So, here I was in the hospital again, learning that something had gone wrong. I'm back were I started with physical therapy. My left leg was extremely swollen.
ANNIE'S MEDICAL UPDATE, 3:52 p.m., August 14
The transformation over the past four days has been REMARKABLE. I just got back from a 20-minute discussion, and it was almost like talking in our living room on any normal afternoon. She is lucid, charming, and funny. I told her -- in detail -- exactly what happened to her. She did not seem perplexed by that. Not emotional at all. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Hmmm. I don't remember that." She got some lotion rubbed all over her, and they took out the three chest tubes (mediastinal, I think they're called). She actually sat up in a chair for an hour. She asked for her eyeglasses so she could see everybody and the stuff in the rooms.
As I speak, one of her two "besties" is in with her and the other is on her way to be with her. Lara and Cathy -- I cannot thank you enough for your undying (what a perfect word!) love for my wife. Everyone should be so lucky to have two friends like y'all.
What a wonderful day! She looks great. Still no word on how long she'll be in ICU and/or lower-level care. She's still got two tubes in her -- one in each side. Almost everything else is gone, though. And she FINALLY got some water. She told me, "It was the best drink I have ever had." Good for you, Annie.
And while I was trying to get well, Billy became sick. On August 15, he went to the doctor. He wrote...
The absolute worst part of my being sick is that the doctors (understandably) have said I can't see her for two days. While I concur with the decision, it is horrible! I would walk through Hell in a propane suit for Annie, and here I sit 20 yards from her yet banned from the playing field! Uugggghhhhhh.
Annie walked today, with a walker and the assistance of a physical therapist. Her trek was only 10-15 feet, but it's a major development nonetheless. Her cardiologist came by and said her numbers look good. They will begin to wean her off some of the IVs today. The swelling in her legs appears to be diminishing. Her blood pressure is great. The pulmonologist also came by and signed off, saying her lungs are good to go. (Does that mean she no longer have to blow into that cursed plastic device? I don't know.) Also, the surgeon's PA said they will take out the drainage tubes as soon as the measurement goes down to 200. It -- whatever "it" is -- now stands at 300.
I did receive a phone call from Annie! Since I couldn't go back, we at least got to talk. She scolded me for getting sick!
I will keep you updated. I have to go get Sadie and then (maybe) attend a UIL One-Act Play planning meeting.
BTW . . . I want to thank my students Ana, Liz, and Lauren for taking care of Sadie. She thinks the world of y'all. As do I.
Lara and Matt came at some point during these days in the hospital. I know they stayed with Cathy and Perry. Just having both of them there for me, helped me recover.
Billy continue to be my champion. Got up early on August 16 and wrote this...
Woke up this morning at 5-something. Couldn't sleep. Just wanted to be with my wife. So . . . here I am, sitting up against the wall of the Heart Hospital, waiting for the doors to open. Luckily, they have an outdoor outlet, so I can actually access the internet. The doors don't open until 7:00 a.m., so I've got a quarter-hour wait.
I left my dad (Papa Bill) and Sadie asleep. Hopefully he'll wake up before her. If it's the other way around, I am hoping she won't panic, rather remember he's in Haley's bedroom.
I haven't seen a doctor in 3 days! Maybe today I can talk to one and try to figure out when Annie gets upgraded to lower-level care and we can figure out an ETA for home. Thank God for hospitals, but everybody here's got to understand how sick I am of coming up here every day. I just want her home, you know?
Our friend, Matt, goes back to NYC today, and his lovely wife, Lara, follows on Wednesday, Then my mother-in-law, Carolyn, comes in. So I think I'll have help when school starts -- at least a little. And I know our good friends, AK and Diane Agarwal are going to set up some food deliveries via our booster club, so we have that to be thankful for. I'm just ready to get back in the swing of things and let Annie come home and heal. By Christmas, it'll all be much better. Even by Thanksgiving and, for the second year in a row, we shall have MUCH for which to be thankful.
I've learned that I am blessed with a husband who truly thinks. I tease him because he asks so many questions, but when I read the words he writes, I know he loves me.
Sometime in the wee hours of the night between August 13-14, he wrote...
Sitting here alone, thinking about "time." Until today, Annie had no idea she'd been in the hospital an entire week. I find this concept utterly fascinating. Thank God we have modern medicine; propofol and other sedatives insure no memory of procedures. (At least, that's how I understand things to be. Maybe I'm wrong.) But I have been talking to people who have had very serious illness issues and who experienced "travels" while in the ICU. And what with books/movies like "Heaven is For Real" and the works of E. Kubler-Ross, I don't know what to make of all this. It will be fascinating to hear Annie's account of where -- if anywhere -- she seemed to be during this ordeal.
I have always been fascinated by Time, and have often had deja-vu moments. Does everyone? And I've always been drawn to stories about time-travel and past lives and time-altering circumstances. From the very first time I ever heard of J.B. Priestley, I enjoyed his works. And although Dunne and Ouspensky befuddle me, their premises intrigue me. Circular time. Time is eternally present. The past, present and future are all happening at the same time. Precognition. Can you remember the future? All of it is very heady. And I have no desire to be in an altered state of consciousness to find out my own truth. But there's a play really calling my name. I think I want to director TIME AND THE CONWAYS.
Okay, non-theatre people, what was all that?! I don't know. But I'm sitting here exhausted and bored, and somehow Annie's having to go through all of this reminded me of "Time." I don't know why. I guess I just want to know where Annie's consciousness has been. Anyone have any theories? Religious or scientific, I don't care. Just curious.
A book I thoroughly enjoyed is THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. I loved the book, but never have seen the movie based upon it. I am a sappy "chic-flick" kind of guy, I guess, but I like to think of my love for Annie being that eternal, eclipsing the very boundaries of Time. There was a reason I didn't marry until 40. I had some wonderful girlfriends who helped me be who I am, and I loved them all. But obviously there was a table in the corner of my heart with "reserved" written on it. Just for Annie.
I love you, Annie, and am so glad you're back. Thank you for showing up at my table. Now let's get out of here and get on with Life. (Just for superstitious reasons, though, I think I'll no longer say "safe travels.")
ANNIE'S MEDICAL UPDATE, 9:15 a.m., Thursday, August 14
Just saw Annie. She looks great. I walked and she was wide awake, asking what took so long. I didn't want to admit my failure: I was unable to find the Kindle! After the phone call last night, I slept another 2 hours and then spent 2 more looking for this damned personal device. If anyone has clairvoyant powers (or if you've been in my house lately), PLEASE tell me where to find the Kindle.
I'm not totally inept; I did manage to find her packed bag, which has her slippers in it. Since she anticipates walking today, that was good.
The physical therapist came in just as I left and began instructing her in her recovery. Right now she still has three tubes going into her chest; I heard Annie say that they were planning on getting rid of some of those today. (Didn't get to talk to a nurse to confirm.)
What would I do with out my friends. Billy even know the significance of my girlfriends in my life. He wrote about Cathy on August 13.
I just arrived here to find that her dear friend, Cathy, was already here! In her room, "conversing" with Annie. We have really good news. The girl is awake and aware. She pointed to the chart on the wall. Cathy asked, "Do you want me to read this chart?" She nodded yes. Cathy proceeded to read her everything and tell her what has transpired over the past week. She knows it has been 7 days, but she has no concept of time and also no memories of any of the operations. She is NOT in pain, but desperately thirsty. And she wants that tube out!
When I walked in, she started crying. (I choose to interpret that as a good thing.) Jeff, the nurse, told us that the tube might come out later today, or possibly tomorrow. (I see a determination in her eyes, though, that make me think she's planning a self-extubation. I hope not. I lectured her about that, and she nodded that she wouldn't. But when Annie gets an idea in her head . . .
Patience isn't easy in this situation. I know she is extremely uncomfortable, and I feel for her. May the next days pass quickly, Honey.
The importance of your family and friends in the healing process is under valued. Billy wrote about this that evening.
Well . . . I actually got to hear her voice today, for the first time in a week. The mischievous look in her eyes may have seemed an indication that she was going to self-extubate, but she didn't. The staff pulled that danged tube out at about 12:20 p.m. I went back in and she looked so much better. Something about having the face blocked is really annoying, I'm sure moreso for her than for me. She stayed on a mask for a few hours, and then that was switched to nasal cannula. While on the mask, she mouthed something to me. I put my ear to her mask and quite clearly heard her ask, "What time is it? I said, "12:33" and raised up, only to have her wiggle her finger in a "c'mere" motion. I put my ear back to her mask. "In the afternoon?" I told her that it was, indeed, just past noon, which seemed to be the time she preferred.
She has been asleep most of the day. She has hydrocodone for pain, but is no longer on sedation medicine. She sleeps a whole lot, which is great! Her body is healing, and I feel certain that we will be going home within two weeks, although no person of authority has told me that. A nurse guessed that she would be in ICU at LEAST another 2 or 3 days.
I managed to have some sort of allergy attack last night. My throat is itching, my eyes are watery and my nose is like a faucet. A visitor says mold counts are through the roof, which would explain it. I took a Benadryl and, as it always does, it knocked me out. I managed to get a 90-minute nap in the ol' "consultation room" of earlier posts.
We've had lots of people here -- Diana Mateja and Kat, Mike Maynard, Michael Harlan, Cathy, Lara, Matt, my brother, and Ian Pearce. I've been brought a gift card, some chocolates and medicine. Life is good!
Thanks to everyone. Sorry this isn't more interesting. Guess I'm in a "just-the-facts-ma'am" mode.
The next two days are foggy to me, but I do remember bits and pieces.
Annie had a good night, although her blood pressure fell into the 80s. She was given blood and it is now back up in the 120s. Also, her heart rate has shot up into the 140s, probably from something called tachycardia. I think it means that the rate shot up to compensate for the low blood pressure. Anyway . . . it is manageable. Dr. Felger has not been by yet, but I'm sure he'll have a plan.
She is off the propofol and occasionally opens her eyes. She wiggled her toes upon command. Unlike the Lincoln incident, this time I don't have to worry about brain damage; what a big relief that is! So . . . not much else to report. Once I get to the hospital, I will try to update.
Finally, I want to thank Mona Reynolds, the greatest nurse of all time, who is at my every beck and call, apparently. It's like having my own Dr. Oz. Mona, we love you, and you are, indeed, a wizard! Thank you for loving my Annie.
She is starting to come around. Off the propofol. Her blood pressure dipped last night so they gave her more blood, and her heart-rate is getting high. They think is tachycardia. Scares me, but they don't seem too concerned. It was in the 140s early this morning but has been going down. Just a moment ago I went in to be with her for a few minutes and it spiked again. I hope it didn't endanger her, but it felt good for a middle-aged, doughy man to know that at least he's still a heartthrob to someone.
I've seen this "re-awakening" before. In fact, I vaguely recall writing about it in Lincoln. It is so difficult to watch. My heart aches for her pain, my insatiable curiosity wants to put another quarter in and watch it again, and my mind wants to indelibly record the image so that I can relay it in a sharply-etched paragraph. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I recall some robot-like creature coming to life. Never been to Disneyworld, so where was that? Maybe a movie -- Westworld? Wasn't that a Yul Brynner movie from my youth? Yes -- thank you Google -- it was. 1973. My tenth year. I remember walking across town to watch it at the Sinton Rialto. (P.S. In a totally non-related stream-of-consciousness thought: Googe the Sinton Rialto and the feud between a "squatter" and the Sheriff. Total weirdness from the old 'hood.) Anyway . . . I can't recall the plot, but there are foggy memories of robots either dying or coming back from nearly dying, and this is exactly what Annie reminds me of. It is truly like science fiction. I am SO grateful that we are alive in an age when such things are not merely in the movies!
When I asked her to squeeze my hand, she did. And what a grip. It rivals my new nurse friend, Nikko, from Germany. I was reminded of another film, THE PARTY, with Peter Sellars and his character's encounter with a billiard-shooting, hand-crushing cowboy! She had a vice-like grip on me, but it didn't seem to be built on fear. Felt like true love. Pure "thank-you-for-being-there-I-love-you-with-the-heat-of-a-thousand-suns" kind of Love. Man, it felt good.
I am still cautious. But she's gonna make it. (Totally corny admission: Alone with her, I did the "I-Believe . . ." chant from the World Cup.)
Billy stayed in touch with our nurses from Lincoln and talked to the doctors every time they came in. He wrote...
Annie's heart-rate has been of some concern all day, spiking up into the 140s. They thought she might be in A-fib and had considered doing a cardioversion, which is a procedure in which they give low-energy shock to trigger entry into regular rhythm. However, her rate has since fallen and is staying in the mid-90s now, so they have decided not to do that. They now think she is in A-flutter rather than A-fib. I accosted Dr. Felger in the hall and he sat down for maybe 6 or 8 minutes to talk to me. Said his main concern was weaning her off that nitric. She's gone from 30 down to 4 today, but, in his words, "the hardest five are the last five." He wants to get her off of it so that he can extubate her.
Earlier today I ran into her electrocardiologist, Dr. Kessler, who told me with total confidence that she would "walk outta here." And then when I asked him if he thought this RV could be a recurring problem, he interrupted me and said, "trauma from the surgery." So at least he's on our side.
Sent Mona a snapshot of Annie's vitals. She says her blood pressure is a bit low but her perfusion pressure is good. Knowing I love football, she wrote "a total first down and going toward the end zone. After the nitric is off, it'll be 1st and goal."
I want to go on record as saying this: if you ever need your actors to know what confidence is, have them study heart doctors. Although their language scares me, their absolute chutzpah is fortifying!!
On August 13, I was finally taken of the ventilator. This was a very big deal to me because the hospital staff had tied my hands to the bed. Apparently, Billy told them that I would pull the tube out.
Chris had the update...
A bit of an update on Annie Dragoo. I went to the hospital and got to spend a few minutes visiting with her last night. What a difference 48 hours makes! She was sitting up in a chair eating the "food" the hospital had brought to her. Her main course was mashed potatoes, which i thought was weird! She was weak and very tired, but the Ann that I've known for so long was still there. It was nice to see that light back in her eyes. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with her because the nurses were having a shift change, and by the time they got her back into bed, she was ready to sleep, so Haley and I left her so she could get some much needed rest. I have every confidence she will only get stronger and feel better every single day. Ann, we knew you could do it! You're the toughest lady I've ever met, and you have so many still pulling for you!
My Journey from death's door to the miracle of life.
Annie Dragoo is a wife, mother, actor, singer, dancer, educator, and holistic health practitioner who lives in Austin, Texas.