One Wed evening around 10 L started throwing up and did so every 15 minutes for the next TEN hours — that’s tough for a healthy body–for him it was catastrophic. Through the day on Thursday he rested and tried to replace fluids but of course that was a losing battle against the dehydration he’d suffered. He did not want to go to hospital so we settled in for another night on Thursday–him in his recliner (helps him breathe better so he can sleep) and me on the couch beside him. Around 11:30 I heard him get up but nothing seemed unusual. A few minutes later he seemed to be reaching for something so I got up to ask what he needed — still all seemed normal. He said he was fine and I started to lay on the couch again BUT happened to look over and see L’s head lolled back, his eyes staring at the ceiling, his hands and arms contorted as if reaching for something.
I went to him, called his name but he was not focused on me. His hands dropped to his lap like dead weights but he continued to stare up, his eyes darting around as if following a butterfly. I called 911. By the time I hung up with them he seemed to be a little more focused but he was still babbling. I had him squeeze my hands and call my name. When he did both I ran to open the doors for the rescue guys, change clothes and start grabbing what I thought we might need. They got him stabilized and responsive and we headed for the hospital.
In the ER they focused on the neuro-piece of things (since on the call I had said I thought he might be having a stroke). They took a CT scan of his brain and a routine chest x-ray–the x-ray showed the presence of pneumonia. The CT scan showed no recent stroke or TIA and they began to refer to the incident I witnessed as a seizure. Now the focus shifted to treating the pneumonia–he was transferred to a regular room and hooked up to IVs for fluid/nutrition supplement and a cocktail of antibiotics for the pneumonia.
The night and first day passed with a never-ending parade of medical folks in and out. He was miserable–basically unable to breathe without oxygen and really really sick. His pulmonologist added respiratory therapy every 4 hrs and some other treatments. The hospital staff is, of course, focused on controlling the pneumonia — and there is also the possibility that even tho he had a flu shot there was a flu virus that caused the throwing up in the first place. The penumonia developed quickly the result of his swallowing back some of the vomit into his lungs. His pulmonologist (and primary care doc) is also focused (as he has been for months now) on trying to figure out why L’s health has declined so incredibly–especially over this last few months. There are tests and blood work being run for that–so far with no real answers (or solutions).
In short there’s no reason to sugarcoat this–before the pneumonia L’s health was already extremely fragile–even if they can get the pneumonia under control we have been told that the toll it will take will be a heavy one. If he has the flu on top of the pneumonia that will change the Rx cocktail for treatment and increase the time it will take to heal. If the pneumonia comes back, then the news gets worse. The good news is that as of this morning he was responding to the pneumonia treatment–still incredibly weak; still unable to eat because he simply doesn’t have the energy to do so. Best case scenario (in terms of pneumonia) is that by tomorrow they will be able to switch from IV to meds by mouth and if he can get started eating (and drinking) he could be home on Monday (hopefully with some home care respiratory therapy support for awhile). Best case scenario for his overall health continues to be extremely fragile–he has two chronic diseases (pulmonary hypertension and sarcoid) for which there are no cures.