Page Lea, Sr Page Lea, Sr’s Updates

First post: Feb 15, 2020 Latest post: Mar 15, 2020
Where to begin...

My Dad and Mom purchased a condo at Harbour Ridge in Palm City, FL this past fall, and Dad retired on Christmas Eve.  They left Virginia Beach, with their corgi puppies Trumpet and Albert, on December 27th and ventured down to sunny Florida with the other snowbirds, excited to winter at their beautiful new golf community on the St. Lucie River.  
Up until recently, Dad and Mom were having a fantastic time in retirement. Between golfing, dining out, meeting and making new friends, and nature walking the dogs, life was, simply, great!  Every day was Saturday!

The first week of February, Dad came down with a nasty stomach bug/virus and a low fever that sidelined him for what he and Mom thought would be just a few days.  A trip to the urgent care that week didn’t yield any strange results, so they hunkered down for the weekend to ride it out.  Over the weekend, the stomach bug seemed to have settled down, but Dad complained of feeling really weak when he returned from playing golf that Saturday.  However, Dad ate a normal dinner Sunday night, which they thought was a good sign.

On Tuesday the 11th there weren’t any good signs of improvement, so Dad and Mom went to both the local urgent care again, and then the ER searching for more answers regarding Dad’s fever, weakness, and headache.  Of course, we’re in the middle of cold and flu season, so flu tests were administered, but they all came back negative.  The doctors diagnosed it as a virus and let Dad and Mom go back home to fight it in comfort with Tylenol and Motrin.

On Wednesday the 12th, Dad woke up and hit the bathroom with a vengeance.  He returned to bed after expelling everything from his system and tried to get some rest.  Mom took the dogs out for a walk, and when she returned Dad was lethargic and really spacey, and soon after became non-responsive, so Mom called the rescue squad.  They transported Dad to the ER at Cleveland Clinic Martin North Hospital in Stuart, FL, and Mom followed by car.

Dad was non-responsive at the ER with a 103+ fever, and his doctor recommended a spinal tap because Dad’s headache pointed towards the possibility of him suffering from viral meningitis.  Soon after the spinal tap, they covered him with a cooling blanket to help bring down his fever and administered antibiotics for the meningitis.  Dad’s fever started to drop and the doctors gave him a CAT scan of his brain, which showed no brain swelling.  When his fever got down to 100 he spoke for a few seconds and was lucid, but then drifted back out of it.  The doctors admitted him to the hospital and he was moved to his room Wednesday  evening, and Mom went back home to get some much needed rest.

Late Wednesday night, Dad was really agitated, so the doctors intubated him, sedated him with Ativan, and moved him to the ICU for closer monitoring.

Dad spent Thursday sedated and monitored in the ICU, and he had an MRI late in the afternoon.  The doctors and nurses began administering supportive care to Dad to heal his fever and keep him comfortable so that he can fight his brain infection.

On Friday morning, we got the MRI results that confirmed that Dad has a viral brain infection, and accepted the harsh reality that Dad could potentially have to fight this for weeks, not just days, while the doctors and nurses administer further tests and scans and wait for results and more information and clues into what, exactly, he has and how to fight it.  We were able to see Dad at the start of visiting hours at 11:00 that morning and were happy to see that he no longer had a fever.  Unfortunately, we also learned that Dad had been taken off of his sedation meds, but wasn’t waking up and is still in a coma.  Dad also had a BM Friday morning, which the nurses submitted for analysis.

On Friday early afternoon we met with Dad’s neurologist, Dr. Solhon, a proud Tar Heel, who walked Mom through her story of everything that had happened with Dad over the last week and a half to now so he could be up to speed from our point of view.  We had a long discussion with Dr. Solhon on what Dad could be suffering from, and also learned that the MRI discovered a mass on Dad’s brain.  Dr. Sohon didn’t feel like that mass was the ultimate culprit, at least not enough to open Dad’s head up yet, but at least the team has it on record.  We discussed moving Dad to another hospital - there are several great options in Florida - but Dr. Sohon didn’t feel that was necessary at this time.  We discussed the results of a short EEG scan that they ran on Dad’s brain the day before that came back inconclusive, and that Dr. Sohon had plans to begin a 24 hour EEG later that day.  We also discussed giving Dad a steroid to help jolt him out of his coma, and that Dr. Sohon was waiting on a call back from his infectious diseases counterpart for his input on that because while it could help Dad come out of his coma, the steroid could also fuel his brain infection.

We spent our morning visit with Dad in full body suits, gloves, and face masks to prevent infection between us and Dad, talked to him, held his hand, and did our best to coax him out of his funk.  As most of you know, Dad’s stubborn as hell and doesn’t ever listen to us anyways, so why start now.  The dialogue was so one-sided that we took a break for lunch.

We returned from lunch and met with Dr. Sohon who told us that they had received the results from Dad’s stool sample that pointed towards Dad suffering from Bickerstaff Encephalitis, an autoimmune neurological disease.  My thumbs are killing me, so you can google it to learn more about it.  All in all, Dr. Sohon appeared confident that this is what Dad has, and he ordered a medicine called IVIG that Dad would take for 3-5 days to hopefully cure him of the disease.  It was great to hear this, but as you can imagine, we are trying to temper our emotions while remaining cautiously optimistic.

This morning, Saturday 2/15, we learned that Dad had his first daily dose of IVIG yesterday at 5:56 pm.  The doctors and nurses haven’t noticed any changes in his condition yet, but that’s not unexpected.  We might not see anything for a few days.  Mom gave consent for the nurses to insert a PICC line into Dad to get medicine to him more effectively.  He’s still on EEG, so hopefully we will start getting info from that today too, and they also did a chest X-ray.  A lot is going on.

We are heading back to the hospital shortly to be with Dad and get more updates.  
On behalf of my mom and sister, we are deeply moved by the well wishes, calls of concern, and prayers we have received from family, friends, and friends of friends.  We’re on the roller coaster ride of our lives, and your support means a lot.  We will do our best to keep you all informed of what’s going on with Dad, and hopefully this Caring Bridge helps.  Thank you.

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