Monday, July 6, 2009

Golden, Colorado

July 5, 2009
You won’t believe what’s happened since my last blog. Ben ended up in the hospital again for his third time with peri-orbital cellulitis of his left eye! Aahhhh…the saga continues! The good news is that he’ll probably be going home tomorrow morning.

It started last Tuesday just as we departed Colorado Springs on our way north to Golden. Ben complained of a headache and said his forehead really hurt. That night, he was nauseous and developed a low-grade fever, yet his eye wasn’t swollen. By 7am, things developed quickly, and we could tell he wasn’t opening his left eye completely. Because this happened in May ’08 and again in Dec ’08, we recognized the signs and headed to the Denver Children’s Hospital. The ER took it very seriously and got him started on IV antibiotics. They ran a CT scan, and determined that an abscess was developing in his left orbital area just inside from the nose. The doctors hoped the antibiotics would take care of everything, without requiring a surgical procedure.

When Ben had this the first time, we lived in Alaska and he had to be medivaced by plane from Fairbanks to Anchorage. They performed surgery to drain a huge abscess that was growing on his left optic nerve. The second time he had it, we were in Maryland and took him to Walter Reed Hospital. That time, IV antibiotics took care of the problem without requiring surgery. So we didn’t know what to expect this third time around.

Here in Denver, by day #2 the doctors were concerned that his eye continued swelling and became purplish-red. The ophthalmologists said the vision was being affected detrimentally in the left eye, and recommended surgery to drain the abscess. In addition, the ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor recommended surgery simultaneously to remove some of the ethmoid sinuses up in the left nostril to help drainage and prevent this from happening again. All doctors agreed that it’s extremely rare for this problem to happen three times, and it’s time for proactive surgery to reduce a future recurrence.

Thom and I were allowed to go into the operating room with Ben, looking like part of the team in our surgical gowns, caps and masks! The anesthesiologist hooked Ben up, and Thom asked him to count backwards from 10. He only made it to 7, and he was out! After only about 15 minutes in the waiting room, the ophthalmologists came out saying the abscess was drained! They called it a “no brainer” and said the abscess was quite large. The antibiotics would have had a hard time getting it under control. The ENT, Dr. Friedman then worked on Ben’s sinuses for 1.5 hours. We were pleased to hear from him that all went well, and he said, “I took that little country road, and made a 2-lane highway out of it!” We’re all praying that this procedure is indeed exactly the solution to Ben’s problem with his left eye. We’re very pleased with the Children’s Hospital and the entire staff. They recognized that this problem needed fixing, and took it very seriously.

The swelling and discoloration has improved over the last two days, and the doctors believe he should be ready to go home tomorrow. Streptococcus pneumonia is once again the culprit….same as the first time around. Strep Verodan was the cause of his second episode. It looks like Ben will take oral penicillin for a few weeks, just like the last two times. I’m so glad we brought Ben to the Children’s Hospital.

The other boys loved visiting Ben because the floor’s “teen room” has Rock Band. Will rocks on the guitar, Sam’s a noisy drummer, and I’m the wild vocalist! We livened up that room a few times. It’s kind of strange singing old songs from the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi with my kids.

Thom and I have been taking turns spending the night in Ben’s room, while the other heads back to the RV with Robby, Will, and Sam. We’re camping in Golden, CO. It’s a beautiful campground, and we’re only a stone’s throw from the rapids of a fast-flowing river. The locals ride the rapids in kayaks and inner tubes in this warm summer weather.

To celebrate the Fourth of July, Ben watched at least 5 or 6 fireworks shows simultaneously from his hospital room window with Thom. It looks directly over Denver with the Rocky Mountains behind. Thom and Ben called us to describe the spectacular fireworks. In the meantime, the Galvin’s met us at our campground. Robby cooked up burgers and spicy sausages, which we ate around the picnic table with sweet corn.

Afterwards, the nine of us strolled next to the river along with hundreds of others. Antique cars convoyed through the darling town of Golden, as we watched from the bridge. In the park, Jim treated the kids to glow sticks, and by nightfall, it seemed that everyone was decorated with these bright and festive accessories. Finally about 9:30pm, the fireworks began and the crowd oohed and aahed at the colorful sky. I agreed with Regina when she said, “This is where memories are made.” Sam and Will had a brotherly spat, which was soon smoothed over by angel food cake, strawberries, and whipped cream.

June 30
My mom underwent knee replacement surgery last Wednesday in Lakeport, California. Ever since her car accident in 1997, she’s had a bum right knee which hyper extends and causes considerable pain. She lives with my brother, Glenn, his wife, Vanessa, and daughter, Cassondra.

The surgery went well and only lasted 1.5 hours. Mom says the pain is horrendous. She knows that she’s supposed to do the physical therapy and work through the pain in order to get the mobility back in her knee. At age 76, it’s a daunting task and her muscles aren’t strong. She reported that it’s easiest to simply lie still so the pain doesn’t set in. Unfortunately, that’s the worst thing she can do.

After four days at the hospital, Mom was moved to a rehabilitation center nearby. If she does her therapy, she should be able to go home in about two weeks. So she is in our prayers, and we hope she’ll be able to get around soon using her walker.

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