I’m so happy to be able to bring you good news once again! Lea is making progress. She is still in critical condition, and things could fall through the floor at any moment, but for now, she keeps making little baby steps of progress. I have to keep reminding myself that this healing process is going to take months, and not allow myself to be so optimistic as to be unrealistic.

Lea’s kidneys appear to be restarting. She is making urine, and lots of it. The nurses call it liquid gold. When the kidneys work properly they filter impurities from the blood as well as removing excess water from the body. She is building up a little fluid in her tissues again, because the kidneys are not up to full speed yet.

This could be a false start in which the kidneys make only “junk” water, not removing impurities from the blood. That is useless kidney function, and we won’t know for a few days whether we are going to get reliable service. But, once the kidneys demonstrate that they will function properly Lea can be given Lasix, a diuretic, to remove the excess water from her system.

This afternoon, at about 4:00 p.m. the respiratory therapist, Kathy, came in and took Lea off the ventilator for a few moments to see if she would breathe on her own. After an agonizing few seconds of silence, she took a quick, deep, breath, and began breathing without any help from the machine. She is still breathing through the ventilator hose in case they need to have it take over again, but she was doing all the work with her own lungs.

The plan was to have her try to breathe on her own for up to four hours, and then put her back on the ventilator to give her some rest. However, at eight o’clock she was still breathing easily, and was absorbing 99% of the oxygen she needed, so Kathy decided to let her go another hour! There will be repeated “practice” sessions to help Lea’s lungs regain their normal strength so she won’t need the ventilator at all.

Dr. Mah stopped by at 5:00 p.m. to see how Lea was doing, and whether she needed any assistance to revision to the support she was receiving. After examining her and checking her pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels, he said that she was doing “terrific.” She continued a moderate temperature due to all the work her body is having to do right now, but she cools down pretty quickly when I apply damp cloths to her forehead and swab her arms and legs.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is another surgery day, but Dr. Mah plans to do the procedure at the bedside in her Intensive Care Unit, rather than in the Operating Room. If she looks good again tomorrow, Dr. Mah stated that they might extend her surgeries to every third day, rather than every other day. They may also decide to sew up the left side of the incision, since that side is healing, and do remaining surgeries through her right side, which is still active.

We are still several weeks of surgeries away from the point of feeling “confident” of her recovery, but as Dr. Kirton told me yesterday, “We are a little less “cautious” and a little more “optimistic.” That isn’t anywhere near “confident” yet, but I’ll take it until we get there!

So, let me give you a status of where we are:

Lea was airlifted to this hospital in “Very Critical” condition. She is making good progress, is in an intensive care unit where the nurses have only two patients to care for, and is now in “Critical” condition.

Her heart appears to be fine, and she requires only very low doses of medication occasionally to maintain her blood pressure. Her kidneys are starting to produce good levels of urine. Labs tests over the next few days will indicate whether they are doing their job, or if she will have to go back on dialysis.

Her lungs appear to have restarted, and will be strengthened over the next several days to see if she can be weaned from the support provided by the machine. Hopefully this can be achieved without introducing pneumonia.

If all this goes well, she will be in “Critical” condition, and remain in the Intensive Care Unit.

Surgeries will continue over the next several weeks. If the pancreas heals, and doesn’t negatively impact any other organ or surrounding tissue, the surgeons will start closing her up . . . first one side, then the other.

Once the surgeries are completed, and the healing process begins, she will be in “Critical” condition. One of the main problems with this type surgical process is that after the abdominal cavity is closed up and allowed to heal, pockets of fluid build up in the abdomen over a period of several weeks. These fluids can be removed by using hypodermic syringes. Dr Mah said that he feels this is a more dangerous procedure than the series of surgeries being done now.

If things go well in this step, she could be downgraded to “Guarded” condition, in which the intensive watch for infection in organs or abdominal tissues continues. We are still many weeks away from this stage, and we have to keep taking the baby steps to work our way there. God is at work helping Lea recover, and she needs our prayer to heal all these organs, and get her through all the surgeries.

I anxiously await the day when the current incision is closed up and healed well enough that she can come up out of the sedation she has to have to control the pain. What a glorious day that will be! We will then begin working on recovery of the use of her vocal cords, and the sound of her sweet voice. I can hardly wait!

Gratefully yours,

Larry

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