04/28/2008: Pneumonia

As some of you may have heard, Kimberly was checked into North Fulton Regional Hospital’s Neuro Intensive Care Unit on 4/28/08. She asked me to write out this update to quell any fears.

Last Tuesday we had an eventful morning at the state capital. We went to see Governor Purdue sign a proclamation regarding ALS. As usual, Kimberly was a stubborn (insert your own appropriate word) and refused to go to the handicap ramp to get into the capital building. Instead she not only walked from the parking deck, but walked up the entire set of stairs into the state capital. I’ve included the pic of us and some of our friends with the Governor and the proclamation.

The walk up to the capital from the truck combined with the walk up the stairs pretty much wore Kimberly out. Upon our exit, I ended up carrying her back down the stairs and leaving her with a friendly capital guard, while I went to fetch the truck. We then went out and had a great lunch with some friends. Kimberly was pretty much beat from the activities and had a low key afternoon. Sometime thereafter she most likely caught a virus, possibly the flu. Luke had been throwing up the week before and I had been dead in bed with chills and fever over the previous weekend. Kimberly had the usual headache, fever, sweats, nausea, etc. She was pretty weak, didn’t eat much and was unable to walk unassisted. Luckily Abbie was a super trooper and helped nurse Kimberly back into shape. By Friday, she seemed to be getting better. On Saturday she began having a slight cough. By Saturday evening, every breath that she took turned into a cough. Kimberly was up all night with a raging fever and vicious hacking coughs. By Sunday morning, she had a severe pain in her back and stomach from the non stop coughing. By Sunday evening she could barely sit up or take a shallow breath without going into coughing convulsions.

On Sunday evening, I contacted Kimberly’s primary care nurse Shanon, who contacted Kimberly’s primary care physician Dr. Hall. They called in a prescription to the 24 hr pharmacy. This allowed her to finally get a few hours of sleep. However, every 3 hours she would begin the coughing fits as the prescription wore off. Monday Kimberly was lethargic, nauseous and sweating profusely. We went to see Dr. Hall to allow him to evaluate Kimberly’s breathing and her general state of being. Dr. Hall was concerned with Kimberly’s oxygen levels and wanted a chest xray. He sent us to the Emergency Room. At the ER, Kimberly’s chest xray confirmed Dr. Hall’s fears of Pneumonia. They took multiple blood samples, and then started IV antibiotics.

Evidently it was a banner day at North Fulton Regional. In our 7 hours in the ER, I saw multiple car accident victims, laceration (read knife wounds) victims, almost had a tub of vomit spilled on me, etc. Laura was nice enough to bring Kimberly some Powerade and a baked potato (since they didn’t want her to eat and only had diet gingerale to drink). Shelly was nice enough to bring me and Kimberly’s sister, Jenni, Chinese food. They finally admitted Kimberly into the Neuro Intensive Care Unit around 10pm Monday evening. After 2 rounds of fluids and antibiotics, Kimberly started to perk up and become more responsive. As it is an ICU, I was not allowed to stay with her.

Kimberly was moved from the ICU on Wednesday to General Population. They moved Kimberly to the room directly in front of the nurses’ station so they could give her the additional attention. Kim was taken off IV fluids prior to the move downstairs. A standing order was given for nurses to check on Kimberly every hour and offer fluids. The nurses downstairs are just as nice, but the ratio patient to nurse is a bit higher. The facilities in General Population are a bit more weathered.

On Wednesday morning, Kimberly looked and felt better. Her speech was relatively clear and she was very lucid. Kimberly was given a cheese burger but it tasted like a hockey puck, so Jeff brought us Taco Bell for lunch. Mid afternoon Shannon and Kristin came by to relieve me so that I could go home and get Kimberly her own clothes. Elizabeth and Jake also dropped in to check on her. By mid-afternoon, Kimberly was looking a bit ill and her speech had becoming unintelligible. I requested that the IV be re-inserted. I explained that although Kimberly could swallow, she needed someone to offer a drink to be able to swallow. They promptly re-inserted the IV and began fluids. Later Tracey and Jerry dropped in and Heather brought us ice cream. Kimberly was tired and decided to take a nap.

Heather and I ran out to get dinner and pick up a web cam so that Kimberly could see and communicate with Luke. After dinner, Kimberly was looking much better. I set up the web cam and attempted to connect with Abbie at home with no avail. I thought there may be a server restriction at the hospital and I finally gave up. I intended to spend the night with Kimberly (rules are a bit more flexible due to being in General Pop). Kimberly kicked me out and made me go home so that I could play with Luke in the morning.

Thursday morning, Abbie and I got the web cams working at home. Luke wanted to come visit his mom, but Kimberly and I still didn’t want to expose him to this environment full of germs. Kimberly called the house and asked me to bring her more clothes. Her speech was flawless. Since Luke couldn’t visit, Luke and Abbie traced his outline on a poster board and gave it to me to give to Kimberly. I stopped in at the office and checked the Firm. It seems like Heather, Michael, Lindsey, Kareem, and Heather are holding down the fort. So I picked up lunch for Kimberly and headed back to the hospital. Kimberly looked great. She had been up and moving around and was dressed in her own clothes. Her speech was almost completely clear. I attempted to establish a web cam link with Abbie at home to no avail. Later her PA said that the chest x-rays were looking better. He hoped that she would be able to leave by Saturday. Jake and Erin came for a visit and brought a smoothie for Kim. Buzzi came by and brought a milkshake. The Pulmonary Doc came while Kimberly was taking a nap. He said that she was headed in the right direction, but was concerned that she could relapse quickly. He said if everything kept heading in the right direction, she could go home by Tuesday. According to the Pulmonary Doc, it could easily take 2 to 3 weeks to completely clear up and he didn’t want to take any chances due to Kimberly’s inability to cough up the goo from her lungs. Kimberly’s dinner consisted of turkey and stuffing. As I have now also become her taste tester, I took one bite and we agreed that we should save the money and simply stop ordering meals. Luckily Tracey and Jerry called and took our dinner order. After dinner Jerry attempted to use his crazy computer skills to make the web cam work, however he also determined that there the necessary port on the hospital’s servers were blocking us from success.

Thankfully, Kimberly was released from the hospital on Saturday, 5/3/08 after convincing the doctor she was well enough to go home even though her right lung still showed signs of some pneumonia. Kimberly continued on oral antibiotics while resting at home. The follow-up chest x-ray on 5/9 gave great news, showing that the pneumonia was gone.

Jin and Kimberly thanks everybody for their thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.