Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We’re in Santa Clara, California


5/13/15                                                                                                                                        Chuck’s report

Figured I should send out a report on Lorraine’s latest procedure and how she is fairing.  First, we would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and calls, much appreciated. 

Short version of this note is: Lorraine came through this with flying colors.  She doesn’t show any signs of bleeding at the aneurysms and didn’t have any disorientation except when she woke up this morning after getting about 1 1/2 hours of sleep.  She has had a headache almost continually since her last procedure about 15 days ago but she didn’t have one yesterday and just a mild one today.  She said she isn’t in any pain except for the incision site and where they took blood and had the IV inserted in her arm.   

She is on “limited duty” for a few days, not lifting anything over 10#, no exercise except for walking, that kind of stuff.  Nothing new there, after all of her surgeries over the years, we’ve gone though this many times before. 

The longer version is Lorraine had to be at the hospital by 6:15 AM and the procedure was scheduled to start at 8:00.  We got there about 6:10 and walked in with the nurse who was just getting to work, she was the pre-op nurse so of course things got started a bit later than planned.  But no problem, the paperwork was completed, Lorraine prepped with the IV started and ready to go by 7:45.  They wheeled her out just before 8:00 and told me she would be going to the recovery room in about 2 hours. 

I walked around the hospital to get my bearings, trying to figure out where things were located when I saw the doctor walking towards the operating room about 8:20.  I has a short conversation with him and told him to take good care of Lorraine.  He said he was reviewing her records and was ready to go. 

I was in the waiting room around 9:30 when the pre-op nurse stopped by to say she was told they were almost done and if I waited in the hallway I could see Lorraine as she left the operating room headed for the recovery room.  So that’s what I did. 

About 15 minutes later Lorraine was wheeled by and they stopped so I could see her.  She was pretty much out of it but she was able to say HI and looked good.  She then spent the next hour in recovery, I couldn’t go in there but I did find out she was going to be admitted to the ICU room in a newer section of the hospital. 

The doctor came out about 10 minutes later and stopped to give me an update, finally something official.  He said the operation went extremely well, no problems at all.  He was able to completely fill one aneurysm and prepped the other one, just like planned.  He said Lorraine didn’t have any issues and he didn’t expect any problems but she would be staying at least overnight in the ICU, again as planned. 

Shortly after noon, I was able to see Lorraine in her room, she was mostly awake, knew where she was and what was happening.  The nurse had a list of questions that Lorraine had to answer, I guess to get a baseline of her awareness and to see if she was having any symptoms or problems as time progressed.  She wasn’t disorientated at all except she couldn’t keep awake and would still fall asleep, sometimes in the middle of a sentence.  I was surprised to see she was in a private room, I’m used to seeing ICU rooms being really open with not much privacy, nothing like these.  

The ICU nurse was great, stopped by and checked Lorraine often throughout the first 3 or 4 hours.  Of course she was hooked up to all kinds of machines and they were beeping and had lights flashing.  Every time one would sound  an alarm the nurse would stop by to check and make sure everything was fine. 

Lorraine was hungry and thirsty after not having had anything to eat/drink since the night before.  They started out slowly, letting her have very small sips of water first.  Throughout the afternoon she progressed to where she able to eat crackers and drink a soda.  But she still had to keep her leg still, wasn’t supposed to move it for 6 hours after the procedure. 

Lorraine did get to order dinner and that showed up about 5:30, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and a dessert.  She pretty much cleaned the plate, like I said, she was hungry. 

Susy and Katie came by to see Lorraine and I went down to the cafeteria with them for our dinner.  They had to leave not too long afterwards as Katie had homework to do and needed to get to bed. 

I think it was about 8:30 when I left her and headed back to our coach.  Our dog was at Susy’s r the day and that night so I didn’t have to run out to take care of her, that was a good thing and sure helped.  So once I got back, I checked email and such then called it a day, a long day. 

I got to the hospital about 7:05 this morning and found they had the ICU area closed to visitors during the nurse’s turnover and I couldn’t get in.  About 7:30 someone opened the doors with their employee badge and I walked in but was stopped by a nurse and told I had to leave and couldn’t come back until after 8.  But Lorraine’s nurse came by and said she was ok with me being there and I could stay. 

Lorraine told me she had a bad night.  She couldn’t sleep and they couldn’t/wouldn’t give her anything to help because they didn’t want to “mask” any issues she may experience.  She said it was about 4 AM when she was just starting to nod off when of course someone came in to check on her and draw blood.  Guess she had problems, tried three different places before she finally got enough. 

When I got there she was eating her breakfast and she said it was good, pancakes and scrambled eggs.  The nurse stopped by to explain what had happened over the night and said she thought Lorraine would probably be moved to a regular hospital room later.  I was surprised especially seeing as how Lorraine hadn’t shown any signs of problems yesterday or during the night. 

I asked her to check into that seeing as how we thought it would only be an overnight stay.  She checked with the doctor on duty and came back to say Lorraine would be released soon, not moved to another room, yea. 

About 11:30 we had all the paperwork signed, all the machines unhooked, the IV removed and Lorraine changed back to street clothes vs those beautiful hospital gowns.  They put her in a wheel chair and headed downstairs where had the car waiting. 

We stopped by Susy’s place and picked up our dog, guess she is getting old and doesn’t like being away from home as she didn’t eat much while she was there.  But once we got back, she headed for her food and water dish just like normal. 

Lorraine got set up and rested on the couch.  But she wasn’t able to stay down very long, she felt she just had to do this or that.  Finally I had her sit down and I headed out to pick up Katie from school.  Katie and Lorraine were sure happy to see one another when we got back, lots of hugs. 

Susy brought in BBQ dinner for all and then they had to make a trip back to Katie’s school for an open house.  Lorraine is trying to get caught up on email and facebook. 

Ok, I just wanted to give an update, not write a regular blog.  Susy has sent out a couple of notes on facebook but I’m sure some folks who read this don’t follow on Lorraine’s facebook and maybe wanted to hear how everything went. 

Also want to give all our good thoughts and prayers to our BIL John.  He had surgery today in Seattle and last time Lorraine talked to her sister, they were heading home after a LONG surgery for him.  Wishing you all the best John, hope this solves all your problems and you get back to normal soon. 

Thanks   Chuck 



Sunday, May 10, 2015

We’re in Santa Clara, California


5/10/15                                                                                                                                    Chuck’s Report

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there.  We spent the day at Susy and had a good BBQ dinner with us, Susy, Katie and Mark.  Lorraine, Susy and Katie had their annual Mother’s Day pictures taken last week and I’ve downloaded them on my computer so will probably add some pictures from that sitting at the end of this. 

I had intended to get this written this morning but just didn’t find the time to sit down and write it before we left for Susy so here it is evening already and I’m just getting started.  Oh well, like I said, we had a good day today and it doesn’t hurt to write this in the evening vs the morning.   

Only a couple of good things about being here this long, we really enjoy being around Susy and Katie but realize we are effecting their normal lives too.  The weather is pretty good.  And we feel Lorraine is getting the best medical care for her recovery.  We did change her primary doctor after interviewing three others.  Her new one was suggested by the neurologist Lorraine saw so that give her some weight before we even started the interview process. 

Our research shows there are only about 60 certified comprehensive stoke hospitals throughout the states, hospitals and doctors that have to meet very high standards of stroke care to receive this certification.  There are four here in the Bay area and all of the doctors Lorraine has been seeing are part of one of these groups.  There is only one of these centers in Oregon and one in Washington for comparison.  And we have given all her records and paperwork to Stanford Medical Center for review and a second opinion, they are one of the four certified hospitals in the area too. 

Lorraine has been going to the speech therapist twice a week still and is still showing improvement every visit.  She is also able to play the dice and card games with us much better too.  Last night we played 10,000 and she was able to total the dice and keep up with the scores too, yea.  She is still having trouble coming up with an answer to a direct question but that’s getting better too.  All in all, she is progressing nicely, its been seven weeks since her stroke. 

We have resumed doing her daily walks too,  we stopped for a couple of days after her procedure because we didn’t want to pull anything loose.  But she is healing well from that except for some itching as the incision heals and walking doesn’t seem to bother it. 

As mentioned last week, Lorraine had the angiogram performed on May 23 and they found she has two aneurysm in the veins in her brain.  She was put on the surgeon’s schedule to have one repaired and the other prepped, and a month or so later have the second one repaired. 

We got a call from them and she is now scheduled to have the first procedure done this Tuesday morning, 5/12.  This procedure will be done in the hospital and she will be under a general anesthesia, not just mildly sedated like last time.  And she will stay in the ICU at least for one night afterwards so they can better monitor her.  There are some risks associated with this of course but with all the prayers and good thoughts sent her way, we hope she doesn’t experience any issues.  She is scheduled for 8:00 AM Pacific daylight savings time on Tuesday and it should last maybe two hours. 

And of course, we ask for and hope everyone continues with their prayers and good thoughts for her this time too.  We both believe this helps, at the very least, it doesn’t hurt!

The weather this week has been cooler than the prior two weeks, we even got some rain one morning.  We normally don’t get the “San Francisco fog” down this far South but even had that a couple mornings too.  But still, can’t complain too bad about the highs only getting to the upper 60s/low 70s with lots of afternoon sun shine. 

Still don’t have any travel plans yet but know we won’t be traveling far or fast this year as we need to pretty much be around here for the doctors.  Lorraine really wants us to make a trip back to Washington in July and August and we’ve made arrangements and have a site rented for us but even that is a maybe depending on doctor visits and her recovery. 

Ok, now for some pictures. 

E21 E20 

E23 E28 

E29 E30 P3 

E8 P8 

There are about 20 more I could add but this give a good review of them. 


Thanks   Chuck






Sunday, May 3, 2015

We’re in Santa Clara, California

Lorraine doesn’t feel up to writing anything this week.  She still has trouble writing her thoughts down on paper or her computer and doesn’t want to force herself again, its pretty hard for her.  But she does want to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes for her recovery.  She does try to read her facebook account and keep up with what’s happening but it overwhelms her some days. 

5/3/15                                                                                                                                        Chuck’s report

I mentioned to Lorraine today that it just doesn’t seem right, we haven’t seen Katie as much this week for one reason or another.  Her dad is teaching an afterschool class at her school most days this week so we haven’t picked her up like usual when we are here.  And then she was feeling poorly on Wednesday so she stayed from school on Thursday and Friday.  They took her to the doctor and found she has picked up a virus, she has even given it to Susy.  We’ll probably get back to normal with Katie this week. 

We asked for and was given an extension to stay here at the Elks for longer than the posted two week maximum due to Lorraine having therapy.  But the extension runs out this week so we have to move out for three days then we can move back for another two weeks.  Guess it’s to insure folks don’t make this their permanent home like some of the folks we see in campgrounds.  Even at that, we see some of the same folks almost every time we are here so it’s almost like they’re permanent.  They leave for a few days then return back for two weeks and have been doing that for a couple of years.  The bad economy we’ve had over the past few years has sure effected lots of folks in a negative way.  Some of these folks have lost their houses and their rig is the only home they have left now. 

To add to our worries, we receive a call from the gal who rents our house Monday night.  She was out of town but got a call that there had been a fire in the house.  Luckily the damage was mostly contained to one bedroom and we’ve pretty much had to let the insurance company handle everything as we can’t travel up there until we get further along with Lorraine’s recovery.  Thanks to Lorraine’s sister, Thelma, niece Kerri and Susy’s good friend Mandy for going out to see if they could get us any info that afternoon/evening. 

Lorraine has been going out for speech therapy twice a week now and I can see steady improvement.  She is handling everyday actions pretty well too although once in awhile she will ask for help but quickly gets back on track.  The therapist continues to say she is hoping for complete recovery but it may take awhile.  She does give Lorraine homework to do on the days she doesn’t go to their office.  She has progressed to much more advanced reading and comprehension on her homework. 

Other than that, this had turned out to be a fairly normal week for us until Friday.  This is when Lorraine had her appointment with the specialist to run a camera/catheter from the vein in her leg all the way to her brain.  Like I mentioned last week, this was only for diagnostic information, he didn’t intend to do anything other than gather info in case of any further work she may need.  Her appointment was set for 10:30 but they wanted her there an hour early to get her prepped for the procedure.  

The nurse had some trouble getting the IV started, they needed it to keep her hydrated and for a place to inject the sedative. Finally they brought in a different nurse and he was able to get it going.  Sometimes that can be the worst part of a procedure and this time it was no fun for Lorraine.  And of course the doctor was running behind time and she didn’t get to the exam room until right around noon, an hour and half late. 

I believe this is the 16th time Lorraine has been put under for some sort of surgery or medical procedure but believe me, it doesn’t get easier the more times we go through it.  Its really tough to see her leave and have to wait until I can see her again in the recovery room.  I sure hate to see her go through this kind of stuff but it’s necessary.  

The procedure lasted for just under an hour then she was brought back to the prep/recovery room and they came to get me from the waiting room.  She was told not to move her right leg for at least 1 1/2 hours after the procedure as they wanted to make sure she didn’t disturb the site where the camera/catheter was inserted.  They put some sort of plug in the vein and sewed in a stitch there after they were done.  Her body will absorb the plug and stitch over the next three months or so and she will have a small scar to go along with all the others she has endured. 

She was not asleep for this procedure and was able to tell me most of what happened in the exam room.  She said she really saw explosive white lights when the doctor injected the contrast directly into the veins in her brain.  The doctor told her numerous times to don’t move and hold your breath as they left the room to take an x-ray.   She said she felt pain when they removed the instruments and inserted the plug and took the stitch.  And it was hard to keep her leg perfectly still for 90 minutes. 

After Lorraine had been in the recovery room for about two hours the doctor came by to give us his findings.  He said the procedure when well but he did find two aneurysms or ballooning of two veins in her brain.  He talked about aneurysms and how they form and what can happen if they rupture.  He also discussed different options to handle aneurysms.  Option one was to do nothing but watch it over time, two was to cut a hole in her skull and put clamps on each one, three was to work from inside the vein and fill the aneurysm with a platinum coil. 

We discussed the different options and he suggested the best course of action would be option three.  She would have to admitted to the hospital for these procedures for an overnight stay.  To insert the coil into the aneurysm he would do basically the same thing he did Friday, access the femur artery in her leg and insert a camera, catheter and a tube with the coil.  Once in place, he would place the coil and allow it to fill the aneurysm so the blood flow is altered enough so the slower flow will allow a clot to form (and hopefully stay) inside the aneurysm.  This clotted aneurysm resists the entry of liquid blood and should help minimize the later possibility of a rupture.   

Unfortunately he can not do both of these repairs in one exam so it looks like she will have one repaired in a couple of weeks and the second one maybe a month later.  And he will want to do follow up angiograms in 6 months, one year, three years and five years after.  I’ve been doing some research online and even found a U-tube movie of one being inserted, pretty neat what the doctors can do now.

Of course, as with any medical procedure, there is a chance of problems during and after.  But the doctor told us the numbers, I don’t remember exactly but they are pretty small.  And the research online agrees with him.  In fact, I saw the doctor’s name on one site as being one of the foremost surgeons doing this procedure, that was good.  We both liked the doctor and this sort of reinforced our opinion of him.  He is very forthcoming, upfront and answered all our questions.  Of course, being as we didn’t know much about this ahead of time, I have some questions for him when we go back for the pre-op visit. 

This doctor also said these two aneurysms could have been the cause of both of her previous strokes.  He said her arteries didn’t show hardly any plak buildup, in fact, her carotid arteries looked like what he would see with an 18 year old.  We sure would like to know for sure but are getting different “causes” from different sources.  But whatever, we are sure hoping this will keep her from having any more episodes.  We are also glad she is on the aspirin and Plavix therapy that she should have been on since her earlier episode back in Nov. 2012.  And of course, we are really looking forward to getting to the end of all this medical stuff for awhile. 

After the doctor left Lorraine started getting ready to leave and head back home.  She got dressed, signed the papers and they wheeled her out in a wheel car.  Once we got home I got her something to eat and she pretty much rested the rest of the day.  It will take awhile for this news to sink in and become a reality but we’re getting there.  Lorraine was really tired and ready to go to bed earlier than usual, no surprise there.  She said she slept well that night too, yea. 

Yesterday we just hung around the rig taking it easy.  Susy isn’t feeling well, she’s picked up the bug, so we didn’t see her or Katie.  We did go out for a short walk in the nice weather but didn’t go too far, slowly building up to normal may take a couple of days yet. 

The weather this week has been pretty nice once again, it even got up to the low 90s a couple of days.  Except for it being California with the high prices, taxes and way too many people, this area could be on our short list of places to land when we get off the road.  It would really be nice to be near Susy and Katie as she grows up. 

Like I said, we will be leaving here for three days every two weeks until we are done with this round of medical work for her and will continue with her speech therapy also.  Other than that, our travel plans are really on hold for the future.  But it is good to exercise and drive the rig vs letting it sit too long.  Even though this place has a sewer dump instead of one at each site, our neighbor has enough sewer hose to allow us to dump our black tank without driving over so the rig hasn’t been moved since we got here the last week of March.  Maybe I’m trying to put lipstick on a pig by trying to say that moving every two weeks a good thing, ha. 

No pictures to add this week so will close this down and post it. 

Thanks   Chuck