While this blog is dedicated to health, fitness and nutrition, a lot of people have been asking about my grandfather so I thought I would take the time to explain what is going on. We also have a blog type thing at www.caringbridge.org/visit/wendellhuggins but it is hard to follow if you haven't started from the beginning.
My grandfather has a history of diabetes and back in 2005, he had a kidney transplant. I'm not sure how much you know about any kind of transplant, but the danger is that your body can recognize this as a foreign object and attack it. Most transplant patients have to take anti-rejection medicine to lower the immune system and keep it from attacking itself. Because of that medicine, granddaddy is very susceptible to disease and infection. Every year, he gets a cold and this year was no different. The only issue is that it wouldn't go away and he had a terrible cough. The doctor prescribed him cough medication which included codeine, a powerful drug, a narcotic. He passed out in church one Sunday and we don't really know why. Me loving to diagnose a situation, I believe that the combination of him being sick, the ambien he takes at night and the cough medicine from early in the morning is what caused his blood pressure to drop and he passed out. He was taken to the emergency room where they ran tests and kept him overnight. During that time, his atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) came back and they wanted to observe him. This is something he's suffered with in the past and I'm assuming is a reaction to being sick and in the hospital. He went home early that week feeling like we had everything taken care of. He then got a bad stomach virus that kept him in bed for several days.
After the stomach bug, everything went down hill and knowing what we do now, it all makes sense. He complained about extreme back pain, his walking was limited and he was very weak. He went to the doctor several times trying to figure out the issues. He has always suffered from pain in sciatic nerve, something my aunt and I both suffer with as well. The doctor, knowing that history, assumed that his back was a result of being in bed too long. She felt that the lack of movement maybe had cause his muscles to atrophy or the the nerve was irritated, whatever it was, she didn't feel it necessary to do anything more than prescribe physical therapy. What we've all come to believe is that the infection that he got (we think from the hospital - GHS) had started to settle in his back. The hospitalist at St Francis said that when you get an infection in the blood, it will attack a weak or abnormal part of your body. Granddaddy has always had back problems, probably from a wreck he had earlier in his life. The doctor believes that the infection settled in his back and spread from there. Fast forward two weeks and he starts running a fever. His sodium drops and mom has EMS come get him from his house.
First diagnosis: He has an infection in his blood... we don't know where so we're going to take 4 blood cultures and it will take 48-72 hours to determine where
Second Diagnosis: Doctor confirms what my aunt Michelle, mom and I have already determined, the infection in his back. To be specific, the infection starts the last vertabrae in his thoracic spine and is all the way down the lumbar portion of his spinal column. It's not in his spine, it's in the spinal column - a bone infection. Other fear, it has settled in his heart.
New Issue: Granddaddy's speech is severly slurred, which we thought was a result of the medication. I, being the nosey person I am, happened to look at the nurses chart (it was open and easily accessible :)) and it said stroke under his record. I'm not sure why no one felt they should tell us before, but I'm just focused on finding out if he really did have one, which he did. This explained slurred speech and him being on coherent. He has to get an MRI which he HATES so they give him dilaudid and atavan, both powerful drugs. It's hard to determine if the stroke is causing some of the issues or if it's the medicine
Now: We diagnose the spinal infection, we diagnose the stroke, we diagnose that he does have an infection in heart but it isn't as severe as it could be... take blood cultures and the infection is not growing so that means he is responding to the antibiotics... Yay!!
New issue #2: His atrial fibrilation is back and it's really bad. His heartbeat is getting to 175 which is not good.. he's transfered to the ICU floor (3rd floor) and is given a Cardizem drip. That's where he currently is. His a fib is still bad, but not as bad. The cardizem is keeping the irregularity between 80-130. His blood pressure is severely low, probably a response to the cardizem, but if the top number drops below 90, we're supposed to let them know.
My aunt Michelle comes for a week at a time and we all try to rotate when she's not here. I have stayed twice, mom has stayed twice, cean has stayed once and allen has stayed once. Brendon has stayed once or twice, I think as well. Grandma is there all day long and we all switch at night.
We're hoping that we can get the a fib under control, and then he'll be transfered to the 4th floor where he will continue to recieve IV antibiotics for 5 weeks. He'll also have to get physical therapy and work with a speech therapist although his speech is doing great. The drugs were affecting him more than the stroke so it all seems positive on that front.