Rick's IV continued to drip his only source of nutrition at a quick pace. It also pumped him full of different antibiotics and his pain meds. After around 60 hours without anything by mouth he was allowed to have his first drink. The doctor decided that after the retching had finally stopped, Rick was safe to try a liquid diet. The first thing he had besides a sip a water was a purple popsicle. His liquid meals consisted of either chicken broth or beef broth, tea, juice, and jello. The jello wasn't really jello, it was a "gel treat" that was pretty gross, so that was never really eaten. When every thing was all done Rick had a total of 4 different IV's placed. Unfortunately it was never easy to place those IV's because of how sick he was. Every IV took at least 3 different tries to get a vein that would work. And then every morning at around 5 AM someone from the lab would come in and draw blood. I lost count of how many times he was poked with a needle but it was seriously around 25 times. One of the IV sites caused phlebitis; his arm was really red and hot. The nurse even got a pen and made a line around the redness to mark it so she could keep an eye on it. Rick's arms are bruised from all the abuse they took in those 6 1/2 days.
The bloodwork results were something that we looked forward to hearing about every morning. We were surprised when, at first, the bloodwork got worse. I think I mentioned that at one point his lipase, which measures pancreas function, was at 5,600. Normal is 78. His bilirubin jumped up to 4.7 at one point as well and his eyes were more yellow than I had ever seen them. But now his bilirubin is normal for the first time in more than a year and his eyes are actually white. I don't know if the ERCP cleaned something out, or if the liquid diet and all the fluids flushed out the liver. Either way, for the moment he is no longer jaundice or itching.
We were really hoping to be home during the weekend sometime but Rick had a minor setback. After a couple days of liquid diet, and several short walks in the hallways of the seventh floor, Rick still wasn't feeling good. He was continuing to run fevers and his entire body would start shaking. So much so that it would shake the entire bed. He spent almost all of sunday asleep again. He had to be given anti nausea meds again too.
Thankfully all that sleeping seemed to really help and by monday morning he was finally feeling better. The doctor decided to start him on a very light diet of real food. His first real meal was a half of a turkey sandwich. When that seemed to work out he was finally unplugged from the IV fluids and started on oral medications. We continued to take walks around the hall and it was nice to see him finally making progress.
The girls came to the hospital a couple of times to visit with Daddy. On monday night Megan ate the dreaded "jello" while Rick ate his dinner of turkey and mashed potatoes. The girls were really worried about Rick and whenever Megan would get upset she would cry and say "my daddy's in the hospital." Samantha was pretty emotional about the whole thing too. But it was good for them to see him, and it was good for us as well.
Tuesday morning was a good morning. Rick was feeling better and was ready to go home. We got the okay from the doctor and immediately started packing the bags. Rick was given instructions on what to eat at home for the next week and prescriptions to finish up the antibiotics.
At 2:30 I went to get the car and waited at the front doors of the hospital for my hubby to be wheeled out to freedom. It was nice to finally bring him home. And even nicer to sleep in our own bed that night.
It has been a challenge to figure out what to feed him. He is on a low fat diet and I am obviously not a low fat type of girl. But so far it has worked out fine. However Rick has lost 10 pounds. I brought him some oral supplement drinks home from work yesterday. I need to try to beef him up before he goes in for surgery on tuesday. Yes you heard that right, he is still having surgery on tuesday.
I think that I have pretty much summed up our hospital experience. Rick remembers some of it, but not all of it. I, however, remember all of it. And the experience will not easily be forgotten. I realized I can handle more than I thought I could. But I would like to not have to pass that test again any time soon. I am more in love with my hubby than I ever thought possible. He is so strong and amazes me with his ability to fight everything that is handed to him. I will always remember stroking his hair and willing him to be okay. I will always remember the morning I went home and cried the entire way there; begging God to make him better. And even though it seems like I was strong, I felt so very weak. But I would do it again, I would do anything for that man.