recovery

JUNE 15 – 30th

The weeks and months after Dan came home from 11 days in hospital for severe dehydration and actue kidney failure were full of both elation and desolation.

Dan, never one to take it slow, rushed back to work the day after he got out of the hospital and then spent Friday the 17th as an exhausted heap in bed. By Father’s Day (June 19th) he was feeling up for biking to a picnic for my dad, but 2 days later we had to rush to Fairfax so Dan could have an emergency CAT-scan since Dan had been having prolonged headaches and the doctor thought it could be serious. Thankfully, everything in Dan’s brain showed up normal, but getting so close to death can make you (or your doctors) paranoid hypochondriac(s)!

Somewhere in the mix, Dan was also diagnosed with pancreatitis and put on a clear liquid diet. Now, at his peak, Dan gained 45 lbs while in the hospital. But this was just from fluid retention – they were pumping him full of fluids through IVs but he wasn’t yet urinating. However, once he started urinating and lost this extra fluid, it was clear he’d lost a good deal of weight. And considering how crazy-skinny Dan is to begin with, you can imagine how skin & bones he’d become. So being on a clear liquid diet was really not ideal!  Thankfully Dan didn’t experience much of the excruciating pain typical of pancreatitis – we think he probably had it while in the hospital because he was in extreme pain then. Of course Dan was also still on strong pain killers for the pain he did have.

But in the midst of the ever-continuing new diagnosis of ailments, there were consolations. One high was hosting our friend Wyatt for a few days. He’d just returned from 6 months of living in Latin America and 2 months in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (see his blog about his time in DRC here.) Hearing his stories totally fed my wanderlust. Estoy tan celosa!  He headed back home to Washington state in the end of June, but we’re hoping he’ll land a job in DC and be back in the area soon.

Oh, and while Wyatt was visiting, Dan started having acute heart pain, especially when he breathed in.  Thankfully, it turned out to just be Costochondritus, which is basically just harmless joint pain… it’s just the joints around your heart!

The good news is despite the bronchitus, headaches, pancreatitis, and  costochondritus, Dan’s kidneys were working at 100% by the end of June… just 2 weeks after his release from hospital!

taking the mick

In the end, we were told FIVE times that if such-and-such improved, Dan would be released from the hospital “tomorrow.” But “tomorrow” finally came on June 15, when Dan was able to walk out of the hospital a free man, after 11 days of agony.

It was only then, the morning the doctor signed his discharge papers, that the doctor told us in his thick Russian accent just how close Dan had come to dying. I for one am glad I didn’t know… I went though enough emotional agony in my naiveté.

But now things were looking up. Dan’s kidneys were functioning around 15% and he probably wouldn’t need any more dialysis treatments.

Dan was elated to be home… everything was experienced with joy and appreciation, like a little kid in a candy shop, jangling coins in his pocket and on a total sugar high. We even went on a bike ride for 10 minutes, Dan pedaling ever so slowly I’m amazed he didn’t topple over.

However, our joyous day ended abruptly as we got ready for bed. Suddenly, Dan began to cough and cough, while having chest pain and shortness of breath. Of course, considering what we’d been through, I immediately thought the worst – he was experiencing pulmonary edema or congestive heart failure. It didn’t help that Dan describe the feeling as, “my lungs filling up with fluid.”

So despite our absolute devastation at the thought of returning the the hopsital less than 6 hours since Dan had been released, we headed to the Emergency Room.

Thankfully….. we had a short wait and it turned out to just be bronchitus. By 3 am we were back home and in our BED for the first time in over a week.

Dead tired.  Sleep was sublime.