Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter drama

Easter is about drama, despair and new hope. 
As such, this one followed the recipe. 

We went over to Tysnes, to spend a couple of days with Helmer (and Hilde Marie and Jon Helge too, of course), before we planned to take off in the camper van for a few days.

Helmer has a lot of fun communicating with his toy mobile.

He loves having his bath, and is not too happy when it's over.

The grandparents taking Helmer for a pram ride.
The road is all cracked up from having been frozen and then thawed.

Finally, wild spring flowers are popping up everywhere.

One evening I captured this beautiful visitor in the field.

There's always something that needs to be done on a farm,
and this is going to be the new pig pen.

Tiril (the black one) and Henry have been in separate pens in the barn
all winter, and they so obviously enjoyed being together again. 

Thursday morning we received a phone call from a home care nurse, saying Geir Espen (our son) had been taken to hospital. A friend of his had tried to wake him up, noticed that he had vomited, realized that he seemed strange, and checked his blood sugar level. It was extremely low, below 2 (I think we use a different scale from you guys in other countries). Right then the home care nurse came by, she took one look at him and called an ambulance.

A summary for those of you who don't know Geir Espen. At age 13 he was diagnosed with both diabetes type 1 and Morbus Addison (adrenal bark failure, he doesn't produce cortisol, and has to compensate by taking cortisone pills daily). He's had a tough life; these two hormone deficiencies work against each other, and make them both harder to manage. During his teen years and for a few years after, he more or less ignored his condition and consequently struggled a lot with long term high blood sugar levels and low cortisol levels, resulting in poor general health. Over the last year he has started to take charge, on and off; I think Sigve's leukemia diagnosis was a wake up call for him. He started to realize that his mum and dad wouldn't be around to take care of him forever.
For the last year a home care nurse has been checking up on him in the morning, as the lack of cortisol in his system complicates the waking up process. If he wakes up by himself, he phones in to let her know he's ok, and if he doesn't call, she checks in on him.

So that morning she came by, and started to administer honey to raise his blood sugar level. But instead of rising, it kept dropping, right down to 0.9 which is alarming. It took her and the ambulance staff over an hour to get it back up to a level where Geir Espen was conscious again. The ambulance took him to hospital at Stord, about half an hour away from here.
At admittance his CRP was high, over 150, indicating an infection. Eventually they concluded that it was pneumonia, probably caused by inhaling bacteria from vomit earlier in the morning.
He slept all that day, through the night and most of the next day, as he always does after an incident of hypoglycemia.

We decided to go ahead with our camper van trip. We didn't plan to go far anyway, just about an hour away from Tysnes, to a bird sanctuary that was a nice area for hiking. We would still be close to Stord.

We went for a beautiful evening walk, and the sunset was amazing. For a few days there was a haze in the air that made the sun look big and red like blood.

The next day we called Geir Espen on his cell phone, and what we heard was alarming. He was coherent, but what he said didn't make sense. We spoke to a nurse, who knew him from before, and she thought he seemed very different this time. 

So we decided to cut the trip short, and returned to Tysnes, and then to Stord. When we entered his room, Geir Espen looked at us and said: "You are my parents, but you don't look like them, you both look like cartoon characters".

The more we talked to him, and listened to what he told us, the more concerned we were, and it became apparent that he was hallucinating. He was seeing people that were not there, and he explained that everyone had cartoons playing around their eyes. He said he was not sure that we were actually us, and that we might be someone else posing as us, so he could not trust us. Over the next couple of days he had visions and heard voices, but from time to time he was lucid and realized that it seemed like he existed in two different worlds, one real and one imaginary, and that obviously scared him. 

Not feeling so good.

The doctor called it a temporary state of confusion, kind of like a psychosis, caused by a combination of unfortunate events; i.e. the infection, the very high dosage of cortisone he was given along with antibiotics to fight the infection, and the long period of hypoglycemia; which in itself could have been enough to cause this condition. The treatment was medication to remove the hallucinations, and sedatives so he could sleep. Sleep was crucial to enable the brain to heal itself. 

This went on for a couple of days, and then, like the doctor had indicated, his brain cleared up, things fell back into place and it was over. Can you imagine our relief when that happened?

Later on, he has told us that at one point he was so exhausted from trying to fight off everyone who he thought wanted to hurt him, so he sat up in his bed and said, I give up, do whatever you want with me. At some other point he "invented" something he called an "angel cage" that he could enter when things became too hard, and it took him to another parallel universe. 

I think it is impossible for someone who has not experienced hallucinations to imagine what it must be like to have them. Yesterday Geir Espen said that in a sense it has been a positive experience because it was so horrible that he will do all he can to avoid going back there. This gives me new hope for his future.

Geir Espen is feeling so much better
and enjoys a game of cards with Sigve. 

My heart aches for him when I think about what he went through, but I am also filled with gratitude that it only lasted a few days.

Last night and this evening I walked up to Brandasundsåta to catch the sunset. I am continually searching for the perfect sunset, but recently I have realized that every sunset is both different and perfect! 

The setting sun by the Slåtterøy lighthouse.

And of course I found a big heart rock :-)

So this Easter turned out very different from what we had planned. We had a very disturbing and desperate time before we talked to the doctor; of course it is so easy to imagine the worst. But this doctor was thorough and  spoke comprehensibly, and I felt a lot better after seeing him.

Me, I'm exhausted. It will take me a while to collect myself after this one, and I'm not even sure I can handle it myself. So much has happened this last year, and with this on top, I have decided to start seeing  a therapist. I think talking to a professional, and an outsider, will be good, and I think it's important to start before I hit a rock bottom, rather than after. So I had my first session yesterday, and the therapist was a person I felt comfortable with, so I think it will be a good process.

Finally, what am I grateful for today?
* I have already mentioned one; that Geir Espen's state of confusion was temporary, and short.
* That Sigve's journey back to a full life continues, the blood tests are satisfactory, his immune system is well on it's way back to normal, and the doctors are happy with him. The next big check-up, the 9 month one, is on May16th.
* That I get to see a therapist that I felt comfortable with. Actually, that I get to see a therapist.
* And of course, I am so grateful for this little one:

Btw, Geir Espen has ok'd that I post about him!


Anonymous said...

Great, Greetings from DownUnder on a wet Thursday! Cheers! :)

Evette Mendisabal said...

Wowzers Inger-Marie! I am so glad things all worked out for your son. What a harrowing experience for you ALL. I hope he continues to improve and take care of himself. I'm glad you are thinking of yourself too and are taking the time to talk things through with someone, it can make all the difference {in my personal experience}. Look after yourself, you're in my thought and prayers!


Inge said...

Uha det har ikke været nogen sjov påske hos jer, sikke en følelsesmæssig rutschetur I har været på. Det må være svært at følge jeres søns op og nedture, og påskens oplevelser sætter dybe spor. Jeg synes det lyder som en rigtig god ide at du er begyndt at få hjælp til at bearbejde det hele. :-)
Mange varme og gode tanker sendes til jer her fra DK. :-)

Inge said...

PS. glemte lige.. Helmer er en fantastisk smuk og dejlig dreng, godt at I har ham og den glæde han giver jer. :-) Knus til dig.

Paul said...

After talking to you last night, I was anxious to read the full story. It's a relief that GE is over this and we can only hope it doesn't happen again.

As usual, it was great to see and talk to you last night although we missed seeing Sigve. Your family are blessed to have you and Sigve and we are blessed in having you as our dear friends.

More likely than not, we will get to see each other next year.

Take care,

Canyon Girl said...

Oh, Inger, that is so scary. I'm gld things are working out for your son and that your husband is continuing to do well. And of course that you have your grandson to cheer you up through all these ups and downs. I have Type 1 diabetes too and can't imagine having to deal with another disease that counteracts my actions to manage it. I had some scary lows before I got an insulin pump in 2000. But when you get sick, like I am now, it is impossible to get it under control. Sending lot of love to you and your family.--Inger

MarieElizabeth said...

My goodness what a weekend that was. I'm glad to hear everyone is getting better. I think a therapist is a wonderful idea. The stress on you is just a real as those enduring the medical procedures. In order for everyone to heal, you have to take care of yourself as well. And the little baby is just beautiful!

Lynette said...

Whew. I hope by now all of you have been able to catch your breath and that things continue to go well. Going to a therapist at the point that you started it seems like a brave, logical step to take. I cannot imagine the roller coaster you were on over those few days. Reminding yourself of what you have to be grateful for is smart, too. Every night before I fall asleep, I say my prayers and I say my grateful list until I am relaxed and ready for sleep. I can say these out loud since I am a widow and not worry about keeping anyone awake. It helps me to hear them as well as think them. Helmer is such a sweet little boy.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

HI Inger. I just thought to come and check out your other blog. My thoughts are with you and good wishes for your hubby's checkup Monday.

I am so sorry to learn about your younger son's difficulties. I can imagine the hallucinations -- and it is good that he realizes what they were and it is good that they were temporary. Even if we aren't doing the physical work, in some ways it is even harder to have adult children. Since there is so little actually that we CAN do for them and their problems, but they are always in our hearts especially through all their difficulties.

I think the therapist is a good idea for you. You have been through so much this past year.

Your grandson is absolutely adorable. And definitely someone to be grateful for.

I am thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

Har tenkt så masse på dere

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