Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Hi! Summary: Tank in Sierra Vista Hospital in San Luis Obispo because he had seizures yesterday. Spent the day resting. Excellent care, good prognosis.

Monday morning, Bayside called Terry at 6:30 to say that Tank had some weakness on the left side. She and I left immediately, and Kelly followed shortly in Tank's car. When we got there, Tank seemed less aware of his surroundings than usual. His left hand lay helplessly on the covers. Terry told a nurse to call an ambulance, and soon two Morro Bay firefighters/EMTs arrived from Morro Bay. They spoke to him, took his vital signs, and tested the strength of hands and feet. So competent, so kind, so attractive (a man and a woman). A minute later, two more EMTs from San Luis Obispo, and Tank was loaded into the ambulance. His attempts to grip, and to raise his left hand completely above his head, showed significant signs of impairment. His mouth was very dry, and it was difficult to tell if he was answering questions correctly. We were on our way to French Hospital in San Luis Obispo, which specializes in heart care (Terry's instruction).

Before we could pull out of the parking lot (Terry and Kelly in one car, me behind), the main EMT bent to Terry's window with additional information. Tank had suffered a seizure in the ambulance, and we were rerouting to the closer Sierra Vista Hospital, also in San Luis (Kelly called to tell me, I think). They used lights but not sirens, and it was a strange feeling to be driving along the highway, pull over for an ambulance, and know WHO was in the ambulance.

Back at Bayside, the overnight-nurse-in-charge told Terry that Tank had shown marked weakness on his left side as early at 5 a.m., when he was checked on. It later became evident that he'd probably had his first seizure before that, but it's unclear WHEN.

The ER staff was great, and immediately did some sort of brain scan and determined that there was no vessel breakage in the brain (I think the kind that might indicate a stroke) (forgive my lack of medical knowledge). That was good news, according to Dr. Georgio (there were four doctors over the course of the day, and I'll spell all their names incorrectly). He asked a lot of questions about Tank's history, and took some blood. At some point during the ER visit, when Tank was with us in the room, he had another seizure (in his chart, they called the seizures grand mal). We all watched, and were assured by the medical staff that it would only last about 30 seconds, and that he wasn't suffering, and he wouldn't remember it. Still...hard to watch, the poor guy.

An hour or so later, he was moved to a room upstairs, and situated for the day. We were told that Tank's oncologist Dr. Lewis would drop by with information, and we were waiting for that, not knowing when he would arrive. Helpful nurses and CNAs were there frequently. An elderly man occupied the second bed. Terry, Kelly, and I all had comfy chairs, and we sat and talked. Tank seemed to be in a very deep sleep, breathing normally. Occasionally, nurses would turn him. It was chilly in the room, and we kept him covered with a blanket. We'd say hi occasionally, and he'd kind of grunt, but he was mostly out of it, and that's what the doctors said to expect. They said that the brain kind of shuts down after a seizure, to heal itself, or kind of reset, and the anti-seizure and anti-swelling medications would also contribute to sleepiness. They gave him some morphine for pain, and gave him moderate amounts of saline in an IV to keep him hydrated. (Over-hydration might lead to more brain swelling, I think they said, so it wasn't a LOT of saline.) No nutrition in an IV, but they assured us he wasn't lying there feeling hungry. :) He seemed comfortable, actually. Terry would lean over him occasionally, and they'd talk. :) After a fashion. It was very dear.

Kelly was very useful. :) Shocker there, huh. :) He fetched things for me, 'cause I didn't want to leave.

Oh! Terry's buddy Stephanie (a saint, really, who volunteers at the hospital, and this was her day) dropped by the ER, and then Tank's room. She offered very helpful information, and brought a huge tray of delicious food from the cafeteria, which the three of us ate (Kelly ate less, given his...higher standard). :) It was good food, and not just good hospital food. Terry and I enjoyed. Sweet of Stephanie, so we didn't have to leave. Then Kelly left to go to Taco Bell, :) and to get diet Dr. Pepper for all of us.

Much later (still no doctor), Kelly went to a good BBQ place in San Luis, and brought back a delicious dinner, which the three of us ate in the hospital room. It was nearly 7, and we were giving up on Dr. Lewis showing up.

Kelly went to my car and got a bunch of stuff for me, including Gibbs, which got better reception at the hospital than my own cell phone.

Tank's vital signs continued to be good. Excellent blood pressure, always. Oh! He was on oxygen the entire time, through a narrow tube into his nostrils. Didn't seem to bother him. Nothing seemed to bother him. Although the bed might have been a few inches longer.

At some point during the day, Dr. Kissell (the neurosurgeon) dropped by. (Forgive the sloppy chronology.) He did the original brain biopsies of about two months ago, and he recently removed the metal plates from the site. (Actually, I found out that it wasn't a metal plate exactly, but a very small piece of titanium netting that they intended to leave in place forever. But the scar wasn't healing well, and the titanium mesh was showing, so the doctor removed it while improving/tightening the scar.) Dr. Kissell did that. He was their at 4 or 5 p.m., I think, and visited briefly. Said the scar looked good, and that the seizures were probably a result of the original tumors and/or the radiation. Terry had a lot of questions, but Dr. Kissell referred her to the expertise of Dr. Lewis, the oncologist, who was going to show up later. Dr. Kissell was very kind. When he asked Tank his name and his birth date, he knew them, which kind of surprised me, because he'd been in such a deep sleep.

A helpful CNA cleaned Tank's mouth and lips carefully with a wet swab, and applied some ointment. Tank has a sore on his chin, and that was treated also.

At 7:30 or 8 (as I recall), Terry and Kelly went home. I decided to stay for a bit longer, and got comfy with my coat and water and note pad and pen that Kelly had brought me from the car. He offered to get treats. :) What a guy. I'm so glad there were three of us there. There's a lot of information to track, and I'm sure I'm forgetting lots. Some readers might think this is too much detail, but--I'm sure--other readers crave TONS of detail. :) I'm sure.

The minute Terry and Kelly left, Dr. Bagarry showed up (pronounced buh-GARY). I think he's the general practitioner that oversees everything. Wonderful man. I'm quite certain he just dropped by the hospital to see another patient, and saw Tank's name on a white board, and came by. He was very helpful. I called Kelly and Terry, and they were tempted to turn around, but chose not to (Terry was spent, after a dozen hours in a chair in a hospital room). Dr. Bagarry carefully tested Tank's left-side strength, including his reflexes. Tank seemed more awake than earlier, perhaps as the drugs wore off, and the brain settled down. The doctor asked Tank to identify himself (Bagarry) and me, and Tank looked at both of us, and said our names! :) I was delighted. :) Dr. Bagarry asked lots of questions, and listened carefully to Tank's heart. Said the heartbeat was irregular, so he went to the nurse's station to get more info from the chart. After doing so, he decided to have Tank moved to the "telemetry unit," where he could be on a heart monitor through the night. However, he said that the heartbeat was a not-unexpected result of one of the medications.

Also, he said that severe weakness and lethargy are normal (and not permanent) results of seizures of this type, and that those symptoms might fade in about 24 hours. In fact, when Dr. Bagarry tested him, Tank was already showing much improvement in his left hand and foot, and I watched as he gripped with his left hand, and pushed against Dr. Bagarry with his left foot.

He left, and before we had a chance to move to the other room (on another floor), Dr. Lewis showed up at about 9:30. He said that it was normal to be like this after seizures, and seizure medications. He expects Tank to return to his "regular state of awareness" within a couple of days, and then perhaps return to Bayside. So...by the end of the day, things seemed quite different than they did earlier in the day, when there was talk of "comfort care" and "less-aggressive treatment."

We'll see.

I tried staying in touch with Peggy and Sally, but it wasn't always possible because of the cell coverage. However, it's handy that cell phones are allowed in the hospital.

Dr. Lewis said he'd return in the morning. So, I think it's about 8 a.m. now, and I'm heading over there (I'm at Burger King, alone), and Kelly and Terry are meeting me there, I think. I saw them both early this morning, before I left home.

I guess there's a bit more info. Nurses took him downstairs (you know, on his hospital bed) to the new room (after hooking him up to an EKG). Everyone was warm and affectionate and very efficient. I felt that Tank was in good hands all day long. The new nurse in the telemetry unit, Pam, remembered Tank and Terry from the recent removal of the titanium mesh. She was very helpful and chatty, and I stayed in that room until about midnight, on a very comfy chair, talking to her while she took care of Tank. She's about my age, with a husband with brain cancer, and we talked about lots of things, as she fussed over Tank. It was dark and quiet, without much going on, and Tank's new roomie snored comfortably while we talked. Usually, I try to wake Tank to talk to him, :) but this didn't seem like a good time for that, so I was content to just watch him sleep.

Pam gave him Dilantin to keep the seizures at bay. He'd had it earlier, but this was lots of it in an IV. All day, they'd been checking his blood sugar level, and giving him insulin if necessary, but late at night it was only 150 or so, and she chose not to give him insulin. His vital signs remained excellent. He's in Room 102, fyi. He's had a pesky cough for days, and it continued in the hospital, and medical personnel noticed it, but no one seemed too concerned. People offered different explanations for it. Seems awful to me (and like pneumonia), but no one was saying that. Oh! At one point, he asked me for a Kleenex, and I gave him that, and he wiped his nose. That was about as active as I saw him all day, and it was encouraging.

Well, that's about it. I drove home at midnight, after calling Kelly to tell him I was on my way. :) Safety first. It's a straight shot home, and takes about 15 minutes. No cars on the road. Kelly and Terry left outdoor and indoor lights on for me. :) Kelly said hi, but Terry was asleep in her GIRD chair. I fell asleep immediately in her bed, which she's a dear to let me use. I'll get more information to you later today, if possible. Thanks to everyone for their interest. :) Tank's a sweetheart, and a trooper, and we'll do our best to adapt to the changing situation.

Love to all... :) Not reading before publishing... :)

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