
Randall, my oldest son, flew from Indianapolis on Wednesday. In addition to boosting my morale, he was a big help to Carol in preparing for my return home. Among other things, he put together the equipment I would need, such as a shower chair and walker.
By Friday, February 8, my medical team decided that I was stable enough to be cared for at home. A nurse specialist inserted a venous catheter in my left upper arm and threaded it through the vein to my heart. A potent antibiotic injected through this port could be delivered to my heart to go to every cell in my body.
A physical therapist taught me how to use a walker, making sure that I was strong enough to take a few halting steps in the hallway. A home health nurse explained how the home health team would work with us at home. It was evening when I was finally discharged from the hospital.
The Home Health Nurse Supervisor came to our home late that night to help Carol prepare and give the first dose of antibiotic solution, followed by a heparin flush to prevent any clot from forming in the IV catheter. It was after midnight when she left. Carol was to repeat this process every eight hours around the clock for the next 10 days. She commented wryly that she never wanted to be a nurse, but she rose to the occasion for me. She was wonderful!
[Blog to be continued next week.]