04 January 2011

Amiodarone and such

I took a picture of this at Booger Bottom in Georgia.  While visiting our family there in October 2008, we took a fun boat ride over to this little joint with missing tiles for the best burger ever!  

I didn't intend to set this up as a complaining post, but in talking to my Mom today I thought of some helpful information to pass along.

First off . . . 

"Amiodarone is a drug used to treat certain types of serious, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias (a certain type of abnormal heart rhythm when other medications did not help or could not be tolerated)."

Dad was put on this drug back in July of 2010 while the medical people were trying to stabilize his vitals.  Nothing else was working in his heart so they had to use this drug. My parents and I attended the conference for the Brain Injury Association of Utah (BIAU) a few months back and learned something very helpful from Dr. Ellie Elovic: DO NOT use this drug without being closely monitored by a doctor!  My Dad had been sent out of the hospital, prescriptions in hand for all the meds he had been on. Not a word about the danger or the likely side effects of this drug.  We later found out that Amiodarone is a "last resort" medication that is used when everything else has failed to help the patient.  It is a last resort drug because it is dangerous and has serious guaranteed consequences as well as serious possibilities.  It was sort of scary to read about the drug when we figured all this out.

About now I would be thinking, "Now how was this supposed to be helpful?"  

Answer: If you or a loved one ever find yourself in a hospital setting (and I sincerely pray you won't), I would advise the asking of as many questions as you can conjure up.  Truly. We learned this the hard way.

I am not insisting, presupposing, hinting, suggesting, or outright accusing hospitals or the professionals there of negligence. At all. Period. Exclamation point! I am not. I appreciate the hospitals and professionals so much. I now know that they, like me, get busy and things get overlooked.  I wonder if some trouble may have been avoided if only we had known what questions to ask.

At that same BIAU conference, a common theme from TBI survivors and their families was "Where are the people to help me?  Why isn't someone here to answer my questions and tell me what to do?"  My Mom raised her hand in one session where that became the one and only topic of discussion and just said "Look people, we have been through ARDS, stroke, car wreck, failed oblations, etc. etc. etc. and we have learned  that we can either sit around and wait or we can move on and look around for answers ourselves."  

I would describe my Mother dear as very pragmatic. Practical, sensible, honest and real with herself, and not forgetting to mention that she is a person who enjoyed boot camp.  Really.  You can count on her for "real-ness" like that.  I feel like we need to be in charge of asking the questions to get the answers.  It seems sad to me to think of my little Mom reading up on this kind of stuff all by herself while her husband lay in a coma at the hospital.  But it was helpful to her and it was helpful to me to do the same searching for answers.

Of course I don't know who reads this blog.  But I was surprised and humbled to stumble onto a "stats" section and there found that someone in Malaysia is reading my blog.  Someone in Japan.  Someone in Alaska.  People in other places in the United States.  So I want information provided to be helpful.  And I think this is helpful.  Know if you are in a situation like we found ourselves in, that you have to take some form of control over your own education.  Knowledge is power, I believe that.  Keep asking questions.  Network with people in your situation anywhere around the world.  E-mail me!  Leave comments, ask questions.  I have been close to all of this and observed a lot.  If I can help, tell me.  I want to use our experiences to help other people.  Finding out there are others in the same situation as we have been in was what has helped me most.  Finding out that this is not uncommon-but it is still difficult and hard, sad, tragic, life changing.  For more than the survivor too!  

I am Liz Allen and I am a believer!  I believe in Christ!  I know He is the source of our strength.  I know I cannot do big things, but small things by great love.  I have always had love and compassion for those who suffer through these things.  Now I have empathy.  I want to reach out to others and offer support.  I guess this blog is my way of doing that.  

I have never wanted to be an extraordinary at anything but living and knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want to be a great wife and mother, daughter and sister.  Finding strength and peace through Jesus Christ is helping me to do that.  I have such a long, long way to go, but I know the Atonement of Christ covers that as well as covering the pain and despair of watching as my Dad lay for weeks in a coma, and watching as he and my Mom adjust to life with his brain injury.  It is amazing that everything we can feel has been swallowed up in the victory of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Phillipians 4:13 I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST, which strengtheneth me.

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