My first blog post for the trip! I also want to thank everyone for their wonderful generosity with regards to our fundraiser. Seriously, you guys are awesome. We both have been saying that at any time we are feeling down, we just have to look at our fundraiser page and read the messages of love and support posted there, to remind us that we are not doing this alone, our friends and family love us, and that we can totally do this. We will get through this, one day at a time, and no matter what happens, you guys are here with us. So thank you all, for giving us the strength to deal with this cancer.
So great news, Kevin was moved out of ICU today, which means we are back in gen pop with our own room and can set up our internetz and laptops. It was harder to do that this time in ICU, as Kevin had roommates, first two older men and then a woman. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The main thing you need to know is--Kevin is out of ICU and doing well!
We got in on Monday night and went straight to the hospital. Normally, flying leaves me feeling grumpy and exhausted, but for whatever reason, I felt great when we arrived. Germany is beautiful this time of year! Well ok, Germany is just a beautiful country, end of story, but we both like the weather so much better this time of year. The air is crisp and cold, and the wind smells of comforting things--cozy fires, fallen leaves, and savory stews!
Tuesday, Kevin had his tests. He feels like an old hand at this now, and we know many of the nurses and doctors now. It's funny, we've both remarked on the very noticeable attitude change from the hospital staff, especially from the gen pop nurses, who can be bossy. I think they thought--when we came here last time--that we were two punk American kids mucking up their orderly hospital floor, but since then I think one of the doctors on our case must have mentioned something about Kevin's condition to the nurses, because they've been much more kind and gentle with us this time around. After all, this surgery is no fucking joke and to have a second one on the heels of the last one must say volumes.
Wednesday, Kevin went into surgery. No freak outs for me this time. I just went back to my dorm room and passed the fuck out. It's been so crazy getting everything together for the trip, plus dealing with the move, that it was a relief to just sleep. Honestly, the weeks leading up to this second Germany trip were far more exhausting, stressful, and anxiety-inducing than dealing with this surgery a second time. I want to let Kevin talk about the big decision he made, but at one point Kevin was considering not getting this surgery at all to pursue a different course of treatment. The stress of making such a big decision, plus the fact we had just moved, and on top of that other family medical emergencies...
I don't mean to complain, especially now that it's all over with, but at one point I felt like some divine being was having a big laugh torturing us. Everything is ok now, but right around Halloween I thought I was going to completely lose it. A big thank you to all my awesome friends who walked me off the metaphorical ledge and got me to this point, with my sanity more or less intact. I've realized so much of this experience has been learning to give up foolish pride and admit that I'm not doing ok. Or realizing that sometimes I can't do it all, and that's ok. No matter who judges me or even if anyone is judging me at all, it shouldn't matter. All I can do, is do my best and be ok with it when people don't understand. It's been very hard but hey, that's why we keep this blog. Keep it honest, yo.
But enough of that. Knowing the drill made it easier to find Kevin after the surgery. I marched straight to the secretary's office and asked her to help me find Kevin. They didn't let me see him at first, because of the other patients in the room, but after a while they let me come in. I could tell the surgery was worse than before, because he was twitching and moaning, instead of the drugged stupor of last time. Prof. Rolle and his entourage of doctors stopped by, and he said the best thing was to let Kevin sleep. I rubbed Kevin's legs for a bit, which seemed to help distract him from the pain, plus I've been told that it helps with recovery. The room was very busy, with three patients and nurses coming and going, but I sat with Kevin while he slept for a few hours, until his nurse very gently kicked me out.
On Thursday, I felt that Kevin had improved noticeably from the day before. He was sitting up and was much more lucid, though he was still very nauseous. He always has problems with morphine, which is what he was primarily being given in ICU, so he was having a hard time keeping anything down. The pain was worse than the pain of his first surgery, and we repeatedly let his doctors and nurses know, but they didn't seem to think there was anything to be done. He improved as the day went on and by evening, they had switched him off the morphine to something else. I read several chapters of Divergent to him, which feels like a different flavor of Hunger Games (though not in a bad way at all). I plan to introduce poor, unsuspecting Kevin to all the lurid YA out there. He must partake of the cotton candy of the literary world, especially since I doubt I'll ever get him to read British murder mysteries, my other comfort reading food.
Friday is the day I locked myself out of my dorm room. I had visited Kevin earlier, his two roommates had been replaced by a lone female patient who stayed asleep the whole time I visited. As usual, Kevin was having problems sleeping at night, a fact that is exacerbated by jet lag and post-operation pain. Even I'm still going strong at 3:00 am in my dorm because of the jet lag. Kdramas and DS games, FTW! I ducked out after lunch to cook some of the groceries I had bought, and in the process, left my dorm keys in my room. The wind blew my door shut, and I discovered it was one of those lock-on-closure doors. Damn. Wearing pajama pants and slippers, I raced across the courtyard to the hospital reception area (it was still only 5:00pm or so) to see if they had spare keys, or anything. No such luck. The receptionist spoke a tiny bit of English and I spoke my tiny bit of German, and we managed to work it out. The power of sign and body language!
While I was waiting for the hospital handyman, I decided to duck upstairs to ICU and check on Kevin. The ICU nurse Mathias made fun of my slippers. Kevin was sitting up eating, but he complained of a weird scratching sensation on his back. Mathias and I took a look and his epidural line had fallen out completely!! I wonder if that was the reason he was in so much pain...
While we were examining his epidural line, Kevin was freaking out, for which I don't blame him. The suicide-inducing pain from last time was because his epidural line had broken. It was past 5:00 pm and apparently Chief Krassler was already gone and I didn't possess enough German to understand why Kevin's epidural couldn't be fixed. While we were fussing over the epidural line, Mathias suddenly noticed Kevin's wrist vein tap had also come loose and was spouting blood all over Kevin's gown, his sexy surgical stockings, and the blankets. Egads, what an evening it was turning out to be. One of the nurses joked that maybe the vein plug in Kevin's neck should come loose next. It does hang at a very precarious angle...
Finally, Kevin and I decided we would try calling Chief Krassler ourselves, rather than run the risk of Kevin enduring the excruciating pain of last time. However, as fate would have it, just as I was dashing out of the hospital to get my cell phone (which was the one thing that wasn't locked behind in my dorm room) I passed by Chief Krassler, who was on his way back in. I'm not sure if he was called back for another patient or whether our nurses called him, but mein Gott, it was good to see him. Long story short, no more epidural for Kevin. But they removed one of his chest tubes, which apparently is one of the main sources of pain, since every time Kevin breathes the wounded lung rubs up against it. I stayed with Kevin until closing time, to make sure the alternate painkillers he was being given were sufficient, but it looked like they worked. He and I texted back and forth till late that night...I pretty much polished off Heartstrings (AKA You've Fallen for Me). I cried a lot in the last two episodes, but not as much as when I watched Boys Over Flowers.
And now we arrive at today, Saturday, with Kevin being moved to gen pop! The nurse Karla remembers us from last time and has been extra kind to both of us, though unfortunately the pain management regimen is much less efficient than it was in ICU. Other than the pain, Kevin is able to get up and walk around on his own, he's been eating regularly and hasn't thrown up, and has already begun lung rehabilitation. We will probably be here for another week and a half, before we move to an awesome country farmhouse we found on Airbnb, less than a kilometer from Dresden proper. Did I mention how much I love Airbnb? So much cheaper than any hotel we could hope to find this time of year (most of the hotels are booked and/or are very expensive this time of year in Dresden.)
Welp, that's it for updates, thanks for reading everybody. I will continue to keep you guys posted. Definitely a better trip than last time, on many levels, as long as we can keep Kevin's pain levels manageable. Who knows, I might even get some writing work done *gasp*
As they say in Germany, tchuss!