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Monday, November 1, 2010

Heavy stuff

Please bear with me, guys. I have to slog through some unpleasantness, get it off my chest, let people know.

As I'd mentioned, J went for a complete physical last Thursday. At 11:30 on Friday night, Kaiser called him; all his blood samples had tested positive for bacterial infection. "You need to come into Kaiser Sunset [Hollywood, the closest Kaiser facility with a full emergency hospital]. Now."

He called me. I felt initial panic, then swung into autopilot. I got dressed, packed a few things and drove the 30+ miles to his house, then drove him 20 miles to Kaiser Sunset. We got him admitted to the ER around 1:30. At nearly 3:00 a.m., they told me they'd be keeping him and that I should go home. I went back to his place, went to bed around 4:00.

I won't draw this out; J has a bacterial infection called Strep Varidins, which is bloodborne. They started pumping him full of antibiotics immediately and then started running a battery of tests to see if the infection had affected any of his vital organs.

J has an existing heart condition called mitral valve prolapse, which is essentially a defective heart valve. One can live with it, but it's vulnerable to any infection that attacks the body. Today they did an echocardiogram (a heart scan); sure enough, the weak valve is covered with bacterial growths. In short, J's heart is a freaking petri dish at the moment.

They will run more tests tomorrow morning. One of two things will happen: 1) they will put him on an aggressive antibiotic regimen for the next five to six weeks. He'll have a shunt in his arm and he'll be self-administering the IVs. However, he'll be able to function, leave the hospital, go back to work, etc. Or...2) they'll do open-heart surgery to replace the valve if it's too badly damaged.

This past weekend has been a blur. He called me early yesterday morning when I was at his house, to tell me all the news. Numbly, I listened, wrote down instructions. Call his sister. Find his work cell phone and call his boss. Sort through his mail. Collect a few things to bring to him. Keep calling the ER to find out when he's transferred to a room.

I went to his sister's market to eat something and let her know what's going on. When I took out my wallet to pay for my sandwich, she said, "Put that away." That was very nice of her.

J was moved to room in the late afternoon on Saturday, and I went to visit him around 7:00, bringing the things he'd asked for. The good news was, the antibiotics were starting to kick in, even this soon. His vitals were back to normal. For example, a normal pulse is around 70-72. Because J is so fit and athletic, his normal range is the 50s. On Friday night when he was admitted, it was 93.

And best news of all -- he's eating. He wants to eat; his appetite is coming back. Last night, they goofed and brought him two dinners; he ate all of both of them. That did my heart good, after all these weeks of begging and coaxing him to eat. He's lost 20 pounds.

We will know more tomorrow. For tonight, I wait. Tonight, I try to sleep. My emotions go back and forth; sometimes I'm calm, other times I'm weepy. And sometimes I'm angry. This didn't have to happen. If he hadn't waited five weeks to see the doctor, it might not have gotten this bad. And he knows it, too. He told me I probably saved his life by pushing him like I did. That may or may not be... but I wish I hadn't had to do that.

We've been fighting for the past couple of weeks. I do believe he had the flu at first, because he had all the classic flu symptoms. But when he simply didn't recover and kept having a fever every day, by the third week I knew something else was going on. I pleaded with him to see the doctor again, but he just said, "I don't need to see the doctor; I have the flu. If you keep pushing me, I'll just get stressed out and that will make me feel worse."

I am so scared. I love that goddamn stubborn fool. But through all the fear and worry, there is some sense of relief. At least he is in good hands now, getting the proper treatment. At least I don't have to sit around anymore and watch him deteriorating, powerless to do anything about it and wondering just what the hell is wrong with him.

We will get more answers tomorrow. If he is not having surgery, he may come home as early as Tuesday or Wednesday. All I can do is hope for the best. I'd pray, but I don't believe in it.

I promise I will update when I can. All support and well-wishes are welcome; we could both use them. Thanks for caring.


  1. OMG.. Erica.. sending lotsa love and hugs and let me know if there is anything else at all I can do on this end... I'm there.. just ask! (thank god you are a stubborn little thing..) -- (muah!)

  2. Wow! NOT the kind of welcome drama for a couple. Sincere best wishes to both you and J.

    Not knowing is way worse than knowing what one has to face. Now the complete recovery is underway. Excellent sign J responded so quickly to the antibiotics.

  3. Sending love and hugs Erica

    It's a good sign he's responding to the antibiotics.

    Thinking about you both.


  4. What a relief that the antibiotics seem to be working!

    I'm sending gigantic hugs to you; you'll both be in my thoughts until you share the inevitable good news.



  5. OMG my Erica that is frickin scary :-( i am happy that J is responding to the antibiotics so well that is such a relief. it's good he has his appetite back. i am worried i hope he does NOT have to have heart surgery that freaks me out:-( you are both so VERY brave i know J can get through this somehow he is tough. you both just have to stay strong that's what i did when i was in the thoughts are with you both always.if you need anything at all just ask. sending you both hugs, Love you both xoxo from your naughty girl Jade

  6. Wow, Erica. That is great that he is in good hands, and you can maybe relax just the tiniest bit.
    I'm sorry that you and J are going through this,and I hope things get a lot better!

  7. Erica , I feel for you . You are a strong person , u will get through this . As for the prayer part , dont dismiss it , sometimes it just helps to get it off your chest . Believe in it or not , it can make a person feel better .

    Hope all continues to get better !

  8. Thank you, everyone. So far, no news. I am hoping to know more tonight. On the positive side, this strep infection is one of the most common and usually does respond to antibiotics. But they have to determine how much it affected his heart valve. Will tell more when I know.

  9. Best wishes to J, I hope that the antibiotics work. It is good to hear that his appetite is back.


  10. I am sorry to read of J's troubles. I know you will be a good comfort to him. I wish you all the best in dealing with this stress and J in returing to good health. As you know, there are lots of people who care about you both, and we all will be hoping for good news and we will be here for you through it all.

  11. Sending well wishes to both you and J. You are both in my thoughts!

  12. Sending super-positive vibes to you and J. Laughter is great medicine, by many accounts. I know someone who claims he got a lot better--and more swiftly than expected--from some heavy stuff by reading old Woody Allen books in hospital. Best wishes.

  13. Sending my love and you are in my thoughts,


  14. You guys are the best. Thank you.

  15. Sending my best wishes.

  16. Erica,

    I'm thinking of you and J, and I'm hoping for the best. hugs to both of you.

  17. Just checking in again.. in case anything new got posted... still have you both in my thoughts.. and just letting you know that you can feel free at any time to vent in my ear privately.. I'm a good listener. (smooch)

  18. No real updates yet. The blood tests are still showing positive for the bacteria, and they will not let him go home until they improve. He's having a different kind of heart test tomorrow. It seems he may be able to get well without any surgery, but we'll see. Thanks, everyone.

  19. That is very good news Erica.. (the no surgery stuff)... Is J still eating well? ARE YOU EATING? Getting rest? Staying hydrated? I hope so.. as you are "the rock" to that man of yours.. and we can't have you fading off into the sunset now! (XOXO)

  20. Hello my Erica WOW i agree with Zelle the no surgery stuff is good news :-) i am keeping my fingers crossed that the bacteria will disappear from his blood, i am worried about you i know your stressed and tired i am here for you if you need to vent or for anything you may need,sending you big hugs always from your naughty girl Jade XOXO

  21. Yes, no surgery is wonderful news and meanwhile you must take care of yourself. While he is in hospital it would be great if you could find what time you can to recoup your strength because when he comes out I am sure you will be on nurse duty.
    This kind of worry is very destructive to one's health but, alas, unavoidable. You love therefore you worry. But eat the food that is best for you, rest when you can (even if you can't sleep) and do try to nurture yourself. It may be the most loving thing you can do for J.

    I am thinking of you both. I also do not pray but will send you love and care through the ether which may be all a prayer is anyway.

  22. do try to nurture yourself. It may be the most loving thing you can do for J.

    "POPPA KNOWS BEST" .... ya know?

  23. Hang in there, Erica. You're doing a great job and I'm very proud of you. Like Poppy and Zelle said, take care of you too. Give J my best hopes and wishes, and to you as well.


  24. hi,

    wellll......the ultimate good news/bad news post.

    j. is where he should be right now. the anti-biotics should be kicking in big time now. the five weeks of foot dragging probably allowed thigs to get to this stage.

    at least it wasn't a staph infection.

    you've been a godsend for him, hopefully he'll listen to you from now on.

    stay well yourself.



  25. New to your blog and sorry to hear of J's situation. I've only browsed your blog, sounds like J has bacterial endocarditis from MVP. That's why we prophylax pts with antibiotics begore procedures to prevent seeding of bacteria on diseased valves. I suspect he'll need a valve replacement at some point. I'm not a CV surgeon, just a plain old bone surgeon but please feel free to email me if you ever need info or have question. I sent a friend request via fetlife.

    All the best,