Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What a weekend :-<

Everyone knows by now that I'm congenitally incapable of making a long story short, so proceed at your own discretion.

Preamble... we were expecting to leave the Grand Canyon on Sunday, drive to Phoenix/Scottsdale, spend the night at Steve's sister's home, put my mother on the plane back to Maryland from Phoenix on Monday, and drive back to the Grand Canyon for a week of hiking etc.

John -- I haven't been in touch for a while.... as you have no doubt gleaned from the above, we're at the Grand Canyon and my mother has been here visiting us; also, that I'm posting this to several recipients....

Well.... We did drive down to Phoenix and put Mom on a plane and return ourselves to the Grand Canyon. It was what came in between the start and finish that's the story. Beware.... the following may come under the TMI category but it's the story of my weekend.

My mom had had the runs off and on since her second day here, Tuesday. I didn't think much of it because she has sort of a hyperactive gut anyway, and she'd done all this traveling, different time zone, different food, etc. By Friday, she was improved to about once a day. Friday evening, I got a bladder infection. Friday night Mom and I were both up all night competing for the bathroom. Saturday we had to do laundry, if you get my drift, but I was exhausted and felt like crap, so Steve went to the laundromat. Mom seemed to have recovered. I was improving by downing gallons of water. Just before Steve got back, Mom had a relapse big time. When Steve got back, I helped Mom into the truck (major production, she's got bad arthritis and it's a big truck) and took her to the Canyon clinic. Closed. So I went out to the park gate and asked where a walk-in clinic or ER was. The closest was Williams, 54 miles away, or Flagstaff, 74 miles. I thought, shucks, I don't know anything about Williams and its facilities; Flagstaff sounds better but it's 1/3 of the way to Phoenix. I came back and told Steve and we decided to throw stuff in bags and set out a day early for Phoenix, hitting an ER in Flagstaff on the way. I had an idea what was wrong with Mom (won't go into it for delicacy's sake) and she needed to see a doctor but it would be easy to remedy. We set out at 4:30p.m.

We spent 7 hours in the ER in Flagstaff, from 6p.m. to 1a.m. It took about 2 hours for her to get seen. Then Doc wanted to CAT-scan Mom to rule out diverticulitis (which can be a critical surgical situation if it gets bad.) She had to drink contrast stuff and wait over 2 hours for it to get down to her lower gut. While she was waiting she paged through an American Health magazine in the treatment room, full of info on how to have healthier hair and better sex. Mom got tired of it and asked the nurse to get her the Scientific American she'd been reading in the waiting room. (I had gone out temporarily or I'd have gone.) The nurse got a kick out of that, old lady 85 years old blows off American Health Magazine as superficial and asks for Scientific American.

No diverticulitis. No problem of any kind showing up on the CAT scan. She had barfed all over the CAT machine and had another episode of the runs as well, so although they had noted she seemed in no apparent distress they got to witness first-hand that we weren't making it up. Doc called it acute gastroenteritis with dehydration, gave her Imodium and instructions for how to take more and an info sheet on a clear-liquid diet advancing as tolerated. We got out at 1a.m., fooled around Flagstaff for an all-night drug store, got Imodium, Depends, Gatorade, Sprite, Jello, Pedialyte (and a UTI pain-reliever for me although I was still improving), and we continued to Scottsdale, arriving at his sister's at 4a.m. Sunday. (UTI = Urinary-Tract Infection.)

Total exhaustion. Neither Mom nor I had had any sleep Friday night, and after 7 hours in the ER and Saturday night was also now drawing to a close. Sunday morning I felt really tired and sleep-deprived but my UTI seemed better. Mom slept all day, getting up only long enough to go to the bathroom and drink a couple swallows of one of the drinks I'd gotten her. The runs decreased and then stopped. As a nurse I was extremely concerned about her fluid status but I couldn't seem to get her to stay up long enough to drink anything significant, plus her stomach felt like she didn't want to put much in it, even liquids.

I was scheduled for an 8-9-mile run. Up until mid-afternoon I still planned on doing it, with maybe equal amounts of jogging and walking; I'd packed running shorts and my Camelback. But my UTI took a turn for the worse. I said "Uncle," called my doc in Maryland on a Sunday afternoon (evening for him on EDT), reported on my status and my mother's; he called in a couple prescriptions for me (to Scottsdale, AZ) and said he knew I'd keep good tabs on my mom (I used to be his office nurse) and if I thought she could fly then she could fly. Mom said she had no idea how on earth she was going to be able to take a plane trip the next day. I didn't know either and was contemplating taking her somewhere for a couple liters of IV fluid. She mostly slept. My 8-9 miles was out of the question.

Early bed. This morning, Mom was up before me. She was her perky old self, better than the entire time she'd been with us. I had been worrying that she was declining physically and mentally into senility but now I think she was just sick and Nurse Ellie didn't pick up on it. She ate some toast and drank some tea. We took her to the airport and put her on the plane. We drove back to the Grand Canyon. Somewhere en route I started feeling a whole lot better and thought when we arrived I'd take a stab at yesterday's 8-9 miles. I made it for 7.5, alternating 3 minutes of slow jogging (at 7,000 ft elevation, remember) with one minute of walking. I pondered doing another 1-1.5 miles and then thought, we want to go hiking tomorrow, I'd better save some. GPS said 7.57 when I arrived back at the campground, and I let it go at that. The run actually felt pretty good, but my quads feel funny now. I'm going to bed early.

Our phones don't work here so I have no way of knowing how Mom is. Our son was to meet her at the airport in Pittsburgh and drive her home. She's supposed to spend the night with them. I made her an appointment with her/my/our doctor for tomorrow morning for follow-up. Our son's wife Jamie is an R.N., worked the first 5 years of her career as a GI nurse (the name given her by the Hash House Harriers is Colon Bowel, get it? Colin Powell?), so she should be pretty astute at figuring out where Mom's at physically.

So Mom's (presumably) back in Maryland sleeping at Jon and Jamie's, Steve and I are back at the Grand Canyon, I got in 7.5 of yesterday's trashed 8-9 miles, we're going hiking tomorrow. I have a 10-miler scheduled for Wednesday. Biking today and tomorrow but didn't do it today nor will I do it tomorrow. I have a great bike base. It won't matter. My bladder infection is better. I'm on the antibiotic for 10 days. A lot for a UTI but I told Doc I'd be out of phone contact and over 50 miles from a drug store, so he tried to cover all bases, including a just-in-case dose of Diflucan (again, TMI for my blog, but I'm cross-posting this to other contacts to avoid multiple posting, so grin and bear it.)

Oddballs-and-oddities department: The bladder-infection-specific pain-reliever, AZO, carries this information on the package under "Notes and Cautions:" "May stain contact lenses."



Vickie said...

LOL! May stain contact lenses. That would be if you were doing what with them??
What a weekend. Somehow we get through these things, but never want the experience again. Have fun while you still can at the Grand Canyon.

MedionMan said...

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Darren Zielinski

TriFeist said...

Oh, girl, that's terrible. It's been a trial for you the entire way. I'm glad your mom is home and you can get back to a more normal routine.

Ellie said...

Vickie -- I dunno; I'm picturing, "Aw, pi$$, I'm out of saline solution again..."

Fe-lady said...

I am so sorry that you and your mom had to go through all that illness...glad you are both feeling better now and you are back to some workouts. ANYTHING at 7000 feet sure counts as exercise! Hope you have some fun on the rest of your trip...

jessie_tri_mn said...

I'm so glad this story had an ending better than it started. What a crazy ride! Glad you and your mom are both OK!