Sunday, December 1, 2013


A month ago I was in the hospital--AGAIN!  This time was a very unusual occurrence, though.  My son and I both contracted an unknown virus that was very bad.  We suffered through the month of October and when it came around for a second time with myself, I had to spend a week in the hospital.

The doctors came up with a list of what it WASN'T, but not a name for what it was.  The virus is done, but it may take me months to gain my strength back.

This time around, I used Facebook to post updates on my progress.  I've never been exactly comfortable with this idea, but it turned out to be very helpful for my own spirit because people quickly responded with comments.  I tried to be upbeat with my updates in order to forget the very distressing things that were actually happening to me!  Here are some of the things I said:

October 27
In hospital at Magee. Looking to find a source for the continuing fever I've had off and on over the past month.  I am completely prostrate. Pray for an easy fix. Ben and I call it Bora Bora disease.

October 28
They`'re testing for everything, which has required ridiculous amounts of blood; since I only have one usable arm, they now have to call an expert each time. I miss the chemo port!

October 28
The people from the Center of Infectious Disease Control came today (in their orange spacesuits). I seriously thought about sticking a baby sock on my back and just get it over and done with all at once. They would have shaved off all my hair, but done that before.  (reference to movie Monsters, Inc.)

October 29
Was being transported back from unsuccessful CT scan, going past some offices and saw a business- type man come out. Refrained myself from hollering "Buy us some decent toilet paper, you goof!!"

October 29
Sometimes when you go for a scan or MRI, you are wheeled down by a transport person and left in a holding center. You are put in cubicles partially divided by curtains. It is cold there in the basement. It is quiet. I always feel like a cow waiting in my partition. Today when I arrived, there was one other person waiting too. He was in MY regular stanchion. I couldn't tell in what condition this person was, but I really wanted to say moo to him. Perhaps it would have made his day.

October 29
Today's update: had been prepping for 13 hours to get ready for CT scan and MRI (due to being allergic to the iodine contrast). Was to be done by 8:30 AM and then I could eat and drink again.

Today's story: They had trouble getting blood but managed to actually put in a new IV line.
Got CT scan half done and the line went out. Spent 30 minutes with specialist trying to get a line in somehow. She couldn't.

Next step is to put in a picc line, which is what you do if you don't have an inside port. Takes a while and it was done in my room under sterile conditions. It did not work.

Next step is to have a picc line put in the by the Intervention Team in surgery. This worked amazingly and was easy.  Hours later.

But most of the day was very painful and uncomfortable. My arm looks like a heroin addict but I didn't get one drop of morphine as a reward.

I was able get the CT scan and MRI done and was able to eat at 7 PM.

It was strange and moving to sing my calming praise chorus in my head, watching everything not working out right for me. "Give thanks with a grateful heart...let the weak say 'I am strong'" A fairly profound experience to see how God carries these things out in real life! Crying because it is going so badly, crying when you understand your great thankfulness to God anyway, and crying with relief because it's time once again to rest and trust Him.

October 30
I find it easiest to talk into this smartphone and let it type for me.  I feel like a spy. This makes me feel guilty when I tell stories about Magee. Just want you to know that Magee is a great place and I like it here very much.

October 30
TODAY IS STUDENT DAY. This means I have five people to look after me instead of two. Great if you're going to die ( I am totally convinced it was a student who had the time to believe and understand me when I said that my mother was in greatly bad condition). BUT if you are not dying, it can be quite annoying.

I was not allowed to eat this morning because of another test. When I got my food, 3 doctors came in one after the other and consulted. A student came in and asked me how my food was, but I told her I had not eaten it. Each time I opened my mouth , someone else came in and was happy to see my food. Each time they would ask how the food was, and I would politely tell them I didn't know YET.

A nap today does not sound very possible.

October 30
Some kind friends sent this balloon to me. They know I love balloons. It intrigues me, though. He is cute and all, and is apparently looking at the sunset while he thinks of me. But I seem only to notice his bum-- he reminds me of the Charmin' bear, except that he has no crack. If I had a magic marker I think I would have to draw one in.

October 30
Yesterday I opened my eyes and looked out the window for the first time. I have scenery, hills, houses, traffic to look at. Pittsburgh is a beautiful place. I can see Phipps Conservatory in the distance. I love the houses with red paint. I can see the start of daytime, watch people go to work, and see the work day slow down as the night begins to quiet things.

BEST THING FROM TODAY: There's a red tree far away that could be a turkey body. My window has a great piece of dirt shaped like a beak. When you put these together, you have a good-looking turkey.

October 31
Update: My great internist told us today:
  • It's not cancer.
  • It is definitely a virus.
  • Not dangerous, not long term, not going to kill you.
  • The current damage is occurring with the liver and its bad numbers are still rising. HOWEVER: the liver is completely working at this point, although it is inflamed.
We may never know what virus it is. Sometimes viruses can leave bad things behind, settling in strange places. Ben himself has fine liver levels, but his sugar is way up and his red blood cells are way down.

October 31
Happy Halloween!!

I thought there would be exciting things to see today from the staff (with costumes), but most are waiting for trick-or-treat this evening when they get home. So I've only seen Halloween earrings or pins on people's coats.

Last night was fun, though. I had another CT scan scheduled for 11:30 PM. It is not a usual time. The transport people had gone home, so my nurse took me there in a wheelchair. I am not sure why SHE did it as she is super/ultra busy, but it is difficult to find your way across the hospital to the other side and down to where the dept is, and maybe she was the only person who knew how to get there.

So we set out into the empty hallways and a darkened atrium in the main lobby all by ourselves.

I laughed and said something about it being very close to Halloween time.

She didn't laugh. "30 minutes until witching hour," she said.

When we arrived, the door she wanted to use was locked and dark. It was spooky.

But we finally found a way in and the woman told the nurse to wait for me because it would only take two minutes. The nurse was not happy, but I can't imagine her leaving me--just to turn around and trek back again.  Anyway, it was more like 20 minutes, especially since I had a near anaphylactic reaction during the administering of the iodine contrast.

On our way home,  the nurse muttered something about "two minutes --it was longer than that." I laughed and said, " Oh, that's hospital time."  (something we patients know ALL about)

She did not laugh.

We got back to our nurses station just as that station's clock was chiming midnight. At least one of us was very relieved!

October 31
ITS STILL HALLOWEEN.  So I was walking the hall when this machine came tooling along by itself. It was about 4 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide. I watched to see how it would turn the corner, but it stopped as if undecided. So I went closer and saw it was waiting for the elevator. It told me so.

"I am waiting for the elevator." It said. "When the elevator arrives I will want to go inside when it is clear."

The elevator arrived. The doors opened. The machine said," It is clear. I am going inside the elevator". It did, and left.

November 1, 2013
I have a Turner classic landscape painting outside today.


  1. I do not know where I commented last time But this time I am on blogspot to read your journal of a month at the hospital for an enigmatic viral disease, fortunately with a good end . And I hope for your son too .
    Virus are very varialble and ogten the doctors do not know what to do so they try various remedy .
    I am glad you are out of this and wish you a complete recovery.

  2. So sorry that you were ill! So very glad that you are better. If I ever got sick--really sick, I hope and pray that I would be able to see the funny in life that you do. Your little journal was hilarious!