The Weekend Whisk – 11/3/12

by Kate on November 3, 2012

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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.



Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie with Toasted Coconut Crust

Cranberry Apple Pecan Tart

And the most popular post this week was…

Salted Caramel Squares

Babbles Bookmarks: 

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.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom November 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

Oh Katie! What a wonderful post. I love you so much.


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Thanks Mom! Love you too 🙂


elena @3greenonions November 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hang in there Kate. I am nowhere near the US and the post-storm images are haunting me nevertheless. As for Doug, I have a younger brother too and I can only imagine how you must be feeling. Hope he feels better!


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words Elena. I really appreciate that.


Liz November 3, 2012 at 10:46 am

I’m so glad that everything is alright with your brother. What a big scare at a time when it was so hard to be with him. It’s a great reminder for me as my mom is on Lithium as well. I remember when her levels went toxic, but instead of shutting down, she went into a manic state. She’s bi-polar so I knew that something wasn’t right with her medication. Fortunately, everything worked out for her as well. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure I will help many people.


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Thanks Liz! It was so very scary and such a feeling of absolute helplessness. I’m so sorry that you’ve shared a similar adverse reaction to Lithium with your mom. Some of the side effects from these medications are so scary. I’m so glad to hear that everything worked out well for her.


Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom November 3, 2012 at 11:03 am

Yes, thank you for sharing your story. . I’m so glad to hear that your brother is doing better! I hope your family remains to be strong and continues to pray! 🙂 I understand about feeling helpless. . all of my family and I live in different states .. I can only wish that one day we’d all live together again. But in moments when family members are sick and in the hospital, which has been more often with my mother, it’s horrible. Hang in there. Thank you again for sharing this story!


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for your comment Alice. I hope one day my family and I can all be closer together too. It’s so hard to all be spread out and far from one another. I am so sorry to hear that you’ve dealt with a similar situation with your mother. It’s so difficult when a loved one is sick and far away. Thanks for you support!


Carrie @ poet in the pantry November 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm

How incredibly scary! I’m glad to hear your brother is on the mend, though. Keeping you all in my thoughts. (My brother is 12 years younger than I am, BTW, so I get the *little* brother thing.)


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Thanks Carrie. I appreciate that so much.


Sarah @ Will Run for Pasta November 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

How terrifying, so glad to hear he is doing better!!


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Thanks Sarah! It was really scary.


Margaret Crane November 3, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Thank you, little mama! It was quite a harrowing week, but in spite of it all . . . it’s so reassuring to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control, loves us and has Doug in the palm of His hand. Love and continued prayers!


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm

We are so fortunate to have had the situation turn out the way it did. Love you too, Nan!


Erin November 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I love you beyond words sister. I’m so thankful for our family.


Kate November 3, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I love you too, Er!!!!!


Delishhh November 4, 2012 at 12:35 am

WOW what a scare! I am glad your little brother is better though!


Kate November 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm

It truly was one of the scariest things our family has every encountered. I feel so blessed that everything has turned out alright. Truly such a miracle!


Kim Bee November 4, 2012 at 1:01 am

My heart just goes out to you and your family. I am so glad your brother is okay now. That has to be frightening. I adore my siblings and would be devastated if any of them suffered any kind of medical blow. Keep on being positive and things will be okay. It’s refreshing to see such a tight knit family.


Kate November 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Thanks for your kind words, Kim! It truly is a miracle that he’s made such a wonderful recovery.


Anna @ hiddenponies November 5, 2012 at 2:06 am

Oh Kate, what a difficult situation. So thankful he is improving, and hopefully they can get things sorted out so that kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Being spread out as a family is worst at times like that!


Kate November 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thanks for your comment Anna. It was difficult but he’s doing wonderfully now! The doctors will be monitoring him more closely from here on out but I really feel that everything is going to be okay now.


Barbara | Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

How terrifying Kate…as I read I was prepared for the worst so I’m grateful to hear Doug seems to be improving. I can not imagine the trauma your family has been through; the storm was bad enough but to feel trapped and not able to be with Doug made it all that much worse. My prayers are with you.

I know much is needed and that anything we might do in the food blogging world might only make a small dent but I have started an initiative asking everyone to both post a comfort food and ask for donations on Thursday. Through Twitter I have come to know so many people that live in the wake of Sandy; so many of us just want to reach out and help. With you, doubly so. Take good care my sweet friend…Barb


Kate November 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Aww, Barb… You always know just the right thing to say. You’re comment is like a warm hug all the way from Denver. Thank you so much. I did read your post about a comfort food post as well as donations. That effort is amazing and so very appreciated. I was hoping to join in but I just don’t think I’ll be able to make something in time. I am so grateful to you, Jenn and the food community at large for reaching out and helping. I am so fortunate to have come out of this hurricane merely inconvenienced in the grand scheme of things. Although, we on the East coast are now once again bracing ourselves for another big storm that for those areas truly devastated by Sandy, could be even more detrimental. Hoping and praying for the best.


ChristineM November 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Kate, we share something in common, my stepson is autistic and bi polar, a double whammy and every time the phone rings from his mother we get scared too. I am so glad Doug is doing better and they have the right meds now. I am praying for you and your family and friends and EVERY one affected by this storm.


Kate November 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Thank you so much Christine! It is so scary at times. I am so sorry to hear about your stepson. That is truly a double whammy and must be difficult for all of you. Fortunately, Doug has been in a very good place for a very good time. His medications have worked for him for a long time. Then all this. But now it seems they’ve found a new combination that is working for him and not making him sick in the process so the new plan is to make sure he is more closely monitored so that nothing like this happens again. It’s so scary that something that is supposed to be helping you can actually be killing you. I truly thought he was going to die and feel so blessed by this miracle.


ChristineM November 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm

It truly is a miracle…. you have a family with good communication and that is the key!
Blessings to you Kate and your family… and to Doug! stay strong!


Kate November 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Thank you SO much Christine!!


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