Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Life does end............

September 3, 2015
I've wanted to post on FB and I thought at different times - it might feel a 'certain' way - so I waited to post. I guess that if I didn't post today - who knows when I would post.....because although Ron's death was real, and I was there, family members came to visit and brought wonderful food to the house, our family gathered and we made arrangements, laughed and cried, then the viewing..........how my heart was touched by the love I felt - the coming together to show love... for this man - and the beautiful tributes to Ron at the funeral......the moment I received the flag in gratitude for his service to our country....... I kept thinking with each event - it would feel real. It doesn't feel real - it feels - like unfeeling - no feeling - loss of feeling - as well as the deepest pain that was ever felt - all at the same time.  
There really are no words.
Ron and I were prepared but as funny as it sounds, I thought it would never happen....or at least for many, many more years.

I hope you won't mind allowing me to share our last story and the gift he gave me.

The night before Ron's death I had been sick (actually thought I was having a heart attack)....and when I tried to get up that next morning - my body said NO. I called Libby and she went to the hospital to sit with Ron until I could get there. I'm glad they had that time together. In the meantime the doctor called and told me I needed to come soon. Anthony picked me up and we dashed to the hospital.

When I arrived I got into bed with Ron and held him in my arms; I told him I would not hold him to his promise - that it was time to go and see his dad, mama and brother - that I would be okay - he needed to fly...fly....fly...fly.... I told him how much I loved him, how he changed my life and the life of our children and grandchildren. I thanked him for the way he parented Libby - when I would say no (because I was anxious and afraid for her to do just about anything) - he would find a way to work it out so she could have fun and be safe, too. I thanked him for the way he cared for me and made everything easier for me.......but that I needed him to go.....we laid there for some time. Then I felt something....that he was leaving........and I leaned up, and looked at him - straight in his face and kissed his mouth as he took his last breath - it was the most beautiful gift he could give me - he loved me in life and death.

You all have gone on this journey with us - for many years - the rollercoaster ride that is life. I wanted you to know how Ron left this earth. We all felt his spirit in the room as he left.....he flew and he flew and he flew high.

Much love to you all!

Ron and Pam

August 29, 2015
My dear husband, Ron Cook, passed away today.

August 29, 2015
UPDATE: Ron ....... on our way to hospital. ..Libby is with him. They are keeping him as comfortable as possible. His body is tired. Love to you.

August 28, 2015
UPDATE: Ron......................is happy (I'm sure) to have the tube removed; he's hoarse and really unable to talk. I've seen a noticeable improvement in his blood pressure since the tube has been removed.

Ron is still having a difficult time waking up; he is sedated and sometimes agitated - but his blood pressure is staying in a good range - even while agitated.

I was able to hold his attention long enough for him to mouth the word, "love" and he reached up and grasped my hand, I asked him to squeeze my hand - and he did. I'm hoping tomorrow he'll be a bit more lucid - I sure do miss talking to him.

August 28, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.................FLEW and is breathing with the help of an oxygenizer (one step up from the normal type nasal oxygen). More information to come.

August 28, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............isn't awake but a bit more 'squirmy' this morning. He's totally weaned off his IV pain medication; they have lowered the profolol (sedation medication) and will continue to lower it. He is on the IV presedex (his preferred sedation medication). In the past, he has been totally awake on presedex.

In order to hold it together, I am seeing TODAY as another procedure; they will remove the intubation tube and place him back on oxygen.

His stats are good:... 77 heart rate, 96% oxygenated, breathing 24 times a minute (ventilator) and BP of 155/58. 
 All the pieces are in place - our friend and respiratory therapist Tesfaye will remove the tube, and our favorite nurse and advocate, Tiffany, will be with us to help us keep Ron calm and administer medication as needed. Dr. Jackson the intensive care doctor will be here to watch over the process.
Yesterday Tesfaye explained the process and showed me where to stand - that if he needed to move his equipment for me to get closer he would - he said, "You will be with your husband no matter what".

I had a (one sided) talk with Ron this morning - explaining what was going to happen. I told him that I know he is brave and courageous - that the mind is a powerful thing and it is his job to get himself 'in-check' - moving seamlessly through this procedure with calm and coolness. I told him that I love him; his family and friends love him and I am counting on him to do his part.
August 27, 2015
Although it may sound odd to some - every night I send Ron a FB message. I'm not sure he will ever read them - but I want him to know just how special he is to me. It has helped me get through some tough nights..........please feel free send him a message. Tonight is a tough night.

August 27, 2015
Additional update to previous: Ron...........our lovely nurse, Whitney, (from south Georgia) has decreased his pain medication over the afternoon, and plans to have it turned off by 6:00pm tonight. Whitney will be back in the morning and she plans to hang the presedex (lighter sedation medication) first thing in the morning and remove him from the profolol.

August 27, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.............today was a big day of plans and moving forward. Dr. Jackson, the palliative care nurse, Michelle, our wonderful nurse, Whitney and the patient care liaison, Robyn, came into Ron's room and went over a new plan.

Ron is requiring minimal amounts of oxygen - from 50% down to 35% so they believe he is truly capable of breathing on his own.

They will be removing the ventilation tube tomorrow morning between 10:30-11:00. He will be placed on oxygen - so... it's not like they are going to take out the tube and stand back and wait for him to breathe.
Anxiety has been one of the biggest pieces of this hospital stay. They are going to wean down the fentanyl (pain medication) to Tylenol as well as shutting down the propofol (sedation medication) and they will add the drug precedex which is also a sedation medication which allows him to be conscious. They will decrease the propofol as they increase the precedex. He's also been on Xanax twice a day for 2 days.

It is up to Ron to breathe, plain and simple. The fear for me is that he will do well for a couple of days then desaturate (low blood oxygen) and at that point - he does not wish to be re-intubated or that he will have a heart attack - he does not want CPR.

After sitting here over the past month seeing his fears and anxiety plummet his oxygen levels, I can tell you, I am very worried about tomorrow.

Ron needs to fly!
August 26, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............each morning they test to see if an intubated patient is ready to be removed from the ventilator....the patient receives a pass or fail. When all sedation and pain medication was stopped Ron became agitated and his systolic (is the top number) climbed to over 200. He failed the test. They had to increase his pain and sedation meds until he calmed down.

Preliminary results from the open lung biopsy came back today- they found no growth; meaning we still don't know what he has going on with his lungs. Both the lung fluid and tissue came back negative. There are more results to come - they mentioned sending the tissue samples to the Mayo clinic.

Ron opened his eyes when the nurses were "messing" with him; but I don't believe he knows who I am.

Ron has a feeding tube - his blood sugar is high and they will adjust his insulin.

The psyc nurse came by to check on me - she asked me how my life has changed since Ron's hospitalization We talked about her last visit with Ron - he told her he loved his wife so much and how I cared for him. We talked about Ron's service in Vietnam and about his courage. It was a much needed release for me.
August 25, 2015
UPDATE: Ron...........we ( Libby and Michael) had a meeting with the care team this morning which included the Intensive Care PA, Palliative Care Nurse, Psyc PA and our favorite floor nurse, Cal) The plan entails changing medication to wake Ron up while managing his anxiety, hopefully weaning him off the vent and waiting for test results so they can begin treatment of whatever is going on in his lungs.

He will continue on his current steroids(Dexamethasone). They will wean him off the sedation and pain meds while removing him from his current anxiety meds and replacing it with another. (Stop Wellbutrin, Remeron, Propofol and Fentanyl and begin him on a small dose of Xanax; reduce the Seroquel and continue the Prozac). 
He is still very sedated. He needs to wake up and be able to follow simple commands. If he is unable to wean successfully from the vent, it is his choice not to be intubated again.
August 24, 2015
Update: Ron............is back in his room. The surgeon said it all was very routine but she did notice some lung damage - fibrosis. The tissue will be tested and results back: 24 and 48 hours, 3 days and as long as 5-7 business days (if sent to Mayo clinic).

His blood pressure is very low and I'm worried about that.

August 24, 2015
Update: Ron.............down for surgery at 8:04 a.m. His hemoglobin was low - they have blood on hand. The procedure takes an hour - we expect to hear something in two. After surgery he will return to his room in ICU.
August 23, 2015
UPDATE: Ron........Open lung biopsy is scheduled for 7:25 a.m. They will be taking him down 1-2 hours prior to surgery. The surgery will take an hour, and then he will be returned to his room in ICU.
August 23, 2015Update: Ron............was intubated (placed on a ventilator) this morning. He was very anxious yesterday and this morning at 7:30 he stopped breathing - he was bagged and then intubated. The intensive care doctor showed me the latest x ray and Ron's lungs look completely filled with pneumonia. The doctor said what they've been doing hasn't worked, and the next step is an open lung biopsy.

I spoke with the lung surgeon (Dr. Wallace) - she will perform a bronchoscopy (tube with camera is passed through the airways into the lungs to get a better look) and then she'll perform an open lung biopsy (remove a piece of tissue from all three lobes of the right lung). The biopsy will be sent to pathology.

The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow - don't know a time yet.
August 22, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.............has been anxious all day; just spoke with the intensive care doctor and the current issue is Ron's anxiety, and his fear of not being able to breathe. Ron is still on the IV sedation medication precedex - the doctor doesn't know what oxygen level Ron can tolerate because Ron is so anxious and agitated - the oxygen is turned up and then down again.

Ron had some visitors today - Linda and David Grubbs - it was nice to see Ron laugh and tell silly stores; tonight is Ron's 50th class reunion - wish we could be there.

His delirium begins around 3:00 p.m. - as I sit here beside him, I can see him slip into delirium....it's as if I'm not even here.
August 19, 2015
UPDATE: Ron..........had another rough night; I spoke with the doctor today and they are finally pointing the finger at the Prednisone.

Prednisone - Here is what the prescribing literature has to say: Psychiatric derangements may appear when corticosteroids are used, ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression, to frank psychotic manifestations. Also, existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated by corticosteroids.'

His oxygen stats dropped last night and he's back on high flow oxygen again. They are changing his medication to Dexamethasone - he has to continue on steroids for months to treat the pneumonia.

I hadn't been able to get Ron on the phone since 9:00 p.m. last night - although I did talk to the nurses several times over the two 12 hour shifts. I spoke with the nurse this afternoon - who said he 'tore up' his oxygen and it caused an emergency situation; he told the doctor it was illegal to keep him in the hospital. She told Ron to call me. I finally spoke with him this afternoon, and he was so confused - he asked me why he was there.

I hope the change in medication will bring him back. He won't remember any of this.
The doctor wants him to have one good night and day; the good news, Ron has been accepted at Roosevelt Institute Rehabilitation in Warm Springs - he will be moved once the medication is straightened out.
August 18, 2015
UPDATE: Ron..............I spoke with the doctor (actually 2); lungs are the same (actually they had to turn up oxygen due to last night's activities). The only thing that is keeping Ron from the floor is his delirium at night - he pulls out his oxygen....even with a sitter. The 'group' of physicians have been working to figure out how to keep Ron calm enough at night without making him drowsy (hangover) the next day. Last night they gave him 200mg of Seroquel - the doctor t...old me that last night they thought Ron was going into cardiac arrest because of low blood pressure/heart rate and they couldn't rouse him. We know that 100mg isn't enough - so tonight they will try 150mg.

Life is so different for me - not sure how I fit in - not being two - but a one. It's been difficult especially at bedtime when my mind goes on high alert.

The kids keep me busy - I call it 'falling down the rabbit hole' - we'll start out doing one thing - and before you know it - it's 7:30-8:00.....and I'm running to the grocery store and it's almost bedtime.

Enough rambling..............good night.
August 17, 2015
Update: Ron...............not much new today; Ron doesn't meet criteria to stay in ICU. At night, Ron has a difficult time with his anxiety, thus, pulling out his oxygen and stats dropping. The doctors are talking about putting Ron back on the floor - nearer the nurses' station with a 24 hour sitter.

 The steroids are playing havoc with his mental stability. Ron sounded clearer tonight - asking questions about what I was doing. Hoping for a calm and clear day tomorrow.

I went to the doctor today because I've been fighting a respiratory issue for two weeks - since sleeping in the ICU for 2 nights. The doctor prescribed steroids to clear the infection. I'm hoping it will give me a much needed boost.
August 16, 2015
Update: Ron.............last day for Dr. Grandpa (Intensive Care doctors work for 7 days straight). He said he was disappointed to hear that Ron had problems last night. He said it's a vicious cycle when Ron becomes agitated - he pulls off his oxygen - he panics - he doesn't have enough reserve to hold him - his oxygen stats drop - once he's calmed down the oxygen is enough for him (not using hi flow like last week). Dr. Grandpa wants to keep him in ICU for a while - hoping they can wean down his oxygen to where Ron barely needs any - to help build his reserve..........Dr. Grandpa said a long term care facility may be where Ron ends up for 4-6 weeks........everyday something different......
NEW rollercoaster....SAME ride.
August 15, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............if you didn't get a chance to see the first update for the day - Ron called me at 5:30 a.m. to say that they were sending him to the floor!

On my way to the hospital this morning Dr. Grandpa called to say that Ron had made a turn around - no longer requiring the high flow oxygen, now on regular oxygen and he was hold stats in the 90's..........Dr. Grandpa said Ron would be released to the floor today.

When I arrived his liver doctor (Dr. Stein) came by ...to say that Ron's health had made a remarkable change. He envisions Ron going to the floor, then to rehab for 2-4 weeks - to regain his strength.
TURN AROUND and REMARKABLE - wonderful words.

Ron told us something happened last night - he made his decision to fight and get better so he could be with his family - we believe he had a spiritual intervention - an intercession.......with the support and prayers of all of our friends and family.
August 15, 2015
Ron is his new room 6th floor North room 637.....that's the A ELEVATORS.
He is eating his chocolate covered chicken.
August 15, 2015
UPDATE: Ron..............called me at 5:30 this morning.........he's being moved to a room!!!! More update later.

August 14, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.............It's been a long day. Spoke with Dr. Grandpa today (he called me) - pretty much everything is the same; no change in his oxygen - moderate high flow oxygen needed during the day but in the evening Ron becomes agitated and they have to turn up the oxygen. X rays vary just depends on the day - one lung then the other - today the lower left lung is the issue. Dr. Grandpa is not ready to move Ron from the ICU yet. 

Ron is stir crazy! I'm going to see him tomorrow.

August 13, 2015
UPDATE: Ron...........I received a call from the social worker and Warm Springs can't take him because he's on a particular anti-viral medication that has to be 'mixed' and they don't 'mix'. Ron has been on the medication for 10 days - his treatment is 21 days; then he can go on the oral medication. But there's so much up in the air - I had to select several centers, they will send referrals - the facility will send someone over to evaluate Ron........then he could be accepted before he's put on oral medication, thus missing an opportunity to go to Warm Springs. It's all about doctors/medication/ICU bed/facility - and less about the patient. He's being gobbled up by healthcare. Frustration today.

August 13, 2015
Happy 23rd wedding anniversary to my husband, Ron Cook; although we won't be together today, you are always on my mind and in my heart. I love you!

August 12, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.............I spoke to Ron and also his nurse; thank GOD for nurses! They tried to take him off the high flow oxygen and put him on the oxygenizer (spelling) - but his oxygen stats wouldn't hold. They are trying to wean him down off the high flow. One of the doctors said they are going to try and GET HIM OUT OF ICU and on a floor Friday. 

Today we received several cards in the mail Sandra Parlier and family and Victoria Shirley - thank you - I know Ron will en...joy them. Sandra that was genius idea.

Special thanks to Pat Nixon - when I drove in from work she was cutting our grass and she blew off the driveway - thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Tomorrow is our 23rd wedding anniversary; unfortunately I won't see him until Saturday....perhaps in a regular room.

August 11, 2015
UPDATE: Ron...........was taken off Bactrim; tests came back and he does not have PCP........which is great but he hasn't responded to the other treatment as he should. Ron is on a low dose of steroids. I just don't know what to think. The late afternoon and evening delirium continues. So as of now, Ron has organizing pneumonia and CMV.......and tomorrow will be 14 days in ICU and 19 days in the hospital total.

I'm exhausted today - just want to lay down and close my eyes - and turn off my brain.

August 10, 2015
UPDATE: Ron....... I went back to work today. I called Ron several times during the day. He ordered his dinner himself. When I talk to him this afternoon they told me he felt tiny tiny bit better.

There is a new doctor on the floor this week who does not call the families.

There is no change today. No blood work or x-ray.

I'm going to take this as a good sign. Ok
August 9, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.......................I spoke to Ron several times today; he's been clear headed, and he ate all three meals. The doctors put him back on a small dose of anxiety meds (IV) and upped his Seroquel. I hope Ron has a wonderful night.

 I love you, Ron - sleep tight!
August 9, 2015
Thank you to Michael Sean O'Hara for stopping by to visit Ron today - Ron said he really appreciated Mike taking to time to stop by! Bless you, Mike!
August 9, 2015
.......with Ron's illness and hospitalization the kids have really been there for me. Michael Falanga and Libby Bazydlo were diligent in making sure the dogs were walked, fed and watered everyday while I was at the hospital.

 Michael engineered with the assistance of Anthony Bazydlo, and took charge of the construction of the back yard fence. Libby put on her work 'persons' gloves and hauled fence (Michael's assistant). For 23 years Ron (mostly) has walked the dogs on a l...eash - numerous times a day - now all I have to do is let them out. Tony Falanga and Julie Falanga have been there for me in many ways (with my emotional rambling text messages all hours of the day and night).
I don't know what I would do without my kids - (and grandkids) - I love them so much.

Tomorrow I go back to work; Ron and I have our jobs, it's his job to get better, and my job to keep pushing forward! We'll work hard at doing just that. Emotionally it's been (and will be balancing act).
Thank you to everyone who is praying and supporting us - please continue to do so........we are on a long road.

We love you all!

August 9, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............last night was tough, Ron was delirious.

I received a call from Dr. Gluzman this morning. Not much to report, they will continue the Bactrim and hope to see some change in 3 days but the treatment last 21 days.

Every night they deliver more oxygen due to agitation (100%) and every day, they try and wean him down again (65-75%). We are standing still. Ron promised he would fight but night times are so hard for him and I don't see that fight.

I am very worn out; I've never felt so tired or discouraged. This time, I can't seem to rally. I was up until almost 4:00 a.m. going over and over again in my head what is happening and how I can help this situation change in a positive way - I have no control over what's happening.
August 9, 2015
Braylen visiting with his Papa

Oliver having a heart to heart talk with Papa

August 8, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.....................he's alert today - the Ativan finally wore off and he was able to eat some breakfast.

I spoke with Dr. Gluzman this morning and they will begin treating Ron's newest infection PCP - beginning tomorrow. (I described the condition in yesterday's update). The new (old) antibiotic they will use is Bactrim; it's a 3 week treatment. Pray this treatment works!!!

I know he would love company during the week - please feel free to visit. He's at Piedmont Atlanta ICU- 4th floor EAST Room 11.
Thank you for your prayers, love, and support.
August 7, 2015
UPDATE: Ron................well I spent 6 hours with Ron today - he'll only remember about 20 minutes of it.......maybe. They were working with Ron so I went out to the waiting room - he said he would call me.....30 minutes go by........I call and he tells me he'll call me...........another 30 minutes go by.......I call and he tells me he'll call me...........after an hour and a half..........I decide I'm going back in...........and he's asleep. He was anxious and they gave... him some Ativan ...........and that was it for the day. He didn't eat lunch or dinner. Ativan has been removed from his medications.
We've decided we'd like Ron transferred to the Roosevelt Institute Rehab in Warm Springs. It's 52 miles from home - no traffic and a 1 hour trip.......the other centers under consideration are located at Emory, Atlanta, and Windy Hill..........which could take an hour or more to get there depending on the traffic. I'm hoping they have a bed for him. We're not sure when he will be stable enough to transfer.

I'm going back to the hospital in the morning but won't be going on Sunday - so if anyone would like to visit - Sunday would be a great time.

I have so much to do to get ready to go back to work on Monday. That's the plan.
August 7, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............long conversation with Dr. Gluzman today.

First and foremost, Dr. Gluzman would not allow discharge from the ICU right now...good! But we will discuss our options for long term acute care facilities with the social worker.

Although Ron may have COPD - he said if Ron was getting along okay at home (breathing) before coming to the hospital - then the issue IS the pneumonia. They are still hitting the CMV pneumonia with an anti-fungal IV; there could b...e a change coming. The doctor suspects Ron has PCP as well (see definition below) due to his weakened immune system caused by the anti-rejection drugs for his liver.


The doctor may 'pull the trigger' and change medication this weekend; there is a blood test for PCP but it takes many days to diagnose - the only way to diagnose immediately is to do an open lung biopsy, but the doctor doesn't think he's a candidate for such a surgery (we wouldn't consent - Ron is too fragile for surgery). So if the doctor doesn't see some improvement he will begin the new anti-fungal medication.

Ron has developed a new symptom - chest pain - it began yesterday afternoon; he was given nitroglycerin last night. I read chest pain can be a symptom of PCP.

The doctor did see an improvement in Ron's chest xray (the photo below is NOT Ron's xray BTW) - but again, the true way to gauge how Ron's lungs are improving is by the amount of oxygen required. He was utilizing 60% yesterday (during the day) at 3:00 p.m. when he became anxious it was moved to 65% and last night 70%. I'm sure they will begin the process of trying to wean him down depending what he can tolerate.

I asked the doctor about draining or flushing the lungs - he said Ron doesn't have fluid around his lungs or congestive heart failure - he's not a candidate.

As always, thank you for the continued prayers and support.

August 6, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............it looks as though Ron is moving out of ICU to a long term acute care center - I found this out - from a hospital social worker - on my way home from the hospital this afternoon - we are meeting with the social worker tomorrow.

I hope to meet with a pulmonologist, as well - I need more information. I'm hoping they have a bed at the Shepard Center (next door to Piedmont Atlanta).

The list of facilities is limited - many of which we would NEVER consider.......more tomorrow.
August 6, 2015
UPDATE: Ron.........................yesterday was a low spot on the rollercoaster. Today I'm feeling a little more positive but not much has changed, but the staff working with him seem more positive. I spoke with the intensive care doctor.

LUNG: I asked about Ron's xray and the doctor said the xray is not as important to watch as the oxygen levels. They are going to try and lower his oxygen to see how he tolerates it. Although he has never been diagnosed with COPD, they ...believe he has it - which means his oxygen stats (and xray) will never look the same as a healthy person. I think when he goes home - he'll be on oxygen. I need to read more about COPD - that's something new for us.
KIDNEYS: Creative level 1.4 ! I was told that the nephrologist has signed off - and Ron will not be receiving any further dialysis. SUCH GOOD NEWS.

OVERALL: They are removing his central line (putting in a couple of regular IVs) and removing his dialysis port. His appetite is better. He's been on FB a little.
August 5, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............I spoke with his nurse tonight and Ron is sleeping soundly; oxygen stats - the same. Hoping Ron's chest xray shows some improvement tomorrow. Good night.

August 5, 2015
UPDATE: Ron...............haven't talked to doctor but this is the information from the nurse.

LUNG: His xray - worse - thicker cloudier - like 2 days ago.

KIDNEYS: Creatine level 1.56 - holding steady - I don't think he'll have the dialysis today.

He's much more talkative, and he is eating a little bit on his own - not much; still mentally cloudy - not sure why he's here.

I'll update after I speak with the doctor.

August 4, 2015
At first the hospital was a foreign place - now it's difficult to leave. As long as Ron is in ICU I'll be with him - and he probably won't remember - when he's better and moved to the floor - and I visit less - he'll wonder, "Why doesn't Pam come to visit me?"

August 4, 2015
UPDATE: Ron......................has been awake for most of the day. He is eating - slowly - not too much - but he is eating. He is very weak; just shifting his sitting position - his oxygen drops and he feels like he can't breathe. It is getting toward late afternoon and I need to leave - which makes him anxious - I'm hoping for a quiet evening. I keep reassuring him.

This is a better day.

Thank you - Steve and Beth for driving in for a visit yesterday - believe it or not - he remembers and was telling me today how good it was to see you. Love you guys!!!
August 4, 2015
Scary afternoon: this is a precautionary tale and a lesson well learned.

Yesterday afternoon I was following Libby home; we were trying to exit Piedmont Atlanta Hospital to Peachtree Street. There are two lanes in the front of the hospital. There were several cars parked (people sitting in their parked cars) on the right side, so as we went to pass the cars, a car entered from the street - we were forced to back up. The car entering passed by - and I pulled out from behind a car parked in the no parking lane. I honked my horn.

I looked in the rearview mirror and the black sports car WHIPPED out, I saw the driver, and looked at the passenger who in plain view PULLED BACK THE SLIDE OF HIS GLOCK.

Libby was in front of me in her car; we had to stop/yield onto Peachtree Street. My mind was racing - I knew I needed to get away from Libby (in my mind, if the men knew that Libby and I were together and I was hoping they would follow me when I turned. I leaned down and dialed 911.

Libby pulled out onto Peachtree Street and as we came to the corner of Collier Road she continued on Peachtree - I laid on my horn, and quickly turned right on to Collier, and back into the hospital near North Deck Parking. The car didn't follow me - but in my 'hysterical' mind, I thought maybe they had followed Libby.

I was trying to get off the phone with 911 - to call Libby - who of course had no idea what happened - but 911 wouldn't let me off the line until they asked me what seemed like a million questions.
Then I thought - the men might come back through the back of the hospital on their way to the front of the building (because if they were parked in front of the hospital - they must have been there for a reason) - so I drove to the Emergency room and flagged down a policeman.

I don't know about you - but I have a freeze-frame memory (don't know what it's really called) but traumatic events stay frozen like an image in a photograph; like the day I was on the phone with my father when he died from a heart attack - I remember what I was wearing, what I saw out the window, the table the phone sat on - the fact that I had on hose but no shoes - I can close my eyes and see it. I had a perfect freeze frame of the men in the car. I gave the officers their description - one said, "Mam, most people don't remember in such detail".

The Police wanted me to drive back around front and show them where it happened - but I just couldn't - and they said there was 'no room' to put me in any of the three police cars (what?) - so they told me to park, take a minute, and they would be back.

One of the officers asked me - did you pull out your weapon - and I quickly said no - it was in the console. He said, "Mam, if you have it, you need to have it out and ready." I guess in my world that sounds like a 'shoot-out' - all I wanted to do was to get away.

I had talked to Libby to make sure she was okay - and I was a mess - after 1/2 Xanax, I called my high school friend, Annette, who talked to me and distracted me through my travels from downtown traffic to home. When I got home Michael and the kids were waiting on me with dinner. He stayed with me and I felt better by the time he left - he wants me to go to a defensive weapons course - and I am.

I know this is a long post. I want to assure you, I will NOT honk at anyone again and YOU shouldn't either.

August 4, 2015
UPDATE: Ron...............Ron had some issues last night (delirium-after midnight) and received increased sedation. The intensive care doctor called with the following report:

LUNGS: culture grew and Ron has CMV which is treated with the anti-viral medication, Ganciclovir; BP steady, good oxygen/CO2 stats - Ron's on high oxygen (not the BPAP - that's 2 days in a row - good thing).

FYI: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can occur in people wh...o have a suppressed immune system.
They are continuing the steroids but cut back on his insulin (blood sugar running too low). Today they are measuring his food intake - they don't want to place a feeding tube.

KIDNEYS: Ron's creatine level was 1.5 - his runs normally 1.3-1.6 (which is high but normal) - yesterday I believe level was approximately 2.5; his kidneys are producing better, and the nephrologist has decided to hold off on dialysis and hopeful his kidneys will recover on their own.
It's weird because the first day we were here - CMV was mentioned but they needed to wait on the culture. I hope this is the first sign of recovery.

So tired today but feeling hopeful - such a rollercoaster ride - not the fun kind - but the kind where you feel scared, sick to your stomach and want to desperately GET OFF!
August 3, 2015
Update: Ron....... I called and spoke with Ron's nurse and she said he's been sleeping - the best sleep he's had in the hospital so far. Hoping to see an improvement tomorrow.

Thank you, Michael for being at our house with dinner ready.

August 3, 2015
UPDATE: Ron................He had another rough night with delirium - he continued his conspiracy story from the night before. The last time I talked to him at 10:00 p.m. - he was feeling better and seemed more like himself; but apparently that did not last. They had a sitter with him last night so he wouldn't pull out his tubes. Again this morning before I arrived he had to be sedated.

Ron was able to sustain his oxygen and CO2 levels with the high volume oxygen and (kinda...) slept without the BPAP mask.
Spoke with intensive care doctor: Lungs are the same, BP is up, dialysis is in the room setting up - hoping the dialysis will drop his BP as well as clean some toxins out of his brain. Report from brain CAT scan shows some brain tissue shrinkage (age related). The doctor believes part of the delirium is his age, PTSD, and the hospital setting. As the doctor told me today, "we are stuck", they haven't seen a turn around with the prescribed steroids but they don't want to introduce an antibiotic because it is not prescribed with the type of pneumonia Ron has - organizing pneumonia. They will begin him on a very low dose of Seroquel (for mental stability) to see if it will help with the waxing and waning delirium. Prograf levels (liver) look good - boy, that liver loves him!

Will update later.

August 2, 2015
UPDATE: Ron....................Sorry for the late update. This morning Ron was not only confused but paranoid. He told me people were trying to kill him - he didn't trust - anyone - wasn't sure he trusted me. I went through all his maladies and asked if he trusted me for each one - his answer was yes - so then he decided to trust me.

I spoke with the intensive care doctor who believes just as the others doctors have said - toxins in the brain (kidneys), steroids, and delir...ium. Kidney doctor will continue dialysis every other day and reassess as his numbers change.
Ron still hasn't gotten over the hump .....good things to report: Creatine levels (kidneys) DOWN; chest xray looks better than yesterday; blood gas oxygen UP and CO2 DOWN.
I'm interested in finding out his Prograf levels (anti-rejection drug for liver) - sometimes high levels can cause confusion and hallucinations.

Wish Ron could hold steady - stop the up and down days.....today he's on the BPAP again, and there's talk of putting him back on the less invasive high volume oxygen - but if he can't sustain his oxygen levels on the high volume oxygen - he'll go back on the BPAP. This is the cycle that needs to stop and show lung improvement.

Ron brightened right up - a visit from Kristy and Sheary. He was so happy to see them.

He's napping now.

CAT scan scheduled for this afternoon.
August 1, 2015
UPDATE: Ron..............a neurologist came by and performed an initial neurological evaluation = normal; he asked if Ron has ever been impaired mentally during an illness/surgery/hospitalization.

The answer: YES - all the time! 

Ron is medication sensitive; when his anti-rejection meds are too high he becomes disoriented and his kidneys have a difficult time filtering due to the lung infection (I know that sounds weird).

When the body is in crisis blood flow is directed ...to the heart, brain and lungs - leaving the kidneys and liver to 'fend' for themselves, and of course they stop doing their job effectively - and toxins can't be filtered by the kidneys/liver - and the toxins build up in the brain.
Plan: Brain CAT scan (just to rule out anything neurological), continue to treat the pneumonia with steroids - keeping a close eye on his blood sugar levels. Take a close look at his medications and metabolic levels for each medication, and provide dialysis every other day (temporarily) for his kidneys. Dialysis began tonight.

The nurse 'sent me to my room' - told me to take my sleep medication and go to bed - there's a technician in his room handling the dialysis until 8:00 p.m., and there will be a 'sitter' in Ron's room with him until 11:00 p.m. - if Ron experiences mental instability (pulling out cables/tubes - the sitter will stay later.

I went to my room, warmed up a can of soup, I'm in my PJs - next step - sleep medication.

Thanks everyone!
August 1, 2015
UPDATE: Ron...........kidney doctor will begin dialysis today - and it will continue every other day for several days or weeks.
August 1, 2015
Update: Ron...........rough night.
LUNG - He asked for me at 2:30 - he was pulling at his tubes and removing his oxygen. There was talk of intubation. Blood draw and CO2 levels up (causes agitation and confusion) - he was put back on the BPAP machine. About an hour after BPAP his CO2 levels are better - they will continue the BPAP (can only be on BPAP for 24 hours). Chest xray taken - it has to be read by radiologist - but to me - it looks worse than yesterdays. More 'w...ebby', condensed and filling more of his lung - results will be back this morning. I was told by one of the registered respiratory nurses that he's been diagnosed with 'organizing pneumonia'. I need to do more research.
KIDNEYS - he had a kidney ultrasound and I couldn't tell you if it was kidney or a baby or a bunch of rocks. Today they will be talking about considering temporary kidney dialysis.
VISITS - The nurse encourages family visits (all those who have been asking) - he is in ICU - so visits must be short and quiet.......just a couple at a time. He is at Atlanta Piedmont in ICU 4th floor EAST - room 1. You'll need to use the phone on the wall outside the unit in order to visit.

INTENSIVE CARE DOCTOR VISIT THIS MORNING: He thought Ron was heading in the right direction but he just didn't make the turn. He needs Ron to be more alert and is going to speak to the kidney doctor about dialysis - which will hopefully clear any toxins (less brain fog and lethargy). Intubation discussion - not today but still could happen.

SITTER - They ordered a sitter to help to make sure Ron doesn't pull out tubes/cables and to give me some relief.

I am in my room - plan to shower, get ready, have some breakfast and then back to the room.

July 31, 2015
UPDATE: Ron..........today is not a good day. He's very quiet and withdrawn and confused. Today's chest xray was worse. His creatine level is steadily rising (kidneys) - and there is talk of temporary dialysis (will be discussed tomorrow). None of the lung cultures have 'grown' - so there is not a specific infection to treat - they will continue the steroids. He is still on an insulin pump. Several times he's woken up - unsure of where he is. I don't think he has any idea how sick he is.......he asked me what days he was watching Penny and Oliver next week - (he usually helps out on Monday and Thursday) - he told me he didn't think he could keep them Monday but Thursday would be okay........
I'm staying in the hospital tonight - I was fortunate enough to get a room at the hospital for two nights - I'm just a couple of elevators away from his room - thank you Libby Bazydlo and Michael Falanga for taking care of the dogs.
July 30, 2015
Update Ron Cook is resting well. The nurse gave him something to help him sleep. He is wearing his BPAP machine so hopefully he'll get a good night's sleep. His oxygen levels are staying in the 90's unless he's eating or moving around too much. I'm ready for a good nights sleep as well. Good night all.

July 30, 2015
Update: Ron........all afternoon without the BPAP machine; they have advised him that he may have to wear it during the night in order to keep his oxygen levels up.

His blood sugar is off the chart - close to 600 - they hung an insulin pump - hopefully once the steroid treatments are over - his blood sugar will level out.

Ron must be feeling a little better; he's happy to see his cute nurse Maggie (she told me so), he had his hair washed (not by Maggie), and he's complaining about his limited diet.

I finally made it home - after finding a dead battery and waiting 2 hours for AAA to show up - drove through hellacious 4:45 p.m. downtown traffic (don't know how you guys do it). Once safely home I turned off the car and tried to start it again - bad battery - Michael is going to take care of it for me (thank you). I dragged the trash cans to the street, unpacked car, walked the dogs, checked with Ron's nurse before the shift changes.......too tired to walk upstairs to lay down.

A million thanks to EVERYONE! I will continue to update - hopefully this will be my last update of the night.

July 30, 2015
UPDATE: Ron............his hour without the BPAP machine as turned into several hours; he's now on a high concentration of oxygen (under his nose) and is able to keep his oxygen levels up. Hopefully as his lung heals he'll receive less oxygen and breathe more on his own.

Everyone seems very excited about his progress. I think the intensive care doctor was surprised.

Ron ate! Jello and broth, and has graduated to pudding, potato soup and Boost.

I think he'll be in ICU for a couple of more days.

July 29, 2015
Update: Ron..........BP looks good - blood gases - look better - he's resting pretty quietly. Libby got stuck sleeping in the lobby - and they leave the lights on....they won't allow anyone to sleep on the 4th floor ICU waiting room (nice and dark and cozy). .......crazy. Next blood draw is at 4:00 a.m. I don't think I can sleep.
July 29, 2015
UPDATE: Ron..........with a change in shifts - the new respiratory therapist did another blood draw. Ron's blood gases are a bit better than 2 hours ago. The next blood draw happens at midnight.
His oxygen level on the BPAP was lowered to 30% - he began his trip to ICU with 60% oxygen.
Ron's creatine level (kidney) are barely a 'tad' better - but it's going in the right direction...........I still worry about his kidneys......they aren't great on a normal day. ...

So far the steroids have not increased his blood sugar
(no insulin needed).
 Hopefully all will be quiet tonight. Libby is staying at the hospital with me tonight. Things will be much less scary with her here.

July 29, 2015
Update: Ron........every 4 hours they draw blood from his arterial vein (oxygen levels). The last two blood gases have been better. They have turned down his BPAP machine from 60 to 50 to 40 (oxygen level). We were told the next 8 hours will decide if he goes on a ventilator. As long as all is stable between now and the next blood test - I will update at 10:00 with his latest results.

Ron's blood pressure has been stable (with medication) and he's talking more - or at least trying to talk more. The doctors want him to rest and not talk any more than he has to....save all that energy and oxygen for healing.

I know you guys are out there - and we feel all the support and prayers..........thank you!
July 29, 2015
Update: Ron...........The next 6-24 hours are a critical time. He's teeter-tottering and we are hoping the new antibiotics and steroids will help his lung functions; his problem is not the inhaling but the exhaling which is causing a build up of CO2.

If the CO2 doesn't go down they will have to put him on a ventilator which will let his body fight the infection instead of using his energy to breathe. His kidney levels are not great, and could require temporary dialysis. Now we are focusing on improving lung function with steroids and antibiotics in the next 24 hours.
July 29, 2015
Update: Scary morning - Ron's BP dropped, they were able to administer medication to bring his BP back in the normal range.

The doctor said they are most concerned with the issue with his lung - pneumonia and perhaps COPD. They have added a new and stronger antibiotic and steroid IV. The steroids will raise his blood sugar but they will be able to handle it with insulin. In the past 6 hours his condition has worsened - they will reassess in another 6 hours. I will continue to update.

Thank you for your prayers and support.
July 29, 2015
Need prayer now

July 29, 2015
Update: Ron was brought to ICU around 4:30 this morning; his oxygen level had dropped to 53. He is on a CPAP machine which blows oxygen in and forces CO2 out. (He is not on a ventilator). The last atrial blood draw - oxygen level was 87.
His blood pressure has been running low - currently 105/53. They are pushing fluids to try and bring his BP up; if that doesn't work they will administer medication.

The intensive care doctor is on the floor as well as the liver trans...plant team; I will know more after speaking with them.
I am concerned about his Ron's kidneys as well - they are not so great on a good day.

Currently Ron is stable.

July 28, 2015
Update: Ron is experiencing some kidney issues; let's hope they resolve with additional fluids. He's still on IV antibiotics, heparin (blood thinner), and oxygen. He is alert. If you would like to give him a call he can be reached at 404-605-1635.
July 27, 2015
Update: Ron's lung was scoped and they found no sign of a mass; there is some 'graying' in two spots - but overall - the test was normal. Not sure how long they plan to keep him - he's still on IV antibiotics - but when he does come home - they are talking about sending him home with oxygen - they've been kind of vague - not sure if he'll have the oxygen permanently. A big SHOUT OUT to Mike Miller for coming out today and fixing the alarm system.

July 26, 2015
Ron is in the hospital (Piedmont Atlanta); he has pneumonia, a blood clot in both legs, and a couple of spots in his right lung. He's scheduled for a procedure tomorrow to see what's going on in his lung. That's all the information I have at this time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Carotid Artery Surgery

After visiting the vascular surgeon (another ultrasound) - they found Ron's right carotid artery was 80% blocked.  He underwent surgery yesterday; and the doctor told us that Ron's artery was ulcerated as well as blocked.........."something would have happened".............so I'm glad to have this behind us. Ron spent the night in ICU (higher risk of stroke or heart attack after this surgery) - it was an uneventful night.  He was released this afternoon. He's sitting here relaxing; no lifting or driving for a few weeks.   So happy he's okay - like I alway say, "He's a tough old bird"!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

TIA - Mini stroke

Two weeks ago Ron had an episode while driving; he had a tingling on his left side and lost control of his left hand. After a visit to his doctor,  Ron was diagnosed with a TIA (mini stroke).  An ultrasound of his carotid artery (neck) was performed and the doctor found a (50-65%) blockage on his right side.  Ron was referred to a neurologist and a vascular surgeon; his first appointment is this Tuesday, March 11th.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Year in Review 2012

Happy New Year!

Last year was no picnic - probably more difficult than 2011 when Ron received his liver; or perhaps it's like childbirth and I have a huge case of amnesia. 
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for yet another miracle (Ron's open heart surgery in November).  We were plagued with lots of personal issues including Ron being laid off (in February) after being with the company for 28 years....and all the financial issues that come with unemployment.
Ron had issues throughout the summer and fall months - becoming light headed and sometimes passing out; he has a banged up nose to prove it.  The cause, come to find out, was an extreme prescribed dose of lopressor (7 times what he needed - TWICE a day); his blood pressure dropped everytime he stood up - and so, his lights went out!
In July we took a family vacation - which turned into 7 days of what we call, "The Gulf Shores Plaque" - a tummy bug - at least two people had it every day.  Oh, and Ron passed out while driving from low blood sugar and thank goodness for a couple of local fisherman who had a 'sugar-stash' in their truck.  We did enjoy time with the family at the beach!
September our Beau (Boxer) was diagnosed with lymphoma.
Ron was hit with depression - what can I say about that - it is what it is.
I'm having kidney issues - we are a walking medical dictionary!
I'm looking for a brighter and peaceful 2013!

Here's 2012 in review

January - Oliver's 3rd Birthday
February - Happy Birthday New Liver - 1st Birthday February 3, 2012
March - a family photo shoot at the farm
April - the unveiling - Libby and Anthony surprise us all - it's a girl
May - hanging out with Beau and Savannah
July - deep sea fishing off Gulf Shores - Ron caught the largest fish on the boat 16.5 lb Red Snapper and with the help of our son, Tony, Ron was able to land the fish
August - relaxing under the trees
September - a family picnic at Piedmont Park - Savannah inspects Papa's dog tags
October - hanging out with Oliver
November - chest pains and three blockages - Ron gives the traditional 'thumbs up' before heading into surgery
After surgery - he has his favorite heart pillow to hug during coughing spells (ouch)
December - resting and hanging out with our newest grandchild, Penelope

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Depression after bypass surgery

Ron is depressed.  He can admit it, but he really has no idea how depressed he is.  I know it's normal after bypass surgery. I'm not sure it's just the heart surgery.  When you've spent the last 4 years entangled in health issues, sometimes, I just want to say ENOUGH!  I guess I'm depressed as well.  Coming home everyday to someone who spends the day planted on the sofa in the same clothes you saw him in yesterday.........well, is depressing. I do everything for him, and he can't seem to do much of anything for himself.

Bad with the good - or good with the bad - it's all a toss up.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Home again after triple bypass surgery

Modern medicine truly is a marvel - of course - a willing body.....allows the magic to happen. 

Ron spent very little time in the ICU - overnight basically.  The bypass surgery/ICU was Thursday, Friday he was moved to a 'step-down' room, Saturday all of his IVs were removed, and he came home Sunday.  Today he's at home piddling around - made his own breakfast - pain meds = tylenol.  It's amazing.

After his liver transplant in 2011 - the bypass surgery - has been a piece of cake.  I think he's bummed about not being able to drive for 1 month.  Thank goodness we have help - our daughter, Libby, is home on maternity leave until January - so she'll take him to the hospital for appointments and blood work.

During this ordeal - his liver has been perfect - no complications!

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving - all our children and their spouses - and our 6 grandchildren will be here to celebrate.  Much to be thankful for!