My 2022 Health Story

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  • Last Update: 2022-05-20 06:25:49

I came into the hospital here in Mistelbach on Tuesday 26 April with a recurrence of atrial fibrillation.

I was first diagnosed with this in 2016 when it manifested in extreme breathlessness and was combined with massive fluid deposits (to the tune of 40kgs). I was prescibed a cocktail of meds which rapidly reduced my weight and seemed to keep the aFib under control,.

Lately the fluid deposits have gone up again and this past weekend I semed to be back at square one: extreme breathlessness after just a couple of steps.

When we moved from Vienna to Gross-Schweibarth in 2016 we had stayed with our Vienna GP, but he shut up shop a month ago.

So Tuesday morning my wife went to see our village doctor to ask if he would take me on as a patient and to make a house call. He went one better: on the strength of Geraldine’s description of my symptoms he gave her a referral to the nearest hospital and called the ambulance service to take me there.

Blood analysis suggested a massive infection somewhere in my body, which was quickly localized and identfied as being centered in a phlegmon on my inside thigh, caused by skin rubbing against skin.
Also said my blood pressure is very low.

So first order of the day is fighting the infection, with an antibiotic infusion and more fluid while at the same time raising and stabilizing my blood pressure. Since Tuesday they have easily added 10 litres of fluid to my system; fortunately they inserted a urine catheter which takes care of going pipi.

We seem to now (April 30) have come to the point where they will try to extract all that extra fluid again, while still supporting my blood pressure. For this I will still be in the IC Monitoring unit where I have been so far.

Here in the monitoring unit I am massively wired up:

  • a wire in the urine catheter measures the temperature;
  • a tube in an arterial port constantly reports blood pressure;
  • a wire-attached sensor on my finger reports on the blood’s oxygen saturation;
  • five wires attached to stickers on my chest supply ECG data;
  • a port on my neck provides access for fluid and medicine infusions;
  • and a tube around my neck and into the nostrils supplies increasingly reduced oxygen (currently 2ltr/hour).

All of these attachments do not like to be disturbed, making typing longer texts extremely difficult.

They also make it extremely difficult to sit up by myself, because they will always catch somewhere. Sitting itself is also a pain because my belly is now so blown up with water that I cannot sit with it hanging between my thighs; and if it sits on top of my thighs it interferes with sitting and makes it very uncomfortable.

I said to my wife the other day that this is a way of learning (a) patience because one can’t do anything for oneself, and of (b) humility because one has to abandon all shame when lying naked in a room and half a dozen of people of both sexes mill around and interfere with those body parts one normally hides from everybody.

For the next stage I will be moved to a normal ward, with most attachments except the infusion port on my neck and the urine catheter gone. There a slower diureses will begin, for the fluid deposits I brought with me, while at the same time adjusting my meds to better control my aFib (beta blocker, ace suppressor), ongoing diuresis (Lasix based), and prevent blood clots.

I have no idea how long this phase will take, nor how long before I have recovered reasonable mobility, but God knows, and he will give me the necessary patience – I think he’s already helped immensely with the humility.

I will add to this story as it progresses.

Continued Tuesday, May 3rd

Yesterday, May 2nd, I was moved to a normal ward or “Bettenstation”. This was delayed a couple of days after the IC nurses noted some suppuration from the phlegmon at the top of my right leg and a surgeon was called in to cut it open and flush and drain it. It was confirmed that this was the source of my massive infection: an instance of erisypelas; they did not want to move me right after this surgery so my move was delayed until Monday.

I am now also being treated for diabetes; it is not clear whether this is a permanent diagnosis or whether the messed up sugar values are a temporary side effect of fighting the infection.

Yesterday the doctor said I would need to stay here for at least another week; as soon as the wound at the top of my right thigh has healed a bit better we will work on increasing my mobility. This would allow me to get dressed a bit more decently and thus take advantage of the fact that since the weekend limits on number of visitors have been removed (although they still have to be vaccinated/recovered/tested and wear FFP2 masks)[1]. So at least some afternoons I should be able to look forward to some entertainment.

Continued Friday, May 6 Morning

Thanks to my dear wife bringing me my second custom pillow yesterday I woke up much more rested this morning. No longer being wired to a beeping monitor beside my bed may have helped, as well.

Now I am waiting for breakfast, which will consist of two slices stale whole grain bread, tiny portions of margarine and jam, and a small tub of yoghurt. And coffee of course.

Continued May 6 Afternoon

This afternoon a surgeon and three nurses came to thoroughly clean out the erisypelas wound at the top of my right thigh. Curious, because I had absolutely no idea what things looked like down there, I handed my phone to one of the nurses and asked him to take a photo. I will not upload the picture here, but the wound is a cavity about 1½” long and ¾” tall; I can’t tell how deep it is but I guess ½” to ¾”. In order to support healing by keeping the wound dry they inserted a silver oxyde treated sponge attached by a hose to a vacuum pump which suctions the secretions.

This sounds a lot scarier than it is; in fact the earlier dressing was more uncomfortable than this sponge.

On Monday (May 9) the physiotherapist had me sit up again, and this new dressing was a lot less in the way than the previous one, although the ongoing diuresis and loss of fluid from my tissue may also have helped. The therapist wanted me to sit for about an hour; unfortunately after half an hour I had an attack of vertigo and had to lie down again.

I asked the doctor how long my “cave” would take to heal; his answer was “Weeks!” and in all likelihood I will have to stay here in the hospital for the duration.

We shall see.

Continued May 14 

I have now definitely been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and had a consultation with a dietologist to determine my future meal plan here in the hospital. Almost instantly the food I am served is more palatable.

My wound continues to heal, but I can tell it will take some time.

Continued May 20

Yesterday, and a bit unexpectedly, I was told I would be released from the hospital today. Since my wife was busy unil the afternoon with a volunteer job in Vienna this left only last night and this morning to get the house ready for me,

I will provide more details when I am safely settled at home; but there is one important thing to consider: If you are planning to come and visit me, don’t come to the hospital but to our house, after giving us a heads-up at +43-699-1715-0995.

(To be continued)

 

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  1. The vaccinated/recovered/tested requirement is referred to as “3G” here, for German geimpft/genesen/getested[]
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