31 December 2008

1 JAN 2009

Yesterday, we moved my DH to the ICU for the really critical patients. Virtually all the patients in this unit are on ventilators. The dear man is also on a ventilator, and 24 hour dialysis. He improved briefly, but his organs are failing and he is no longer responding to treatments. The doctors have told me that it's only a matter of time. We also discussed options for resuscitation. I had to tell them that, because his heart is so damaged and now the other organs are so damaged, not to rescusitate. This is called, in America, a DNR. The HARDEST thing I have ever had to do was to tell them that if he stopped breathing or his heart stopped, they were to let him die. I can NOT put my dearest love in all the world through the pain of resuscitation for no good outcome. So...sooner or later, more likely sooner, the best thing that ever happened to me, my best friend, lover, husband, and partner, will leave me. I will be alone, and some of the light will go out of my life.

I have come to understand, through this, that I have more friends and people who genuinely care for me than I ever imagined. I am getting help, support, and love from people that I never imagined would care so much. This is humbling. Yet, with all this, I am in agony.

I want to never stop screaming. You know, when you were a kid and you might have sprinkled salt on that yucky slimy slug that had escaped the garden? Remember how he writhed and squirmed? That's how I feel right now...I'm writhing and squirming in pain, trying to crawl away from the burning, and hoping that, if it won't stop, that it will lessen.

29 December 2008

Monday evening

Well, we've pretty much finished the first day in CCU. The husband is slightly better. They placed a catheter in his chest cavity (again) to drain the fluid that has collected in his chest (pleural effusion). This fluid compromises his breathing because the lungs can't expand fully. They are removing the fluid slowly so that he doesn't go into hypovolemic shock which, in his condition could be fatal, but he has already gotten some relief. The poor condition of his heart is what is causing the fluid buildup. This tells me that if I get him home, he may have to have the catheter in his chest more or less permanently. One of the residents tonight mentioned that if his breathing deteriorates, he may have to go on the ventilator. That would be bad indeed. My own hope is that with the removal of the fluid, his breathing (oxygenation) will improve and that will, because everything is linked to everything else, improve his heart, liver, and kidney functions.

My dream has now become transplantation for him. I would be willing to do it here, or back in the states if needs be. Chances for a double organ donor (heart/liver)would probably be better in the states simply because of the ethnic clustering of blood and tissue types (western European stock as opposed to the very homogeneous Asian/Korean stock). A more realistic goal would to have him survive past our 13th Wedding Anniversary.

For right now, the meltdown of earlier today seems to have abated. I have regained at least the appearance of control. OR...maybe I'm just so tired that I can't melt any more. Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight. Guess I'll need an extra blanket.

28 December 2008

Catch up...

Life's been busy since my last posting. I did get the spousal unit home form the hospital after Thanksgiving. Got him home the first week of December. Things went pretty good for a week, then he got sick again. He re-developed the pleural effusion that fills the area between his lungs and the membrane that covers them with fluid. So back we went. This time they drained 15-17 litres of fluid over the course of two weeks. I'm not exact because I actually lost count of how many times they opened the drain.

Poor guy spent his 55th birthday in the hospital. He was discharged on Christmas Eve. We had a quiet Christmas at home. Had a nice dinner. But he was getting weaker. The day after Christmas, I sat him down in the shower and helped him clean up as Korean hospitals aren't as big on personal hygiene as US ones and bathing a patient with the amount of tubes he had is problematic in itself. He almost fell. He's 6'3" and I'm 5'2" with a lousy back. If he had fallen, I couldn't have gotten him up and out. We survived that and he was MUCH more comfortable.

On the 27th, he wanted to take a little walk in the apartment. He got about 10 feet and it was all I could do to get him into a chair. I decided at that point that it was time to go back to that damned hospital. Thank god for the neighbor I had never even seen before. This young man was coming out of his door as I was struggling to get my husband into the elevator to the garage. He very graciously helped two complete strangers. We went to the emergency department and proceeded to spend the next 30 or so hours there. My darling husband's heart failure was acting up and he couldn't maintain a stable blood pressure. The rules say that if your blood pressure drops too low, you will have a cardiac arrest. His coronary status is such that he very likely could not be resuscitated.

We finally got out of the ED and into a bed in the coronary care unit. I saw him settled in as comfortably as you can be in a place like that. I made it home and took myself to bed. As of 0600 this morning (29 DEC, 2008) he is still with me.

That's the clinical stuff...the stuff that I can recite pretty mechanically. Now I'm going to dump the messy stuff, so turn away if tears and such make you uncomfortable.

My head is full of images of what my life will be with out my husband. You see, he has been my rock, by BEST friend, my lover for 18 years. I can not imagine my life without him. I'm sitting here with the thermostat at the temp it's been at sine it got cold here. The woman who was NEVER cold is huddled in a "fuzzy" robe, freezing. I woke up after only 6 hours sleep because I was cold. I was huddled under a heavy blanket, cold. I never slept under the blanket. I'm afraid the light is going out of my life and I will be cold now, forever. I'm afraid of the solitary life that I see on the horizon. That I will never be held again. That I will be empty.

I am trying so hard to remain hopeful, to believe that he will get better and come home to me, that I will hold him as he falls asleep again. I want to howl out my fear and pain. Logically, I could say that I am finally crumbling under the stress of the last four months. His deterioration, my job issues. It's easy to see, in the hard light of logic. I've always been he strong one. I've had to be. I was able to give some of that work over to my husband, to let him be strong for me at times. I've always been the caregiver but I was able to let him take care of me. Now I'm his caregiver, and gladly, you must believe. But I'm so tired and so lonely, and so damned cold.

05 December 2008

The week AFTER Thanksgiving...

The spousal unit was successfully retrieved from the hospital on Tuesday. Another all day affair. I'm glad he's home and so is he. He now gets real food that tastes good and is hot. Nothing worse than lousy food that is also cold.

Wish that having him home meant that everything was all right. It's not. With his particular ailments, the docs are giving him less than a 50% chance for surviving another year. This causes me great pain. He turns 55 in just a few days and it's potentially his last birthday. Makes me want to scream. Yes, I'm strong...independent, too, but he's been the love of my life for only 18 years and I'm not ready to let him go.

26 November 2008

Twas the night before Thanksgiving...

and the spousal unit is still in the hospital. They are making progress and he may be home early next week. This is good. He will be stuck in a Korean hospital, however nice a hospital it is, on Thanksgiving. This is bad. I find myself feeling somewhat angry about this situation. Not angry at the spouse, for he certainly didn't plan to be ill, but anger at the situation.

The only upside is that for the next couple of days, I can work on my wool shawl.

To those of you that celebrate...Happy Thanksgiving!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

21 November 2008

And Back Again...

Spousal unit is back in hospital. It wasn't an emergency this time, and he IS improving, but there is no word on when he might be discharged and Thanksgiving is in just five days. It's entirely possible that I may be spending my holiday in the hospital and Korean hospitals make no special dietary provisions for American holidays.

On a personal level, I will admit to being frustrated and quite concerned over the state of the spousal unit.

The only good thing about camping on furniture that was designed by Torquemada is that I can knit and, when he is napping, listen to the iPod. The project du jour is quite a large shawl/wrap. The office I work in is quite chilly so a nice warm woolen wrap would be perfect. I may have mentioned earlier that it's a simple "Old Shale" or "Feather and Fan" pattern worked in worsted on size 9 needles.

Perhaps a picture when it's more than six inches long.

12 November 2008

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


Actually, I brought the spousal unit home on the third and he's been doing pretty well ever since. This little incident really scared him and I hope that he puts this newfound awareness of his mortality to good use and makes more effort to take care of his health.

Now that the hospital thing is over, I, personally, am very tired. I was spending 16+ hours a day with him at the hospital. I only took one day to get him settled at home before I went back to work. I really need a vacation, but that is not to be for a while. In the meantime, I am trying to relax with some knitting. I am "socked out" so have started a lacy wrap. The office I work in is pretty chilly, so having something attractive to wrap around my shoulders is a must.

The pattern is a simple 7 repeat of the classic Old Shale pattern that I am working in a forest green slightly heathered with gold. It's 100% Peruvian wool in a worsted weight. The yarn (Knit Picks if you're interested) knits up into a lovely "spongy" fabric that will be nicely warm. I'm going to look for a pretty shawl pin to go with it.

02 November 2008


The spousal unit is still hospitalized. It almost feels as though the local docs are dragging their feet when it comes to releasing him. You would think that they are looking for some reason to keep him admitted.

One of their "fixations" is that he has no appetite. This couldn't be further from the truth. He is on a western diet, which is a good thing. While he enjoys Korean food, he does not enjoy it three times a day. Anyway, they bring up these HUGE meals. Seriously, the amount of food they bring up would feed both of us easily. Since he does not "clean his plate" they assume that he has no appetite and this worries them. Trust me, he's NOT starving. The difference is that, to our eyes, the Koreans eat an ENORMOUS amount of food! I've seen tiny Korean women tuck into a huge bowl of rice with meat and vege AND several side dishes. There's NO WAY that either self or spouse could eat all that. When we visit Korean restaurants, we usually split one order of whatever we are having.

Anyway, hopefully they will release him and I can bring him home soon. This whole chapter in the life has become tedious. I need a vacation!

25 October 2008

Getting Started

Starting up this blog will probably take longer than usual as my spousal unit is currently hospitalized. I had hoped that this blog would primarily reflect my daily comings and goings with the occasional recipe, picture of the cat or knitting pattern, but I find the need to vent a bit about our current medical situation.

Being hospitalized is never fun, but it is something that many Americans take for granted. Try having a serious illness in a foreign country! We are currently expats living in Seoul, South Korea. Imagine the challenge of suffering a serious illness in a country where you do not speak the local language. Fortunately, I have a medical background so am able to deal with the staff even though I have only about 8 words of Korean. Most of the medical terms are similar enough that we can understand one another. Also, many of the staff and physicians at the hospital we are at speak English at least passably...certainly their English is far better than my Korean.

The good news is that my beloved spousal unit is on the mend, albeit slowly, and hopefully soon, we can get back to the daily business of living.

21 October 2008


Just set up the new blog...I consider it under construction, so please be patient with me.