How did you say you like your roller coasters?

God must be having a good laugh at my expense today, after I was so down in the dumps last night. Lea had a spectacular day today! When I arrived this morning she had already been started working on her own, without ventilator support, and was doing a super job. She continued that pace for five hours, breathing mostly on her own from 6-11 a.m.

She was put on ventilator assist at that time to let her get a little rest, because her nurse, Lynn, had convinced the mid-level nurse practitioner that Lea was ready to get out of bed and sit in a cardiac chair for a while. Lynn thought the chair would help clear Lea’s lungs a little, and since she has been on her back for eight weeks today, her lungs needed to be reminded what their normal position is.

So, between twelve thirty and one o’clock this afternoon, Lynn prepared her to be moved into the chair, including temporarily disconnecting all of her IV drips and drain/suctioning devices and removing her massage stockings, After being given a bath and placed on a clean sheet, the cardiac chair was placed alongside her regular bed, configured like a bed, and she was easily moved onto the chair/bed. Then, the chair/bed was pumped up into a chair configuration.

What a joy it was to see her sitting up!! When we prepped her for the move, she had her eyes open, was mouthing words at us (with her forehead all wrinkled up in disapproval), and was quite alert. She moved her eyes from one side to the other, and a couple of times we thought she may even have come close to actually focusing on someone.

Nurses Lynn and Sue, and patient care assistant Danielle, prepped and moved her onto the bed, and stood back with huge grins on their faces as they stood back to see her sitting in the chair. Lea was quite alert as they pumped the back into a sitting position, and it took her about two minutes to get back to sleep. She then slept, sitting up, for three hours, and didn’t wake up again until it was time to get back into bed. She was on full ventilator support while in the chair.

After she was situated in the bed, which had been washed and cleaned while she occupied the chair, she was given a good bath. Danielle washed her hair and put in a real pretty braid. Lea just looked gorgeous! Her skin color improved while in the chair, some of the fluids moved around a little bit, and she began to take on more of her normal features. The open wound in her stomach didn’t seem to be a problem at all, and she didn’t seem to experience nearly as much pain as she has with just simple turning in days past.

After giving her a couple of hours to rest, the surgical staff appeared to change her dressing, and she was put back on work cycle. It was planned to let her work her lungs without ventilator support for 2-4 hours, while making sure she didn’t labor too much. Little baby steps. She did a lot today, already, and we don’t want to push her too hard. If she has any problems during the night, she will be put back on full ventilator support so she can get adequate rest before the next cycle begins.

We should hear tomorrow about the results of the culture they took Thursday. It usually takes about three full days for the bacteria to grow so they can be identified, and the proper antibiotic selected. Lea will likely get an antibiotic to clear up any infection in her lungs, which had a little mucous in them today. I had Cliff, the respiratory therapist, suction her a couple of times today, to remove fluid accumulating in her throat. I could feel it “gurgle” as she exhaled when I put my fingers on her chest. They’re going to issue me a stethoscope next.

I sing the praises of our God tonight, as I just reflect on how wonderful it was to see Lea sitting up for a few hours today. My son, Lance, told me a while back that God has a really good sense of humor, and he has some good stories to tell about how he arrived at that conclusion. I think God must be getting a good laugh at me, and my weak faith, when I let a little bump in the road like yesterday concern me so much.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you
go.” — Joshua 1:9. Forgive me my weaknesses, Father. I need to be confident in your help and sustaining love as I face the rigorous challenges in my life. I trust in your unfailing love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What’s ahead? She is still critically ill, and has a couple of important hurdles to get past before she can begin “recovery.” Her respiratory problems are the main current concern and it will probably take a couple of weeks to wean her from the ventilator entirely. Closing her wound will still be a couple of weeks away as well. The process of weaning her off the narcotics is going to include fear, delirium, confusion, anger and frustration. Then, of course, we will have to deal with the depression of realizing all that has been lost during her illness.

It’s going to be difficult at times, but, you know what? He didn’t have to even give us the chance to deal with these issues at all. He could have just taken her home. I am firmly convinced that it is the power of your prayers that have brought us this far, and will continue to ensure her recovery; your prayers and her determination to recover. I’m so amazed by her strength, I love to just stand at her bedside and look at her. And, look at her. And, look at her. She still wows me!