Scary Times

Hello friends, when I last left you I told you about Mark having those dreaded shingles. He started on the antiviral meds last Tuesday, a week ago, afternoon along with a pain medication. He called Vanderbilt, where our kidney transplant team is, and told them what was going on. They immediately upped the dosage of the antiviral drug.

Within a couple of days it was quite clear that Mark was getting no better. If anything the blisters and scabs looked worse. Also he had break outs on his head and face that almost looked like chicken pox. By Thursday they had spread to his neck, shoulders and upper back. On Thursday morning Mark sent a picture of all of this to the transplant team at Vanderbilt in Nasvhville. They called within five or ten minutes and told him to be on stand by and as soon as they had a bed available they would admit him. They felt like they needed to get the meds in by IV.

Now keep in mind we are about three and a half hours from Nashville maybe four hours if the traffic is bad. Mark called me at work and told me all of this and I ran home to pack an overnight bag and try to work out a plan to get all the babies taken care of.

I called my sister, Sandy, first thing because she is always my right hand and helps me with everything. I called my sister in law Pat and asked if she would take Scruffy. She said of course. I got all the things together that we might need to leave behind for Molly and Kitty Kitty. They are not quite as needy as Scruffy. The only problem we had was having someone come to the house twice a day to let Molly in and out. We don’t like leaving her out at night because of coyotes. She has gotten so old she can hardly hear and her eyesight is not good. Kitty Kitty only needed food to be put out for her daily.

It doesn’t help that we live about thirty minutes from all of my family so it’s not like they can just drop by and let the babies in and out and feed them. A plan had to be made and my sister took over the next day and had several of my family members coming to help out. Let me say right here, I have the best most wonderful family in the world. When anything like this happens they go into full “what can we do to help” mode. I don’t know what we would do without them.

We took off for Vanderbilt on Thursday afternoon. It was pouring down rain and the visibility on the Interstate was terrible. We got to the hospital in pretty good time and got quickly through admitting. They took us to a room and immediately started running some tests on Mark. They wanted to make sure it was shingles and not some other kind of infectious disease. At this point I started questioning it too. The doctors and nurses were coming in suited up in what looked like hazmat suits. Maybe it was some kind of flesh eating disease or something. See what I do???

There was a large chair that pulled out into a cot-like bed and that is where I spent the next three nights. Because I can sleep anywhere, including falling asleep standing up a few times, the cot was fine for me. Of course you know I brought my knitting and MacBook and made myself at home. Mark wanted me to get a hotel nearby but there was no way I was leaving.

The really scary thing was that we knew the kidney was in jeopardy because of all the different medicines that Mark was being given. The Prednisone was really scary. Luckily he wasn’t on that one for very long. But the wonderful thing about the transplant team was that they were right on top of it. Another good thing, the kidney was transplanted nine years ago and not six months. That would have been really scary. The doctors were constantly checking Mark’s blood to make sure that the kidney, whom we call Baby Kay, was doing fine. One of the transplant doctors told us Mark’s was not the worst she had seen. She said she had about three or four patients a year that had to be hospitalized because of shingles. She said because of all the immunosuppressants their bodies just couldn’t fight it off. The immunosuppressants were also the reason the shingles had disseminated and spread all over his body.

Scenes from our room.
Life Flight came in many times a day and night.

After three days of tests and IV’s and many many doctors coming in to look at the shingles, including an infectious disease doctor, they felt like the virus was under control. They said when he hadn’t had any new break outs in twenty four to forty eight hours they felt it was under control. The shingles had started to dry up by Sunday morning and they told us we were going to be able to go home. The new thing would be for us to watch carefully for infection. It took a few hours to finish the last IV’s and get all the discharge papers and have the doctors make their final rounds.

We ran by and picked up Scruffy on the way home so all the family could be back together. It had only been three days but it felt like forever.

I know you have been there. Whether it was you, your spouse, family or other loved ones things can be so scary when health is involved. I found myself at times, while we were in the hospital, almost letting myself be consumed by fear. To the point that I couldn’t think rationally. I knew if things went bad for the kidney we could be leaving there with Mark having to have dialysis. I had to go outside and have some very strict conversations with myself. I walked around, got fresh air, coffee and a blueberry scone or two and tried to calm down. A friend gave me some great advice and told me to envision Mark as whole and healthy. She said to pull my thoughts out of worry and focus on sending him healing thoughts, powerful energy and prayer. That is what I did and I really believe it helped. The alternative is really just too scary.

We are home and Mark is doing better day by day. The blisters and lesions still look horrible but there is improvement daily. There will be some additional blood tests and another trip to Vanderbilt for a follow up to check on the kidney. I am happy to do all of that to make sure everything is good.

Life is precious, always remember,

Love your day your way!!!!

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