Thursday, May 31, 2007

5th time to the ER

So, as I was writing the previous blog and actually got some sleep in the waiting room, my wife was in getting her CT scan done. Little did I know that upon being injected with the needed dye for the scan, she began to have an anxiety attack. They were able to get the scan complete, for which we are thankful. However, upon finishing she believed she was having an allergic reaction to the dye and began to have the worst attack yet. They proceeded to give her some Benadryl to stop any potential reaction. She became lethargic, which was expected and then got more worried. It took a while, but she finally began to calm down and we were prepping to go home. We actually closed the place down and they had to give us the choice of going home or going to the ER. They were prepping the ER for our arrival, but we decided to come home. As we were doing so, we were about a quarter of the way home when she began to have chest pain that was shooting down from her neck. Needless to say, we were concerned, so I turned around and headed back to the ER.

So, here we sit. The ER doctor has seen her and does not seemed concerned. Beth at this point has calmed down pretty much and is sleepy. She has finally gotten a little something to eat, but is still definitely hungry. They gave her some tylenol for the pain, because she refused the drug they offered which would take the pain away, but also make her sleepy in addition. They took some blood to check her coumadin level just to be sure. She also said that she would consult with her doctors in regards to the pain that Beth has been experiencing. We probably will be going home tonight, but at this point we are unsure of that. The doctors are not alarmed or majorly concerned, so that is why I believe we will be going home shortly. Hopefully we will find out something soon and go home.

So, please continue to pray.....As our pastor reminded us this afternoon, may God continue to be our shield and protector, may He be our glory and may He be our encourager when we are in despair, just as He was with David in Psalm 3. Blessings to you.

Doctor's visit on Thursday

So we are at the doctor's today. In fact, I am here in the waiting room while Beth gets another CT scan. Dr. Kreikemeier (GI doctor) wanted to do this scan in order to check her abdomen and such for any irregularities. This is only a precaution, but nonetheless we are here back in the hospital! He has also asked her to get some blood work to check for something that may be causing the anxiety attacks. He actually said that this stuff for which he is checking gives the symptoms of anxiety attacks, but it is not really anxiety. As well, he has referred us to a "mobility" specialist who is quite familiar and knowledgeable about the esophagus. We are hoping that she may have something to suggest in regards to what is going on with Beth's pain. PLEASE PRAY! for a soon appointment. He mentioned that she is VERY hard to get an appointment with soon, so it may be a couple months before seeing her. You can imagine that hearing this was frustrating considering the situation. We know that God has the ability and capacity to make that appointment sooner, so we will pray! The doctor has given her a prescription for the same little blue pills that she received in the hospital. We are hoping that a return to that may help as well. He has also given her a green light to begin eating anything that she feels like eating, including milk substances. He has continued the precaution of eating anything too spicy. So, we will continue to pray that as she begins to eat normal or at least different foods that she will be able to eat pain free. I believe there is a connection between her not being able to eat consistently or well due to the pains, her anxiety, and the possibility that the medicines react the way they do. The problem is I am not a doctor and I may be completely wrong about that. But, it is a thought.

So, those are my thoughts for the day. It was definitely good to see the doctor today and speak with him about these issues. It was also good to catch up with a friend personally today. No doubt, this has been a hard, long road. I am very tired! Thank you for your prayers, love, and support. It is encouraging to read your comments, listen to your voice mails, and to see you face-to-face. Thank you for being the tangible presence of Christ's body to us as we go through this. THANK YOU!

Saying goodbye to friends...

We have said goodbye to two of our good friends recently, namely the Caricos and the Ortlunds. It has been a sad two days saying goodbye to these dear friends. Both of these families are going to be used mightily by the Lord through the gifts that He has given them. What an amazing testimony to how God works in people's life in different ways to minister, guide, and shepherd His people. Beth and I are truly grateful to have been a part of their lives while here at Seminary.

As well, this past weekend, we had some dear visitors from Virginia, namely the Davis family. We had a blast while they were here, even as we battled through pain and anxiety. What a blessing and encouragement for us to visit with them and be blessed by the energy and presence of our friends and their children: Asher, Micah, and Audrey. I got to go to the zoo with the boys and their father on Saturday. What a treat! I think they ought to make a coffeehouse environment in part of the zoo, surround it with plexiglass or some barrier, put internet access in there. What a place to study! This was truly a sweet time to be refreshed by good 'ole friends!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ups and Downs

Well the past week has been characterized by ups and downs. We have our good days and we have our bad days. The pattern however is leaning more and more towards continual bad days. The pain in Beth's esophagus continues to return and become more intense. We are at the point tonight where the heaviness in her chest has returned. It so happens that this was the same heaviness that was present when we were in the hospital before. It seems to me that the medicine which she is taking seems to no longer being effective. It does seem that she is regressing, which is very hard to swallow. (No pun intended!) The sensation of food getting stuck continues or has returned and gotten worse. So, there is something going on and we can't see anyone until Thursday afternoon at our scheduled appointment. They have upped her dosage of the nighttime medicine which was to help the spasms, however since they have done that the symptoms keep getting worse. This makes me wonder. Over the previous weekend we greatly struggled through moments of anxiety.

So, we just ask that you continue to pray. Thank you for your continued care for us as we go through this. It has definitely been taxing on both of us, especially in those intense moments when we don't know if we should return to the hospital or not. Please pray for endurance, patience, wisdom, and relief from this pain. Please pray for both of us spiritually as well, that we would be see the Lord's work and hand on us as we go through this. There certainly are times when it is hard to grab hold of hope.

Well, thank you for listening, praying, reading. It is good to read your comments when you write. Thank you for the encouragement.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MEALS - How you can help!

If you are willing to offer a meal to us during this time, we would greatly appreciate it. If you are interested, please call Stacy Ortlund at 314-428-3337. She has offered to spear head this for us.

Thank you again for your help, support, encouragement, and love during this time. Please do continue to pray as we learn how to love and take care of one another during this time. Thank you!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Life on the other side....

Well, this is what life on the other side was like for us this week:
Beth's mom left Monday afternoon and things were pretty quiet after she left. We continued on the road of recovery and resting. We began to fully understand what life was going to take in regards to slowing down in the pace of life.

Tuesday, we saw Beth's new primary care physician. We were thankful because she seemed very gracious and understanding of Beth's condition. She answered our numerous questions about the various drugs she is on and the potential interactions with each other and food. She also was able to prescribe something that helps more long term to help with Beth's episodes of anxiety. The doctor also changed her coumadin dosage per the results from the blood test the previous Friday.

Wednesday was her first day back at work. Beth's principal has been gracious and allowing her to return only for half days. The kids definitely missed her, but they began to get reacquainted with her. She came home and slept. Before doing this she took one of her new meds from the previous day at the doctor. Later that evening, after I had left for rehearsal, Beth had to call a friend to come over and sit with her for a while. She was feeling very drowsy and didn't trust being alone. We certainly are very thankful for our friends who have been gracious with us during this process and helping us out in the various ways. There was no more concern the rest of the night.

Thursday and Friday was the beginning of our somewhat busy weekend, which we realized is too much energy for one weekend. Thursday evening we went to her end of the year school program. The Freedom School is such a blessing to those kids where they hear about the Lord Jesus Christ and His love for this world. The program was on the character of God. It was quite interesting at times, but what a blessing to be reminded of who God is by those kids. Truly...How Great Is Our God! Friday evening, we went to our second graduation. We saw several of our good friends graduate, especially our cousin Tim Jones. CONGRATULATIONS! It was a blessing to see our Covenant family again at the reception and the little party that evening at a friend's house.

Today was filled again with excitement. Beth's school's Field Day got canceled, so we enjoined staying home and resting. Around 12 noon Beth proceeded to get anxious and tried to eat something in order to take some medicine. However, this time she proceeded to be troubled again with pains in her esophagus as she ate. We suffered through this and the anxiety attack by rubbing her back and attempting to decipher what was going on. She took some Xanax to help calm her down a little bit and took a nap for the afternoon. Upon waking she was not much better in regards to the pain. After deliberation, we ended back in the ER earlier this evening, attempting to figure out what was going on. The doctor reviewed all the records from the hospital visitations before and concluded that there was not much else they could do for her at this time without her seeing the GI doctor again. They did prescribe a carafate drink for her, which was actually ordered for her while in the hospital but never given. This drink is for patients who struggle with ulcers, however Beth does not have an ulcer. So, at this point she is a sleep for the night, resting quietly. Unfortunately, the events of the day have prevented us from attending two graduation parties, which included Tim's, our cousin, and some time with Beth's prayer group for one final reunion. Tomorrow will be a quiet morning for us here, hopefully working on staying pain free.

One thing is for sure we both are mentally and emotionally exhausted from this endeavor. Beth and I both are longing for her to be free from this and desire for her to be healthy again. You all have been so gracious to continue emailing, praying, calling, and hoping for the best in our situation. Sometimes it is very hard to answer the question, "How are you doing?" Speaking for myself, I don't even know which end is up. I listened to myself respond to Beth today and I began to question if I am the right person to be helping her through this. I was able to speak with our uncle this afternoon and was remarking at how I believe after everything we have been through with Beth, my sister and her tragedy, and other things in the past three weeks I have shut myself down emotionally because I seemingly have nowhere to turn. I am unsure of how much more I can take. It is definitely harder when you feel isolated by all this pain.

So, we ask for you to continue to pray. Thank you for being with us in this, reading these posts, and encouraging us along the way to hold fast. Please pray for God to bring healing, restoration, and hope into our midst.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday update

Well, things have begun to really quiet down here now. The long road of recovery and adjusting is upon us. Beth's mom left earlier today and the house has become less busier. We definitely miss her support, encouragement, and love through out this time. We are finding that the morning tends to be the worst time for Beth in regards to being anxious. Thankfully, Beth will not attempt to go back to school until Wednesday and then she will only be there a half a day. She definitely misses her friends and talking on the phone with them. The one thing she has noticed is that she does get tired quickly doing that and has gotten anxious during the conversation. We haven't quite figured that out yet, but please know that if she doesn't call back, that is why. We have learned that we need to pace her day a little to moderate the activity, otherwise she is pushed and then gets anxious. She indicated to me earlier before her nap that she wanted to communicate to you all how blessed she feels by all your love and support through this ordeal in everything that you have done. Thank you as well for being gracious with us as we go through this and begin to learn how to live on this side of the hospital. No doubt, things will look different. They already do.

Please continue to pray for both of us as we do this. Please pray that I would be able to refocus back on school. I am pretty worn down right now from everything we have been through. Without going into details, please pray for my sister, Yvonne and her husband Rick. They have been through a very rough time this past week and need to be comforted with the peace that only Christ can offer them in the wake of a tragedy.

As for more practical needs...I know at some point meals would be helpful. We still have a refrigerator full of stuff from Beth's dad who went shopping for us. It may be helpful to have some one come and help me clean out the frig so we know what end is up. Visitors for Beth, we will have to moderate. I know she desperately wants to talk with friends and get reacquainted, however is learning how to limit her activities for the sake of her energy.

Again, we extend our sincere appreciation for all your help, support, and encouragement. We pray that God would continue to bless you as you have been a blessing to us. Take care and talk with you soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

GONE! (We think)

Beth woke up this morning with no welts or rash! We believe that the reaction to the latex is over. It has always reappeared in the morning after sleeping through the night. This morning it hasn't come back. So, we are thinking we are in the clear. We have stopped the benadryl, but have continued the others to help keep it away. By tomorrow, we will know for sure.

So, now we are able to get back fully on the doctor's regime of medicines and treatment of the various items. It certainly has been a long week of up and downs. Last night Beth was light headed and nauseous for a little while. We think this is similar to some of the symptoms in the hospital. So, we are treating it as such.

We do again thank you all for your support, prayers, cards, balloons, flowers, visits, emails, comments, calls, love, and encouragement. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! We pray that you will be blessed in return as you have blessed us.

We are blessed this weekend with keeping Hank, Tim and Kristin's dog. We are so thankful for him too! Take care and we will be in touch.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Persistent Rash

The rash Beth had yesterday continues. Now, the welts are on her back and are of substantial size. We have been taking Benadryl as the doctor ordered, however it is not touching the allergy. We just talked with the doctor. She gave us a plan to build up the antihistamines within her body. Beth is fearful of the interactions with all the other medication. Dr. Miller reassured us that there are no interactions with the medicines. So, we will do this for now and pray that the medicine works. Talk with you soon!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Gone and back again

Well, Beth took some Benadryl for the rash. It went away and in the process knocked her out. We battled all day with being sleepy. Late in the after she developed the chest pain returned slightly. She does continue to battle with this costrochondritis. This is inflammation of the cartilage that connects the sternum and the ribs. Apparently this is very common and very minor in regards to her health. The thing is that it aids all this pain in her chest. She took some Tylenol and felt better, so we are thankful for that. The roller coaster continued this evening as the rash returned. So, she took half of a benadryl this evening and covered the spots with topical benadryl creme. We pray that this will continue to work through out the evening as she sleeps and take the rash away. So, there's the wrap for the day. She is heading off to sleep and we are looking forward to what tomorrow brings. Thanks so much and talk with soon.

Developed a rash...

Good Morning! We did come home yesterday around 6:00pm. Our cousin Kristin was here waiting with dinner. Thankfully, she also had Hank with her. What fun! We noticed on our way home that Beth had this little spot where her IV was on the arm. Well, as the night went on we found numerous other spots on her arm and legs. We had her put some benadryl on the spots and take some orally. We woke up from a good night sleep and found more spots and rash all over her legs and arms. We had to talk through it a little in regards to the concern for her safety. She doesn't have a change in her breathing and she doesn't have a change in her heart, so this is not a life threatening reaction. We thought about a couple options of what could have caused it and have narrowed it down to the latex glove that got put on her hand and IV when she took a shower yesterday. Beth has a latex allergy which she discovered while working at the pregnancy center in Harrisonburg. The doctors and nurses have been so careful in wearing latex gloves. One time with the latex glove in the shower and here she has a pretty good rash over her body. So, we have added benadryl to her list of medicines to help us battle this rash. Man, someone is fighting real hard to wear us down.

Thankfully, she just said a couple times that she does feel better this morning. It was good to be able to sleep in our own bed and begin the road to recovery.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

We are going home!

Hello folks....we just wanted to update you and let you know that we are going home. The doctor is confident that the major issues for which we came are in good condition and do not warrant us to stay in the hospital. The blood thinner is at a good level. The GI symptoms are at minimized and improving. The challenge will be working through times of anxiety as we walk forward. Please continue to pray for us as we adjust to home. Thankfully, the doctor is strongly encouraging her to return to a "normal" lifestyle step by step. We will continue to update this as we go this week, this most likely will not be as often, but I will attempt at least once a day. Please pray for myself as I attempt to find some hours away from the situation to work on school and get my exams and papers done. I know last week when we went home for the first time, it was difficult to make that transition from taking care of Beth to being at school.

We hope you are doing well and look forward to catching up with you personally at some point soon. God bless!

Tuesday morning...

Beth and I had a good night last night. Overall, yesterday she had very minimal chest pain and tightness, which is a blessing from the Lord. We did wrestle with this lightheaded feeling in the morning. The doctor attributed this to being dehydrated, which seemed odd considering she goes to the bathroom almost every half hour or so it seems. She did have a very sore throat yesterday as well. The doctors noted that this is the effect from the procedure she had on Saturday with the scope. We are attempting to get her up to walk around a little bit to get some strength underneath her legs. We have not seen the doctor today, but she has indicated that we may go home today, pending.

I will say, we have been both blown away by all of your support and encouragement through these days. We still have a long road of recovery at home this week, but we at least are able to have the pain under control. We as well have been very thankful for the visitors to help the time pass by quicker. We were surprised and shocked when a dear friend from Virginia walked through the door, Martha Anderson. What a blessing that was to see a familiar face in a place such as this. Thank you so much for everything.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Please pray...

If you are reading or will read this soon, please pray. Beth has suddenly felt light-headed similarly to last night. However, this time she didn't do anything. Needless to say we are a little fearful. We have called the doctor and are awaiting a response. This is a new thing that we haven't wrestled with before. Thank you for praying.

Monday morning...

Good morning! Beth had a restful sleep last night. The floor was relatively quiet, I was with her all night, and some of the pain has gone away. She had a good bit of phlegm in her throat last night and this morning. This has made her a little nauseous. We do believe that she may have stepped too far yesterday in the realm of eating, so we are going to go a little slower today with what she eats.

The plan for her as it stands will be this:
Treating blood clot - stay on blood thinner for roughly 6 months. They will then do the genetic testing at that time to see if she is genetically prone to producing clots.
Acid reflux - stay on Nexium for at least 6-8wks and then reassess from there
Esophagus spasms - stay on Levicin or a related drug indefinitely to treat the spasms in her GI tract.
Anxiety - she will be given something to help calm her a little bit, especially when there are intense moments

Hope you are all doing well. It is good to hear from you on the comments. We love to read them! Thanks again.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Learning to slow down

Overall today was a very uneventful day. The pain was considerably less than what it has been. Praise God! I will say that this process of being in the hospital is helping us both to slow down a bit. An example was earlier this evening. There were two visitors who came to see us. Beth had gotten up from the bed and walked out into the waiting area a little too fast, more like she would have just a couple of weeks ago. This time, however she got a little lightheaded which scared her and then she proceeded to get anxious. We got the nurse, took some vitals to make sure she was okay and brought her back to the room. Needless to say, she was a little shook up. So, we are somewhat learning what it means to slow down and to not always be in a rush.

Another thing we are learning is the difference between something being black or white and the possibility of things being gray. This is tough for both her and I in our lives. We are quick to assume one thing when something happens, and then expect that assumption to happen. However, in reality as we experience hard things, especially pain, things are not always black and white. There is a possibility of gray. There is the possibility that things may not always turn out as bad as we think and to know that there are other options besides the direction in which our minds go. I don't know if this makes any sense to you all, but I know that this is something I am learning through this and my own healing process.

We thank you again for praying. Take care and have a good night. We will update you tomorrow how the night goes.

We've moved to room 616!

We are in room 616. The nurses prompted the doctor to authorize a move to a private room. So, we are now back in the hallway which we were in on Wednesday and Thursday. I will be able to stay the night with her and help as problems arise throughout the night.

We have seen both the general doctor and the GI doctor this morning. She is still battling with pain in her chest, which they firmly believe is from the acid built up over time. They both said the pain was like when we get a sun burn on our skin and then run water over it and it burns. The symptoms are similar to this. They are talking about a possible Tuesday discharge. We will have a long road ahead of handling anxiety and learning to eat again, trusting that the pain will not be there.

So, please continue to pray for this pain. We seem to have answers that address the problems it is now a matter of finding some formula of medication that helps the pain. Again, thank you for praying.

Sunday morning

First, thank you for your prayers....Beth had a rough night last night. She was having some intense pain and had several episodes of intense anxiety. The people watching her heart monitor called last night and said that her pulse was low at one point. She seems to be waking up when this happens. It didn't help her anxiety that someone coded last night here in this wing. She seems to be less anxious if I am here, so we are going to try to see what we can do about that in regards to allowing me to sit here in this "comfy" chair. We are still perplexed at the amount of pain she is having in her chest. The good thing is that they have run just about every test that indicates something serious. So, we will keep praying. I will say that she has been very strong throughout this. She dealt with so much and I am so thankful she hasn't given up. I do believe that there is a deeper level of appreciation and love for one another as we go through this endeavor. May you be blessed this day as you meet with the Lord in worship. Take care.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lessening of Pain

Well, God is definitely answering the prayers. Today, Beth has taken this little blue pill before she eats. She sticks it under her tongue and the medicine dissolves and enters the blood stream quickly, relieving the spasms within the esophagus. The first time she ate after taking the pill she had some crackers and felt pain, but not as severe. For dinner, she did the same, but this time she was actually asking for more! We are not out of the woods yet. I do believe that it will take some time for the medicine to fully take its affects within the body. But, praise God that Beth will be able to eat once again and venture out beyond bland foods.

Please pray for a restful night sleep. The roommate who snores worse than I do is still here. Beth's back is hurting from the bed, so she is rather uncomfortable. We look forward to tomorrow and further progress in regards to relief of the pain. Beth's parents are here and it is a blessing to have them here. Please pray for their stay here with us that this visit may be a blessing to us all. I will say it is good to see familiar Virginia faces again!

Again, thank you all for your love and support. We truly feel as though you all are lifting us up to the Father. Thank you!

EGD produced results

Beth and I talked with the GI doctor this morning. We both were very impressed and pleased with him from his knowledge and patience to his bedside manner. We talked through the various symptoms and possibilities and discussed the procedure. We also talked through other tests which may be used in order to diagnose some problems. We did speak to him about following up with him about other GI related issues which Beth seems to have.

She did have the procedure at around 12:30 or so. He did conclude three things: #1 - basically acid reflux disease, which is nothing we didn't know already; #2 - spasms of the esophagus; and #3 - a hiatal hernia. The hiatal hernia is a pouch of the stomach that slides through a hole (hiatus) in the diaphragm where the esophagus passes through. This is basically where the stomach protrudes through the hole in the diaphragm into the chest cavity. It is associated with acid reflux. He did take some pictures of the various parts of her esophagus, stomach, and intestines. I may attempt to place them on the blog for your viewing pleasure at some point. I think they are so cool.

Anyway, we are soooo thankful for both of our doctors and the potential answers to all this pain. They do have a method of treatment which include giving this pill to put under the tongue before eating and increase the dosage of nexium to twice a day. The doctor did indicate that the pain in Beth's neck and jaw definitely could be related to the acid reflux. We will keep praying and hoping that this is the answer we are looking for. If it isn't there aren't too many other tests that they can do.

Beth is doing well. She is very hungry and in good spirits at this point. We thank you all for your prayers, support, encouragement, flowers, visits, calls, emails, and so many other ways you have and are caring for us in this time. Thank you! May God bless you as you meet with him in prayer. Take care.

Saturday morning....

Well, Beth had a rather rough night last night, from a snoring roommate 4 times as bad as me, to experiencing symptoms in her neck that she had last Saturday. So, Beth is very tired and very emotionally exhausted from last night. The nurse she had wasn't very helpful as well. Apparently, she will have the same nurse tonight, so we are not too excited about that. I may try to stay the night so she has someone by her side through the night. We will see about that. We had a visit from our favorite nurse from the other wing that we were in. She is so helpful and kind and is here all day today.

Today's plans include doing the EGD, which will scope down her esophagus and stomach. Beth's parents will arrive today as well. Please pray for both of these things. Please also pray for continued pain management and diagnosing the chest pain.

Again, thank you so much for holding us up in prayer. May the Lord bless you as you meet with him in prayer.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Working with strange feelings

Tonight, they gave Beth her regular medications of Tylenol and Xanax. So far, everytime they have given her this combo it has been fine. Recently for the last hour or so she seems to have feelings of being on a rollar coaster ride. It feels as though she is going up a hill and then coming down. Needless to say, she is fearful. We spoke with the nurse, who spoke with the doctor; all her vitals are fine and strong, heartbeat is good and breathing is good. This just seems to be some reaction towards the Xanax. The difficult thing is that it hasn't happened before and it makes us anxious. At this point, Beth seems to have fallen asleep, she seems rather comfortable and the feelings have subsided.

Looking forward to a restful evening...

Today truly has been a blessing from the Lord. The pain today has been more moderate or Beth has been learning how to manage it. We are thankful that Beth was able to eat after taking the mylanta and we are trying that again right now as she eats dinner. I think for both of us we are looking forward to a restful evening. We are searching for a good movie like 'Return to Me.' We may hear from the GI doctor at some point this evening. If not tonight, we may tomorrow. Please pray that Beth would continue to have decreasing pain in her chest, for a restful sleep this evening, and that the EGD scope would happen potentially tomorrow. Thank you again for all your prayers and support. We feel very blessed by all your love and responses. Talk with you soon....

Doctor's Update

Beth and I got some rest while waiting for the doctor. She awoke having some nervous sensations and said she needed to use the bathroom. Let's just say the barium cleaned out her system. We did get to see the doctor again this afternoon with test results. Both tests, the Barium and the ECHO cardiogram came back negative. This is good because it clears any of the large items and those that are most concerning. However, the pain continues after she eats. So we need to find something. The doctor did indicate that the thinning of the blood is on the right track. The next step is the GI doctor will come and talk with us. The nurse practitioner will come and speak to us and then the doctor himself will come. The idea is that he will be able to shed a little more light onto the issue of the pain when Beth eats. The potential test they may do is an EGD, I think. Basically, it is a video scope of the esophagus. This will help them see any scars or such that may be present.

We do have some good news. Beth had an idea of taking some mylanta before eating rather than after. This seems to have helped a little bit and she is not having as much pain as previous attempts at eating.

Please continue to pray that we would have a plan for Beth going into this weekend rather than having to wait until Monday. We learned this past weekend that the hospital definitely becomes quiet with doctors and tests. We are definitely learning how to be patient and learning to deal with pain.

Again, thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement.

ECHO test

Well, Beth has finished the test and now the waiting game once more. I do believe we are learning about patience while here. Beth is hungry which is a good sign. Please pray for her comfort after she eats. I asked her what she wants to eat after she gets out of here. I suggested a big steak from Maggiano's and she just smiled. For now, however, we are sticking with crackers, noodles, and toast.

Barium swallow

Beth had her Barium swallow. She seems to have perked up a little bit. Please pray that the swallow test will show something in regards to the pain that occurs after she swallows. They did take us up to have an ECHO of her heart. I forget exactly what they are looking for, but I do remember the doctor saying that she wanted to have the test done to rule out any issue with the heart. The EKG was clean and healthy, but she wanted to be sure and rule out anything else. So, we are here waiting for her to be taken for the test. Thank you for praying.

Friday morning....

Beth had a pretty restful night last night, except for being woken up to take vitals and blood throughout the night. This is definitely good. We continue to wait for them to take her for the Barium swallow test. Hopefully that will come soon. She seems to be doing pretty well. The pain and symptoms seems to have dissipated for a little bit. It does continue to hurt after she drinks. It sounds from the hallway that they may be up soon. I will post again shortly with how she did.

Cell phone: Please know that if you call the cell, it may go directly to voicemail. We are doing this for the sake of the roommate. I will check the messages and get back to you soon.

Visitors: Please email or call first before you come. There are definite times when Beth has indicated she is uncomfortable due to being weak. Please know that you are welcome anytime, we just need to moderate as we go throughout the day.

Meals: We do not have any meals planned for today. That may be a helpful thing. Beth at this point is not eating much. Hopefully that will change soon.

Thank you all for your emails, comments, and prayers.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

How you can pray....

Please pray for:
-answers to the pain in Beth's esophagus when she swallows
-answers to the pain in her chest which feels like heaviness
-that we both might know the peace of Christ as we walk through this situation
-strength, endurance, and patience as we walk into paths of unknown of pain and recovery
-guidance for the doctors as they attempt to diagnose the various issues
-comfort from the presence of Christ as we battle with feelings of loneliness, confusion, anger, and sadness
-wisdom as to how to prepare for Dale's final exams and papers
-in thanksgiving, those friends and family here in St. Louis who have provided meals, visited, listened, prayed, encouraged, and were tangible expressions of Christ's love


Upon arriving at the hospital, Beth was being prepped to go to the vascular scan. We went up there and I learned a thing or two about reading an ultrasound. Finally, those things somewhat make sense. The ultrasound came back negative indicating that there are no more clots. We saw again Dr. Miller, who had released us on Monday and with whom we were so pleased with. She talked through various issues with us including when the clots developed and how the clots are related to these symptoms. We also discussed what life will be like at least for the next 6 months and beyond. She did decide to go ahead and order a barium swallow test in order to find out what was going on with the esophagus. We found out later that we will have that test on Friday.

Some friends came and stayed with Beth, while I was able to get back home in order to shower, shave, and pack some bags for both of us for our stay. Upon returning, Beth continued to struggle with some tightness of heaviness in the chest. There were some intense moments in dealing with that pain. The important thing that the doctor reassured us was that her vitals remain strong. She has a solid heart beat and that there were no changes in her breathing. She does have a heart monitor on her, which is monitored somewhere on the 7th floor.

The lung doctor came to see us in order to see if there was anything he could bring to the table to diagnose this chest pain. He mentioned some kind of inflammation of the small joint which connects the rib to the cartilage of the sternum. He suggested to give her some morphine to attack that pain. He also said that the pain which Beth is having in her chest is unrelated to her blood clots in her lungs. He was able to inform us that the clots were in the lower left lung and reaffirmed that they were small and were low risk.

Dr. Miller and the nurses have been such a blessing to us here. Beth has never been through something such as this before and is learning to cope with the pain and the way her body reacts to the various medications that they give her. This has been very rough at times, especially because the unknown is scary and we don't know what is going on when the pain is severe.

We have had three roommates throughout today. The last was the roughest due to the company which she kept. Beth was not able to tolerate the language, the volume, and the tone with which they talked. Thankfully, the doctor and the nurse was able to pull some strings and got us into a very quiet room.

So, at 10:55pm here is where we are....Beth continues to have pain in her esophagus after she eats. She continues to have some sort of heaviness or chest tightness. Hopefully, tomorrow's test will bring some answers of some sort.

Wednesday...the diagnosis

Beth woke up at roughly 1:45 in the morning and could not go back to sleep. She was once again having tightness in her chest and suffering from severe nausea from acid reflux. She proceeded to take some mylanta in the attempt to calm the symptoms. Nothing worked. She called the doctor in the middle of the night and attempted to find some answers. Nothing.

She went to work that day and the kids did very well for her. She had tightness all day and the numbness began to get worse by traveling into both hands at this point. In addition, Beth noticed that she began to have shortness of breath, especially when singing, coughing, and other sorts of activities. I picked her up from school and we proceeded to go to an appointment. Upon arrival, Beth began shivering a lot with the other symptoms continuing. We were under the impression that the prozac was the wrong medication since it was a stimulant rather than a depressant type. Our friend strongly urged us to return to the ER . Very reluctantly we did so. Upon our arrival at the ER, we approached it from the standpoint that we were going home and only needed a change of medication, an easy thing.

The doctor gave Beth some GI drink and some adavan in order to calm the symptoms which Beth was having in regards to the stomach acid. They also performed another EKG to check the condition of the heart one more time. The doctor as well wanted to perform a CT scan on her chest in order to make sure that these pains were esophagus related and nothing else. This is where the doctor informed us that Beth had blood clots in her lung. We were stunned and scared.

The doctor assured us that she was at low risk considering the size of the blockage and the timing with which we were able to treat it. They immediately began the blood thinners, which is the only way to treat the condition. The clots they believe were a product of Beth on the Birth control pill. Thankfully, this was our last month anyway. However, possibly combined with this is her being on bed rest and staying in the hospital. Obviously, the thoughts were running through our heads, questioning if this was the issue all along. Unfortunately, there is no way for us to find that out. The plan as we knew it was to have a scan on Thursday to check the legs (where the clots originate) for more clots and to stay on the drip blood thinners for roughly 5 days.

We were very thankful for the friends that came around us after the diagnosis. It was such a blessing to enveloped by this tangible love of Christ.

Recent Events...

We wanted to share with you the events that have transpired this past week with Beth.

On Friday morning, Beth woke up rather anxious. She had tightness in her chest, slight tremors, and very nauseous and so we went to the emergency room. They did an EKG to check the condition of her heart and it was clean. We talked to the doctors about her anxiety and her troubles with acid reflux. They took an Xray of her chest and that gave sign of an inflammed chest (whatever that means). The basic diagnosis was severe acid reflux and anxiety. They prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug for the tightness in the chest and gave her a prescription for Protonix.

Beth was feeling better off an on for the rest of the day. She got to relax and rest for the remaining of the day. On Saturday, Beth felt better in the morning. As the afternoon approached, Beth began to again have similar symptoms as before. She proceeded to take one of the meds to treat the tightness. A short while later, she noticed tightening within the right side of her neck, which turned into a "deadness" feeling in her jaw, followed by short pains in her shoulder. This was followed shortly thereafter with numbness down her right arm. It was at this point we decided to go back to the ER.

We got to the ER. They looked at the chart from the day before and began to do prick tests on her to see if there was anything stroke related. Beth at one point had to go to the bathroom and discovered that the numbness went down her right leg as well. They could not diagnose anything conclusive at this point without doing an MRI, and so they proposed two options. #1 - Stay the night in the hospital in order to get the MRI on Sunday. #2 - Get a CT scan, be discharged, and then return later in the week for the MRI. We decided to stay the night and get the MRI on Sunday.

The course of the evening into the next day was very rough with the symptoms. Beth deeply struggled with being nauseous and continuation of the numbness. She was unable to eat hardly anything, even Jello. We discovered that noodles and toast were the two things that she could keep down.

Around 2:00pm on Sunday they came to take her for the MRI. We had visitors in to keep us company which was very helpful by this point to pass the time. They gave Beth adavan (relaxer) to take away any nervousness. They took her down to the scan room and began to prepare her for it. The technician placed foam ear plugs in her ears and then placed a black cloth over her face and then proceeded to put a mask over it to make sure she doesn't move her head. Beth, being very claustrophobic realized she couldn't do the scan. I was called in to the situation and they informed us that they could do the scan under general anesthesia. So, under Beth's direction we went for that option.

At this point, we were maintaining the pain and doing nothing to solve the issues at hand, especially the stomach reflux feelings. After some strong advocacy, we were able to see a doctor and begin to discuss these symptoms which Beth was having. The doctor after hearing Beth and the symptoms indicated that it may be gall bladder related. So, they decided to perform an ultrasound on the gall bladder in the morning and then do the MRI the next day depending its results.

Monday (4/30) came and by the time I got there in the morning, Beth was being prepped to go for the ultrasound. She came back and it showed nothing. We were most disappointed because we believed that this was the answer. They informed us that she would have the MRI at 12:30 and they were soon up to take her to see the anestesiologist. We were firm with him about Beth's reactions to the medications given to her while being under. He listened to our concerns and in Beth's words "was as sweet as could be." They performed the MRI and she came through it with flying colors. There were no reactions to the anestesia, even vomiting. It was remarkable. The Lord answered many peoples prayers. Shortly after being released from the recovery room, the doctor came to see us and informed that the scan was clear and that she desired to speak with us about options.

In considering the next steps, the doctor proceeded to bring the issue back to the common denominator, anxiety. She said very often anxiety can create those symptoms of numbness and such if under lots of stress, which Beth takes on a lot. She prescribed prozac to help with this in order to bring the seratonin levels back to normal. She as well gave us a prescription of nexium to aid with the acid reflux. We left feeling very confident in the diagnosis and were looking forward to the mending process.

We both took Tuesday (5/1) off and rested throughout the day. Several times we wrestled through some boughs of anxiety, but overall it was a very successful day. Then we got to Wednesday....


We created this blog in order to help you, our family and friends to find out what is happening with the Zarlenga family. We pray that you are blessed through the reading the entries and viewing the pictures as we share how Jesus Christ is working through our lives.