Back to normal – sort of

It’s been a long and stressful summer and fall, but I think things are beginning to normalize. At the very least, there are days when life does return to the way things were ‘before’, the ‘before’ being before Hubby was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It all started when he was having extreme weakness in his extremities, making it impossible for him to do the site visits required with his job. Since he hadn’t been to a doctor in over a decade (our family doctor suddenly gave up his practice with no notice), he finally sought medical advice from his brothers’ family physician.

The doctor was horrified, on that first visit, when he saw the reading on the blood pressure monitor – 265/130! He immediately put him on a regimen of medications; two to control the blood pressure, one to reduce his cholesterol and a diuretic. After a few weeks of taking them, Hubby felt fuzzy-headed, finding it hard to concentrate on work, forgetting things. I read all the information given with each medication and these symptoms were among the side effects listed, so we just assumed things would settle down once his body got used to the medications. That didn’t happen. In fact, things got worse.

His first emergency visit occurred after he collapsed in the bathroom. His legs suddenly gave way under him and he had difficulty getting up off the floor. The strength in his ankles has not been good since he broke them both, almost 40 years and, as he’s aged, arthritis has grown steadily worse, but this episode did not seem to be related to that. The hospital, after running many tests determined that his sodium level was a little low, probably inducing what is known as a vassal Vegal episode – something to do with the main nerve bundle running through the body, determining where to send blood, etc. Obviously, it decided his body needed to concentrate on urinating instead of standing. This was blamed on the low sodium. He was given what he needed and sent home.

His second emergency visit was a result of his blood pressure taking a dive. He managed to drive back to his work after getting the test done, but the folks in his office took one look at him and sent him home, but were conscientious enough not to let him drive himself. The doctor had told Hubby that if he didn’t feel better, to go to the hospital. After a rather starchy lunch, he still wasn’t feeling well, so I took him to the hospital. With all the tests they did, the ER doctor came back and announced, Hubby now has the Big Three – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, because his blood glucose was 12.5. Apparently, it shouldn’t be higher than 10, even after a starchy meal. Oh, and his sodium was a little low. So, on top of everything else, we now had to watch his sugar intake and add another pill to his daily routine.

After that incident, he got steadily worse. He had no appetite, barely touching the meals I so carefully prepared. His insomnia worsened – hardly any wonder with all that had happened! By the end of the weekend, he was so disoriented and weak he didn’t know what he was doing. He’d go lie down for a nap and he’d be up in an hour or two, having barely slept the whole time. He’d wander around and when I asked him what he was doing, he’d say he was looking for the bathroom. We’ve lived in the same house for almost 35 years and he couldn’t find the bathroom! I decided, that if he didn’t get a good night’s sleep, I would take him to emergency. That night, things were worse than ever. He was up almost every hour, couldn’t find the bathroom and when I’d guide him there, he didn’t know what to do or where he should be peeing! A couple of times during his late night wanderings, he collapsed on the floor or fell onto the cedar chest. When he started vomiting at 6 a.m. I knew I had to get him to the hospital. I tried to get him dressed, but he was so out of it, I couldn’t get him to do anything but get his pants on, so I called for an ambulance.

They gave him the whole gambit of tests; CT scan, EKG, blood tests, chest x-ray. The main thing they found was that his sodium and potassium levels were so low they were almost non-existent. Apparently, that makes a person act like a drunk 5 year old. Who knew? They suggested he stop taking the diuretic, which was making him have to pee every five minutes and, with the urine, taking away all his sodium and potassium. Done. Four days later, he was still pretty confused about things, but they let him come home.

His short term memory was . . . and still is . . . a little short. His math skills were barely comprehensible to him. We tried to play Cribbage in those first few days back home, a game he’s played since he was a teen, and he had no idea what to do with the cards. His job, which all involves numbers, was impossible. He was off work for two months. He’s only back, now, half days and that’s only if he is clear-headed enough to drive in the morning. Some nights, even the sleep aid doesn’t work and he’s up half the night, leaving him so tired by morning he can’t concentrate on anything. Despite all the tests done while he was in hospital, there was no conclusive evidence that he’d had a stroke, although the doctor is beginning to believe there was some sort of stroke-like event that occurred that didn’t show up on any of the tests.

We’re still taking each day at a time, hoping things come back to him so he can function the same as before all this happened. Sorry if I bored you all, but I wanted you to know why I haven’t really felt up to blogging, until now. When he doesn’t sleep, neither do I, so I have very little energy to do anything but take care of him, maybe check emails &/or Facebook on a good day. I want you to know, though, that I am going to try to catch up on what you all have been doing and will have some book reviews posted in the coming weeks, so please stay tuned. Thanks to all of you who have showed concern and stuck around through this ‘dark’ time.

Hope you are all having a great day!