And so we continue...
A new doctor took Jeff's case. We were not confident that he was aware of the previous infection/situation, he was not a joint surgeon, so we requested that Jeff's first surgeon (Dr. B.) come back on the case.
Jeff suffered through the weekend, we worried about a repeat infection in his hip joint. If re-infection had occurred, he would lose the hip joint for sure, and a new one would have to be installed. It was frustrating to wait through the weekend, difficult to consider yet another possible surgery, and besides, this mean that Jeff would be out of work for...how long? Who knew?
Good news came on Monday morning. Our brilliant surgeon, Dr. B., stopped by Jeff's room. The antibiotic beads that had been inserted into Jeff's hip were designed and infused with full-spectrum antibiotics. They were meant to fight against almost any known type of bacteria. (We later learned from Dr. B's assistant that together they made the cement beads themselves, grinding and lacing, infusing them with antibiotics. We blessed their brilliance, acknowledging it as a true gift from God.) What a thrill to hear this news. We could breathe again.
Where was the infection coming from, then, if not from the hip joint? The hospital had repeatedly assured us that it could not be coming from the PICC line, as they had never had a PICC line infection.
For my part, I was a little freaked out. One staph infection with no known origin is bad enough. But two? I started becoming a serious germaphobe (bacteriophobe?)
Finally, one doctor ordered the PICC line pulled. The tip was tested, and sure enough, the line was the culprit. Once it was removed, and a new one reinserted, Jeff began to improve.
It was June. The office for my fetal/maternal specialist was located at the same hospital. It simplified things, in a way. I could walk over a few buildings and talk with the office instead of dealing with phone calls. I tried to talk them down from such frequent ultrasounds and blood draws (every two weeks for both) but to no avail. The baby was continuing to grow well and the titers for the isoimmunization never raised, not even a blip, and they never did.
The big kids were still running things the best that they could at home. We were still caring for my parents, keeping up their properties as well. Both of my parents were beginning the preparations for joint replacement surgeries. Mom's surgery would be in August, Dad's would be three weeks later in September. And the baby was due three weeks after that - or so.
I'd come home at night, cook supper, do laundry, spend as much time as possible with the little ones, handle finances, send out updates, etc., then head back to the hospital to be with Jeff as much as possible. The big kids did well, considering, but they suffered. They had their own heartaches going on at this time; struggles to fit in to their worlds, friendship issues, etc. We sorta, rather...fell apart during these days, quite honestly. I know that everyone wants to hear how a good family "overcame," and that part comes eventually, but for a time we were just in a world of hurt. Sometimes, even though you love the Lord and even though you "trust," you just struggle and the path is terribly long, dry, dusty and painful. I looked ahead and saw two more surgeries, still, on top of everything. I saw two elderly people who desperately needed me, and I really was the only one around to help them at that time. There were no guarantees that the surgeries would help my parents, even. How much would they directly need me in days to come? I saw many children who needed their mommy, teens who needed mom to not be so distracted, and a husband who needed to be nursed back to good health. I looked down the road, and saw no end in sight. Why did we ever think we could do this, handle this much? Well...we were still following what we were sure we were supposed to do...care for our children, care for our elderly, care for each other.
We were overwhelmed, but we did what we had to do. We kept getting up and doing what had to be done, day after day. God kept carrying us. There is no other way to explain it.
Jeff got well enough to come home from the hospital. He improved little by little. In mid-July, he re-entered the hospital for another surgery, this one to remove the antibiotic beads from the hip site. Dr. B. took his joint completely apart, cleaned it out again, and put him back together. Jeff didn't stay very long this time, just a few days, and when he came home he was soon walking without the walker. He brought me coffee in bed the first morning he was home. What a sweet memory that is.
Jeff was cleared to return to work the second week in August. His workplace had retained his job for him, that was a real blessing too. He had been out of work, without a paycheck, without work paying for his insurance, for three months.
God taught us so much through these trials. We were humbled, but in a deeply good way. We gained compassion for the "down and out." We were blessed by the love and remembrance and strength of friends. God is so good. Blessed be His name - through easy times and hard. He is worthy of our trust, not because things turned out, but because He is God and He loves us.
(Next time, I'll write about my parent's surgeries, and then finish by telling about the day that Gabriel was born.)