Hi, everyone,

I’m an emotional wreck tonight. After sitting up most of the night with Lea as the staff worked to return her to a stable state, seeing the small wins and the losses, being asked to leave the room while they did something I’m sure is horrible, visiting the cafeteria (can I get a YUK!?), and seeing her finally stabilize after about ten hours of really hard work, we had a pretty emotional day shift.

For most of the shift today I wasn’t allowed in the room. I went to rounds this morning at 6:00 a.m. and the doctors told me that they were pulling out the big guns in a last ditch effort to turn Lea around. Several procedures were planned, two different ultrasound tests, the bronchial suction to remove liquid from her lungs, implant of yet another special IV line called a P.I.C.C. line, installation of a SWAN (a catheter that goes directly into the heart to report what’s going on in there), more medications, including a wonder drug that has helped turn some very sick patients around very quickly.

One of my first objectives this morning was to ask the hospital’s social worker for a Family Conference to help us understand Lea’s condition. I requested the Family Conference for next Monday, since Dr. Mah, Lea’s attending physician is on vacation this week and would need to get up to date. The Nurse Practitioner on duty said, “You can’t wait until Monday. This was a significant event. You need to do it today.”

This afternoon at 5:00 P.M. the hospital set up a conference call with Lea’s sons, brother, sister, and their spouses, to get an update on Lea’s situation from the surgeon, Dr. Kirton, and the Nurse Practitioner, Ellen Gleason. Dr. Kirton started by giving a general update, followed by questions and answers. He stated that three days ago he had closed up the left side of her incision because she was surgically well enough. However, ever since that procedure she required more ventilator and blood pressure support.

There wasn’t any new infection in the abdomen when they looked at it yesterday, so they feel the closing of the wound was not the direct cause of the problem. He also said that everyone who is on the ventilator for extended periods gets pneumonia, so her pneumonia was not a surprise. The surprise was the amount of ventilator support she required, coupled with the cardiac events she suffered the previous two days, indicates a likely blood clot in the lungs.

In the last 24 hours they have taken some proactive steps to improve her chances of overcoming this setback. They installed the IV Filter which will catch blood clots traveling toward the lungs and preventing a recurrence of the lung problem. The changed mechanical support from the ventilator (by paralyzing her own lungs), are clearing pneumonia from the lungs via suction, and have put her in a new bed which helps prevent the fluids in the lungs from pooling.

For the first time in the previous 48 hours, they had been able to wean her completely off her blood pressure support medication, came down a little on the ventilator support, and gave her a designer “wonder” drug to help slow any other problems from developing.

Currently, he said, we have a stable situation; with hopes the new drug will “turn her around,” although we have a significant risk of her not surviving the next 36-48 hours. The medical staff is doing everything possible to give her every chance of survival, and will be working very hard to see that she makes it through the weekend. The lung problem will lengthen her hospital stay a minimum of another three weeks.

He has committed to giving us a revised estimate of her chances of survival by Monday, and assured us that he will tell us if there is no longer a reasonable chance for her. “We” asked during the conference call whether her condition warrants continuing attempts to sustain her. The Nurse Practitioner stated that it is definitely worth it at this point; the lungs can get better; the kidneys are getting better; the pancreas is getting better. In fact, before this lung problem occurred, they felt that her chances of survival were 80%. Now they feel her chance is 30%. (Remember when it was only 15%?)

The next 36-48 hours are critical to her survival. This is the time we need to pray for guidance for the medical staff that they decisions they make are those that help her, and that Lea receives another blessing of miraculous healing. It has worked again and again during her illness, and it will happen this time, too.

Thank you for your loving thoughts and prayers on her behalf,

Larry

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