My husband, Scott, escaped hospital stays until he turned 79. Lucky, eh? Well, yes … except for the fact that once, he turned 79 he endured one major health concern and/or surgery after another. First, the implantation of a Pacemaker, because his heart rate was under 40, which we discovered while in Hawaii at our grandson’s wedding. He fought to breathe the whole time we were there, which seemed unbelievable since he had no symptoms beforehand in Colorado, where we live.
Shortly thereafter, he endured the implantation of a brain shunt due to Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), which is gradual blockage of the drainage pathways for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. So, if it’s blocked, why do they call it normal?? Who knows?
After that, he had a total left hip replacement, which set him back a bit. At that time, the orthopedic doctor said he wanted to wait as long as possible to do the other hip, because of his other health issues. Looking back, I think the doctor might have thought Scott wasn’t going to live much longer. Boy was he wrong! We were grateful that he came through that surgery without getting an infection, which can sometimes happen after joint replacement surgery.
Nevertheless, a month later, he woke up one morning and his neck had swelled to the size of several lemons in a row (quite the description, huh!). I took him to his doc, and after prescribing an antibiotic, our instructions were, “if it’s worse tomorrow, take him directly to an emergency room” (that was on a Friday).
Saturday morning his neck was the size of an eggplant. It was scorching hot, red, and painful to touch. I immediately took him to the emergency room. God is so very good to us, because on this particular Saturday, a maxillofacial surgeon happened to be in the hospital. After putting an IV needle in and hanging a bag of fluids to hydrate him, they called this surgeon down to the ER. In the meantime, his neck kept getting bigger and more painful. He was delirious from the pain. The maxillofacial surgeon took one look at him and said, “Your husband has an infection in his mandible (jawbone) and we need to take him to surgery immediately.” What a shock!
The surgeon cut a small slit in his throat, just below his jaw, and inserted a drainage tube. It took four days for the infection to drain. As if that wasn’t enough, because the infection was in the bone, another surgeon put a “port” in his upper arm to administer daily infusions of antibiotics. An infectious disease doctor prescribed specific antibiotics to eradicate four different infections. Daily infusions for six weeks, in most cases, get these infections under control. We went to an “infusion center” each day, including Sundays and holidays. In fact, his first infusion was on Thanksgiving Day.
After five weeks of infusions, Scott began feeling dizzy and like he was going to fall. Apparently, this dizziness sometimes occurs in older people after taking antibiotics for a long time. Accordingly, they stopped the infusions, took out the port, and started him on four different oral antibiotics. Still, the dizziness continued, and three days later, as he started to come into the house from the garage, the door slammed against him and he fell backwards (two steps down) into the garage and broke the newly replaced hip. I called 911 … paramedics came … and another hip surgery took place the next morning. A good year ensued.
However, as time passed, he started to have trouble swallowing food. No wonder — after a swallowing study the doctors discovered that it takes one hour and twenty minutes for his food to leave his throat and reach his intestines. It takes only 20 minutes for someone whose swallowing mechanism isn’t 83 years old. That’s how Scott looks at it. Everything in his body is old, and when we ask him how he’s feeling, he says, “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in.” Encouraged to go on a “liquid diet,” he tried it for a week, and said, “I’m not doing that.” I told him that if I was 83, I wouldn’t do it either.
In the meantime, Scott went without major health issues for a couple of years.
Then, life as we knew it changed drastically over the past few months, because my Scott’s right hip was old and broken down. He endured excruciating pain and fell, sometimes twice a day. Using a walker brought some relief, but the time had come for another hip replacement surgery due to the painful deterioration of the hip joint (bone scraping against bone). The surgeon cancelled the surgery scheduled for December 13, 2017, because of a blood coagulation problem. Finally, on January 17, 2018 he had a complete hip replacement surgery.
Between December 13th and January 17th, we had home health care come in for physical and occupational therapy to build up strength and learn how to live with the pain as best as possible. After his surgery, he went to a Rehabilitation Center for physical therapy. The instructions at the center were for him to have two people assist him in getting up. When one of his nurses saw him getting out of bed alone, she warned, “You aren’t supposed to get up alone. You need two people to assist you.” He looked at her, smiled, and said, “There were three people helping me! Me, myself, and I!”
That’s my Scotty.
Scott came home from rehab on January 31. On February 5 he wasn’t feeling well, and by 5:00 PM he had severe vomiting and diarrhea, to the point that the on-call doc from our primary care group told me to take him to the emergency room, which I did. The ER admitted him, they tested him for the flu bug, and it came back negative. Late Tuesday afternoon, they released him. While I was driving home, he started getting sick again, only this time it was far more severe than the day before. Scared, I called 911. The ER docs admitted him again, and as I write this, on February 9, he is still in the hospital. I hope that he will come home on the 10th.
I miss him terribly. As I watch his health decline each month, I realize he might not be with us much longer. During this time and after God brings him home, I depend on God for strength and peace.
I’ve told you the story of Scott’s declining health for only one reason — a powerful reason, at that. God already knows what he has planned for the remainder of Scott’s life. Therefore, Scott takes every setback with a sense of humor and the knowledge that he is in God’s hands.
Can’t get any better than that!