Saturday, May 2, 2015

Just Breathe

The last 24 hours have been rough.  We've had one crisis after another and one solution after another.  Rudy and I have been surrounded by earth angels - Nancy, Linda, Lorraine, and my parents.

Friday morning Rudy said he thought he might be needing to get on oxygen.  His breathing rate had increased and he felt like he couldn't get a good breath.  He had woken up a couple of times the previous night because of breathing challenges.  He said one of the times was particularly scary.

I called CTCA and an appointment was scheduled in with his other Monday appointments to get that going.  We didn't think there was a rush.  A Monday  appointment would be fine.   NOT.

A random stop at Rockin' B to pick up an office chair turned out to be divine intervention.  Lorraine was there and asked about Rudy.  When I told her what was going on, she just happened to have a really nice oxygen concentrator - a portable unit that makes oxygen without the tanks.  Did I want to borrow it?  SURE!  She even had lots of spare tubes for it.

I went back to Rockin' B yesterday afternoon, picked up the tank, and headed back home.  I wasn't gone long.  When I returned, Rudy was on the floor.  He had passed out and woke up on the floor.  He stayed there til I got home. His elbow was bleeding.  He was frantic for me to set up the oxygen tank.

OMG.  Lorraine had given me a quick lesson, but doing something for the first time in frantic mode is not the best way to get started.  I had some trouble and it took everything I had to keep from flipping right out with fear.  Once it was set up, he had instant relief.

Once he had instant relief, I starting getting sick.  I have stomach issues - IBS or something.  I can almost always control it by eating right.  At first I thought I must have eaten something wrong, but apparently, this episode was stress induced.  I could feel the pain and nausea increasing and knew that with Rudy needing close monitoring, we had to call in the reinforcements.

I called Nancy and she dashed over.  Just her very presence was a huge relief.  I gave her a super fast briefing, then went to my chair upstairs to sit very still and wait for the worst to pass.

At one point in the evening, Rudy took off the oxygen to go to the bathroom.  He came back super fast frantic to get it back on.  The system has two backup batteries, but since Rudy started using it immediately, there was never a chance to charge them.  And now, Rudy feels he just can't go without the oxygen.

Everything went smoothly the rest of the night, thank God.  Nancy insisted on staying the night and I didn't argue much against it. Thanks to her,  I was able to actually sleep.  If she hadn't stayed, I probably would have slept with one eye open and jumped at every sound.

The night passed without incident.  The oxygen system worked with no issues. Rudy slept in a recliner in his office and that turned out to be great.  Apparently sleeping more upright is helpful.  Between the upright sleeping position and the oxygen, he had less issues with hack attacks through the night.

This morning, things seemed OK.  By OK, I certainly don't mean they are going well.  Things are not going well.  Rudy is in bad shape.  He's weak and fatigued.  He's not eating.  He is drinking, but food (even the food he asks for) just sits untouched.  His quality of life is just awful.

Nancy went home to get some quality sleep.  She had slept in a living room recliner.  I have been meaning to get a guest bed, but hadn't.  I decided that couldn't wait any longer.  It's likely we're going to need to have some overnight guests and they need a decent place to sleep.

Linda came to stay with Rudy this afternoon.  I'm definitely not leaving him by himself anymore.  I set left to get a mattress, sheets and pillow as fast as possible.  I was halfway thru my mission when Linda called.  The oxygen contractor alarm had gone off.  The alarm code sounded ominous and the manual recommended we get a backup system.

After MANY panicked phone calls all over, Lorraine quickly followed me to my house and made a few changes.  Lorraine saw that I had hooked up the system with a really long cord.  She bypassed the long cord and attached the nose cord straight to the machine.  She could then turn down the setting and Rudy still gets plenty of oxygen.  We were hoping that on the lower setting, the batteries might be able to charge, but that's not happening.  The batteries are old and may need replacing.

Linda, Nancy and I all agree that Rudy should have gone over to CTCA yesterday.  He didn't want to go.  He was adamant.  He feels just as strongly about it today.  He doesn't want to go til his appointment on Monday.

So now, we are in between a rock and a hard place.  I could force Rudy to go to CTCA.  That would stress him to no end.  Or I can pray like all getout that Lorraine's life-saving oxygen concentrator continues to keep pumping til we can get him over to CTCA on Monday.  (The alarm has sounded two more times since everyone left.)

If anyone has a spare oxygen system lying around, please let me know!

Tonight, Rudy and I are on our own.  My parents live right next door and they have helped with everything they possibly could.  They would do more if I would let them.  I know if I called them tonight, they'd be over in no time at all.  In fact I have any number of people who have offered to help with anything at all.

Am I OK?  Truthfully, no.
But, for now, it's very important
for me to keep going along as if I am.

I feel almost as if I am watching everything from afar.  Is this normal or have I just turned to stone?  Only part of my brain is working correctly - the part that is logical and looking to what needs to be done.  The emotional side has shut down almost completely.  My emotions have been on a pretty tight leash these last six months.  I've pasted a smile on my face and kept my butt in gear to put it crudely. I definitely can't open that emotional Pandora's Box right now.  If I did, I feel sure I'd completely dissolve and wouldn't be able to help Rudy when he needs me most.

Please pray for us.