Wednesday, September 4, 2013


We got released from UW Hospital early yesterday afternoon and went home and did dialysis. All went relatively well (although I had to use a "sharp" needle on one of the buttonholes).

Sabine is still experiencing some arm pain (using Tylenol as the pain reliever but does have a more powerful painkiller standing by -- oxycodone). She is tough.

This morning's dialysis went well (no need for the sharp needles) but then I made a mistake (we have to tend to the four pin wounds in her arm and hand) and she got an extra dose of saline solution in the dialysis process before we corrected the error. But all ended well.

Now we are tracing down the surgeon (or anyone?) who can give us some info that should have been in her discharge papers. Like how much wound drainage is normal? They give us the hospitalist's phone number but when calling the hospital tells us that number is only available during an inpatient stay. (So why give us the number on the discharge papers?).

I also could not find the name of the orthopedic surgeon in the discharge papers. It seems foolish to say this" "Call your doctor or go to the ER if you have drainage or redness around pin sites..." That seems like an expensive way to answer an patient's question.

So we are winding up dialysis now and then going back down to UW Hospital to resume the chemo therapy cycle.

And, if I don't get a call back, we will ask the chemotherapy nurses what they think or go to the ER!

Nevertheless, dear friends, life is still good! And your prayers and God's presence, abundantly felt!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Breaking News

It's been a while since we have had a medical crisis -- and that's why there haven't been any posts on this site for quite some time. Up until yesterday evening both chemo and our life has been relatively easygoing.

After a wonderful mini-vacation including cycling, disc golf, stock car races, and a stay at a good old traditional Wisconsin lake resort, we returned only to have Sabine fall and shatter her wrist when a chair she was standing on collapsed while she was removing a window hanging.

The 9-1-1 call. The ambulance to our farm at about 7 p.m., seven hours in the E.R. and then an admission at 2 a.m. I went home to sleep for a couple of hours and then back to the hospital and the prospect of surgery.

Now up to this point, for most of us it's just a broken bone, and a cast for 6 weeks. But for a kidney dialysis and blood cancer patient, it's only just begun.

Here's what we may have to struggle with:

1. The broken wrist (both heads of the radius and ulna were snapped and one of the bones penetrated the skin compounded the fracture and presented an infection problem). Unfortunately, the injury was on Sabine's fistula arm (the access points for her hemodialysis) and that "buttonhole" site needs to be preserved (initially, it took three separate surgeries to establish the fistula).

2. If we cannot use her fistula, a tunnel catheter will have to be inserted into Sabine's chest (before the fistula was developed we dialyzed through one for over a year. It, too, could present an infection potential.

3. Sabine's cancer-caused compromised immune system makes the possibility of infection a dangerous situation.

4. Sabine's blood cancer (multiple myeloma) makes her bones less strong and both repair and healing can be compromised.

5. She is currently in a cycle of chemotherapy which we hope will not have to be ceased during her orthopedic recovery.

6. The surgeon may not be able to cast the arm and will have to put pins and a connecting rod in her arm as an "exo" support (see picture). This also could lead to the possibility of an infection.

Sometimes things get complicated. But Sabine is a valiant and joyful fighter. And we do teamwork well together for these past 30+ years!

If you are a believer, pray.
If not, project healing thoughts for her.

Stay tuned. And for all of you who have already sent emails and FB messages, we both are deeply moved and thankful.

p.s. as I was writing this, her surgeon came down and informed me that the surgery went well -- they did have to put in the "exo" structure -- pins and rod system (but not traditional plaster cast.) Sabine will be in the hospital for another night and will most likely be discharged tomorrow (Tuesday).

NEWS FLASH: Now for the dialysis problem: can her arm be used for dialysis given the surgery? Yes! The orthopedic surgeon says he has no problem with it and that will preclude having to look for a new dialysis site (tunnel catheter!). The doc says Sabine can be discharged tomorrow. Tomorrow will have to be a dialysis day. Next hurdle is Sabine getting her chemo shot tomorrow and keeping that cycle going. Whew!