When I last wrote to you all, Phil knew he was having trouble with the circulation in his hands. A nurse dismissed his concern early on, but when his doctor heard about it, she immediately schedule an appointment, then an ultrasound, and finally an angiogram to fix the problem. Those things took time, but that’s the way life goes. That angiogram and intervention happened Monday August27, and it was thought the old dialysis port from 20 years ago was cutting off circulation. That was fixed, but the problem continues. Dialysis nurses told him his fingers were starting to turn blue, and his hand continues to be cold and very painful. This past Tuesday he saw the doctor again, and he received some hard news. It is now apparent the dialysis port itself is the culprit for cutting off circulation. This means the doctor will have to do another surgery to tie it off. As circulation returns — the doctor warned him — it’s going to be very painful. Of course, a new dialysis port will bee needed, so his nemesis the catheter will be reappearing at least for a while, and both procedures are going to happen Monday.
For those of you who have walked this road with us before, you remember that dialysis catheters very easily get infected. That lands Phil in the hospital while it is taken out. Then there are two or three days wait, while antibiotics are dispensed, and the infection leaves his body before a new one is placed. Then there’s the problem of where to put the catheter. Because he’s had so many, the tissue in the areas where they normally are placed has toughened. This means that the result of going through it is going to be very painful when Phil wakes up. So he’ll have pain two places. The final indignity is that he has to bathe and wash hair separately rather than showering. Phil’s shower is something he enjoys so much, and the cleaning process plus wrapping the catheter to protect it from getting wet not only isn’t fun but can be frustrating and take lots more time. We are both worried that his quality of life is going to suffer with catheters. His doctor says she’s going to research placing a port in the thigh of the amputated leg. But apparently, this will take study and time. The hand needs circulation now, and the catheter will have to be placed immediately for dialysis.
I don’t know how he can endure all this, and had it been me, I may have given up a long time ago. He took a mental health day on Wednesday, and even though these procedures may mean more absences, I very much supported his decision to do so. The news affected me enough to have a major headache that knocked me out for hours.
Because this could get too long, I’m going to talk about everything else in the next post.
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane – Black-lab and Seeing Eye Dog