Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maggie Jochild Sunday Weekend Update

Subscriptions & Donations Absolutely Still Needed

Maggie is doing really well, even better than yesterday.

I have a full report from both the morning, swing, and overnight shifts for Saturday/Sunday morning. Just took the Sunday morning report minutes ago at 5:10 am CT/3:10 am PT. (I'm on PT out here in Seattle.) As of right now, all of Maggie's vital's are fine. Her oxygen is 96% (compared to 92% a day ago.) Her BUN and Creat are also fine. She's peeing (which she wasn't a day ago, or only barely) at about 30ml's an hour v. input of 150ml's IV fluids.

Maggie was VERY dehydrated when she came in. Folks -- including myself -- were perhaps a touch slow in figuring that out, only getting clear about it yesterday in ICU Stepdown. Makes sense however, as her damn bowels were all caught up and strangulated off in the hernias. So no matter what she poured in, only some fraction of it was able to get through to her body, resulting in dehydration. As I said, she'd lost 87 pounds. That should have rung loud bells for all of us but didn't. We were all busy thinking about the surgery and her vitals were inside normal limits. Well, it caught up with us yesterday. NOT to say that her vitals are off; they are not. However she's taking in 150ml of IV fluids an hour and didn't start peeing till swing shift Saturday which is when they increased her to 150ml/hr from where they had her. Before then not only was her input less, but the lack of pee was perhaps justified due to anesthesia. Afterward everyone -- and by everyone I mean the internal medicine/ICU doctor -- woke up and figured out the dehydration, upped her fluid input, and "poof", till she started getting above 30ml/hr which is "acceptable" output. Which means her kidneys are working okay, which is always one of the first big steps after any surgery and for sure after major surgery such as this where the bowel and everything in the abdomen was involved.

Maggie is getting unlimited ice chips for comfort (as the inside of her mouth is still very dehydrated) and will be till she can start drinking. She won't be allowed to drink till the NG tube comes out, and that isn't going to happen till her bowel opens up which hasn't happened yet at all, not even passing any gas. This is normal after surgical shock. I remember after my recent colonoscopy where my colon was completely clean ('cause of all the cleansing stuff I had to drink prior to the procedure) my colon was quiet for at least 24 hours and perhaps as much as two to three days before starting to come back towards normal. And that was after something simple, just a fiber-optic scoping of the bowel, not something where the entire abdominal cavity was opened and the bowel was actual run through the surgeon's fingers and inspected, repaired as needed, and packed back in place with mesh to hold everything where he put it. *smiles* Point being, anyone's bowel would likely be quiet for a few days after such treatment and this is to be expected. I expect to start hearing some bowel action within the next 48 hours.

The abdominal drain is almost done now, very little still coming out and no signs of infection. Her lungs are absolutely clear. She's been sleeping both when I called in during swing shift and on the over-night, which is really super good. The more sleep the better.

The nurses are quite content with her progress and are not worried about anything.

Last on the medical report, Saturday day her GYN/Oncology doctor (whom Maggie used to work for many years ago) came in. He was in the surgery and said, after making crystal clear that it's the biopsy that matters and everything he's saying here ultimately doesn't matter worth a damn if the biopsy comes back with different results. That said however, he reports that during surgery Maggie's uterus and ovaries looked and felt absolutely unremarkable. And, again he emphasized, while that is all good and wonderful, we don't know anything till we have the biopsy results.

My point of view: I agree with him completely about the biopsy ruling everything. That said, in my experience with someone with Maggie's history of LACK of medical care, I suspect we'd have seen gross abnormalities if she had cancer. I guess it's possible she could be just getting cancer but I find it unlikely she could a) get cancer, b) get this abdominal problem and have it get so bad she has to have emergency surgery, and c) both at once while the cancer is not able to be detected visually or by touch in any way. I mean, I guess it could happen. Just don't think it's statistically at all likely. And of course, we'll wait for the biopsy results because as the doc says, the biopsy results truly are everything.

Thus ends the medical report. Shorter me: she's doing great. Really and truly great, and progressing very very well. How she is doing greatly exceeds my wildest expectations for her post-operative course to date. I keep adjusting my expectations upward and she keeps exceeding them. She's doing GREAT.

(Stories to follow. Good ones.)

Financially however she is not yet doing great. Let me be really blunt. She's going to be out of work at least a month, maybe six to eight weeks as she recovers. Yes, we've received some donations, even some very generous donations and both Maggie and I appreciate them more than I can say. However it's not going to be enough. Maggie is going to run out of money two weeks from now, three if she's very lucky. We need to raise thousands and thousands of dollars at least.

We're working to see about Federal aid, but even if we manage it -- which is NOT at all a sure thing -- it will take a while, and it isn't so much for financial aid as I understand it, but to get her a Medicaid card so she can have Health Insurance.

Bottom line: Maggie needs people to subscribe, to make monthly commitments of $200, $100, or $50. If you can't make a monthly commitment then please donate as much as you can afford even if it stretches you. It'll be good for your soul. *smiles* Really, it will be. Do unto others; helping the sick and poor; every spiritual discipline and religion says to take care of the sick, the poor, and has a version of the Golden Rule. And this is Maggie. She needs YOUR help. I don't care if it's $5, $50, or $500. I want everyone to donate something. It's for Maggie. Seriously.

Maggie's in the Step-down ICU with at least five tubes in her. (She's been calling herself "Tube-Girl".) Maggie will be out for at least 4-6 weeks. Like most working poor she has zero reserves. More accurately, WE are her reserves. PLEASE subscribe to Maggie's Ongoing Well-Being (or at least Donate generously.)

Someone asked in comments if they could have Maggie's hospital info so they could send cash. Um, no, sorry. I spoke with Maggie about that specifically today -- she sends you her love and thanks you for your offer. To send Maggie cash please send a Check or Money Order made payable to Group News Blog, to Group News Blog, PO Box 809, Bellevue, WA 98009. In the MEMO field write: Maggie Jochild. Please do NOT make it out to Maggie. She has no way to get to the bank and, for now at least, we're not set up for items made payable directly to Maggie. Stuff for GNB we can transfer via PayPal to Maggie in moments, and then transfer directly to her bank account. (The ideal method is PayPal donation direct to Maggie but whatever works for y'all.) At the moment we're assuming ALL donations to GNB are for Maggie (so even if someone forgets to fill in the memo field it'll still get transferred to her PayPal account.)

Okay, story time and some stuff Maggie asked me to pass on.

First, I've now read to Maggie every post and every comment (through Saturday am) posted at Meta, GNB, and DTWOF. Maggie asked me to tell you very specifically how much she appreciates your comments, she loves you all -- she's talking to you, yes you -- and that she IS hearing what you have to say. From me: she loves, loves, loves hearing from you. It is the highlight of her day. Even if you've already commented two or three times, don't hesitate to comment and to comment multiple times, to leave LONG comments telling how your day is going and what's happening. Talk as if you were sending her an email or writing to her. I will read them to her (depending on how she's doing.) I assure you that y'all are an enormous part of what is having her recover so fast. So comment, comment, comment away.

The night Maggie went into the hospital before she called me (moments before she called 911) she wasn't sure what to do. The pain'd been getting worse and worse for days but, well, she'd been through pain SO many times before and it'd always, eventually, gotten better. This pain however just kept getting worse. The question was, was it bad enough? She didn't know. So we're clear, we're talking pain so bad most people'd call it torture. Or'd be screaming. Or'd be unconscious already 'cause their body simply knocked them out. Maggie on the other hand, was debating if the pain was bad enough to go to the hospital.

THIS is what not having health insurance does to people. Both Maggie and I agree that if she'd had health insurance, if there was health insurance available for her, she'd have been seen and treated eight months ago and none of this would have happened. But I digress.

So there Maggie is last Wednesday night, in pain so brutal that she, a woman who routinely lives with pain so intense it sends her to bed for days, is now, finally, after days of unremitting and ever-increasing pain, is finally considering calling for help.

She does ask for help. She prays.

Maggie prayed and asked her Mamma -- Mary Jo Atkins Barnett (1927-1984) -- "Mamma, what should I do?"

"Instantly", Maggie told me, "instantly, the pain became intense, so intense there was no question at all, none."

"Mamma, you didn't need to shout."

Maggie picked up the phone, called me, called 911, left two weeks food and water for Dinah. Time for a hospital trip.


Two hours later I was talking with her in the hospital; she was telling me how polite and wonderful the paramedics were with her. Go Austin medics go! (I used to be a paramedic in Houston. Back in 1980. Scary damn place to medic.)

For those of you wondering, no, Maggie hasn't written any poetry that I know of since the operation, however contrary to all appearances, I don't always know. I heard her demanding a notebook -- which had gotten misplaced during the migration from her on-Ward bed pre-surgery to her ICU-Stepdown bed and where was her notebook?! Eventually someone brought her a couple of pieces of paper and promptly stuck her ice-chip glass full of slushy water and ice-chips six-inches up above her eyes on a tray over her. She found that completely unacceptable and was not a happy camper at all. All this yesterday in the hours immediately post-op when she was just getting settled in.

Maggie loves the nurses and they adore her. That said, it's worth one's life (or at least health) to tear one out on the nurses in a hospital. They literally hold your life in their hands. (Maggie has my permission to use me whenever she needs to dump an emotional upset.) Making friends with the nurses, telling them how wonderful they are, being genuinely blown-away by who they are... all these are obvious survival strategies (for someone who needs strategy.) For both Maggie and myself -- I say this for future Googlers -- it is plain and simply the truth. We (myself as a former medic) and at the moment, she as a patient, are simply blown away by whom Nurses are. They rock; they roll. They rule hospitals. Doctors breeze in and breeze out and yeah, they work their asses off in a different way. But it's nurses working double shifts while also raising three kids as single parents and supporting the Union and advocating for patient care and trying to get a special program off the ground for this, that, or the other thing. Nurses were two of the four instructors in my paramedic program and ran ALL the critical classes. They are amazing human beings and great people to have in your corner.

So I don't know if Maggie's writing at all. Don't think so. Don't think she has a notebook. She does love her nurses though.

There's this one nurse on the night shift, both Friday and Saturday night. (Night shift goes from 11pm - 7am.) The woman is in her late twenties, early thirties, part Cherokee and all East Texas with this beautiful lilting Texas twang in her voice. She keeps calling Maggie "Baby Doll" and "Baby Girl". Maggie LOVES it; cracks her UP. Every time I talk with either this nurse or Maggie now I'm dropping into my own southern accent from the seven years I lived in the South. Cracks me up also. 


We be having a GOOD time.

That's it for now. We do need your subscriptions/donations to Maggie's financial well-being, really and truly we do.

That said, Maggie's good. Her health is on track. The nurses are great and cracking Maggie up. We be having a GOOD time.

*hugs* to all and please COMMENT, comment, comment for Maggie.

Thanks, y'all.
Cross-posted at Meta Watershed and Group News Blog.