Posts Tagged ‘ICU’


October 9, 2010

By now you have heard or read of the unusually high number of Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) deaths during the past week. There have been at least six (some have stated that at least ten have passed, but I personally know of six. I’m not certain of the others.)

I’ve become e-mail friends with Joshua’s mom. Joshua was born August 16, 2010 and departed October 6. His mother was by his side practically the entire time, but what’s more, Joshua was never stable enough to travel. He never saw the world outside of the hospital.

52 days of hospitalization, two major heart operations…. the costs are going to be enormous. Joshua’s family is certainly physically exhausted, and before all is said and done they’re going to be fiscally exhausted.

When I was in the Intensive Care Unit after my first surgery in 1967, the cost was $66 per day. After I had a stroke in 2002, Intensive Care was $2200 per day. Note that in both cases the price quoted is basically a “rental fee”. It pays for the right to lay in the ICU bed for 24 hours. It does not include the cost of seeing a doctor, specialized nursing staff, drugs, or monitoring devices. I’ve stayed in hotels that cost $66 per night, but I have never stayed in a $2200 per night hotel. I doubt that I ever will.

The “average” Congenital Heart Surgery and hospitalization could easily cost $100,000. Where is a young family supposed to get that kind of money?

Trail of Tears

January 26, 2010

Sung to the tune of “Trail of Tears” by The Crabb Family

I heard about the lonely day
That she hoped would never arrive
It must have broke his mother`s heart
O the tears she must have cried
And though she knew it had to be done
He was still her precious son
It only seemed like yesterday
That her little boy was born

There must have been a trail of tears
From the ICU to the place
Where they laid him down to rest
And placed a mask over his face
And as the nurse walked her down the hall
To a room where she must wait
It must have felt just like the end
There must have been a trail of tears

She knew the day would come
When she`d have to say goodbye
Her son needed this surgery
Or he would lose his life
The surgeon was one of the best
And he had made his plan
It didn’t make it any easier
To let go of her child’s hand

There must have been a trail of tears
From the waiting room to the place
Where they laid him down to rest
Wires and tubes all over the bed
And as the nurse said He’s fine
Your boy came through like a champ
It was just what she had prayed to hear
There must have been a trail of tears

There must have been a trail of tears
From the hospital to the place
Where they laid him down to rest
In his own familiar bed
And as they closed the door to his room
And said Good Night to him
She thought of all he had endured
There must have been a trail of tears

Even More Flu News!

October 12, 2009

It always seem to happen – I save up some good links about the H1N1 Swine Flu, go back through them and read them carefully, type an informative post… and as soon as I publish it, I find even more information that I think you could use.

It’s happened again, as usual. But instead of saving them until my next Flu Update, I decided to post them today. They’re pretty important links that you should  read, but also I have to see the doctor today. It’s my first time seeing this doctor, so I don’t know how long it will take.

I’m not seeing a new specialist – my usual doctor (my Primary Care Physician, for those of you who don’t live in the United States) recently retired, and this is my first appointment with my new doctor. Since my heart is *ahem* quite unusual, I think I’ll be there for a while!

But on to the flu… If you have a TamiFlu prescription for your child, be very careful. Doctors usually prescribe liquid medication in milliliters, but the TamiFlu box has a syringe that measures Milligrams. These measurements are not the same, and you could easily give too much or too little of the drug.

Revere over at Effect Measure (who has become one of my favorite Flubloggers) has a look at Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy in the Southern Hemisphere and has some disturbing news: ICU units could get slammed. It’s not so much that we don’t have enough ICU beds to deal with a crisis, you have to have a staff with the required amount of medical training.

The second wave of H1N1 is sweeping the United States, brought on my close contact. As I’ve mentioned before, Influenza loves a crowd, and it is fall – school is back in session. Flu is even altering our worship habits: The Archdiocese of Winnipeg is taking steps to limit the spread of the Flu. No Holy Water for a while (but there is hand sanitizer) and shaking hands is discouraged. The public area is sanitized after each service, and even the Chalice gets wiped after every use. It feels strange, I’m sure, but I think God understands.

And finally, a post that I hope will reassure those who have questions about the vaccine. You really do need this immunization, especially if you have a Chronic Illness. I’ve had my seasonal flu shot, I’m on the lookout for the H1N1 shot, and I highly recommend that you do the same.

And now, off to the doctor’s office!


September 1, 2009

Two news articles just popped up in my daily research for Funky Heart. They are so urgent and important that I feel I need to bring them to you attention immediately, rather than saving them for tomorrow.

First, doctors at a Cardiology meeting in Europe are saying that the Swine Flu (H1N1) could hit patients with heart disease harder than usual, and even lead to a spike in heart disease related deaths.

While these doctors are specifically talking about the heart diseases that affect older people, in general that would include all people with weakened hearts – which naturally include those of us with Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs).  They also mention patients with Heart Failure (Congestive Heart Failure, or CHF) – and that includes a good percentage of CHD patients, also.

In many heart failure patients, fluid builds up in the lungs because blood isn’t pumped efficiently enough. Patients can take drugs to get rid of this excess fluid, but if they catch the flu, the drugs don’t work as well.

But before heart patients start taking Tamiflu, their doctors should ensure the antiviral won’t interfere with any other drugs they may be taking. Heart patients often take a cocktail of various drugs to lower their cholesterol and blood pressure or prevent bleeding.

Another article concerns ICU preparedness. It’s published in a Canadian newspaper, but it applies to the US and the rest of the developed world, also. The section that caught my attention was the percentage of people with H1N1 – estimates say it could be as many as 15% – whose breathing shuts down almost completely:

“As an ICU doctor, it’s very, very, very rare I can’t deliver enough oxygen to someone to keep him alive. They die of other things, right? They die because their organs fail.”

“In this case, we can barely oxygenate them.”

If you didn’t have a good reason to get the vaccine and actively take steps to avoid the flu (both seasonal and H1N1 varieties) before, here are two really good ones.

Click the links, and read the articles.

The Plan for Durham

July 23, 2009

I’ll leave for Durham, North Carolina about 9:00 AM Friday morning, and I plant to  take AMTRAK. Don’t drive to the Raleigh-Durham Airport looking for a candy apple red jet; Heart Force One will stay in the hanger for this trip.

I’ll be out of touch most of the day Friday – I change trains in Wilson, North Carolina, I might be able to report in from there if an Internet connection is available. I’ll post an update when possible.

Saturday is the day of the CHD Symposium at Duke Children’s Hospital. I plan to blog the event, which begins at 9:00 AM, Eastern Time. (1300 London Time) Again, I do not know if an Internet connect will be available. If it is, I plan to liveblog the day’s events; and if there is not, I’ll take good notes and have several days worth of posts next week. I’ll have to take a break from blogging at 11:00 AM when I speak, and I plan to post my speech on Funky Heart as soon as possible after I finish. There will also be a break for lunch after my presentation, so I might be away for a while.

I’ve also been asked to Twitter the event – if I have an Internet connection I can twitter from my laptop, if not, hopefully from my phone. Follow me on Twitter to see what is going on, my user name is funkyheart. My phone has been pouting lately and not wanting to text messages, I think I have accidentally turned off the text feature. I’ll examine it and see what I can figure out. Just because I know how to use the technology doesn’t always mean I understand it!

At 5:00 PM the hospital is going to offer a tour of their new Pediatric Cardiac ICU, I will probably go but I haven’t quite decided yet. The last time I was in a Peds Cardiac ICU, I was a patient.

After the tour concludes Symposium attendees are invited to a Durham Bulls baseball game! I love baseball and almost certainly will go! The Bulls are  a AAA team – for you non baseball fans, that means they are a Minor League baseball team, but only one level below Major League Baseball,  so the quality of play should be excellent. Mid morning Sunday I have to meet the train for my trip home.

I hope you are planning to attend… If you are, be sure to say hi!

Two Boys

March 8, 2009

I was a the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for my second heart operation in 1977. I had only been there for a day or so when two boys about my age (11) were brought into the ICU. These two young men had been riding a go-cart – one in the seat, the other sitting on the engine cover and hanging on – when they collided head on with the local mailman. The only reason they weren’t killed right then and there was that the mailman was driving a vehicle that was higher off the ground than most.

Daddy was in the elevator lobby using the pay phone when the families came boiling out of the elevator. Standing with the phone to his ear, he could see the group standing together as they waited for the doctor’s report. Although he didn’t know any of them, it wasn’t hard to identify the two mothers by the looks on their faces.

It isn’t hard to miss that look: I’ve seen Heart Moms wear it too. Their tears are gone; they have sobbed but now the shock has worn off. Now their jaw is straight and their eyes are focused. I’m OK, doc, they seem to be thinking. Now tell me what we’re up against. What do we have to do to to save my child?

One of the boys was stabilized and transferred out of Intensive Care, but he was still a mess. Lying in his bed with scars on his chest, his right arm and his left leg both still in slings. My parents and his folks became friends and we visited together a couple of times. I even took a turn sitting with him while his parents took an hour or so away one afternoon; he seemed to be a nice enough guy. My folks became friends with the other family also – a shared crisis will do that – but I never saw the other boy. Apparently he had gotten the worst of it and was in the ICU a lot longer. Both of them were still patients when I was discharged.

Both of them survived and were discharged later… two more yanked back from the brink of death. An ER doctor once told me that kids were tough, it seemed that we got wimpy as we grow older, and these two seemed to prove him right. My friend in the slings did well, but about ten years later he contracted Meningitis. Came home feeling terrible, went to bed, and never woke up.

The other young man is now a trooper with the Alabama Highway Patrol. The only souvenir he has of his go-cart days is a scar on his chin.