Report on Abby

Final update for this situation: Abby has been home since Friday, Sept. 3. She continues to get stronger and more alert, she expresses a healthy appetite, and she is eager to do the exercises the physical therapist showed me. There is always a potential for a setback, but I will care for her and nurture her recovery from this difficult, complicated medical situation.

Updated to include that Abby is home.

Updated September 1 to include that Abby is eating more, and is doing her physical therapy. Her friendly physical therapist, Melvin, was very pleased with her progress.

Update September 1: Abby’s pain is much better controlled, her level of consciousness is improved, and the nurses said she had a “good morning.”

Of all the things Abby misses when she is not home, Summer the Chihuahua (in her arms in this image) is the one she talks about the most.
Of all the things Abby misses when she is not home, Summer the Chihuahua (in her arms in this image) is the one she talks about the most.

Update, August 30: Abby didn’t have physical therapy over the weekend, but will have it starting this morning. No progress to report.

Updated August 26 to say that Abby is feeling, and sounding, much more like herself, and is physically stronger.

Updated August 25 to include that Abby’s older sister Inez died yesterday. Link to obituary here.

Updated Tuesday August 24 to include that Abby seems more responsive and more determined to go home. She is not well enough to come home, since I can’t care for her in this state, but she sat in her chair for a while, had some physical therapy, and had a nurse-assisted shower.

My wife Abby is currently hospitalized.

Her current health situation began Saturday night, August 7 when Abby fell on her shoulder while coming to bed. Sunday the pain became acute enough to take her to Mercy Hospital Ada’s Emergency Room, where she was x-rayed and CT scanned, determining she had two contained, non-operable breaks in the head of her humerus. They gave her a sling and told us to contact our primary doctor about increasing the dosage of her pain medicine.

Sunday August 8 she became weak and disoriented, so EMS had to transport her, again to Mercy ER. They gave her intravenous fluids and the antibiotic Rocephin for a urinary tract infection, and she felt well enough to come home.

As the week went by, she seemed to be better able to stand and move, and required less effort from me when I lifted her. It seemed like she was recovering. We worked out a system for me to help her stand and walk that kept away from her very painful left shoulder. I administered the oral antibiotic cephalexin and her pain medication every six hours on the dot.

Saturday, August 14, things took a very steep turn for the worse. She awoke weaker and more disoriented. She complained of stomach pain and was sick all day. She rapidly degenerated into dehydration-fueled confusion, and became increasingly combative.

She didn’t want to go to the hospital, and I was leaning that way, but honestly thought of it as a last resort. I bought some Pedialyte and had her drink an entire container of it, but she didn’t improve.

EMS transported her to a very crowded ER, where she sat unattended in a hall for a while. There she was diagnosed with a worsening UTI, but continuing to resist my reassurances. I was relieved when they gave her half a grain of morphine for her shoulder pain.

She was admitted through some herculean efforts of ER staff, since there is currently a shortage of beds due to the coronavirus pandemic. I went home.

For a while during the week of August 16, she seemed to get very slowly better while I worked from the room using my laptop. I couldn’t stay the night (nor did I want to, since there was nowhere to sleep, and I needed to take care of the dogs), so I would time things so I could do at least some work on the way to or from the hospital.

On Tuesday August 17, she was given an e-neurological exam, and passed perfectly. Analysis of her CT and MRI scans were unremarkable.

On Thursday, August 19, a hospitalist named Weidong Zhao told me she was  medically well, and a social worker recommended transferring her to the “swing bed” care level in a smaller area facility. Sulphur rejected her because they were short a staff member, and I rejected Seminole because they aren’t allowing visitors. We settled on Coal County Memorial Hospital, which required a negative COVID-19 test, which she passed.

On Friday, August 19, we loaded Abby into our truck and drove her to Coalgate, where she is, as I write this, hopefully resting comfortably and recovering.

Tuesday, August 24: Abby seems more responsive and more determined to go home. She is not well enough to come home, since I can’t care for her in this state, but she sat in her chair for a while, had some physical therapy, and had a nurse-assisted shower. She correctly remembered my t-shirt today, which she gave me eight years ago, and was also able to accurately relay to the nurse the story behind her father’s wristwatch that is covered with pock marks from when he welded.

Wednesday, August 25: Abby’s sister Gail called to say their older sister Inez died in nursing care in Arkansas.

Updated August 26 to say that Abby is feeling, and sounding, much more like herself, and is physically stronger. She might come home tomorrow. She talked to her sister Gail about the death of Inez.

Update, August 25, to include that Abby’s older sister Inez died yesterday. Link to obituary here.

Sisters Gail, Inez, and Abby are pictured in 2003. Inez died August 25, 2021. The youngest Shoffner sister, Gwyn, died in 2000.
Sisters Gail, Inez, and Abby are pictured in 2003. Inez died August 25, 2021. The youngest Shoffner sister, Gwyn, died in 2000.

Update, August 26, to say that Abby is feeling, and sounding, much more like herself, and is physically stronger.

Update, August 30: Abby didn’t have physical therapy over the weekend, but will have it starting this morning. No progress to report.

Update September 1: Abby’s pain is much better controlled, her level of consciousness is improved, and the nurses said she had a “good morning.”

Updated September 1 to include that Abby is eating more, and is doing her physical therapy. Her friendly physical therapist, Melvin, was very pleased with her progress.

Updated to include that Abby is home.

Final update for this situation: Abby has been home since Friday, Sept. 3. She continues to get stronger and more alert, she expresses a healthy appetite, and she is eager to do the exercises the physical therapist showed me. There is always a potential for a setback, but I will care for her and nurture her recovery from this difficult, complicated medical situation.

Abby Shoffner Milligan Barron
Abby Shoffner Milligan Barron

6 Comments

  1. Thank you for this update. It must have been incredibly difficult to write, much less experience. Please know we’re thinking of you both.

  2. Can’t imagine the level strength this requires. Keep up the good work and the good fight.

  3. Dear Richard and Abby,
    I am so so sorry for the pain you must be experiencing. Both of you are suffering, not only physical, but mental anguish. Please try to lift each other up and stay positive. If you will trust in God, He’s got this and as hard as it sounds, its all part of his plan. I pray you will both be ok and that the break will heal quickly. Please know you are loved.

  4. I am praying for Abby’s recovery, skill and compassionate health care workers, and your endurance and peace.

  5. i know how difficult this is. I sincerely hope this is just a severe UTI. I have had several UTI/kidney infections and they do make it difficult for the family to deal with. I would have lucid moments and then be completely out of it. I am praying for you both.

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