My blood pressure slowly started going lower on Saturday. Early in the wee hours of Sunday morning, the CA and Nurse came in to do their 4 hour check. The CA took my temperature, and my blood pressure. After she left, my nurse stayed to do other checks with me, including taking my blood work to re-check my hemoglobin. Half a sleep, it took me a minute to realize she was taking my blood pressure, again. I told her the CA had already taken it. She said it was low, so she was re-taking it. This was mystifying, because I have never had a problem with my blood pressure, even during chemo, medical staff have always told me how perfect it was. I figured it was a glitch.
It wasn’t. And, after taking it three times with no improvement, we were concerned. Shortly after, we got my lab results back showing that my hemoglobin levels had dropped even more; my nurse decided it was time to call the on-call doctor. He was not thrilled with being called at 5:30 am. He told her to continue monitoring me, to give me fluids, and he would be in to check on me later. It seemed very likely that I was going to need a transfusion, my hemoglobin was at 7.1, they said they typically give patients a blood transfusion when the hemoglobin gets down into the 6s.
I was upset at this. Honestly, at the time I don’t think I realized how serious of a state I was in. I did not want a transfusion, I had agreed to one, in case of an emergency, but this hadn’t struck me as an emergency, yet. I just could not understand why my blood pressure was dropping.
The morning hours found me dozing every chance I could. I was barely waking when the nurse or CA came in, which was a bit odd as I was not even on my pain meds at that point. I was just so sleepy. I remember one of the Clinical Assistants asking if I was usually this sleepy, and wishing she would just be quiet so I could rest.
The nurse came in midmorning, announcing it was time for my morning meds. This struck James as odd, we hadn’t had ‘morning meds’. We knew everything they had been giving me and why, or so we thought. He asked her about what she was calling my morning meds, and when she mentioned a ‘beta blocker’, James questioned her about it. She paused, unsure why I was on it. Finding out that I had no previous problems with my heart, she figured there must have been a drop in my blood pressure during surgery. But, looking through my history, there was no record of my blood pressure dropping. She could not give us an answer for why we were on this, and confided it could actually cause your blood pressure to drop. Disturbed, James requested she not give that to me. Thankfully, she was willing to think outside of the box, and agreed to hold off until we talked to the doctor. We could tell she was perturbed we were on this. Some nurses wouldn’t be so willing to not follow doctor’s orders.
I am not sure how low it actually got, but at one point my blood pressure was 81/43. Normal runs around 120/83.
As the day wore on, my blood pressure slowly increased. We were encouraged by this. The nurse did not think I would be going home that day, though. She had hooked me back up to all the monitors, and started a new IV for fluids. They were preparing a blood transfusion for me, and prepping me to receive it. I was not thrilled at the prospect, and was preparing questions to support my resistance. They were going to have to convince me it was truly necessary.
Being off the beta blockers, my body had a chance to rebound, and by noon my blood pressure had improved to 95/48. Not my normal, but so much better, my color had improved, and I was not nearly as pale. They increased my fluid intake and rate, and by afternoon when the doctor came to see me, he could tell without even examining me, that I had improved; my color was that much better.
The order for the beta blockers began on Friday, which is when my odd symptoms showed up, and I started declining. Up to that point, I was doing really great in my recovery. We were not aware of the addition to my medicine, and no one knew why I had been on them. I do not understand why the on-call doctor did not see in my records the order for this. When we made him aware of what I was taking, he said he would never give that to a patient in my condition. When they called my doctor on Sunday afternoon, she was not aware I had been on them, either. However, the order looks like it came from her. Thankfully, I was only on them for only a short time, there’s a long list of ‘ifs’, had I stayed on them longer. If James had not asked the nurse and had she not been willing to investigate, who knows what would have happened. Coupled with the anemia, I was in a dangerous spot and declining quickly. It was actually a very serious situation, and I am very grateful that a major crisis was diverted.
Sunday afternoon, the doctor decided it was okay for me to go home with the understanding that I would not be left alone, and would return if I was not doing well. Because, I am definitely in a anemic state; he wants me to take 325mg of Iron 3X a day for the next few weeks.
James is watching me like a hawk, to be sure that I do not overdo it. I am mostly just allowed to go to the bathroom with my walker. The doctor told James to stay close to me, and James has followed his instructions so well, you’d think I have an extra shadow. He has been a trooper, hardly leaving my side over the last week, and thanks to his close observation of me, he was able to point out symptoms that both the doctor and nurses missed, and he caught the dangerous mistake with my meds. I am really proud to call him husband and friend.
I am super grateful to be home, to have the kids home with us. They are also watching me closely, making sure I don’t overdo it. With all of their careful observation of me, there’s no chance for mischief. I’ve been threatened with being served cold coffee, if I don’t comply with doctor’s orders! Serious stuff for this coffee lover! I have slept much better, since no one is poking me at all hours of the night! Sunday’s activity level taxed me quite a bit, so I was on extra pain meds. I think if I am careful not to overdo it, I should be able to decrease them, and will hopefully start feeling more like my self.
Physically, recovery is expected to take up to eight weeks. It sounds like a long time, but I am hopeful the time will pass quickly, and won’t be as bad as anticipated. I will see the surgeon once a week while I heal, my first appointment will be this Thursday with the on-call doctor.
In the meantime, I am working on staying hunched over and resting. Peace of cake, right? : ) You are welcome to send me a text or an email! I love hearing how y’all are doing, and I will respond as able.
For those who have expressed interested in providing a meal for us, please contact Kristin Phillips at: email@example.com or text her at: 512.923.9333. She is organizing a care calendar for us and knows when specific needs are. We really appreciate your offers, especially these first few weeks.
Thank you everyone for your continued encouragement, and your faithful prayers. We are so grateful to have you all rooting us on, it has helped more than we can say!
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19