Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wed Jan 30- Adventure

Bleergh, I am tiiired!

Lots of excitement today... JAMES LEFT HIS ROOM!

First they put him in a wheelchair. He whacked or put weight on his bad (left) leg and whoo it was no good. He tried to use his hands to push the wheels and we all yelled at once "No wrists!!" So he used his right foot to pull himself forward. Once he got rolling he just rolled right out the door.

I felt totally unqualified to be "in charge" of James. They just put the man in a wheelchair and said "Why don't you take him for a spin, go on down to the first floor in the employee elevator and go outside in the Tranquility Garden for a minute."

What? Hike Everest in my pjs?! Sure, ok... let's go...?

I roll him to the employee elevator lobby. I push the button. We wait. The doors open. I begin to carefully push him toward them, envisioning what would happen if I jabbed his right foot into the doorjamb. (Not imagining it maliciously, but like with sheer terror in my heart of the possibility.)

The doors close. We are nowhere near them.

I push the button again, but evidently the elevator is already gone off to whisk someone else away to an unknown fate. We wait again.

Finally we get to the first floor, together, un-jabbed.

We follow the advice of the dude who held the elevator open and start down the hall. Almost right away a woman in OR scrubs - her booties and hair net- gets a "look" on her face and stops us. "I was your date in surgery! You look fabulous! Do you remember me?! I was your anesthesiologist! You look GREAT! I can't believe you're up! Look at you!" and she rushes over to his good side and says she'll escort us to the Tranquility Garden.

Of course she doesn't expect James to remember her. She was present for the entire 11-hour surgery on January 16 to repair his eye bones and sinuses. She chatters on about the joy she gets from seeing a patient after such a surgery, and how unusual it is for her to get to see anyone she works for (patients).

She is looking at James and he is looking at her, blindly trusting me to not run him into a wall. I look ahead for obstacles and who do I see? The neurologist who so bluntly told the nurse the other day that he thought James was going to die. He reminds me of Texas- of Cotton from King of the Hill.

He seems to be a Texan's Texan- he wears scrubs but with a black felted blazer over it. He's literally a brain surgeon. He has horn-rimmed glasses and no lips. He walks like he has cowboy boots with spurs on but I've never looked at his feet.

I say, "Dr (Cotton)! Look whose up and about!" And what does the man say?

"Wow, you look awful! I told the facial surgery team you were gonna die!" All three of us just stared blankly at his incapability to talk to others. (As Michelle, my main handler, would say, "Ass hat!") We proceeded down the hall.

We make it to the garden. The air is moving. Stand up comic Jim Gaffigan said "You ever go outside after being inside all day? It's like being on another planet. Oooh, the air is moving!" I think that's what it was like for James. It was a nice enough garden, we identified a lot of the Texas native plants. James was already exhausted and a little nauseous and was ready to go back upstairs. But a nurse had seen us through the glass walls of windows and came outside. It was one of James' male nurses from Seton!! He had taken care of James for two days when he was in bad shape. I told him I'd bring James back one day to say hi, but he was getting transferred to Hays and probably wouldn't get to see him. Well, he was at Brackenridge getting training and saw us and came out to express his astonishment and joy at seeing James so improved. It was awesome pushing a rockstar around for 15 minutes.

James is tired and beginning to be nauseous. We head back upstairs. The nurses have switched us to a new room and put all our stuff- James' posters of cards and pictures, the Lego creations from the boys, our bags, all the technology- all of it in the exact same place it was originally. The lengths they go to for their patients is impressive.

Under James in the wheelchair is a fabric stretcher. They hook this to the lift in the ceiling and pull him up and over the bed where they lower him. My baby orca, I call him.

"The worst Sea World exhibit ever" he says.

not James, obviously, but looks like his good eye on the monitor
As James is about to lapse into sleep, a curly-haired male opthalmologist(sp?) comes in with an assistant and a few briefcases. He is here to do an ultrasound of James' left (bad) eye. First, however, he puts a crazy instrument on his head and inspects James' eye. By the time he's done, the assistant has set up a little machine on the side table. It's an ultrasound machine specific to opthalmologists. I'm expecting that he'll put the goo IN James' eye but he puts it on his eyelid. He takes 3 pictures.

Then he does the same to James' right (good) eye. He takes one picture. This is not the DR nor James in the photo above, but it has the same ultrasound wand and a picture that looks like James' right eye. He also tests the bad (eye) with a penlight. James' left eye can register direct light, but not room light.

He shows James his good eye, how it resembles a large open space, a black ball. Then he has the assistant show him the same angle of the left eye. In James' words, "It looks like a wad of chewed-up gum."

This is the first time James is hearing straight from a DR the state of his eye. It is somber.

The DR says that since the eye can register direct light, they don't like to remove it if possible. He says, God forbid, if something happened to his good eye, at least he could see light with the other. He also, to my delight, says that instead of removing the eye and replacing it with a ball attached to the eye muscles, they can leave the eye and put the shield over the eye. That is the thing that looks like an eye and moves because of either the real, damaged eye or the ball moving behind it. Here's a decent website.

So it seems that like with most things, it's wait and see. See if the eye is holding a static volume. See if it continues to hurt. See. He wants to see James in a month to see if the eye is keeping its (smaller, damaged) size consistent. If it is, and it doesn't hurt worse or stops hurting, it seems that at that time a shield prosthetic will be discussed.

Someone suggested a family picture this fall with all of us wearing eye patches. James said "No way- y'all haven't earned your eye patches."


  1. Morgan Shimp Great read and great update!! Wait and see is best news you could expect at this point. Will pray for that eye specifically.

  2. I quite agree with James, he would make the worst Sea World exhibit ever, but as an example of God's sovereignty and mercy it doesn't get much better! You could probably even charge admission. Hilary Kamplain

  3. April Burns Cazares :Glad he's still in good spirits...bless his heart!

  4. Such wonderful news! Will keep praying and believing that this experience will soon be behind you and a wonderful life ahead..Keeping a good watch on your grandparents, they are both well and glad you are getting better.
    Judy Hamilton-Perdue