Week 2

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Recovery included steps forward and back. She was getting upgraded, but had a stroke. Talking better, seeing worse.
Recovery included steps forward and back. She was getting upgraded... but had a stroke (on top of the Anoxic brain injury). She was slowly talking better... but her vision was worse, and having halicinations (that we were figuring out). She would go one-track on any pain, later on was better able to cope and interact.
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Created: 2023-03-13 

2023-02-25 to 03-03 - Steps forward and back. Upgraded, but had a stroke. Talking better, seeing worse.

  • The Second week was a lot of milestones and steps forward
  1. You could talk to her at times, but the TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) meant she could kind of focus on only one thing at a time. So if she was in pain, that's all she could talk about. Completely reasonable one minute, almost angry toddler the next. (and she was having neuropathy).
  2. They took her off a big nose vent, to a little oxygen tube, then nothing, and upgraded her out of the CCU to a regular room.
  3. Her memory was now lasting over a day (or two).
  4. Her limb control was hit and miss. She'd say she couldn't move it, then would. (Especially when she wasn't paying attention).
  5. I was getting more freaked out about her vision. Like her limb control, sometimes she could see you, sometimes she couldn't. And it was hard to figure out if she could see at all. (She would track, then wouldn't).
  6. There were also halucinations (which at first we thought she was talking of dreams, before we realized she meant she could see it "right now"). She was saying things like how big the space she was in, but we thought that was part of the stroke or TBI to be spacially disoriented -- turned out it was halucination. She literally thought she was in a mall or parking structure.
  7. Her speech was started one word at a time, and it started slow (and she'd drop off last sylable) -- and if she missed something, she'd start over completely. Then she started getting better, but over-annunciating everything to compensate. Later on, it turned to complete sentences and a little mumbly but intelligible and in her voice.
  8. Her friends were visiting (Mandy, Carrie, etc) and she was sometimes was very good with them. But if she was in pain (often), she went back into inconsolable mode.
  9. Then by late in the week they moved her from Cardiology to Neurology. Figured out that she's had a stroke (as well as the Anoxic Brain Injury) -- did a brain angeogram (it was way to low to get it with grabbers, and too late to try tPA). But conversations were much more fluid by then.

Journal[edit | edit source]

Day 8[edit source]

           Main article: 2023 Heart Attack/Day 8

2023-02-25 (Saturday) - Mary took over. Not a good day, but some progress.

Melissa woke up pissed!
  1. Melissa's Mom came in and first things she said was, "Mom, I'm pissed" -- she wanted water (or Ice chips), and they wouldn't give her any.
  2. She said, "I screamed all night and nobody came". Technically, the nurse said she asked a few times. She's also was asking things like "when" something would happen. That's a positive as it means she's getting her memory permanence and perceptive awareness back. (Understanding time, and remembering she wasn't getting what she wanted). Good step.
  3. The reason they wouldn't give her fluids is because they might want to do the Brain and/or Chest MRI (no fluids before that), and she has to pass the swallow test by the speech pathologist, to make sure she won't asperate (breath in) water. And if she does, she has to have the strength/lung capacity to get it out. (Or it leads to infection/pneumonia). But they keep kicking out the MRI, as her communications are often weak, and won't sign off because of weak cough.
  4. The bad thing is her brain doesn't have a lot of emotion control in this agitated state; Maslow's Heirarchy, she wants water (even if she has enough IV fluids), and without it, communication is hard. Her cough is getting stronger, and they will eventually do the fucking MRI we've waited a couple days on. But until they do, more bennevolent torture, and the harder it is to interact with Melissa.
  5. As Mary left for the day, Melissa said, "Diet Pepsi?"... if she couldn't have water, how about her favorite. Deliciously sneaky. The nurse was unimpressed with the request.
  1. The speech pathologist came the day before, and was thinking about doing it. But M was having a bad day -- and with the noise sensitivity, an MRI wasn't going to work. She was also fairly weak/distracted during the day. But she was gobbling Ice like a baby bird. I'd give her a chip and chomp-chomp swallow, and mouth back open. Her throat is still sore, and she's thirsty, even if she's getting enough fuilds.
  2. One of the hardest things is watching the bennevolent torture that's part of the healing process; "All I wanted was a Pepsi". A few hours of torture isn't worth the risk of breaking protocol, so you have to watch them suffer. And you have to suffer watching them. Then Hospital Beauracracy drags out a day of pain, into two.
Melissa got off the bigger NIV vent
They moved her to an Oxygen tube, on a pretty low setting (like 75 mL/min), from this humidifier style larger diameter nose-breather.
  1. They were originally going to put her on a BIPAP when she got the vent tube out, but she was doing well enough, that they moved her down to a more non-invasive type; instead of a mask, it's just a big nose tube with continuous, warmed, humidifed airflow. But it's hot, annoying and she kept trying to blow her nose.
  2. They moved her to an Oxygen tube, on a pretty low setting (like 75 mL/min).
  3. Her coughing got stronger, she blew her nose, this is a quality of life improvement, and a step forward.
Her friend Mandy came by to visit.
  • Mandy told Melissa she was going to take a picture of her braids, and Melissa went full ham-mode.
  • Then Melissa also said, "share with Carrie" (a friend that does her hair). That's a wonderfully complex association that she gets hair + Carrie + friend.
  • But today was also tough for Mandy, as my Thurs report (which was a good day) over-raised expectations -- and when Melissa is in pain (aka thristy), she regresses to needing that fixed before less important communication.
  • Mandy washed Melissa's face with a warm washcloth, and Melissa loved that. (So kind and appreciated). And Mandy caught Melissa sucking on the corner of the washcloth (moisture). So sneaky. So Melissa.
So we are not yet sure what we're going to get. And once you fix one item, it's possible something else might bug her. (We just don't know yet). There's not enough data points. What we do know is that a week ago she had a heart attack and was put in a Medical Coma. Today she is out, and sometimes acting like a weak/confused friend/partner we know... and sometimes acting like a confused child that has needs that aren't getting met.
  • Can't see? Last week she was doing this thing, where she'd go I can't move my arm. And I'd say, "yes you can" and she'd move it a little. Then when she wasn't paying attention, she'd move it just fine. She does that with vision a bit. "I can't see"... then a little while later, she's looking at you, asking you not to leave, or commenting on something she can see. Don't google various forms of blindness and read that it can come on days or a week+ after an Oxygen depriving event, more things to worry about. Goody!

Day 9[edit source]

           Main article: 2023 Heart Attack/Day 9

2023-02-26 (Sunday) - Upgraded, Visits, and a really good day.

  • Upgraded! They moved Melissa from Watler Tower ICU (CCU Room 1019) to Dunn Tower (Room 918): just a regular floor/room with a specialty in Cardiac Care. I conversed and thanked the Nurse, did a retrospective and the Nurse was impressed with the rate of recovery - but that she mumbles to herself when nobody is around. Yeah, she does that at home. And she sleeps with her arm over her head (I call it the faint princess). And she's extremely focused on getting water.
  • Speech Pathology We've been waiting for days on Speech Pathology sign offs. I spoke with Melissa on the phone before coming down and she said, "Bring me Diet Pepsi, a BIG one!" She got sign off for Ice Chips, and was doing so well, they let her have water at the end of the day, and she took a massive gulp (no sipping) and was like, "Ahhh, so good on my throat". Then they OK'd her to try Apple Sauce, and that went well. I might be able to give her that Diet Pepsi in the next day or so.
  • Bed pan Thurs she said, "poop". And wanted me to get her up to use the restroom. Wishful thinking on her part. The feeding tube food and drugs make pooping a non-optional and very fluid activity. I teased her that it wasn't the 3rd Tuesday of the month and she giggled. (She's not a frequent pooper like her husband). The nurses lied and said she had a bed pan to get her to use the pad. Then I teased her it smelled like bad french fries (vegetarian diet). There's nothing vaguely resembling dignity in a hospital. Today, there was no more of that fake-a-roo. "Bed pan" wasn't taking "pad" as an option. So the nurses caved. Later she was trying to guilt her Mom into helping her walk to the bathroom. (She's nowhere near that strength yet. But with her attitude, it might not be that far away). And I expect I'm going to get some shit for telling her private poop stories.
Chatty Kathy (Melissa).
She has extremely low mobility/strength, can't get confortable, speech is slow, mumbles and she has problems enunciating, and if she makes a mistake she starts the entire sentence over instead of word... but her brain is way ahead of her mouth and body. We had such good conversations today. She still forgets a few things, but short term memory is improving. (Click to open see more of the conversations we had today).
  • She’s mad because she can’t enunciate (her word), "I fucking can’t move or talk… my body is betraying me. I have trouble e-none-see-ate-ing"... "Fuck" is the one one of the clearest words that she says with force -- and it's a placeholder between word lookups.
  • When I was trying to help guess the sentence she told me to shuttup, and said, "I can only do one thought at a time".
  • I was telling her about the friends who've asked about her, and she said, “we have such good friends… after a heart attack you know who your friends are”.
  • Melissa asked Mandy about her Daughter's coming baby by name, and when Mandy was going out to go out to help. I don't remember the name, and I just heard it yesterday.
  • I told her the laundry fairy didn’t come and I’m down to gun and snarky T-shirts for the hospital… and she replied, “are you learning how much I do for you?”... I always knew baby.
  • When I mentioned that Zen (our cat) was waiting for her at the door, she asked "are you giving her any wet food?" (Yes). Did I clean up the cat box. (Eventually). I told her it was work chiseling the giant pee ball apart (clumping litter), and she laughed.
  • I told her I put too much water in her plant and it ran out all over the floor… and she said, "take it outside, but keep it in the shade".
  • The nurse was giving her a little blood thinner shot in her belly fat, and Melissa didn't hear what she said. I replied louder, “the nurse said what I tell you, 'brace yourself honey, you’re about to feel a little prick'. The nurse walked away laughing and Melissa said to her, ”that's his favorite joke”.
  • Her fiend Mandy was just soothing her with a washcloth... and Melissa says, "I can't wait to get better so we can go out day drinking! Margaritas!"
  • Her gradeschool friend Gina is doing relaying to her Saint Columban's Catholic School network, and they laughed at the Catholic Grade School swearing -- or that if you've gone through what she has, you earned some salty language.
Mandy and Theresa visited
  • Mary (Melissa's) Mom and I are kinda furniture, but Mandy visited and did things like run a pen through her hair or a wet washcloth across Melissa's face, and put a heart on the spot where Melissa usually stands in workout class; the love and appreciation came out.
  • Theresa (running partner) came and brought stories about how her running group ran the Rodeo Run yesteday in her honor (and had M's picture on their bibs), and brought her an honorary Medal. That scored points. And I loved that Theresa said, "It's a medal that's also a belt buckle" and Melissa replied, "Like last year".
  • Theresa also brought dry shampoo, washed Melissa's hair, and changed Melissa from box braid to a looser double french braid -- and made her happy. Melissa was fuzzy on some deatils about Theresa (and forgetting), but they were more running partners than "friends", but they're friends now! She didn't want me to show the pictures. So if you click you can see them.
Laundry fairy
I went to get dressed and realized the Laundry Fairy hadn't come in a while. Missing last weekends chores (like laundry) means I'm getting towards the 2nd and 3rd tier clothing, like Gun or Snarky T-Shirts for the Hospital. I'm not quite as much of a pig as that sounds. Normally our routine is she says, "Laundry" and I sort my junk, strip the bed, put it in piles, and she re-orders it according to her specifications, and then starts a load. If I'm home (and she's doing errands/etc), she gets notifications on her phone and says, "Change Loads", tells me which load (and settings), and I do it. Then I fold things wrong, and put them away in the wrong place. Without the trigger, it just didn't dawn on me that the clothes aren't going to wash themselves.
I'd need a Ph.D. on foldology. I normally fail with things like:
  • "You mixed the pink running T-shirts with the pink workout T-shirts and those have their own places.
  • "I roll the running shirts, but cross fold the work out shirts because the former has more long sleeves."
  • "The good bra's go here, and the comfy bras go over there." - Like I can distinguish.

Day 10[edit source]

           Main article: 2023 Heart Attack/Day 10
2023-02-27 (Monday) Word of the day, "Horrendous", progressing in everything. Except comfort. Started cranky and unfocussed, but got better as the day progressed.
  • Horrendous Yesterday's word of the day was "Fuck". Today's is "Horrendous". She started with, "Mom, I want to go home" and basically, "Help me up, I'm outta here". Yeah, not so much... we still got a road to recovery. But Melissa is not a fan of Hospitals and loves her routines at home -- so she knows she wants out. Thus a lot of things today have been horrendous. And for the daily scatalogical report, she kicks friends out when she has to crap. So a little dignity/modesty is returning.
  • MRI Today they finally scheduled the Head-MRI, and they promise soon. In Hospital time that's somewhere between 30 minutes, and 2 more days. We've been talking about this since Monday of the prior week. There's also a chest MRI (with contrast) that they want to do. The barrier for the latter is higher because of protocol requiring feedback on whether her pacemaker is getting hot... and they didn't get to it.
  • Rebecca Her neighbor-friend Running-Rebecca is visiting. I get Running-Rebecca confused in email/texts with Heart-Rebecca due to the name conflict; though I certainly know the difference in person. Unfortunately, when Melissa gets flumoxed she isn't very communicative. Yesterday was a good day. Today took longer, and Rebecca didn't get too much interaction. But she brought all these cards and a painting to share with her, and Melissa seemed to apreciate in the micro (moment) and definitely will in the macro (long term).
  • Carrie Her neighbor-workout-girl-power-friend (and haircutter) Carrie is visiting and brought her a Pink Soft Blanket. But same issue, just as Melissa got a little more comfortable and some wit and appreciation came out -- they took her away for the Swallow test.
  • Swallow test Yesterday she was approved some water through a straw and Apple Sauce. Today they gave her a modified barrium test to make sure thick liquid goes down the correct pipe (and she could cough it out if it didn't). She passed, which is good because she's been drinking all day (and yesterday). But another step on taking out the feeding tube. A less wise man might make a joke about wives and the expected results of a swallow test... but if he did, the word "Horrendous" might be applicable.
  • Mom Tests
  1. Mary (Mom) was doing some memory exercises -- and Melissa seemed to remember the day-month-day of everyone in the family, and was exceeding Mary on a lot of it. She loves family, people and small considerations (like cards).
  2. She may have forgotten some of her own history, or just wanted to refresh it, as she asked to review all her surgeries -- and begged for no more surgeries. (I wonder why?). Fortunately, the only thing they are thinking of at this point (most likely) might be a pacemaker upgrade and maybe an ablation. Or "procedures"; both of those they keep you mostly awake for.
  3. And she'd occasionally revert to youth and begging to just go home. She loves her life. And I can't wait for her to get it all back.
  • Vickie and Richard A little later visit from Vick and Rich. Mary tagged out at 6:30pm, and they took over. Melissa's memory is about a day. I wasn't there today, so she probably thinks I haven't been there and is wondering where I am, and her Mom and others evading the question doesn't help. So she was grilling Vickie. I'd just tell her the truth, I worked today, and will be there tomorrow. (I'm going to catch some flack for that). Beyond that, much of her frustration comes from her mind working faster than her mouth. But Vickie cracked Melissa up. She wanted Rich to pick her up (and probably obscond that prison). She said she wanted to clean the house. And she meant it.
  • Other They are going to start Physical and Occupational therapy tommorrow. (In Hospital time). And I was asking them for permission to get her Diet Pepsi (and said it would be a good carrot). But Melissa has been through this before, is a fighter, and will do the work. Especially if she knows it is the path to getting out. I dealt with someone asking about in-hospital or dedicated facility care, etc. I mentioned that if insurance won't cover, let me check on secondary resources. But it didn't sound like this was coming in the next few days.
  • Timeout I went to a local pub for lunch, and had Meatloaf (food, not singer) and a homeopathic beer for lunch (Michelob Ultra). I didn't want to, but I gave up temperance for Lent. While Melissa's Mom is here, I'm trying to do every other day for a few days, to get a little work-work done (I did a few meetings), recoup sanity from last week. I also call multiple times with the nurses and other logistics. I love seeing her, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Day 11[edit source]

           Main article: 2023 Heart Attack/Day 11
2023-02-28 (Tuesday) She starts the day uncomfortable. She's used to movement, and frustrated.
  • Diet Cola We were able to give her some Diet RC Cola. And her first words were, "Ew, that's generic"... all she wanted was a Pepsi. Later I smuggled her in a Diet Coke (they didn't have Pepsi), she thought that tasted like generic too. So it might be her taste buds are a little outta whack.
  • Food Since she was on the path to eating food, she said "Food".
    I replied with my usual, "Where do you want to eat?"...
    and got her usual, "I don't know"...
    so I quipped, "Jersey Mike's?" An inside joke, as I love it, she doesn't. By picking it (sincerely), she has to pick somewhere else.
    She went, "Eew! And laughed".
    She tried vanilla pudding (the closest thing to vanilla icecream that she wanted) and was unimpressed.
    Later, she got vegetable soup hand spooned to her by Saint Mandy, and snarfed it down.
  • Saint Mandy Her friend Mandy visited, and does girl/mom things like washes her face with a washcloth. Or calls me when Melissa asks. I'd been there most of the day, and she still seems to love hearing my voice. (As I love hearing hers). But attention from Mandy works pretty well too. Like feeding her as the picture shows.
  • DVT Normally, I'm talking to the doctors and they are each talking pretty well about their areas. The exception is that nobody told me about the fact that she has DVT's in both arms (I had to read it going through tests/notes). Which explains some of the pain, weakness. There's not much you can do but let them disolve on their own (they already have her on blood thinners).
They are starting to both reach out about possible release and where she can go for therapy. I asked a bit more about that, as she doesn't seem ready, and they were like, "no just preparing for someday", then they didn't give me any useful information. Then the doctors came in and were saying that there's still a long ways to go. (Good in that I want her a bit more self sufficient before she comes home).
They were asking about outpatient (1 hr/day PT), or in-patient (with 3 hrs), and I was assuming the latter -- as I know her, she'd put in the time and wants to get better faster. But then again, I know she wants to be home and back to her life. (She tells me that daily). I'm hoping there's a hybrid she can get up to, where she's in home, but we take her to day-care, and she can work more than just 1 hour.
  • Progress Every day is a little progress (and some things that scare us, as we want her where she was at before this).
  1. She has her wits and humor, and remembers stuff (like her Mom quizing her on everyone's birthdays).
  2. Her voice is getting stronger. And she's starting to be able to shift/scooch herself in bed a bit. She holds her head up, etc.
  3. We started physical therapy today -- and she will try to do whatever is asked. She was able to stay sitting up on the end of the bed. Help do leg lifts, and with work extend her arms, especially when I told her if she doesn't, she'll get bat wings (she's been holding them in, boxers defensive position). I think that's a body reflex to heal.
  4. She has no problems any more holding her head up, looking around, and looking up (she also tends to keep her chin tucked).
Being a husband (or Mom), it's still scary to us to see how weak, frail, and her brain took a big hit (between CPR, Drugs, Induced Coma, ICU Dementia, and lack of movement). It's similar to a stroke victim. But you just live in the moment, and keep taking baby steps forward
  1. Her mood control isn't great.
  2. Short term memory is getting better, but has gone from 15 minutes to about a day (doesn't remember yesterday).
  3. She just wants to come home, and her life back, and to do the things she used to do, "Help me to the bathroom", "Take me home", "Help me walk the floor". And you keep watching with heartbreak, that she can't.
  4. There's also some confusions on whether she can see. She keeps saying "can't see", and isn't focusing on you/etc... then she seems to respond like she can see shapes and colors at least. But couldn't read someone's badge up close. So lots more to explore there.
We don't know how much is short, mid or long term damage -- and how much it'll take to get back. That's terrifying, because I know how fiercly independent she is, how important communications are to her, and how go-go she is. But while the dark pit of worry sneaks up on me, I try to remember to just live like the Samurai. The Samurai would go insane if they lived in the future and remembered that they were going to die being chopped up by a 4' razor blade. The future is dark and unknown, so they learned to live in the moment. Now is good. And with Melissa, now is good. When I look at where she was a week ago, she was just coming out of a Coma and getting to the good hospital. Now she's talking -- even if it's going to take speech therapy for a while. She was nearly dead, now she's starting physical and occupational therapy, and starting to scooch herself around a bed.
  • Support I need support too. And got help from Debi (Melissa's longest friend), who was caregiver to her Dad (stroke victim). And Melissa's Cousin (Julie), who ran the nurses in a stroke ward. Hypoxia isn't a stroke -- but some of the symptoms and therapies are similar -- but outcomes are often better, which is very inspirational.

Day 12[edit source]

           Main article: 2023 Heart Attack/Day 12
2023-03-01 (Wednesday) - Neuropathy, Visits, Moved from Cardiac to Neurological unit.
  • Visitor conflict Melissa loves people and interacting, but likes to put a good foot forward. So as her Husband, there's sort of this conflict -- does the benefit of Social Interaction outweigh that she wouldn't want people to "see her like this"? Close friends, those that have been on the Journey with her from the start, makes sense. But I'm trying not to add too many more people to the list, until she's a little stronger/further.
That being said, we had visits from:
  1. Running-Rebecca - The start of the visit was rough, because Melissa was in pain and focused on it -- but pain meds helped and she got to see a little of Melissa. Like her getting pissed and saying, "Dave, shut the fuck up!" (Someone wasn't happy about the pain).
  2. Heart-Rebecca was going to visit. But didn't come down when she'd asked status and it wasn't a good day (and they were saying they were going to do the MRI, again). She'll try again later.
  3. Sigrid came -- and since she works with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) got to see how much progress Melissa has made since last visit. And she did progress, though she caught the vision issues, and has concerns there.
  4. Mirna visited as well, and was just happy with how much better Melissa is; speech, strength, color, has an oxygen tube, but doens't need it. They wouldn't have moved her out of the cardiac until until she was strong enough. And they did.
  • Neuropathy Melissa is having neuropathic pain in her feet. And just loses her shit. A symptom of TBI is that if there's something like pain, you get in a loop and can't get out. And she's completely in "make it stop" mode. I get it, and we would if we could. I did get the nurses to up her pain meds a little -- but they're only using things like Aspirin, because they don't want to give her narcotics for MRI or other brain healing. So it torture watching her suffer and cry, and not being able to help/stop it. The meds did something, and she got more reasonable, then crashed. But it kind of comes and goes. And I assume that some of Neuropathy is the brain reconnecting the nerves to the brain. The problem is sometimes neuropathy is temporary, sometimes it isn't. I'm utterly helpless.
  • Neurology They moved Melissa from the Cardiac Recovery unit to the Neurological recovery unit. Which is a sign that she's pretty out-of-the-woods heart-wise. But there's still a TBI (Brain Injury) that will take time to get over. The biggest concern there, is she's gone from saying things like, "I can't focus" to, "I can't see". And now she's not focuing/tracking when she opens her eyes. I had thought her eyes closed stuff was just focusing on speech and blocking out visual noise. Now of course, I'm much more concerned for the implications. And while I say, "don't go down that rabbit hole", that's exactly where I go whenever I let my guard down. But she does have an appointment for eye exams, etc. Hopefully, that happens before the mythical MRI that we've been promised every day for a week now.
  • Shepherd's Pie A neighbor made me some "Turkey Shepherd's Pie" to feed the helpless male who's been living on frozen/take-out food. It was good/appreciated -- but when I told my British Cousin (Alexis) she was aghast. Shepherd's Pie is made with Lamb, not Turkey. Cottage pie is beef. We yanks are barbarians putting poultry in Shepherd's Pie. And that's why we left the crowned colonies 247 years ago; if we want Turkey in Shepherd's Pie, so be it. (It was pretty good).

Day 13[edit source]

           Main article: 2023 Heart Attack/Day 13
2023-03-02 (Thurs) - Neuropathy, MRI, Bright Light, and Memorial Hermann TIRR.
  • Sight
  1. Melissa had early talked about things being out of focus. Meh. Her brain took a hit, I wasn't worried.
  2. Then she talked with her eyes closed; fine, her brain wants to block out visual noise.
  3. Then she said she couldn't see anything, and it was black. I lost my shit. When she found out she had minor glaucoma (mostly in one eye) she was terrified of losing her sight. And it's so important to everything she does. So my brain was circling the dark places (why her, etc). Today the opthamologist came, and I'll read the report tomorrow. But the fact that she squinted and thought it was too bright when he stood in front of the window, was a good sign to me. So hopefully can sleep tonight. (I'm way too raw after so many days of not knowing if she even existed any more).
  4. I chatted with the Speech Pathologist (who used to work at TIRR) and she said sight coming and going is not uncommon (even day-to-day). And permanent loss can happen, but that this isn't THAT abnormal, got me back to where my head was initially; that the brain is healing things, and vision takes a lot of resources (processing), and we stand a good chance of it getting better.
Melissa is not a fan of Neuropathy pain
  1. It's quite common for people with TBI's (Traumatic Brain Injuries) to be repetitive and only fixate on one thing. She is not atypical. "Make it stop", "It hurts", "Why won't you make it stop?". Are on auto-repeat.
  2. They can only give her Tylenol because any of the narcotic pain killers could alter perception and brain healing(?). Guessing on the last part, but they said they won't. And they aren't cutting it.
  3. This stuff sucks, and it's horrible being a helpless spouse (or Mom) that can't do anything about burning pain... but it's starting to become normal, and it is a part of the healing process. Most grow past this.
  4. Late in the day (after 8 hours of her mantra) they put on some lidocaine cream on her feet, and she got releif, and immediately stopped and went to sleep (some peace). So we'll see if that's going to work tomorrow -- and we get more interaction. She can be quite conversational, when there's not something to consume her.
  1. When Melissa was asked how much it hurts, she blurted "8". Which shows that it's not a 10, but also is probably a little over-inflated because her mind in this state can't distract itself or think of anything else.
  2. I got her to chuckle a couple of times, while repeating her mantra. Like I said, "was that the 301st time? We always ignore the first 300 requests, but 301 we'll respond to." She smiled a little, then went back to what she was repeating.
  3. Or the Speech Pathologist was doing a swallow test, and was feeding her AppleSauce to test her strength, and she was like, "Gulp... Make it stop. Gulp... it hurts". So I take that as progress.
  4. She's speaking better/stronger. And she's looking healthier. She's able to eat puree's. So these are improvements. See victory in the baby steps and trends.
  • CT Scan They did another CT scan -- but like the last two, she passed just fine (Negative).
They finally took her away for the MRI again. As she was leaving for the MRI, she cracked me up by changing her mantra a little, "I'm a good person, why won't you make this pain stop?" I had to laugh a little and said to her parting gurney, "Yes, you are a good person baby. This will get better and stop over time". They keep thinking she's responsive and vocal enough. Then they get her down there, and I guess abort it because they aren't confident enough in her willingness to convey heart pain or remain still. (Risk mitigation over patient outcome?)
I had prodded the doctor earlier in the day, when he said they were thinking of doing the MRI, I replied, "I've heard that for 11 days". He replied, "But we mean it this time". They didn't. This is all bureaucracy that she has to be able to report if her pacemaker is heating up -- even though it is a model way more modern than ever had problems before. But radiology cares more about protecting radiology than patient outcomes. It's a bit annoying.
  • Visitors The speech pathologist and I talked -- she'd worked at TIRR. Said that when Visitors come, to not overload her, and basically no more than 2 at a time. And generally try not to overload the processing by only one person coming forward and talking at a time. And basically, 10-20 minutes of high interaction, then give her a little recoup time. (Basically, understand that the brain fatigues quickly, and to not overwhelm it).
  1. They had been talking to me about finding the next place she will go; which will be an in-patient rehabilitation place for a brain injury (basically hypoxia or low oxygen for a long period of time).
  2. Timeline is likely late next week, or the week after.
  3. I had asked Sigrid and she suggested TIRR Memorial Hermann. So I'd applied for that -- did a tour today. And they called me and I talked with them about her case.
  4. Basically it's looking positive. They point out quickly and often that they are #2 in the Country (and world?) on Rehabilitation (where Gabby Giffords was rehabilitated). So we're in process, and hopefully likely to be accepted.[1]
  1. They do have multiple locations -- and the one in the Medical Center is the least convenient, but probably a little higher than the other TIRR locations.
  2. I had applied initially to Woodlands location, just as it being more convenient and able to visit.
  3. Multiple people had said that Med Center TIRR gets a few more of the most extreme cases -- but that it doesn't sound like Melissa will be that extreme. And the disadvantage is shared rooms (and could be harder to get in). So Woodlands had single rooms, Melissa wouldn't do well with a screamer behind the curtain next to her. So it sounds like the better tradeoffs.
  4. I feel good that we've managed to get Melissa in one of the best Hospitals in the world, as well as one of the best rehabilitation facilities.

Day 14[edit source]

           Main article: 2023 Heart Attack/Day 14
2023-03-03 (Friday) - stroke, angeogram, heart scare, and a lot of Melissa's personality.
Driving in they call me and tell me she had a stroke, and they are doing a brain angeogram. This little Eagle Scout is trying to earn all her Merit Badges in a visit. If you're going to have a clot, the Neurology Ward of Houston Methodist is the place to do it (while on blood thinners, with a watchman device in place). I got there as they started, and 30 minutes later she was in recovery. They said no major occlusion, but they were looking at addressing some minor stuff further down (smaller vessels).
  1. I was commuting in when they called. But I'd seen that they'd thrown an MRI w/Contrast on her expected procedures. So I thought for a second that was the hubub, then I caught what else was going on.
  2. I know she had DVT's in her arms and was concerned about clots - but I thought those go to lungs and PE (Pulmonary Embolisms). I talked to one of the Neurosurgeons and she said I was exactly right. Also when they were doing other stuff, they were asking about her history, and I was clarifying what had happened to her before getting there, and while there. And the nurse was like, "I wish I had an advocate like you", and asking about my medical background. I just pay attention when it's my wife.
  3. They did say there was occlusion in the right parietal distal MCA branch, but it wasn't something they could fix. That to me sounds like a stroke.
  4. I couldn't tell if the "stroke" was a recent event, or they're talking about Istemich stoke due to the CPR (Hypoxia). Later, I figured out they think that it was a new event that just happened -- but I still think this happened earlier, and someone just caught it late.
  5. I asked anesthesiologist why they did this now? He didn't realize I was her husband, because they were asking me medical questions at the time (and I'm terminology competent enough to answer them), so he replied "that she was acting very classically stroked out" (she has the head rocking, lifting her arms and not her hands, and her speech has gotten louder but she over enunciates and sounds stroke/MS like). To them this manifested more today than yesterday. But I thought I'd seen those symptoms (in milder form) for days, it was more like they just noticed.
Great interaction today
While in recovery (and later) she was chatty cathy again. Great interactions. Click for the disccussions
  1. Her: Did I have a heart attack or stroke?
    Me: Baby you got around-the-world. You had a heart attack, but lack of oxygen during CPR, means it's like a stroke, and we're going to have some rewiring/retraining to fix it. That's why you're foggy, and having problems speaking.
    Her: Fuck.
    Me: But we're going to do rehab to get all that back.
    Her: How long's that gonna take?
    Me: Julie (Used to be a Stroke Nurse) said you'll be amazed on the progress in a month.
    Her: I'll believe that when I see it.
  2. Her: How long have I been here?
    Me: 2 weeks.
    Her: Fuck. How long has my Mom been here?
    Me: 1 week.
    Her: Did you pay for her flight?
    Me: No she got that, but I got her Hotel room. I think she thinks she's paying, but only paying for incidentals.
    Her: Good job!
  3. Me: Debi is thinking of flying out and visiting. Probably when you're in rehab or coming home.
    Her: Awww. That would be great. (The same kind of reaction when I name people that have been asking about her, or checking in with. Cousin Simin in Germany, Gayle her coworker, Ayla, her Brothers, various tenants that asked, and just going through the list). It makes her happy naming people that have been thinking of her. She gets context of them immediately, and will ask relevant questions about them.
  • False Alarm While in Recovery (and the discussions above) she complained about pain in her chest. I let them know, and that started a scramble for an EKG, and a response. But while they were responding, she said the pain moved to her back. And I reached under her, and started pulling / pressuring on the knotts in her back. To "That's it, harder". To which I replied, "Any harder, and I'm coming through the other side". After about 10 minutes, the pain went from a 3 or 4 to, "You got it, it's all better".
  • Visit Jennifer Manning and Diane. Diane re-introduced herself as the person who introduced Melissa to the Running Club where she had the heart attack. I said, "So it's your fault she's in here?"... and for about 2 beats I think I flummoxed Diane, before she got that I was pulling her leg (with the help of Jennifer saying I'm snarky/sarcastic). I smiled and pointed out if it wasn't for her, Melissa might have dropped somewhere without such great healthcare around. They had great conversations with Melissa, and she was much more interactive. But by 3:30pm and talking most of the day she was getting tired and a little harder to understand. (Which isn't always easy).
  • Other stuff
  1. She always asks about the cat, chores, it's hard because of her speech issues, lots of frustration because her brain is faster than her mouth. But she's in there and very interactive.
  2. She was talking with her Mom and mentioned, "We're still going to Ireland in Summer, right? You're going to kiss the Blarney Stone". (This is a trip she started planning a month or so ago).
  3. She said she couldn't see again... but then I turned the flashlight on the cell phone and she could see the light. I think it's more that her optic nerve/etc., is still working, but her brain doesn't want to use the brain power to handle the imaging. I told her that was something we think/hope will get better.
  4. She mutters things like "My Body Betrays me"... and things that let you know she fully gets what's going on
  5. She was trying to pull out the Oxygen tube that was in her nose (because of the "pain in her chest/back"). And I was stopping her hands. She wouldn't leave it alone. So she reached out with her tongue and hooked it over the tube and pulled it out. I quipped, "Holy shit, how long have you had a prehensiled tongue? You've been holding out on me!" And she laughed.
  6. Vick and Rich visited later -- and she was engaged. She was also scared of how large her room/space is. (This is a symtom of where she had her stroke). But they got to see and interact with her. And she mentioned that she's gonna be slower at playing Dominoes (something she loves).


🔗 More

2023 Heart Attack
Feb 18th Melissa had a heart attack, stroke, and had to have CPR for over an hour.

Tags: 2023 Heart Attack/Weeks

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