Tests came back positive for legionella - my Bob had just become one of the 8,000-14,000 cases of Legionnaire's Disease that occur each year. It's caused by a bacteria that occurs in nature in warm, stagnant bodies of water without killing people, but we humans have created perfect environments for it to grow in our HVAC systems, indoor fountains and misting systems, even the plumbing, if not maintained properly, and to be aerosolized by these systems so that we can inhale it (which is how it spreads - it's not contagious person to person).
The docs at our local hospital called Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia, knowing that they had a therapy that could save Bob's life - a support machine called an "ECMO" (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation). A team of doctors and nurses came to Trenton, placed the tubes that would take Bob's blood out to the pump, oxygenate it, and put it back so his heart could continue to circulate it (it's a support technique, not a bypass), hooked him up, then they packed him up and took him back down to Presby.
They told us that ECMO is an extreme intervention, and not all patients are candidates for it, but they felt Bob was. They said the typical time for this treatment was 1-3 weeks at most, and after 8 days of touch and go treatment, he was stable enough to take off of the system. He has been improving by tiny increments each day, but we're still not out of the woods. His lungs were badly damaged, but are healing, and his kidneys shut down, and have yet to restart.
We have been told that Bob will likely be in the hospital for 1-2 months while his body heals. Once he's well enough, he'll need to be in rehab for another 1-2 months, just to get back on his feet. They said that for every day of being immobilized you lose 1 week of walking around, and I believe it. He's lost 25 pounds in the 3 weeks he's been in hospital, and we can feel his collar and shoulder bones now.
I know I've gone on for quite a bit, but that's because I've been putting off the part that makes me feel the most uncomfortable - asking for help; it's just not something that I do.
Over the years the house has become a little run down, and needs some repairs to make it good for Bob to come home to. Small things that will add up (like putting the railing back for the stairs to the 2nd floor), plus a couple of larger issues (like the leak in the shower upstairs). We're a two income household, with one kid in college, and the other in high school, and now one of those incomes has been cut back to whatever the NJ Dept of Labor will deign to give us as Temporary Disability payments.
And now I will say the two words that are the hardest for me to say...please help.
Whatever you can give, it will be appreciated beyond measure.
With love and thanks,
Ann, Jerry & Raini
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