Who are we kidding, I’ve been avoiding blogging. Each entry gets harder to write, harder to relive. Some things too close to my heart yet. The next posts may not be all-inclusive on details, as I’ve been working on assembling it into a larger format at this point. But I do want to share a lot of the awesome (and petrifying) experiences. It is with a very deep breath that I begin again:
Monday morning, May 26th, came and went. Scott’s lab results showed his hematocrit down early on, indicating a loss of blood possibly. The doctors thought it was diluted, so they sent off for another and we waited, not too worried. We didn’t end up hearing back about this.
Our Associate Pastor (or “full time elder”, as we prefer to call him) Doug and his family came to visit late-morning. With limited visitation in the ICU, Doug came into the room alone. He shared passages in the Bible that had encouraged them during trials in their life and prayed with us. Moving to small talk, I excused myself to find the kids and Jessica in the waiting room.
Theo, their youngest, is close-ish to Flynn’s age and about the same size. It was so nice to watch him run around, his big brothers and sister chasing after him. I was really starting to miss our kids by now. But until we were out of the ICU, we decided to hold off as to not worry them too much with visuals. We talked to them daily, and kept them in the know about what was going on, keeping it as simple as possible. Adyn had been there when Scott first started bleeding, and understood what was going on fairly well. He was able to support Kendra and Colby really well at home. Over the years, they all knew of Daddy’s liver disease, and what may happen. That really helped them (and me!) as we took each step at the hospital.
It was so nice to be around other sweet littles, to be embraced by Jessica! The visit was short and sweet.
Doug stepped into the room, and looked me in the eye to tell me that Scott was throwing up blood again. My heart stopped.
Jessica prayed with me, and I hustled back to Scott’s room. When I got there, he was sitting on the edge of the bed, projecting blood into a bucket. There were several doctors and nurses around, urging him to lay down. He didn’t want to, unsure how to vomit into the bucket if he did. I squatted down in front of him, holding his leg and told him firmly that he had to lay back, that I would hold the bucket as well as I could, but we had to get him flat. I didn’t know why they were laying him down yet, but later realized it was because he wasn’t clotting on his own, and was bleeding more this time.
Sarah texted. She was up for the morning and drove to OHSU. She was in the waiting room.
I texted her a one liner or two, letting her know Scott was bleeding again, and I couldn’t come get her. She sent a quick message out so that folks could know to pray.
“Scott’s bleeding again. It’s bad. It’s really bad.”
As soon as Scott laid back on the bed, he was turned onto his side and tilted the bed so that his feet were higher than his head. He was signing “I love you” to me, unable to do anything else. Then he wasn’t. His body started panicking as they held him down. They were quick to give him drugs to soothe him.
Before I knew it, a box from Red Cross had arrived. Also a new, larger piece of equipment arrived that could push liters of blood four bags at a time, fast. They alternated red blood cells, plasma, and platelets. I watched them add tally marks to his dry erase chart on the wall… We were swiftly surpassing 3, then 4, then 5… It just kept going.
“No what if’s. Serenity now.” – Summer
A set of doctors was at his wrist, inserting a monitor that would more accurately track his pulse and blood pressure with an ultrasound and scalpel. Another set was trying to insert IV’s. Another, watching and pushing blood product into him. I was signing consent forms left and right as they were working on him, staying close to his head, talking to him the entire time:
“I’m right here.”
“They’ve got this.“
I was surprised they let me stay in the room. In fact, they let Sarah & I stay nearly 100% of Scott’s hospital experience, sans only a few procedures that required a sterile atmosphere. When there was a moment of pause, I quickly went out and get Sarah.
We hugged. I explained ever so quickly what was going on. For a half of a second, I almost broke down but she stopped me in my tracks. We went back into the ICU together. When we arrived, Sarah hung back in the hallway when I went in. I instantly went to the head of the bed to talk to Scott. A few minutes later, Sarah came in and sat in the chair behind me. Apparently she wasn’t quite prepared for what she was seeing, and nurses thought she was about to pass out. Instead, she says she was just struggling with her emotions. From then on, we laughed about how great I was in the moment only, and she was good outside of the moment only. It was a great indicator that we’d be a great fit for each other for this crazy adventure. But then, we already knew we complimented each other well.
“Minnesota tube”, only his went through his mouth, not nose.
The bleeding wasn’t stopping. The doctors needed to put in a breathing tube to protect Scott’s airways and lungs, and had suggested adding a “Minnesota Tube” (above) to stop the bleeding. We had to step out for this. We walked down to the end of the ICU hallway where we could watch his doorway.
During our wait, two hours after he began bleeding, we posted: “Still transfusing massive amounts of blood. Breathing tube. Now procedure to put balloon in belly to put pressure on his bleeding vessel. Not stable, but docs are more confident.”
Waiting took so long.
“The peace that passes understanding is my plea. God is good. All the time.” – Summer
It was probably a half hour later that they let us back into the room. Scott was medicated and sleeping soundly. Gone for what would be days. He was covered in monitors and tubes. The Minnesota tube had done the trick. It put pressure on the varix that was ruptured and bleeding – but was a strange sight to behold.
Imagine this hanging up and over the ceiling mounts, the right side coming out of Scott’s mouth.
Because his bleed was coming from a bulging vessel in his upper stomach, they only inflated the lower balloon (pictured above), tying it up and over the equipment movers that are mounted to the ceiling, hanging a saline bag to the end of it for added pressure. This way it’d squeeze tight against the upper part of his stomach while inflated. Later, they added an IV tree to the foot of his bed, using it instead, making things more visually appealing and less “white trash” looking. We had to chuckle. What else can you do?
It was at 4pm, four hours after Scott started bleeding this time, that we posted: “The docs put a balloon into Scotts belly to put pressure on his bleed. He has received a lot of support (blood, oxygen, etc), and is tentatively stable, tho’ critical still. They believe the bleeding is under control. He is sleeping and comfortable. We wait for the “holiday” [on-call] surgical team to get finished with another patient then decide if they are comfortable to do this rare surgery now. If not, we wait ’til tomorrow for the regular team. The balloon can stay in 12 hours then has to come out for one before the can put back in for another 12 max. So we are buying time.“
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!
Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.