Saturday, March 17, 2012

Making It Home!

After a long fight in the hospital, and an intense and painful stay at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indianapolis I am happy to say. "I did it!".

When I made it home it was the best feeling ever.
Managing the medications I have to take seemed daunting at first, but after a few tests, and some creative thinking on how to manage the dosages at what not, I believe we have found a successful way to handle all the pills and injections I have.

I will continue the Road To Recovery portion of this blog shortly. I would just to take this post to say Thank You to everyone for all of the wonderful support, kind words, and everything else you did to make this event in our lives manageable.

With Love and Gratitude
~The Rickard Family

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Get To Go Home And I Have A Face Book Page

Facebook Page for support

I have created a page on facebook for anyone who has a family member, friend or loved one, or who has personally dealt with Guillain Barre Syndrome. It is also a place to honor and pay respect to those who have not survived GBS.

Please take a moment, go to the page and Like it, and post some kind words of support if you have the time. It can be found at the address below.

A Diagnosis And A New Life To Learn

When we got to Methodist they took me straight to the ER. My wife and mother in-law traveled separate from the ambulance during the transfer.

I met the neurologist about 10 minutes after I was checked into the hospital. He asked me some normal questions and several odd ones. After answering questions for about 10 minutes Dr. Bayne told me he was fairly certain he knew what my affliction was. He said 2 words I had never heard before, but I would become more familiar with than I ever wanted.

“I’m very sure you have something called Guillain Barre” he said with a patient tone to his voice. ***(note: this disease is so rare that Microsoft Word 2010 doesn’t even recognize it. I had to add it to the library.)***

From that moment everything started happening quickly. Before I knew it I was on my side having a spinal fluid test (SFT). The test came back positive for an increase in protein without the presence of an increase in white blood cells; a key attribute in Guillain Barre Syndrome.

From there the doctor had me sent to the ICU. They performed an Electromyogram (EMG) test to confirm the diagnosis. The test showed I had the beginning signs of nerve conduction blocks due to myelin damage. This all began around 6:45 am, and the diagnosis was confirmed around 7:30 PM. By the end of the EMG I had begun losing the feeling in my toes and my legs began to feel like I was running, and not stopping.

The doctors team were sure by the end of the night I would be on a breathing machine because of how aggressive the disease was. The night went by slowly. I had an IV in each arm. One supplied a slow drip of saline to ensure I wasn’t going to become dehydrated. The other was for injecting morphine to help with the increasing pain I was feeling in my legs. The morphine did not make my legs hurt any less; it only made me not care about the pain. By morning my legs felt like they were on fire, but I had enough pain killers in me that I did not care at all.

The doctors came in first thing in the morning. They explained the disease to Rose and me in more detail. They also explained that the pain in my legs was neurological, from the nerves being destroyed by my antibodies. They then explained they had a drug that could block the pain. I loved it, since it made the pain I was feeling stop hurting so much.

With that we began talking about treatment and just how this disease will be affecting us for the rest of our lives.

Time For A Change Of Scenery

The doctor entered my room, and after a few tense seconds he looked at me with a saddened expression and said, "We can't find anything wrong with your CT scan results. Everything came back perfectly fine, except for a slight swelling in your vertebrata.”

With that he went on to explain that they didn’t have a neurology unit and that I would need to head to one via transfer from there.

He left the room to find a free bed at St. Vincent in Indianapolis.  My father, grandfather, mother in-law, and wife all looked at me when the doctor left. I can remember, in detail, each of their expression. They all frightened me except for my wife Rosemary and my father Bob.

Rose’s eyes wouldn’t leave mine. Looking into them, I started remembering the first time I gazed into her eyes. I remembered the cool of that night, the way she smelled, and how nervous I was. We both were lain down at a friend’s house. The Punisher was on the TV, and we were focused on each other. We held each other’s hands, lightly running our fingers over each other’s palms and wrists. Our toes touched each other lightly, and the rest of the world existed outside of us. It was then I knew, looking into her eyes, she would be there forever and I would never leave her side.

My father’s eyes were scared. But, they were strong, as they always are. He made me feel like I was 6 again. I could remember the bicycle I had received. I couldn’t remember what it was for, but I remember my two brothers Robbie and Ben both got one too. I remembered the look on his face when he was holding my handlebars. His eyes were scared to let go, but strong in confidence I could succeed. The look on his face then was the same it was at that moment in the ER.

I can’t explain how I felt in that moment. It was as if someone sucked the air out of the room and stopped time.

After a few minutes in that existence two nurses entered the room. One had an interesting tone to her words when she began speaking.

“Ok hun, we’re going to get you up and walking so we can get you out of here.” She sounded like she was trying to convince me into doing something I had been hiding. Bluntly putting it, I don’t think they believed what I was telling them.

The nurses walked to my bedside and began trying to sit me up. “This isn’t going to work,” I said slightly irritated at their tone, “I can’t walk. My legs aren’t moving if no one told you.” I added in a sharp tone.

“Oh,” one of the nurses said surprised, “you can’t walk?” she asked me as if she were speaking to a child.

You can predict what I wanted to tell this woman. But, I restrained myself in my response.
“No, that’s why I came in. I can’t move my legs at all.” I said, returning the talking to a child tone.

The nurses left the room shortly after that response.

The doctor returned after about 15 minutes. He told me that the hospital I wanted to go to didn’t have any beds available. We went through 3 other hospitals before finally finding an available bed in Methodist.

With that the paramedics came in, transferred me onto another stretcher, and off we went to Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

500 Ways How Not To Make A Lightbulb

The ambulance pulled into the bay at St. Vincent and I could hear the huge overhead door coming down as the engine shut off. The back door swung open and the cold air filled the cab of the ambulance. I remember the feeling of the chill wind rushing up my arms making the hair stand on end as the paramedic and the EMT came around and pulled my stretcher out the back of the ambulance.

We entered the sliding doors to the hospital and around the corner we sped to a room who's number I couldn't read before we flew through the doors. The paramedic and EMT lined my stretcher up next the bed, grabbed the sheets I was on, and pulled me over to my new bed.

Rose, my mother in-law, and Robert came through the door shortly after the paramedic and EMT left. Shortly after them, a nurse walked through the door. They asked me the same hundred questions I had been asked once before already. Can you explain what happened? Do you know where you are? How long has this been going on?

Some of the questions they asked seemed very pointless. Others seemed to have an undertone of doom to them. After answering all the questions to doctor told me I would have to have a CAT Scan of my spine to make sure nothing was wrong with it. The nurses took blood, urine, and I'm pretty sure they had me sign the rights to my second born child somewhere between all the documents and questions.

Waiting for everything to be setup for the CAT Scan seemed to take forever. Sitting nervously with everyone in the room we all tried to make small talk about how foggy it was, how cool it was. It all seemed forced and unnatural. A small part of me wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.

To my surprise my grandfather and dad came walking through the door as we all waited.  We hugged as they asked the inevitable questions all the same as the doctors, nurses, and paramedics had.

Finally the doctor came walking through the door and with the help of a nurse, informed me that the CAT Scan was ready. With that they grabbed my bed, flipped a switch on the floor out of my sight, and pulled my bed to out of the room.

We went to a small dark room with a large machine that resembled something out of a Tim Burton movie. A CAT Scan machine, for those who don't know, is a very large machine that has a very small tube like area the patient is shoved into for long periods of time where it feels like you cook on low.

I put the headphones on as they transferred me onto the sliding table. I had lain down and before I knew it they were sliding me into the tube. I remember I was given the chance to tell them what type of music I enjoyed so they could tune the headphones the gave me to something similar. I told them classical orchestra, and what they gave me was definitely not what I thought they would have chosen.

The machine sounded broken as I laid inside of it. It made grinding, creaking, and other noises I cant describe. I started sweating from he amount of heat generated both by my own body, and by the machine as it rumbled. After an hour the machine shut down, and I was pulled out. The nurses transferred me back onto the bed and wheeled me back into the patient room with my family waiting for me.

After another period of waiting the doctor returned to the my room.