Jul 26, 2006

End of Physical Therapy

Since starting to go to outpatient physical therapy in mid-March, I have gotten much stronger and much more agile. As a result, tomorrow, Thursday, July 27th, is my last day of PT. I’m not exactly back the way I was before the surgery, but I’m close. In fact, some times I forget how much further along I really am. When I’m walking, I forget that I can walk fast! When I go up stairs, I forget that I can take them two at a time now! I’m really feeling quite well. I’m still having trouble running, but I think that will eventually come along. Now, nobody is going to push me to improve except myself. Please pray that I keep it up – I want to run again!

I went to work twice this week at the pentagon. It actually felt pretty good to do technical stuff again! In fact, I got so involved with something new today, that I stayed past 5pm! Can you believe it? :-P I have a meeting at our main office Friday to talk about the coming weeks. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I haven’t had any more seizures – I am taking the full therapeutic dosage of Keppra now: 1000mg per day. I am tolerating it well – no tiredness or other side effects. I communicated my seizure with my Neurologist via email and he seems to think that I did not have a Tonic-Clonic seizure, but instead, a Secondarily Generalized seizure. This would explain why I remember thinking I had a leg cramp in my right leg. The seizure must have started in the motor cortex on the left side of my brain and then spread immediately through the rest of my brain. I guess it probably progresses to something like a Tonic-Clonic. It makes sense, let’s just pray that it doesn’t happen again. Oh, by the way, here is some great info on first-aid for seizures. Please take some time to read it; you could save my (or someone else’s) life. Really.

So, that’s about it. I know I have been teasing you with pictures and stuff, but never posted them. I’m going to try to get some of them up eventually. Better late than never, right?

Jul 17, 2006

The Rest of the Story

Before I give my version of the seizure, I have to give praise to God. He deserves so much praise and thanks. I have to thank him for giving Roger this seizure when he was at home and not at work, on the metro or driving. I have to thank God that I was with him and he was not alone. I have to thank him for this awesome country that cares enough about its citizens to employ paramedics and firefighters 24 hours a day. The paramedics were so professional and caring. And the emergency room staff was great. I also have to thank him for putting seizure information in my life over the past years to prepare me for it and that he kept me calm during the whole event. As I’ve said before, our God is an awesome God.

Next I have to apologize for the length of this post. Unbelievable! Sorry.

Now about this seizure...it was very scary. The feeling of helplessness and fear of not knowing what to do was scary. Next to Roger’s anxiety attacks in the hospital after the surgery, this was the freakiest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. With Roger’s anxiety attacks, no one could tell me what was happening and what could be done until Cassie got there and went through a night with me. She knew exactly what was going on. That’s how we knew they were anxiety attacks and were able to get him the help he needed. But this was my first seizure and I would have preferred to have been prepared, but Roger neglected to inform me that his last pill was Monday and he could possibly have a seizure. Thank God I noticed on Tuesday and Wednesday that he didn’t have a half pill in our pill organizer. That’s the only reason I knew when asked by the paramedics that he had finished his anti-seizure pills. Don’t you worry, Roger and I have discussed this communication slip. :)

So Roger and I talked for a bit and prayed before we went to sleep Thursday night. I’m usually a very deep sleeper. I can even sleep through most storms. But I woke up because I heard Roger make a loud “ugghh” sound like he usually does when he gets a leg cramp. I looked over at him and saw his arms out in front of him as if reaching towards his leg so I thought he was having a leg cramp. After a couple seconds of watching him and feeling the bed vibrating strongly, I realized it was more than just a leg cramp. I jumped onto my knees beside him and somehow there seemed to be a lot of light to see him and I began asking him questions. As I was asking him questions, I clearly remembering thinking to myself, “make sure he’s breathing, make sure his tongue doesn’t block his airway, make sure if he vomits, he doesn’t choke on his own vomit.” I got no response from him so I jumped off the bed and ran to his side of the bed so I could see him better. His face and body looked as if he was fighting the seizure, but I’m pretty sure he had no control over it and that’s just what happens when you have a seizure because of what’s happening to the brain. I took his pillow out from under his head because his face was pushing into the pillow and I didn’t want him to suffocate.

I continued to talk to Roger and ask him questions. I think I was thinking out loud more than expecting him to respond. Although I probably would have felt a little better if he had responded. I was questioning if and when to call 9-1-1 and what to do and stuff. There were some requests made to God through out all that too. The seizure lasted for about 20-30 seconds, give or take 5-10 seconds. I wasn’t paying attention to how long it lasted, but it wasn’t very long. The seizure stopped and I began to address Roger with the intent of getting a response from him. At first he didn’t move or talk and every time I began a statement his eyes would open very big and then they would immediately begin to close. I was worried he would go unconscious and then he would be in more trouble. I continued to talk to him to keep him awake as he moved his arms away from his body and uttered “Soooo” and immediately collapsed again. He made a couple smacking type moves with his mouth and I thought he was going to vomit. He opened his mouth fairly wide and I heard his jaw pop. A bunch of saliva came out of his mouth but no vomit. I thought there might be permanent damage to his brain and I decided I couldn’t wait anymore. I grabbed Roger’s phone which is always on his night stand and dialed 9-1-1. The operator answered with the usual spill which ends with “what’s your emergency?” I told him that my husband was having a seizure. He asked me for my address and phone number and if it was an apartment building. I answered and he said paramedics were on the way. Then he proceeded to assess the situation. He asked me if Roger was breathing then how his color was. He asked me about Roger’s prior medical condition. Somehow, I was able to stay completely calm, answer all his questions and not ramble on like a crazy lady. “He had a craniotomy on March 3rd for a brain tumor and seven weeks of radiation that ended three weeks ago. Is this his first seizure? This is his first full seizure. He only had small seizures in his right arm before. Does he have any other conditions? No, he’s healthy other than these. What medications is he taking? Keppra, Zyrtec, Naprocyn for back pain only when needed and he took two Aleve last night for a headache.” He asked me if I would be able to let the paramedics in the door and told me to watch Roger and if his condition changed at all to call right back.

I checked on Roger again asking him questions to make him stay awake. I ran to the hamper and grabbed a pair of shorts then ran to the closet and grabbed a t-shirt. I talked to him the whole time so he’d stay awake. Then I proceeded to find the phone number for the front desk downstairs so they would know the paramedics were on the way and assist them in getting in. The number wasn’t in Roger’s phone where I could find it, so I ran to the office and grabbed the folder from Suite America out of the file drawer that had all the numbers in it. It wasn’t in there. I thought, “Duh Holly, you work for Archstone-Smith, you can get the number from the website” as I moved the mouse. The desktop came up and I clicked on IE. I typed archstoneapartments and hit Control-Enter. The site came up and I clicked on Virginia and then Gallery at Virginia Square. But the website was just changed recently and the phone number now listed was the 800 number not the local number. I didn’t want to call it and get some call center in our Denver office.

Then I remembered we got a letter from the community manager about the fire alarm being tested the day before. And since we recycle it was still sitting on the counter in our paper stack. So I ran over and grabbed it and ran into the bedroom to check on Roger thinking I had been gone too long and no telling what state he was in now. I dialed the number as I spoke to Roger to make sure he was conscious. The front desk person answered and I told him that I had called 9-1-1 and the paramedics were on their way. He responded that they were already here and on their way up. I hung up and thought I need to know how long this is happening in case I’m asked. I looked at the time on Roger’s cell phone and it was 1:57 a.m. (The next morning Roger and I looked at his call log and I called 9-1-1 at 1:51 a.m. So only five minutes had passed from the time I dialed 9-1-1 to dialing the front desk at 1:56 a.m.) I ran to the front door to unlock it and propped it open with a Gatorade bottle from the closet across from the door. I ran back to Roger and he seemed to be a little more awake. I kept talking to him and he was very slowly starting to come to. I heard the paramedics say something and the door opening. So I ran to the door, held it open for them and all of their bags and toolboxes as I said he just came to. They asked which way and began to ask me questions.

I went to the bedroom and completely forgot that Roger had no clothes on. As soon as they walked in they pulled the sheet over him. That was a little embarrassing because I didn’t even think about Roger being naked. It never crossed my mind. They asked me to tell them what had happened and asked a lot of very important questions about medications and medical history as they tended to Roger. I didn’t know this but a couple of them were bringing the stretcher and other stuff in and were in the living room moving the coffee table. I think there were five-six of them. One guy was devoted to Roger. One guy assisted him by handing him stuff. They didn’t say much to each other. The assisting guy knew what they other one needed. One guy kept asking me questions as I went back and forth from the dresser to get Roger’s ID to the bathroom cabinet to find his medicine bottles. The guy with Roger was asking Roger if he knew what was going on, where he was, his name, what day of the week it was, etc as he was taking his blood pressure, pulse and other vitals. Roger wasn’t responding very well and looked completely confused and shocked and maybe a little scared so he told Roger he was going to put in an IV to help him. Roger’s face looked like as soon as the needle hit his arm he was going to freak out. So I walked over to the side of the bed and grabbed his hand and held it. He looked at me and I said to him that everything was okay now, he was here to help him and asked him if he understood that. He kind of shook his head at me in agreement and the paramedic asked him if he knew who I was and Roger said my wife. Then the paramedic asked what’s her name and Roger said Holly. So he stuck him with the needle.

I guess he had a bag of saline (I can’t remember.) and he told me it would help him feel better. I asked if the way Roger was behaving was normal and all the paramedics nodded or responded in unison that it was. That made me feel better. Roger began to come to very fast. He began asking questions about what had happened and what was going on. They explained to him that they were going to take him to the emergency room and why. Roger still seemed a little confused, but he was responding faster and clearer. He wanted to know what hospital they were taking him to, if he could put on some clothes and if he could drink some water. They explained that what ever he put on would be taken off anyway for a gown and they’d cover him with a sheet. One medic pulled our sheet off the bed and then one of the guys behind the stretcher said they had one. I said out loud, “Good because I know hospitals and I’d be scared I won’t get my sheet back.” They all laughed in agreement.

One paramedic gave me directions to the hospital and I began to gather clothes for Roger. As they went out the door, one turned back and told me to tell the ER people when I arrived that Roger was in ambulance 104. I ran to grab a bag for the clothes. I thought we might be there a while and grabbed a bottle of water, banana and an apple. I also grabbed the notepad we used at the other hospitals to write stuff down. I knew I’d have stuff to write down. As I was making my way to the elevator, I realized that I couldn’t really remember the directions he gave. And as I was driving out of the garage, I was starting to question if he said ambulance 104 or 140. I was thinking, “Oh crap, I hope I can catch up to them and follow them.” I did not want to have to use the GPS to find the hospital. I wanted to be there when he arrived. I pulled out of the garage driveway and the ambulance was still there. Talk about relief. I followed them to the hospital through red lights, looking all around for cops every time. They drove a normal speed and turned on the sirens only through intersections. I could see Roger sitting on the stretcher. I followed them all the way back to the ambulance dock. I parked in a row of parking spots worried I would get towed, but there were no signs saying no parking. I inquired later and was told since we wouldn’t be there long, it was okay. Of course, the guy gave me a hard time. And when we left the doctor directed us a different way and I explained that I was parked out by the ambulances, the guy that told me it would be okay said, “If it’s not towed” with a sheepish grin.

In the ER, they hooked him up to the machines and I repeated the story, medications and medical history to the doctor. A young lady in civilian clothes got all our insurance information and copies of Roger’s Texas and military ID. The doctor prescribed a 500 mg Keppra and decided to do a CT scan. So Roger was wheeled away. A few minutes later he returned. The nurse brought his Keppra and Roger told her his IV was hurting him because he bent his arm in the ambulance which pushed the plastic needle up farther and bent it. So when they took blood it wouldn’t work so they had to use a butterfly to get blood. It all reminded Roger of all the blood/needle experiences in the hospital. Not fun, especially when they took it out. The doc came back in after a while and told us his CT looked fine and we would be released shortly. Roger asked if he could drink something. The doctor himself got him some cranberry juice and brought it to him. When he returned I asked him a bunch of questions about what to do next time. Roger signed some paperwork. I helped him get dressed and we walked to the truck. He felt a little light headed when he sat in the truck and we sat there for a bit before we drove off after I asked him if he thought we should go back in. He said no and we went home at 4:30 a.m. We were completely wide awake for quite a while. But it gave us time to find the Tricare numbers we needed to make the necessary call so we wouldn’t get charged for going to a civilian hospital and for Roger to send emails to his doctors at Bethesda to give them a heads up that we’d be there later that morning.

We finally laid down to take a cat nap before we headed to Bethesda around 5:30 a.m. Of course, we over slept and didn’t have time to take showers, but only get dressed and drive an hour in rush hour to Bethesda. We made it to the hospital in the nick of time for Roger’s 9:00 a.m. ultrasound to check for testicular cancer which he found out today was negative, but they’d like to see him again in December. After that we met with Dr. Duelge and then Dr. Rosenbaum. We received a lot of good information and it was good to speak with Dr. Rosenbaum probably for the last time in person as he is separating from the Navy. That will be the Navy and the military’s loss because he is a great neurosurgeon. We ate a great lunch at the mess hall and returned home around 3:00 p.m. to rest finally as we were exhausted.

Roger is still shocked that he had a seizure. It’s almost surreal to him. It’s not for me. I will never forget this and I pray we don’t have to experience this again. Thanks for sticking with me on this ride. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned something. I sure have.

Jul 16, 2006

First Big Seizure

I haven’t blogged in a while as everything had been going fine. This past Monday I took my last Keppra, or anti-seizure medication. Tuesday, I made contact with NRH and Apria finally picked up my wheelchair. I was hanging on to it, for I don’t know what reason. I also made it into work Monday for a short meeting and to do some paperwork. I also managed to get back there Thursday afternoon for a few hours. Everything was going so well last week as I set off to dream-land Thursday night…

Holly and I hit the sack pretty early… a little after 10pm. We both had a wonderful end to the day, we laid down, prayed together and fell fast asleep. I remember waking up thinking I had a cramp in my leg. It was actually about 2am. I felt my leg get stiff, but then I recall my whole body being stiff. I yelled out, and that’s all I remember. The next thing I knew, the lights were on and our bedroom was filled with men in blue shirts. They were paramedics and I had just regained consciousness after suffering from my first ever general seizure. At first, I didn’t know what was going on. I came to and there were all these people around me – Holly was right there next to me telling me that I had a seizure and that the men were there to help me. I guess I was really out of it – I don’t really even remember them giving me an IV or putting EKG pads all over the front of my upper body. They asked me a bunch of questions that I don’t even remember – I guess I had a hard time coming to grips with what just happened. They moved me over to a stretcher and rolled me out of my room, out of the apartment, down the hall, into the elevator, through the lobby and into a waiting ambulance. I was concerned when we made it into the ambulance because I wasn’t sure where Holly was. But just as we were about to pull away, I looked through the rear window and noticed our truck had pulled up right behind the ambulance… Holly was right behind us.

We made our way to the hospital, Virginia Hospital Center here in Arlington. I know we talked in the ambulance, but again, I can’t remember what we talked about. We got to the hospital and they backed up, just like in the movies, and moved me into a triage bay. The medics handed me off to the nurses and a doctor. They asked me more questions – but again… I’m drawing a blank. Thank God Holly was there to answer all their questions. I do remember that everything seemed to pretty much go by the book. They took some blood and also gave me a head CT. They didn’t find anything abnormal as I am at risk for seizures and I just came off my meds three days earlier. They gave me a Keppra, some Cranberry juice and after about two hours, Holly and I were on our way back home. We went back to sleep around 5:30am. I still don’t remember exactly what happened – all the details are fuzzy, but Holly will fill you in when she blogs about it.

We got back up at 8am as I had an ultrasound at 9am at Bethesda. I had an ultrasound of my testicles and everything was clear. We stopped in to see my Radiation/Oncologist, Dr. Duelge, just to fill him in on what happened the night before. He was surprised to hear it happened, but there was always a chance. Then we made it up to see Dr. Rosenbaum – it sure was good to see him again. We talked to him for about a half hour and he told me that the type of seizure I has seemed very similar to a Jacksonian Seizure (check out the link.) I thought I was having a cramp in my right leg, where the tumor was located in my brain. It moved from there forward and affected the rest of my brain, then I blacked out. He also said that having a seizure like that makes the brain have a week’s worth of activity in about 30 seconds. He suggested that I start talking half a pill of Keppra once a day now. If that keeps the seizures at bay, then we can stay at that dosage. If I have another one in the future, we’ll kick it up to a whole pill a day and see how that goes. On a side note, Dr. Rosenbaum is leaving the Navy, his last day is this Friday. He’s heading to private practice in NC. Best of luck to you in the future Dr. Rosenbaum!

So, that’s about it. After running around all day Friday, we went to the 275th Army Band concert at a local middle school (excellent) and ate out at Costa Verde (excellent Peruvian food) and then I fell asleep hard. I didn’t wake up once all night. Saturday we slept in and then headed out to see the movie Nacho Libre. I thought it was just silly – it did have me laughing the whole way through. If you want to see it, watch a matinee or rent it when it comes out. Then we had dinner with Ryan and Amanda at CafĂ© Asia (always good food there) and then we stayed up and played games and just chatted the night away. Today we went to church (duh) and then had lunch at Bertucci’s (very good Italian food.) After that we came home and just vegged out since it’s too warm outside to hang out. This weekend and the coming week are going to be hot. We might hit 100 here… that’s hot for DC!

Tomorrow I have PT and a follow-up appointment with my Urologist. I’m going to have to take it easy at PT since the seizure left my biceps, left ankle and neck sore. I also popped my jaw and can’t open my mouth all the way – it really hurts. I have been popping 800mg pills of Ibuprofen too try to help that get better. Please pray that the seizures don’t come back. I’ll try to get Holly to blog about our experience soon. Have a great day.

Jul 6, 2006

Hip Diagnosis

I saw an orthopedist today who tells me that the mass in my left hip is nothing to worry about - it is not cancer for sure... it is just an extra growth of bone or something. The report says: "benign lesion of L femoral neck; prob enchrondroma, does not pose threat." I looked up "enchrondroma" online and it seems to be some kind of common bone cyst that is nothing to be concerned about. I had to take the X-Rays twice since the tech messed them up or something the first time. The whole visit to ortho took just under two hours. So, we can cross that one off the list. Yay!

Before that, I also was able to get in to see the neurologist who says I'm doing well. The visit with him took about two hours too. He typed a lot and did some strength tests on me. He wrote up my Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) paperwork and suggested I take it to Walter Reed myself. I was happy to do that as I was planning on visiting that soldier anyway. The doctor I saw is also leaving the military, but he was good and now I'm not a new patient!

I finally made it to WRAMC and after searching for the right office for almost an hour, and I finally spoke to someone who told me about the MEB process. Apparently, an MEB can take a few weeks to months to complete. During that time, I would be attached to a Medical Hold Company at WRAMC – we would have to move out of the apartment and Holly would have to head back to Texas immediately. When they start the process, you are reassigned within days and are at their mercy until a decision is made. With that knowledge, we are going to wait until the follow-up MRI in August to see what the next course of action will be and then decide what to do. If it is clear, I might take my leave and get everything back to Texas and come back for the MEB after a few weeks. If it is not clear, more radiation might be in store and that brings us a whole new set of unknowns. All in all, there are still many unknowns, but at least now we have an idea of what to expect. For now I can rest, work on my strength and agility and spend time with Holly.. and enjoy the summer! Pray for the tumor to stay away!!

After all the MEB crapola, I finally set off to find the young SGT that Joey wanted me to check on. At the info desk I was told he was at the Malogne House. I stopped by there and talked to his roommate. His roomie said he had surgery this morning, so I walked back to the hospital, avoided the info desk, used common sense and followed the signs to Neurology. I asked several people where he might be and finally found a nurse that was looking for him too! She took me to him and he was doing fine. He had surgery this morning and was still a bit groggy. His mom got there just after I arrived - she missed her flight this morning. I didn't want to stay long so that they could visit, but he was in good spirits. I told him that Joey is my bro-in-law and that he personally asked me to check in on him. He was very appreciative and said that Joey is one of the best company commanders out there in Iraq and that he liked him a lot. He was worried because he was little numb in his left leg and is having trouble moving his toes. I told him about what I went through recently - he said that after talking to me he felt better and that he would be just fine. It felt good to give him renewed hope! I told him to rest and rely on others now until he got better. I gave his mom my number and told her to call me if the hospital staff was uncooperative over the weekend. I got the heck out of there and headed home.

Lastly, I talked to my boss late yesterday and I am returning to work Monday on half days at first. I have a short meeting Monday afternoon to talk about what I’ll be doing for the rest of my stay. Pray that that goes well. Holly and I are having a picnic after work tomorrow at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden where they have free Jazz Friday nights during the summer. The weather has been very comfortable; we are looking forward to it!

Jul 5, 2006


It's been about a week since I posted last. I spent the last part of last week trying to rest up. Holly and I had a great 4th weekend that I'll fill you in on later. Dr. Duelge was able to contact a Neurologist at NNMC and I am seeing him tomorrow (Thursday) for continued care and more important, my MRB. After that I have an appointment with the Orthopedist about the whole hip thing. After that, I'm planning to swing by Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) to visit a soldier from my brother-in-law, Joey's, company. Joey was back in the states for two weeks on R&R from Iraq and one of his commo sergeants suffered a back injury. He was sent to WRAMC for surgery and when Joey got back and found out, he emailed and asked me if I could visit this young SGT on his behalf... I told him I would. I'll let you know how all that goes tomorrow.