“J” (Tim’s Mom) Update

Date May 14, 2008

It’s been a rough past 7-10 days for my mom, but I figured I’d use a quick blog post to update those friends and family who may not be in the loop. I may update this entry a couple of times, as I’m sure I’m going to get some facts mixed up, as I’m compiling a timeline and details from a hodge-podge of e-mails and phone calls.

Less than two weeks ago, she pulled off a 10-hour day hike on the South Rim in Big Bend. Chasing birds, of course. And, from several accounts, that went fine. This was at the tail end of a mult-week birding trip that ranged across a good portion of the state of Texas.

Within a few days of that trip ending, she got what looked to be a nasty cold — the sort of thing that seemed like, “I’ve been pushing my body awfully hard, and, now that it’s realized I can relax a bit, it’s going to knock me flat for a couple of days.” Or, as she put it, her “once-per-decade illness where she basically slept from midnight last Tuesday until 7:00 AM last Thursday.” The kicker was when she woke up with acute chest pain Wednesday night, which resulted in a 4.5-hour trip to the doctor on Thursday. They drew a bunch of blood, took some X-rays, and sent her home with prednisone, some antibiotics, an inhaler, and instructions to self-monitor her situation.

By Sunday, she really wasn’t any better, so she returned to the doctor on Monday. That’s when the pericarditis diagnosis was made. That’s a treatable inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the heart, typically brought on by some sort of infection (and, I can’t help but think, exacerbated by a multi-week strenuous schedule) and is imminently treatable. But, that led to a trip to the cardiologist yesterday (Tuesday), where the diagnosis was confirmed. The cardiologist almost sent her home, but, at the last minute, decided to check her in to the hospital instead — both so they can monitor her more closely and so she’ll be more accessible as they try to determine the details around the root infection that brought all this on, so they can more effectively treat it.

The latest secondhand (thirdhand, actually: doctor –> my mom –> my dad –> me) information I have as of mid-morning this morning is that they think she probably has or has had some sort of viral infection. They are seeing something unusual with her liver function so are running tests of both that and the gall bladder as a precaution. They don’t think they will find anything but while they have her in the hospital, they are just being sure.

The cardiologist may rerun the electrocardiogram this afternoon, as he is going to be out of the office tomorrow. He doubts that there will have been much change.  He has a partner who will do the same tomorrow and may discharge her if there has been some improvement, but she will probably be going to his office every other day for a bit to rerun the tests and then move to monthly for 6 months.

That’s all for now.

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