Friday, January 11, 2013

Where to begin

It's been a bit crazy around here, but let's start with last Thursday's surgery.

It went better than expected. The ablation worked! I was under for about 3 hours and woke up so relieved that we didn't need to do the hysterectomy. Husband brought me home. He teased a bit because he said I looked better post-surgery than pre-surgery. I chalked that up to all the anxiety I was feeling before!

Thursday night I rested quite a bit. Friday I rested quite a bit and then muscle pain set in. I kept telling my husband I was sure I caught the flu - I mean it is a crazy flu season out there! He kept telling me it was just from surgery and besides, even if I did pick it up at the hospital, symptoms wouldn't start that soon. Saturday was more of the same, but then some areas were getting more painful - mainly my chest, the right side - where I had the expander put in in October.

So then I wondered if when I was intubated on Thursday, if somehow it could have cracked a rib (because that's what I thought it felt like even though I've never actually done that before LOL!).

Sunday things were getting worse and my temperature was slowly rising. I was so nauseous. We had post-surgical instructions to call the doctor if I hit 100.4. Then I realized I had a rash moving across my chest. And about that time, the fever hit high enough to call.

Can you see where this is going? Yep, we were sent to the ER. {And yes, this going to turn into a long rambly story. Sorry.}

The ER was packed. I believe they were on bypass when we first arrived. I was brought back pretty quickly and had some tests run quickly (or at least quickly for the ER) - a chest x-ray and a contrast c/t of my pelvis, abdomen, and chest. I cried a lot (as I tend to do when I don't feel well). Fluids were given, blood was drawn, questions were asked.

I'm not sure when but at some point someone came to talk to us. He said he was from the ICU floor and they were evaluating my case to see if I needed to be there. At that point, I felt panicked. They started talking about staph, MRSA. My head was spinning. They started IV antibiotics right away. And I? Had an allergic reaction to it. So they were stopped for the time being. We knew I was going to get admitted, but the hospital was packed and they had no room for me. At around 1am I sent my husband home. The ER was loud and with no idea when I'd get a room, it was silly for him to stay.

Monday morning at 7am, they moved me (and 5 others waiting for a room) to the Pediatric ER area. (It is not opened full-time). At 10am, they moved us all to another temporary holding area because we still didn't have rooms and the Peds ER was opening for, you know, the kids. Monday night, around 8:30 pm, I was finally moved to a room. Sepsis Cellulitis was the diagnosis. At some point another IV antibiotic was given.

When I got my room, husband came by to check on me and brought the kids. It was good to see them for sure =) At that point, things were still getting worse. They left, and the nurse came in to get me all ready. Turns out I was put on the heart floor, which at my hospital is one step down from ICU. They didn't think the infection was bad enough for ICU (thank goodness) but needed me on a highly monitored floor all the same. They were adding another antibiotic to the mix - they weren't sure what caused the infection so they were trying to cover some broad bases, plus things were still getting worse. Turns out, I'm allergic to that medicine too. It was not fun. Then I slept a lot (because of the benedryl to combat the reaction! That stuff knocks me right out!).

Tuesday later in the day, we started two new antibiotics (that thankfully I was NOT allergic too). Things become a blur at this point, because the news medicine really made me very tired and I spent a lot of time sleeping.

Now, during all this time, I was physically being monitored by 3 doctors: my plastic surgeon (because it was where the expander in October was put in), a hospital doctor (because my primary care does not have privileges at the hospital I was in), and an infectious disease doctor because of how the infection presented and my history. For the first few days, my gynecologist was also monitoring me because I had just had surgery (though we realized pretty quickly that it was unrelated).

At one point, there was a possibility the expander was going to have to be surgically removed. Again. I was swabbed and tested for a lot of things (thankfully Staph and mrsa were negative). For a short amount of time, I'd get better, then get worse again, then better, then worse.

What we can guess: this is probably the same infection I had December 2011 that required emergency surgery to remove the expander. Back then, though, we didn't test it because I had just finished radiation.

What we can guess: I may deal with this again. If it keeps recurring, I may have to have any implant in removed. Permanently. These are all maybes though. I'm trying not to go there.

What we do know: that although it wasn't connected to last week's surgery, the timing was a good thing. We went to the ER right away. The longer we had waited to get treatment, the harder it would have been to treat. So I'm lucky that it happened when it did.

Where do we go from here: I will be on antibiotics now for at least 4 weeks, probably 6 weeks. All fills for my expander are stopped for the time being. We won't even start them up until I am off antibiotics and I look 100% clear with no doubts and the skin looks healthy. During that time I will see the plastic surgeon weekly as he needs to really watch this. I have to follow up with the infectious disease doctor. Right now I have one appointment with them, I was told I'd probably have to have a few more, but they'd determine that when they see me. I have to visit my primary care. I need to also follow up with the oncologist (who was kept in the loop during all of this, but not actually a care-taker for me).

If at any point EVER (doc said two days, two years) the redness OR the pain OR the fever (well, okay not fever alone after I'm out of the clear from this go around) I need to contact a doctor ASAP and be evaluated to see if the infection is coming back. Especially, for the short term.

PHEW. I think that's everything. Except, I'm thrilled to be home. Surrounded by my family. I still have some healing to do and I won't take that lightly. The last thing I want to do is go back to the hospital. I just got used to not having to drag an IV pole into the bathroom with me ;-)

And if you made it this far, bless you!


  1. Girl..... I do believe Fate should be done messing with you by now.I am so sorry that this isn't going smoothly for you. Wish I could offer more help than just those words. Hope you're feeling better this morning...

  2. SO glad you're home and with the family. And, of course, well enough to write.

  3. OH my! Holy smokes!

    I don't know if you know this or not - but is it common for expanders to become infected? Yours is the 2nd blog I've read about it...

    So glad it wasn't MRSA. I get that on occasion.

  4. Jessie6:06 AM

    Prayers, prayers, prayers! I'm so glad you are home and well enough to update the blog. :) Blessings today and every day.

  5. Wow, I saw your story and had to stop and respond. I'm sorry to hear about the terrible ordeal you went through. My nephew had a terribly resistant case of staph, and if it wasn't for the work of Microbiologist, Michelle Moore, I really don't know that he would be here, let alone playing hockey again for the WHL. I highly recommend people who have had MRSA write down this resource address, as she has been a God-send for our family. MRSA, as you know, can come back... hopefully not, but here's the info just in case!! God bless!! May your healing be full and complete!

  6. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Hang in there Brandie - and may 2013 only improve from here! xo, Chris in San Diego


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)