The Downward Spiral Begins

After five nights in Critical Care, Donna was moved onto a transition floor in the hospital. She seemed to be improving, or so we thought. Because of the severe infection in one of her heart valves, Donna was taking strong antibiotics. Her blood pressure was stabilizing. However, every nurse that came in said something about her being very sick. One nurse stated that they had previously had a few patients that recovered from endocarditis, but they were patients that were otherwise healthy. No one was giving us much hope for her recovery.
Donna’s mind was still, well, all over the place. She could remember phone numbers. She could recall things I had told her the day after her heart attack. On the other hand she would do things like put phantom salt on a phantom sandwich she was supposedly holding in her hands. Oh, dear.
She would talk for hours and hours. She would stay awake all night talking. Then when she was given medicine to help her relax, she would sleep for hours and hours. It was a wild pendulum swing. This continued day after day.

Critical Care Care

Brief visits with family and friends was up to that point my only experience with critical care. When Donna was placed in CCU, I got up close and personal exposure to the intense care given to patients in that unit. We were allowed to stay with Donna round the clock, as long as there were no more than two people in her room at a time.
The rooms are small and designed for function, not family comfort. Darla and I didn’t mind at all, because we knew that Donna needed ‘critical care’ and we wanted nothing less for her. The nurses were the best of the best. They were professional and focused. They readily responded to our questions and concerns, but they did not spend extra time just visiting. If we accidentally had more than two people in Donna’s room, they quickly and pointedly brought that to our attention, and of course we immediately complied with the two person rule.
During Donna’s stay in critical care, she had periods of being very awake and periods of being unable to wake up. It was always one or the other. The electrocardiogram showed that she had two bad heart valves that needed to be replaced, as well as infection in one of the valves. The infection was called endocarditis and very serious. She also needed several heart bypasses. The kicker was that her heart was not strong enough for even an angiogram. Her cardiologist told us that Donna’s condition was very grave, and we should start getting in contact with her family, and getting her things ready…..