SUSAN'S HEART HISTORY 1/11/96

Susan Hattie Steinsapir

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1/11/96 (Andreas)

Thursday Night, 11th January.

Susan had a good day Wednesday: she was able to stand up out of bed for ten minutes, which meant that the nurses decided that she could take a shower, her first since the 29th of December. It was either that or they'd hose her off in the parking lot :) Until now, I'd lean her over a wash basin and wash her hair by hand. She was reconnected to mobile equipment and with two nurses, taken into a shower. She was very happy afterwards, fresh shampooed hair and washed all over.

Another room was free and Susan got to move: she now has a larger room with a window. The Los Angeles weather is incredible: low 80s and sunny. It's like summer here. To the Angelenos, however, it's winter and they walk around in sweaters. I wear shorts and t-shirts.

Wednesday afternoon, a nurse asked Susan if she wanted a pet visit. UCLA Medical Center has a staff dog that visits patients. After the paper work (it had to be prescribed by a doctor), Libby the Cocker Spaniel came in. You can see a photo of Susan and Libby at the web site http://www.smartlink.com/~hiller/susan/ . Libby has her own UCLA photo ID and staff title (K-9 Therapist). She has her rounds and visits patients. The program started six months ago and is very popular. Libby jumps up on the bed and lets herself be petted.

Susan was able to sit and look at e-mail; her mailbox has over 280 e-mails. All in all, a good day: showered and relaxed. I took a polaroid of her on her favorite blue pillow, you can see that photo at the web site as well.

Today, Thursday, hasn't been good. Her kidneys have stopped functioning and the toxins in her body cause nausea and discomfort. It's a secondary effect of her heart failure. She was given strong sedatives in the morning and has tossed and turned all day with achey, dizzy feelings. All afternoon, urologists and other specialists have looked and poked at her kidneys with ultrasound and other things. They are trying different things with her kidneys. If the kidneys don't start working by tomorrow, they'll start her on dialysis (a kidney machine to purify the blood).

She's heavily sedated. One of our closest friends, Bill, flew in from Seattle; Susan didn't know he was coming. She awoke, saw him, and fell asleep again. He stepped out of the room. A few minutes later, she reawoke and said to me "I dreamt I saw Bill standing next to you!"

Mimi and JB Hiller came by, but Susan was asleep. Kay and Jack came by this evening as well. A staff therapist wants us to keep track of the number of visitors; this afternoon I made a graph out of the numbers and days and entitled it "Susan's Nielsen Ratings". One of the windows is nearly covered with get-well cards, cat photos, and so on.

Bill and I walked out of the hospital to find a place that had a scanner. After a long walk and asking at many places, I saw a store that had a sign that said "Computers". We walked in and I asked the fellow if he had a scanner. He said "Yes, but..." I asked if he'd scan a few photos. He said "Oh! That's an old sign. We're not a computer store." And I said "But you do have a scanner." He said "But we're a non-profit." I said "No problem! I'll make a donation!". So we got the polaroids scanned. I brought the disk back, edited the pics with my laptop's graphics programs, and sent them to the web site.

I'm very glad that Bill and Ray are here: I get out of the hospital and walk around a bit. I've been spending 14 to 16 hours a day there, every day.

Susan's IVs in her arms were removed which is better for her; her forearms and the back of her hands ached from the needles. A new catheter was placed into a neck artery and all of the IVs are channeled in through that; it also monitors the pressure within her heart chambers. Tomorrow, Friday, will see whether her kidneys start working again or she goes on dialysis. She doesn't have much appetite; the smell of food nauseates her. She's eating mostly fruit plates: strawberries (big, beautiful, tasty ones), chunks of fresh pineapple, and grapes. A bit of cottage cheese. Different fruit juices. That's about all.

We never know what to expect five minutes from now. At any moment, the doctors can come in and say that they have a heart and the surgery begans. Each goodbye may be the last. It's very disorientating. UCLA was kind enough to loan me an extra pager; an LA pager company gave them a boxful of pagers. I sit down to a restaurant meal, without knowing whether I'll have to jump up and run off.

Several people have asked for Susan's mailing address for cards: check the web site for the address:

http://www.smartlink.com/~hiller/susan/

The site's maintained by JB and Mimi Hiller.

-- yrs, andreas


1/11/96 (Mimi)

Just talked to Andreas at the hospital and the news is good. Well, as good as it gets without an actual heart donor.

They've moved Susan (and her fishtank) to another room in CCU, a larger room, and this time with a window, and she's feeling much better. They allowed her up to take a shower...apparently they felt she was up to being on her feet for 10 minutes.

So her hair is clean and she's feeling great.

No news about a heart, but at least the doctors feel she's out of danger of having another heart attack.

See? The prayers are really working, guys...keep up all your good work.

I'll be visiting her this afternoon, and will report back later.


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