This Saturday I have two things on my mind. I’m sure they will result in a somber post but I feel like I need to get these thoughts down here and out of my head. My little brother, and by little I mean 22 but since I just turned 35 he’s still a pip-squeak in my eyes. Doug has autism which means a whole host of things to deal with medically and behaviorally. Doug is a bright, cheerful young man who brings so much joy to those around him and really has touched so many lives. This week we’ve all had quite the scare. Last Saturday Doug unexpectedly found himself in a battle for his life.
Doug lives in North Carolina with my mother and sister, Erin. Saturday morning my mother was on a train, embarking on a trip to come here to visit me when she got word that Doug had been admitted to the hospital. He was nearly catatonic. He wasn’t himself at all, barely speaking and unable to even hold his own head up. We soon found out that in addition to his altered mental state his kidneys were failing and no one knew why. When my mother got here, she was arriving not long before Hurricane Sandy would arrive also. Travel was being limited and she was stuck in New Jersey while Doug was in the Intensive Care Unit fighting a huge battle.
Information trickled in from my sister and the doctors. We came to find out that Doug was suffering from Lithium toxicity which was causing his kidneys to fail. Doug has taken Lithium for years to help control some of his behavioral issues due to his autism. It had built up in his system to dangerous levels. That night the doctors had to insert a stent into Doug’s leg and perform emergency dialysis. It took all night but by morning they were done. Slowly Doug began to improve. After some blood work, we found that everything was coming back within the normal ranges but Doug still wasn’t quite himself. Throughout the day Doug began to speak and we got more optimistic that he was recovering.
In the wee hours of Monday morning, my mother’s phone rang. There is nothing more frightening than having the phone ring at 3am, as I’m sure you all know. Doug’s heart had slowed to a dangerously low rate and he was unconscious. This occurred twice that night and he was having periods where he would stop breathing. As Sandy began her assault on New Jersey, we hunkered down and prayed. We feared every time the phone rang Morning came and surprisingly Doug seemed to be doing better. His condition continued to improve as the day went on. He was talking, laughing and watching movies. The hospital staff even allowed him to have pizza and everyone thought he was on the mend. There were talks of downgrading him to a step-down unit and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Monday night as the winds blew and the rain came down, Doug’s heart stopped beating. The doctors and nurses performed CPR and thank God, they got his heart restarted. Afterward, they had to insert an external pacemaker/defibrillator to help Doug’s heart beat. Talk about feeling helpless. We were all so far away and had no way to get to him during this horrific time and my poor sister, she was dealing with all of this on her own! The doctors did more tests and came to realized the new medication they had put Doug on while in the hospital was causing his cardiac issues. They got him off that medication immediately. Doug remained unconscious through the night until the next morning. Soon he began to come around and was doing better once more.
On Thursday they removed the pacemaker and moved him to a medical floor! We’re hopeful that after such a terrible week that Doug will be able to come home this weekend. I know that even though he’s doing better now that my mother is still worried. I think in the back of our minds, we all are. Nights will be incredibly difficult for her even after he comes home. Each time he goes to sleep, I know she’s thinking that his heart might stop beating because all the really bad things happened at night. But I’m confident that he’s alright and that the doctors got the root of all his problems. I’m so thankful he’s well again. In fact, I have so much to be thankful for right now.
The devastation felt this week in my little state and so many states around us is just unfathomable. I don’t watch television very often, mostly due to a lack of time but each time I catch a snippet of the news or a picture that someone emails, I’m momentarily frozen at the horror. I’m unable to blink because it just feels like a dream. This can’t be happening in New Jersey. Hurricanes of this magnitude, damage of this severity, it’s not something we’re used to here and this is not something I want to have to get used to. I feel so blessed to have power, to have a house that is in one piece and to have my family safe and sound. To those of you who are effected by this tragedy, my heart goes out to you and my prayers are with you.
And the most popular post this week was…
Voodoo Doll Cookies from Sprinkle Bakes: You need to click on this because you need to see these adorable cinnamon spice cookies for yourself. I wish I had half the talent Heather has in her little pinky finger!
Pumpkin Seed Brittle from Brown Eyed Baker: I adore brittle of all kinds with all sorts of nuts and bits of goodies mixed in it. I can’t say I’ve ever had or thought to put pumpkin seeds in brittle but here you have it, along with vanilla bean and cardamom. It sounds like perfection and is going on my “must make” list.
Chocolate Pumpkin Patties from I Am Baker: I’ve had (and made) Peppermint Patties before but I’ve never even heard of pumpkin patties until now but it’s a genius idea. That smooth pumpkin flavored filling coated in chocolate, a fall candy that I definitely want to try.