Friday, August 6, 2010

Long-Overdue Update

Once again, too much time between updates.  There have been too many things hanging, and too many things changing minute by minute.  I didn't want to write about something, only to have it change between the time I typed it and the time I pushed the "publish" button, only to have it change still again after publishing and before sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter.

So, I was having trouble with my PEG [feeding] tube.  Since it was replaced in September 2009, at Beth Israel Hospital, it was never right.  From the time it was originally placed in September, 2005 until then it hadn't given me a moment of trouble.  The only reason I had it replaced 4 years later was that PEGs are usually changed every two years and this one was discolored, and the rubber had weakened.  So it was replaced in September of 2009. But when it fell out in March of 2010, I went to my local ER and the tube was replaced by a resident [not GI] doctor.  That was when the situation got worse -- the tube leaked stomach acid, which ate through my skin, making the area around the tube angry-looking and very painful.  The doctor at Beth Israel insisted everything was okay, but I knew it wasn't.  So during my next quarterly visit to the MDA/ALS clinic at NY Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell, I lifted up my shirt for my neurologist, and she was pretty horrified 

So fast forward to July and Dr. Crawford at Cornell, GI doctor.  He says I am best off replacing the tube in a whole new location.  This would mean another endoscopic procedure and going under general anesthesia again.  Of course, I freak out, and Dr. Crawford says he feels bad, but it might not be enough to do a simple tube replacement in the same site.  Anesthesia is always a risk for anyone, but especially for a person with respiratory issues.  When it was done in September, I wore my bi-Pap while I was under anesthesia and all went well, but this is 11 months later and I might not be so lucky this time.  But I resign myself because it has to be done.

I came into Dr. Crawford's office this past Monday with my bi-Pap, fully expecting to have the endoscopy, and Dr. Crawford tells me that he has decided to do a simple PEG replacement to see if that works.  So that's what he did in the same site.    to tilt a bit in order to clearWe are keeping our fingers crossed that this does the trick. If it doesn't, I'm headed for another endoscopy and anesthesia.

My wheelchair is fixed -- for now.  Every once in a while, the tilt stops working, but then it starts again unexpectedly.  This is a pain when I need to nap, and when I travel in the street, because I need to tilt slightly in order to clear bumps and curbs.  I spend as much as 16-18 hours in the wheelchair, so napping and relaxing are very important.  So the technician came to my house last Friday and fixed the footrest, which wouldn't stay in the up position.  Getting the footrest out of the way is important for transfers.  So transfers have been hard on the aides and myself.  Ideally in a transfer -- from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to bed or commode, etc-- the aide and patient work together, with the patient helping as much as possible according to his/his remaining abilities.  I have a new wheelchair finally in process, but it's anyone's guess how long it will take for that to happen.

The weather has not been good for someone with compromised breathing, so I have been inside much more than I like to be, and much more than any other summer so far.  Judy has come over a couple of times, and we have had to postpone a few times because of the high humidity and poor air quality outside.  I was invited to Louise's church's barbecue one evening, which was a very welcome and pleasant outing for me, but we were careful to get out of there when the mosquitoes came out after dark.  Ironically, the best place for me is the allergen-free beach, but I don't think there will be an opportunity for me to get to any beach this year. This loss has been the hardest for me to accept.


mw said...

I think losing the beach would be hardest for me to accept, too. I hope you can get there.

Sara Lopergolo said...

Fern, thanks for posting this, it really helps to hear things from your perspective. I wish my brother could type so I could really know how he feels. He uses the eye gaze but it is so tiring for him that we only exchange quick messages. Hope to see you at support group this week. Take care, Sara

Anonymous said...

Fern, this is James Belmonte, your old admin from the Doubletree.. You totally inspire... your blogs are great and uplifting.. i wish you nothing but the best.... i was looking for your email here to get in touch.. am i missing it?

Fern Ellen Cohen said...

The email is at the top of the blog -- fec139@gmail.com.
Are you on facebook. I am on FB under Fern Cohen. Pls get in touch