Saturday, June 27, 2009

Aspiration pneumonitis

We won't be going home today.

The oncology team was concerned this morning by an almost-aspiration incident this morning. Steve had just finished drinking orange juice mixed with a potassium supplement (the most vile liquid he says he's ever had). He was reaching toward his table for something else when he started violently coughing.

We suctioned his mouth and he recovered pretty quickly.

So Dr. G wanted to make sure that Steve could get through lunch OK with trouble. He did OK, until the last bite, when he started coughing again.

Dr. G was still a little worried, especially with Steve's pulse-ox level hovering around 91, even on four liters of oxygen. So he ordered a chest X-ray before discharge.

The chest X-ray revealed a pocket of fluid at the bottom of Steve's left lung. It's called aspiration pneumonitis -- inflammation of the lung caused by aspiration. We suspect it's stomach acid that settled in after Wednesday's ordeal.

Steve will stay another night at least. He'll have another chest X-ray in the morning. It sounds like the doctors are taking a wait-and-see approach, and we will likely be here until at least Monday.

I've also been working with hospice representatives on the phone and in person today. It hasn't been easy. I have a number of questions about allowable treatment and how decisions are made that haven't been adequately answered yet. (I think available staff members on the weekend has something to do with that.)

As difficult as this week has been, it could have been much worse without an excellent medical team as well as family and friends who surround us in person and in spirit with warmth and love.


Anonymous said...

I know you are anxious to be home but another night in the hospital wil ensure continued medical care in case Steve needs anything. Hang in there - your family is recieiving continuous prayers from all who know him. Out Damn Spot!

Anonymous said...

We are sending continued prayers for healing and strength for all of you. The Yanceys

Melinda Merschel said...

Prayers continuing--as always! So sorry you couldn't go home as hoped today, but very glad for excellent medical care when it is needed.