Patrick Ulmer | CaringBridge

Patrick Ulmer

First post: 1/11/2017 Latest post: 2/6/2017
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I had hoped I wouldn't have to start one of these pages, but our journey continues to get longer and I feel at this point it is the best place to keep all of our loved ones informed about Pat. Here I will start from the beginning with a few updates then continue to add more as I am able.

For those of you that don't know, Pat was laid off over the past summer and started a new job at Dezurik's in Sartell in early August 2016. Once he was trained in on days, he actually started working the night shift. It is a change that I'm not sure anyone really gets used to, but it was our best option. He has enjoyed getting to know his 3rd shift "boys" and has really started to enjoy his job.

Thursday, Jan 5: he was working with a crane, a really heavy piece of metal and a chain. Somehow he took a hit to his upper, inner, left thigh. I won't go into EXACTLY how it happened as quite frankly, I don't know as I don't work there. He stated it was like "walking into the edge of a table". It hurt, he said "ouch" and moved on. Someday, he will have to explain better. Within a few hours of "the hit", he started to have body aches. He mentioned he wasn't feeling well to a couple co-workers and figured his night was almost over. He came home, told me he was really achy, he decided to go to bed to get some rest. He awoke that afternoon feeling more achy and will chills. At that point, he decided to go in as he didn't think he could work that night. The doc at the clinic swabbed him for influenza as he was running a temp of 102. The swab came back negative, however, he still decided Pat had the flu. Prescribed him TamiFlu and sent him home. He didn't go to work that night and stayed home to fight "the flu".

Friday, Jan 6: he woke up feeling sick, again with "the flu". Ava and I went on with our normal day and I asked him to rest. Throughout the day, I called to check in on him. He started to complain that his leg was hurting really bad, which was a new symptom to me. I asked what he had done to it, he said that he hit it at work but it was nothing. We treated for pain with OTC meds and continued to fight "the flu". That evening Ava and I arrived home to find him in pretty fierce pain. I looked at his leg, there were some minor red spots. He stated that it was turning into "a bruise" and he would be fine. We continued to try and manage the pain and fight "the flu".

Saturday, Jan 7: He awoke that morning in more pain. The redness was increasing and he wanted to sleep. Ava and I began our day with a play date for her while I ran to get him some topical pain relievers. I came home mid-day to find an "angry red" leg that was hot to the touch. My much larger concerns began at that point. It was time to lay Ava down, thus, I did this and he chose to nap while she napped. That is how we are supposed to do it right?? Approx. 4 pm, he awoke and showed me his leg. It was 17 shades of angry, livid red and was getting quite large in area. At that point, I decided with medical opinions, that he needed to go in. For those of you that know my husband, he was born with a little bit of stubborn in him and refused not to go in. After a few, ok several, choice cuss words, he agreed to go to the urgency center at the clinic. Not quite the er, but close in care, less wait times and cheaper. We arrived and he was seen within minutes. We were greeted by staff that were very concerned with the appearance of his leg, his temp and elevated heart rate. After several failed attempts in getting blood, they finally were able to and got the ball rolling. Again, all seem to think we are still fighting "the flu". At this point, we were up against a much larger fight. We didn't realize how critical he actually was at that very moment. A while later, the doc came in and suggested he be admitted to the hospital. Here comes Mr. Stubborn again....he refused to go...you guessed that was coming right? So began the wifely duties of coaxing him to go. While we were conversing, things went bad and they went bad fast. He began to see spots, his blood pressure tanked, he turned gray. We would later learn that he was going into septic shock. It was very scary for all of us. At that point, he was told that he would be going to the hospital via ambulance or he won't wake up the next morning. He finally chose to go. You don't know how thankful I am today that he finally was agreeable. He was admitted after arriving at the ER within the next couple hours while I made arrangements for Ava at home. I arrived about 10:30 pm to find him settled into a regular room being treated by lots of nurses and receiving tons of attention. I think he was loving the attention quite a but, except for the people that were desperately trying to get blood from him and his veins simply weren't cooperating. They began to discover he was dehydrated and started fluids and a cocktail of IV antibiotics. At approximately midnight, he saw a surgeon who was thinking he had a skin infection of some sort and surgery wasn't necessary at that point. The surgeon came in approx. 8 hours later and continued to feel that way.

Sunday, Jan 8: The morning started out optimistic. Although minimal, he was showing signs of progress right away in the morning. However, the way our day started, wasn't how it ended. The continued to watch his heart rate, which remained elevated. Additionally, over the course of the day, they pumped 5 liters of fluid into him and got almost nothing out. His kidneys had literally started to shut down. We really began to worry and didn't know where we were headed. Late that afternoon, they decided to do another CT scan on his leg. He came back from imaging and they announced that he would be going into surgery right away. The began prepping him while I prepped him mentally. For those of you that know Pat well, he doesn't always show his emotions easily, I knew at that moment that he was scared. Scared for his leg. Scared for his life. He was finally starting to realize the severity of the situation. We said our "see you laters" and off he went into surgery. It lasted about 1.5 hours, which were dreadful. His parents came during this time as well so they could be there when he woke up. Surgery concluded, it went well. They literally "carved" a hole in his leg, basically a little smaller than a football to removed infected, dead, damaged, rotting tissue. Mind you, we still don't know what type of bacteria he had, as cultures weren't back yet. We knew we were fighting something huge, we just didn't have a name for it yet. Recovery was slow, he was very weak. They ended up leaving the breathing tube in overnight because he was too weak to remove it. He slept sedated all night and truthfully, I don't think that is "real sleep".

Monday, Jan 9: that morning the goal was to extubate him (i.e., take the tube out). It was a slow morning, but eventually he got to have it removed. Not a fun time at all. We were also monitoring his kidneys as we needed to see output and it wasn't happening quickly. We were told that his kidneys had started shutting down during everything and we didn't know what the long term outcome would be at that point. The other goal of the day was to let him rest. He needed it badly as he hadn't really slept at all in several days. The surgeon arrived that morning and was pleased with the results thus far, but was honest that we may need more surgery to finish cleaning the wound up and to ensure all of the "yuck" had been removed. The "hole" ( and literally, I mean the HOLE) left in his leg is a little smaller than a football. I knew that I would have to look to see what we were up against. I will admit, it was VERY hard and I wasn't mentally prepared. He has not fully seen the wound yet, which I think is healthy for his mind. We met a wonderful doc in the ICU who gave us some peace of mind. There was a small window of hope of being transferred to the next floor that evening, but we didn't hold our breaths. They stated that we would be spending the night again in ICU, so we did. Pat had a good night overall (as good as it can be in the hospital).

Tuesday, Jan 10: we awoke to the nurses telling us that they were going to let us out of ICU that morning and we got our hopes up quite high. Unfortunately, those hopes were squashed upon the visit from the doc & surgeon. The infection had spread a bit overnight and we weren't leaving ICU anytime soon. The doctor informed us the bacteria is a "flesh-eating" form of strep that is very aggressive and moves very quickly, hence, his symptoms were so rapid. We then saw the infectious disease doc who decided to switch up the antibiotics to something stronger. During the day, we would allow the antibiotics time to do their thing. We prayed. That evening we saw the surgeon, who told us surgery WOULD in fact be happening the next morning so we could be prepared. It was unknown how much, if any, they would need to remove further. The goal was to retrieve any remaining bad tissues, irrigate and overall inspect. We decided that I should sleep at home with Ava that night. She is missing us pretty badly and it might be a good idea. Pat wanted to sleep and rest, which we all need a little. He had a decent night, other than an irritating cough he can't seem to shake. O2 helps him, but he is frustrated and is ready to get out of bed. So, I went home, slept with Ava (whom was elated!!) and prayed. She is not fully understanding why Daddy is sick and why he is so tired and has to stay at the hospital. She is in good hands at home and has been up to "visit" Daddy a few times...however, ultimately, it's a chance for her to get out of the house and "explore" a new place.

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