Friday, January 09, 2009

Yellower and angrier

Missy, my sister, was conscious when she arrived at the hospital last week but they sedated her while they plugged her in to the system that's currently supporting her existence. After a couple of days they stopped the sedation but she decided to stay asleep for a couple of days more.

Then she woke up. It wasn't very pleasant for anyone so now they've knocked her out again after only two days.

She's angry. Not happy about something, possibly everything really. During those two days she was rarely responsive to much by way of answering questions with nods or shakes of the head or finger squeezing - these being the only options for someone with a throat full of tubes. Instead she preferred to respond with expressions of pure violence and hatred and attempts at ripping things out and off of her. So they had to restrain her arms and then she did pretty much nothing at all.

So now the question is, is there anyone home? My (very) basic understanding of the situation is that the blood which is meant to flow to her liver is finding that route impassable and heading off in other directions. Also, somehow, blood that's meant to flow to her brain isn't getting there and a lot of it is ending up in her esophagus. I don't know why or how. Anyway, the crucial bit is the fact that it's not been feeding her brain and, on observational evidence alone, she's getting worse in that department.

Initially she was conscious and distraught. Then she was unconscious for several days, then awake and partially responsive, going through to awake and hostile, then just awake. As I said, now she's been knocked out again so there's no way to tell.

I'm not visiting her today because, well, she's asleep. I'm not even certain she was aware of me visiting when she was awake so right now I can't see the point at all.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I have a yellow sister

People aren't supposed to be yellow, well, caucasians aren't anyway, so this colouring was the first visible sign that something was seriously wrong. The great stack of machines and monitors plugged into her was another clue, and the fact that she and the machines are all in the Flinders Medical Centre's Intensive Care Critical Unit is yet another.

Yellow is the colour of jaundice, and that's what you get when your liver is fucked. "End Stage Liver Failure" is the proper term for it, and that's what my sister has. Years of drinking and drugs + Hepatitis C = 0 Liver. There were lots of miserable sounding words and terms flying about in my discussion with her nurse this morning, none of them nice. Cirrhosis, Internal Bleeding, Encephalitis and Brain Damage among them. There are others I can't even remember right now.

I can only see this ending one way. A person can't live without a functioning liver, and she hasn't got one, and she's not going to get a new one with her history and the Hep C. There aren't a lot of ways that can go.

I saw her on Saturday following an email from Mum telling me what was going on and where Missy (my sister) is. She wasn't conscious though, having been sedated since admission. I think that was the first time I'd seen her for about 8 years. My folks were there and it was the first time I'd seen them in over 6 years. Oddly, they haven't aged a day in that time, which is more than can be said for Missy. I didn't recognise her.

Today she's awake, but not really "there". Sometimes she responds with a nod or shake of the head but mostly she doesn't. She's got tubes down her throat so speaking isn't an option, but they are hoping to be able to remove those later today, but they said that yesterday and the day before as well. Mostly she just lies there being disturbingly yellow with patches of bluey black.

She's got a shocker of a black right eye and bruises all over various other bits, her lips are swollen. Apparently she's been falling down a lot and unable to walk without the aid of a walking frame for months. She lives upstairs and has passed out several times part way up and fallen down them as a result. She's probably also been beaten up once or twice lately because that's normal in her life.

What a fucking mess.