Monday, June 15, 2009

A nightmare of a night

If it hadn't been for Marty being here to confirm it, I would have said that a lot of last night was "just" a nightmare, but Marty says it happened pretty much as I remember it. I fell asleep quite early (not putting on the mask from my bi-pap machine), and some time thereafter woke up gasping for breath and feeling that my chest was caving in. I screamed for Marty (he was working in the dining room) and he quickly came in, helped me to take some more morphine (I was still having a lot of pain in my side), and to get the bi-pap mask on. I was able to get back to sleep, but it happened several times more during the night--the awful feeling of panic at not being able to breathe, calling for Marty, and him calming me down.

Lauren arrived at nine when I was still sleeping (she had another nurse, Kelly, with her). There was a lot of water in the bi-pap hose, which causes it to make a very unpleasant gurgling sound--I pulled it off and a lot of water spilled out onto the bed. I was very out of it and disoriented--Lauren said that I had probably taken too much morphine (which I'd done to try to get the pain under control), and she recommended that I take less, and take ativan in between morphine doses rather than at the same time. Actually, I haven't taken any morphine all day, which makes me feel hopeful that the problem is a muscle pull and not a cracked rib.

At one point the guy from the oxygen company came. We've been having a lot of trouble with the new equipment: the big liquid oxygen tank in the kitchen has been leaking water all over the floor (it turns out there was supposed to be a bottle for this excess water to flow into, which was missing). In addition, the hose on the bi-pap (which is the same model as the one I had from the other company) has been filling with water every night (the old one occasionally got some water in the hose, maybe every four or five days). The guy turned down the amount of humidity and said that should help, but I'm sceptical--I guess I'll know better tomorrow morning.

I was very thirsty but not at all hungry, so Lauren got me something to drink, and I ate a piece of matzo so I could take some pills (my Celebrex, for one, is n0t supposed to be taken on an empty stomach), and after she and Kelly left I went back to sleep. I've been sleeping most of the day--I was awake briefly when Laurel came around eleven, and again around three when a new back-up PCA, Diana (pronounced "DEE-anna"), arrived. Marty was going out to pick up a speaker at the airport for a meeting this evening, and then go to the meeting, so he's not expected back until ten or so.

I woke up finally, feeling refreshed, around seven, still thirsty but not hungry, had some more to drink, and eventually had some whole wheat cinnamon raisin toast (again, because I needed something in my stomach to take medicine). Diana is very pleasant company, and we've been sitting and talking and discovering some interesting connections in our lives. She says she'll be glad to be another back-up person, so I think we're pretty safe about getting covered whatever hours we need covered.

Just sitting and typing is making me tired, so I think I'll end here and lie down and see if I can get more comfortable.


  1. Whew! Sounds pretty scary! Wish all those machines would work right! Do you have nurses who are available by phone at night, to give recommendations? Seems like times like that you might need to talk to someone or even have the option of someone coming out to get you comfortable. I hope you don't have any more nights like that, Judi. Do you have a bell or a buzzer? I'd think that would be essential for a person with breathing difficulties who can't always call for help. I love you and wish you all the best.

  2. I am glad Diana and you hit it off. She seems very nice. Here's to a better day tomorrow! See you at 11. Hugs :-)

  3. Hospice is available 24-hours a day by phone and they will send someone out if it's a situation that can't be resolved over the phone. In this case, Marty was able to handle things himself. The first time it happened he was in the dining room but I guess I yelled loud enough for me to hear me! The other times he was already in bed.