During that first week, so many tests were run to figure out what I was actually sick with, and the doctors were getting no answers. The chiefs of infectious disease and pulmonary medicine were both on my case, and were the nicest doctors ever. The infectious disease doc even looked like Kris Kringle from the original “Miracle on 34th Street.” Both of them would pat my hand reassuringly as they would prepare to leave my room.
In the meantime, Jesse got used to being called Mr. Boyer by the stream of nurses, doctors and technicians who came and went. It was just easier to let it go than explain to everyone that we were only engaged. My pulmonary medicine doctor had apparently talked with one of my nurses and learned that we were engaged. He asked us our story during a visit, and was so taken by it that he kept asking questions. Soon everyone knew that we were not married, but engaged, and were even more impressed by Jesse’s very apparent loving care of me.
Throughout this week, Heavenly Father’s care for me was also very readily apparent. Jesse also gave me a blessing before each of the big tests I would undergo, which helped me a lot to stay calm.
The pulmonary chief decided he needed samples of the fluid both in and around my lungs. Drawing fluid from around my lungs required a needle to be inserted into my upper-lower back into the pleural space (yes, I WebMD’ed this) to collect the fluid specimen.
The pulmonary doc did this procedure himself right there in my hospital room. I sat on the edge of bed supported by the table, Jesse and a nurse, a very nice young woman who was wearing a hijab. The doc administered a local anesthetic in the spot he would insert the needle, which thankfully worked very well because I didn’t feel a thing. He inserted the very large needle through my back into the pleural sack and after waiting for a moment no fluid came out. He withdrew the needle, and announced he would need to try again. I was holding onto both Jesse and the nurse’s hands. As the doctor prepared to insert the needle a second time, I began to pray out loud whispering quietly, asking Heavenly Father help make this time successful. I hadn’t even finished my prayer, when the doctor announced it was working and he collected enough fluid for the required tests. I thanked Heavenly Father and relaxed my grip on the hands I was holding. The nurse looked at me with tears in her eyes, and squeezed my hand while the doctor put a Band-Aid on my back. I’ve never experienced such an instantaneous answer to prayer before. I knew I was being watched over, and I experienced no pain at all from this procedure.
Daily blood draws were a nightmare. The vampires… er, phlebotomists were really good their jobs and for the most part didn’t hurt me. The only problem was that one phlebotomist kept using the same spot to draw blood for three days straight. Finally on the fourth day, my poor, tired, little vein decided enough was enough and collapsed. The attempted blood draw was so painful, I wanted to smash the guy’s face into the bed rail. I refused to let him or anyone else touch me again for several hours. Finally, a young woman convinced me to let her try on the back of my hand. She was successful--thanks heavens!
I even had a bronchoscopy so that the kind pulmonary doc could look at my lungs on the inside and collect tissue samples. Thankfully, I was put under while the scope and pincers were inserted and biopsies collected, but awakened to violent, bloody coughing and nose blowing. I used up a small box of tissues until I could catch my breath and stop coughing. It was pretty awful. The good doctor was so kind to me though, and stayed in the room with his anesthetist until I was breathing regularly.
The blood and tissue tests kept coming back with negative results. In other words, they couldn’t figure out what was causing the pneumonia. Among other things, I was even tested for cancer, hence the lung tissue biopsies, which came back negative too. This was all both good and bad, because it meant that it wasn’t a funky bacterial thing or streptococcal infection, but they had no idea what was going on.
One night I was awakened for the hourly vital signs check by the night nurse, and I could barely move I was tired. I remember feeling so tired that I almost didn’t say anything to the nurse. I mustered up the strength to tell her that everything felt really heavy and dark. Immediately, she tested my blood oxygen level which was in the low 80s. A team came rushing into the room with a nebulizer. They removed theand fit the nebulizer over my face and turned up the oxygen. I had to use this for the next couple of days until my levels were constantly above 92, and then they weaned me off of it and back onto the nasal cannula. I hadn’t experienced not having sufficient oxygen before and it was a weird feeling.
Everyone took such good care of me, and Jesse led the way. He helped me to eat, and drink, to sit up, and held my hand through every blood draw. I was so thankful he was there because of him I was never alone during that first week. My housemate LP was a lifesaver, bringing needed clothing and toiletries, and her miraculous turkey neck broth with rice that tasted so good in comparison to the hospital food. My friend SAS also came a couple of times sitting with me as well so Jesse could get food and shower.
We were told that I needed to go 48 hours without a fever with urine and bowel movements on my own before they would even begin to consider releasing from the hospital. So, the big goal became to get my temperature down and keep it down. The fever would break for a few hours and then shoot up back again.
Finally, I got a break. My fever broke and stayed away for 24 hours, so we started feeling hopeful. I started sitting in the chair for a couple of hours at a time. I went to the bathroom by myself a couple of times. The physical therapist visited and I went for a walk down the hallway. I was quite a sight, I had the oxygen, IV and a walker. I was wearing two hospital gowns, one to cover my front and one to cover my back, and those awesome hospital socks with the anti-skid plastic on the bottom. Plus, I had a big belt around my waist that the PT used to steady me when I got a little wobbly. I made it to the end of the hallway and back with my entourage attending me every step of the way, and a high-five from my doctor when he saw me out and about.
We were one step closer to me going home.