Hi Friends & Family,
We want to first off thank you for all of the calls, texts and prayers. They have made the last few days much easier to deal with.
On Friday Jeanine and I came up North for the summer. She was complaining of a migraine last week. It unfortunately didn’t go away, so I took her to the local Hosptial on Sun. Unfortunately they found a mass on her Cerebellum. She was airlifted to Cooper University Hospital in Camden on Sunday. Long story short…. she had 5 hours of brain surgery to remove the mass on Monday. Thankfully it turned out to be a brain abscess and not a tumor. So still very serious, but treatable. They removed the infection and she is in ICU on IV antibiotics. The great news is that we are on the road to recovery, which as you all know is not a straight path. But she’s a fighter and in time we are sure she will make a full recovery.
Today is the first day that you she is starting to feel a little better. She is up out of bed and sitting in a chair and eating for the first time since Saturday. She had started to feel better 24 hours ago, but then developed some complications that caused us to need to reset. So we are being cautious as she needs to stabilize all of her systems. Therefore she needs to remain in ICU for a while. While she won’t be able to have visitors or flowers, she loves hearing from everyone and we will let you know when she is in a regular room and things are more stable.
I will try to blog at least once a day with an update. Thanks again for all your support…we can’t tell you how important the prayers and well wishes have been for us.
Jon and Jeanine
Sorry we haven’t written for a while. Jeanine has been recovering at home for the past several weeks and making good progress. I know she has spoken or written with many of you.
Unfortunately being on the IV antibiotics for such an extended period, 32 days, wound up taking it’s toll. We found out that Jeanine’s White Blood Count had fallen dangerously low. That is not all that unexpected after long term exposure to strong antibiotics. The doctors took her off the antibiotics, but not before she had developed a strong adverse reaction to the medicine. The long and short of it is that we went to the local emergency room on Father’s Day and they wound up transporting Jeanine back to Cooper University Hospital. She has spent the last several days there. Which was absolutely a bummer. However, they seem to have stabilized the issues and have her on a new oral antibiotic. Fortunately she is home as of this afternoon and doing much better. She is very relieved to be free from her piic line (no offense to my sister in law Janet, who installs them for a living lols.) But she is no longer taking IV treatments, which is a major milestone.
As the saying goes…”it is often two steps forward and one step back” when dealing with long term recoveries. The really good news is that she is clearly on the mend and in spite of this short term set back, well on her way to a full recovery. I know that many of you have requested to visit with Jeanine. But given that her WBC is still very low and will be for a while, she is really not able to see anyone at this time. She said that she is able to text and make calls, although she might not be very responsive, as she still tires easily.
Thanks again for all the kind thoughts and prayers. I’m sure Jeanine will update the blog herself in the next couple of days.
p.s. This is a picture of Jeanine with the afore mentioned Janet….aka the Pachu Mama twins. Pachu Mama is the Peruvian Goddess of the earth.
Hi all! Feeling much better! I walked a few blocks in the neighborhood yesterday all by myself! Yay! Recovery is tough, but I will get there! Chelsea flew in from Seattle, Zack will be here tomorrow and Austin is headed down next week, so all is good! I love getting all the calls, cards, texts and emails… they are the highlight of my day!!! Thanks for all your support.
Brain abcess! Wow! Didn’t see that one coming!!! All is well—so happy to still be here, literally!
I am truly overwhelmed by the amount of love and support sent my way. I cannot thank each of you enough for all the love, prayers and support through this difficult time. I honestly felt EVERY thought sent my way. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I would like to thank some individual people along the way. Jonathan; what can I say? You are truly the love of my life. Today happens to be our 31st Wedding Anniversary. You have given me the best gift of my life: your love. I guess I will just have to keep you around a little longer!! Of course, I have to thank my entire family especially Chelsea, Austin and Zack whose love, understanding and sense of humor has pulled me through. My dear friend Laura, who I am forever grateful for all of the love and support you have given me and my family.
I also need to thank all the staff, nurses and doctors at Cape May Regional, helicopter staff and Cooper Hospital who treated me as a person with respect and dignity not just as only as a patient. Thank you Dr. Orsher for a lifetime of support, and for insisting that I go to the ER.
And last but not least, my neurosurgeon; Dr. Turtz. My humble “organic mechanic”, to you sir, I owe you my life.
Recovery is a challenge, but what better place than Stone Harbor??! I welcome all your continued good thoughts, calls, emails and texts. I look forward to seeing each of you soon. I love you all so very much and please, please don’t EVER ignore a headache!!!
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting everyday at this point. That is really good news btw!. It simply means that Jeanine is progressing very nicely on the path to recovery. Actually we have settled into a pretty regular and somewhat boring rhythm. Each day we get up, administer the first dose of antibiotics and plan out our activities for the day. At this point that pretty much means that we figure out what our three meals will look like. At the advice of the doctors we are trying to make sure Jeanine is getting lots of protein and less junk everyday. Protein is key in aiding the healing process. Fortunately for her, and as you all know, I love to cook. So it is a match made in heaven. Jeanine has started to try to do some light texting and phone calls to family. It’s hard to get to everyone and she gets very fatigued after she spends time at any activity. She will eventually get to everyone. But the good news is that she is definitely getting stronger. She has been doing some light work around the house, like arranging closets and such. That and three naps a day at this point, are pretty much the sum and substance of it. Then it’s dinner and the evening round of antibiotics. Followed by some tv and bed. As I mentioned at the beginning, a pretty boring routine. But we feel so blessed to be able to be here and be on the downslope of this incredible and weird experience.
My guess is that we might get a guest blogger tomorrow or the next day, so stay tuned. And thanks for all the continued wonderful thoughts, prayers and wishes!
Ps That is Machu Picchu in the picture. As many of you know, we were so fortunate to be there with my brother Rich and sister in law Janet right before this happened. If it’s been on your bucket list….all I can say is stop waiting and go. It is magical! It is really one of the last wonders on the earth.
Jeanine is settling into a nice recovery routine. First of all it’s great to be out of the hospital and back home. It’s warmed up a bit today and Jeanine is able to sit outside and enjoy the view of the marshlands of Stone Harbor. That is the picture I included with today’s post.
Secondly, we got some really good news from the infectious disease Doc yesterday. They were able to identify the infection and ascertain that it is only one form of Strep that she has been fighting. The formal name is Microaerophilic Strep. After culturing it for a while, they have determined it is the only bacteria that caused the infection. So we were able to lose one of the two antibiotics that she’s been taking. So we are down to one IV antibiotic twice a day for the next month. They are also now beginning to slowly take her off the powerful steroid she’s been on since this all began. That’s really good news, as steroids have all types of unintended consequences. The hard part is that you don’t necessarily feel very good as the levels of steroid are reduced in the body. So Jeanine, who has been feeling generally very good, is getting a bit fatigued at this point. She asked me to let you know that she appreciates all of the texts, calls and messages. She started to try to return some calls, but it wore her out pretty quickly. Nurse Rachett (played by me) stepped in and put a moriturium on her use of the cell phone at this point. In all seriousness, she does need to focus all of her energies on the healing part. So for at least the next few days, she is probably not going to be able to reach out to anyone.
The bottom line is that getting better is hard work. The good news is that she is very tough and making great progress. And although it will be a pretty long road to recovery, we can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. In reality, and in spite of all she’s been through in the past 10 days, we are counting ourselves as incredibly fortunate.This could have been so much worse, in so many ways, and we thank God that it wasn’t. Mostly we are super grateful for all of the love, prayers and support from all of our friends and family. It’s made a huge difference in the healing process
Sorry for the delay in this latest post. Yesterday was an exciting, and very long day. Jeanine was told in the morning that She’d be getting out of the hospital at some point that day (Tuesday). Of course that was at roughly 8am. The problem is that getting released from the hospital after a 9 day stay for a serious issue, can be a long and at times frustrating process. But….”all good things are worth the wait.” Jeanine and I were able to pack up and get out of Cooper University Hospital at around 4pm. Again, I can’t say enough good things about the quality of care we received from this wonderful teaching hospital in Camden NJ. The staff, nurses and Docs were simply awesome.
So we made the 1 1/2 hour trek to Stone Harbor. I had the house cleaned (thanks Michelle for dropping everything and putting us to the head of the line.) So it was nice and cozy when we arrived. We waited about an hour and then were visited by the folks from the home nursing/infusion company. Shirley, our RN, did a great job of giving me a crash course in administering IV antibiotics. Jeanine will need to take antibiotics at home for the next month. I managed on my own this morning and did “no harm” to the patient, so I think we are well on our way.
Jeanine has now had a great long bath, washed her hair and has generally thrown off the sense of having been confined to a hospital bed. She is taking it easy and resting. The key is to keep her from over exerting herself, especially in the first two weeks. Her body needs to recover. Which as you can all imagine is challenging with this particular patient. I know a lot of you would like to speak with her. But unfortunately, at this point that would be a tough flood gate to open. So for now, she is just chatting a little with family. However, she has read all of your notes and texts and is incredibly thankful for all the love and support. My guess is that over the next few weeks she will feel up to texting and calling, so thanks for your patience and please stay tuned.
So the good news is that Jeanine is recovering well enough to now be in a regular room…..Unfortunately it also means she is now getting impatient to get out of here. But as anyone who has been in a hosptial knows, that’s not the way it works. It really is a lot of “Hurry up and wait.” The headaches which were being driven by both the infection/swelling in the brain and the surgical site, are now slowing fading away. That is really good news. It’s hard to be upbeat while you have that constant pounding and ache in your head. As a result Jeanine’s overall mood and outlook has improved dramatically. Her ever positive personality has begun to re-emerge and while that is great, it is clearly causing her to be impatient and upping her desire to get home. And after all, who can blame her? Hospitals, even excellent ones like Cooper University, basically are not great places to hang out.
Today we have taken 4 laps around the 7th floor. That’s two more laps than we have been taking up til now. So we are definitely making progress. Jeanine was able to take a shower just now. The nurses helped her (the nurses here have all been great), and she managed to keep her IV line and wound site dry. This was a big milestone, as this was her first shower since coming her. BTW, as you can imagine, a shower beats a sponge bath all to hell. So basically the report from here is very positive. That being said, my guess is that we are still at least a couple of days away from going home. But most importantly she is responding well to the antibiotics.
Several of you have asked about where to send cards…..You can either send them to our home address: 20 S. Sewalls Point Road, Stuart, Florida 34996. That will get forwarded to us. Or you can just send it to the beach house: 32 Hallman Road, Stone Harbor, NJ 08247….Please just keep in mind that the beach address is not our permanent address and we don’t get mail there after September. So it’s fine for cards, but I’d use the FL address for everything else. Also Jeanine doesn’t have her phone. I’ve been reading all your texts and emails to her, but just know she won’t be able to respond for a while yet.
Now that we are in a regular room, Jeanine is itching to make a break for it and get home. What a difference a day makes!
No real updates today other than that she is up, awake and looking forward to some relaxing time on the dock with the dogs. When I arrived from Seattle I brought with me a “dammit doll,” for her to bang against her bed (or us) when she gets frustrated.
Anyone who knows her can imagine that the doll has gotten quite the use these past few days and we’re sure she’ll be throwing it around Stone Harbor soon.
If you would like to make a donation in lieu of sending flowers, please follow the directions below.
1. Visit: foundation.cooperhealth.org
2. Click “Give Now” and write a message for Jeanine.
This is Chelsea posting after a few quality days with my mom. Since I arrived Thursday she has made progress in leaps and bounds all while keeping her spirits up, making jokes, and lecturing us all on taking better care of ourselves.
As anyone who knows her can imagine she has been pushing to get up and get better, and she just got herself a ticket out of the ICU.
She is settled into a room and wants to thank everyone sending their loving thoughts her way. While she is now in the regular neuro ward in lieu of flowers she would love donations to be made to the Cooper Hospital Foundation to honor all of the amazing doctors, nurses, and techs who have done such an amazing job caring for her (and putting up with us) these past few days. We will provide detailed instructions on Monday.
As we all know the saying is, “How time flys.” I’ve gotta say, it feels just the opposite of that maxim. We’ve been here since last Sunday and I can testify that it feels even longer. That being said…we are making real progress. While hospitals tend to be tough places to be over the long haul, this one has really been terrific. The doctors, nurses and staff of the ICU at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, could not have been any more professional and wonderful with regard to Jeanine’s care. I think that is in a large part, the reason that she is really making good progress and hopefully will soon be able to leave the ICU.
The important medical checkpoints are all in line or ahead of the Doctors expectations at this point. They are surprised given the severity of her condition when we arrived and during the first 36 hours here. But I think all of us who know Jeanine, are not surprised that she is such a strong fighter and is really working hard to improve and get healthy and home. Her sodium levels that I mentioned yesterday have stablized. The infection seems to be responding well to the antibiotics and hopefully will continue to exit statge right. Unfortunately she is still suffering from headaches, no big surprise given the invasive nature of the surgery she underwent. The biggest issue continues to be the double vision she is suffering. It is hard to deal with as it contributes to the headaches and general feeling of malaise.
The good news is that she is now able to sit up in a chair for a lot of the day. Today she was able to go for a walk in the hallways of the ICU and managed to do 2 laps around the unit. I must say that it was at the general surprise and delight of most of the staff. Of course it is also greatly fatiguing and she is now sound asleep due to her efforts.
The thing you learn quickly in hospitals is that everything is about baby steps. You have to clear one hurdle at a time. Our first hurdles of fixing the major problem and stabilizing Jeanine’s body have mostly been met. The next step we are looking forward to is getting out of the ICU and into a regular room. We are getting close, but not quite there yet. After that it’s getting well enough to go home. My guess is that we are still a week or so from leaving. But I am hoping to be surprised on the upside. After that Jeanine is anticipating home recovery and will need to be on IV antibiotics for a least a month or so at home. So we are taking it one step at a time. Hopefully there will be no more setbacks and we can keep clearing the hurdles one at a time.
Ps. There is still no way for us to receive flowers. We are probably going to ask that you send a charitible donation in lieu of flowers at any rate. So please stay tuned and I will continue to update you all as things change. Thanks again for all the love and support….quite frankly it’s been overwhelming.