We'd all passed around a yucky cold the week before but felt like we were on the upswing so this achy-breaky turn of events was certainly news to me. Our P.A. had given Phil a prescription for a Z-Pak the day before, just in case he got worse over the holiday. Realizing this qualified as worse, I gave the prescription to his sister and her boyfriend to get filled at the pharmacy and also had them get a thermometer so we could take his temp.
By the time they got back Phil was fading fast. He was on the couch under blankets, flushed and lethargic. His temperature was 103.9. I called our clinic in Ann Arbor which was closed because of the holiday, but spoke to the nurse on call who told me, in no uncertain terms, to go directly to the ER. So we did.
While there, Phil's fever got up to 104.3 and his resting heart rate was 97. (It's normally about 60.) His breathing was labored, as if he were jogging, but he was just lying there. The ER doctor called our clinic back in Ann Arbor and they agreed that Phil should immediately have IV antibiotics and be put on an ambulance back to U of M. After speaking with Phil's mom, we all agreed this was the best plan. Phil's sisters came to the ER to bring him food and sit with him while I took Ruby back to the house, packed up the kids and all our belongings with the help of Phil's parents and all my brothers-in-law, and the kids and I headed back home sans Phil.
Phil was admitted to U of M at about 6pm on Christmas Eve. I got home with the kids shortly after that and my parents came over to hang out with Ocean and Iris while Ruby and I headed to the hospital. By the time she and I got there Phil felt a little better thanks to the fluids and antibiotics but he was definitely still feverish at about 103. We were told he had an infection that was overwhelming his body. Diagnosis: Sepsis. But they were going to run blood cultures to find the source of the infection and he would probably have to be in the hospital for a few days pending the results.
The next morning, Christmas, I took all the kids to my parents' house to open gifts. Phil Skyped in from the hospital so he was able to watch the kids open their gifts. I then left Ocean and Iris there and Ruby and I went back up to the 8th floor at UMHS to hang out with Phil. His fever had come down quite a bit but he was also taking Tylenol for a headache so it was hard to tell if the fever had broken or if the Tylenol was masking it. Phil's parents, sister and sister's boyfriend had also driven down to spend the afternoon with him. He had a flu culture done which came back positive. They did a chest x-ray and we're waiting for those results.
On Sunday my mom came over to watch the big kids so Ruby and I could go back to the hospital. Phil was definitely looking much better and felt better too. He was off the Tylenol and his fever was gone. We walked the halls a little bit and Ruby smiled at all the passers-by as she is famous for. That evening the doctor told us Phil's x-ray came back showing pneumonia, primarily in his right lung. They put him on some big-gun antibiotics that night.
Yesterday, Monday, the doctor was confident enough in Phil's recovery to send him home on an oral antibiotic. We were out of there by 2:00.
All of Phil's chemo is currently on hold until he's better. He feels about 70% today. He still sounds pretty bad but better than he's sounded for the last week.
There are a hundred lessons we learned through this experience. I do not have the bandwidth to recount them all right now. The one I will share is probably the most obvious: If you don't feel well, call your doctor. Immediately. Things can go from zero to sepsis in a matter of hours, especially in the immune-compromised patient. We didn't realize how terrifying things were until it had settled down a little. We're not dwelling on it, but lesson learned.
(Another thing I learned is that sputum is possibly the most disgusting-sounding word in the English language with an equally disgusting definition.)
Christmas was not as we expected or envisioned for 2010 but we were able to experience the true meaning of it this year: Grace and mercy.
We're looking forward to a lighter, brighter 2011 for all of us. Cheers!