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Unexpected Caregiver Adventure

Over the past 12 years or so My wonderful wife Karen has had occasion to be my caregiver while I was bouncing back from multiple surgeries and illnesses, including hip replacements, heart valve replacement, rotator cuff surgery, and an inner ear problem. From last Wednesday on I unexpectedly had the opportunity to pay her back.

She has been having some orthopedic issues, it appears she has radiculopathy which irritates nerves where they are exiting the spine, both in the lumbar and cervical regions. This was causing her pain in her right arm and leg. She got referred to PT for this, which helped a lot. But her GP also prescribed a fairly strong anti-inflammatory. As another piece of background, she is on a high dose (80 mg) of atorvastatin (generic for Lipitor), and has been for about 20 years because her cholesterol had gone quite high. Her GP back then suspected she had familial hypercholesterolemia, That dose has been controlling her cholesterol well so she’s been on it ever since.

So now on to the adventure. Her GP ordered some routine follow-up blood work and detected something funny in her liver readings. So she sent her for a specific hepatic panel. The next day we were doing some errands and got a call from her GP: “We want you to take Karen to the emergency room right away, her liver readings are way off”. So we scurried off to the ER at the closest hospital, St. Louise in Gilroy. The ER doctor admitted her, and she ended up staying 3 nights. They took her off the statin and all anti-inflammatories and pain meds, and pounded a bunch of IV fluids through her until her numbers came back to normal, and we came home yesterday.

It’s great to have her back home but we have some important follow-up work to do. I’ll make an appointment with her GP ASAP, We need to know how to go forward with controlling her cholesterol without damaging her liver, and what to do to get her appetite back to normal so she can get her strength back.

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