Two months in ICU today! We had a day of mixed blessings. Lea was doing better on the ventilator when I arrived at the hospital this morning. Her oxygen support had been reduced from a high of 70% last night during the initial recovery to 40% overnight as she gained strength. Her peep was still at 12 this morning, and the objective was to get it down to yesterday’s levels, but she was not being pushed to get to that level. She will be on assist mode until she returns to her previous levels, and then we’ll start her breathing on her own again.

It’s unknown when that might be, or how long it will take to get her strength back, but we do know that this setback isn’t nearly as catastrophic as the last time. (Thank God!) She just doesn’t have the ability to do her own breathing for some reason, and we don’t yet know for sure what that reason is. We just have to keep trying to get her strong enough to take off on her own, and to also try to determine what the problem is that keeps her from doing that.

She was transported downstairs during the afternoon for a chest & abdomen CATSCAN, this time with the contrast dye that had been avoided in the past because of concern for damage to the kidneys. A precautionary renal-protection medication was administered to her today, and she was given oral and IV contrast dye to make best use of the CATSCAN ‘s capabilities to locate trouble areas. Hopefully, the source of her problem(s) can be identified and treatment can be started to get past it. We should know results of the test tomorrow.

Stacey and I gave her a bath this morning, and with Maria’s help we got her into the cardiac chair for a few hours. I washed and combed out her hair, read her some emails, eGreetings and greeting cards she received, and then read from an inspirational book one of her nieces had sent her. She seems to calm down and make really good progress when she has someone there to support her. I guess we all would probably feel more secure in that situation with a loved one nearby, but I really just can’t imagine the fear and confusion she must be going through.

I was reminded last night that sometimes I make things sound too optimistic when I should really be more precautionary with my statements about her recovery. It’s my nature to be optimistic, and sometimes I let that color the way I state things. For the record, she really is not in the recovery phase yet . . . only moving in that direction . . . little baby steps at a time. She is still in very critical condition, and we have to get some serious issues worked out, with the Lord’s help in guiding the medical team here in Hartford,

We still don’t know how well the pancreas is going to work. Half of it is gone, and we don’t yet know how well the remaining portion is going to function. The pancreatitis is gone, and the pancreas is healing up, but Lea is getting large doses of insulin because the pancreas isn’t yet producing insulin in sufficient quantities to take care of her needs. She is still getting some food through an IV drip because her digestive system cannot make solid waste. She may need some blood pressure support, and she will need extensive physical therapy.

She probably has some damage to all her major organs and systems, but we don’t know how much yet, and we won’t know until she gets past some major issues like the ventilator and closing up of the abdomen. When the major things are under control, then we can start tweaking medications and understanding what her needs are going to be. It is very likely that she will need substantial amounts of constant care when we begin rehabilitation and then return home.

When we first talked to her physician here, Dr. Mah, we were told that she would probably have a recovery period ranging from four to six months. We have been in ICU two months now, and it looks like we have at least two more months to go before recovery begins. It could be longer, if things don’t go as well as we hope. Regardless, we are here for however long it takes, and we have faith that we will be brought through it, bumpy though the road is going to be, and that we will be able to visit our loved ones again soon.

Thank each of you who sent a note about how this ordeal has impacted your lives. I am collecting those testimonials, and would like to share some of the stories with you because the messages are so powerful, and full of God’s love. Tonight, however, I want to share a note that particularly touched my heart, and I wanted to respond to it right away. This came in the form of an eGreeting through the hospital’s email service yesterday.

“Respected and dearest Mrs. Lea & Larry Vaughn….Thanks lot to Larry sending us all the information everyday. When I come in to start my morning I look for Larry update email for Lea. I just read very first sentence and then during the day read the rest. I’m so glad that things are working better and looking forward to see Lea coming home…1 pray to god have things work better for her everyday. There’s times when I miss you so much and put tears in my eyes thinking when are you coming back… Life is different when somebody who you see all time and now can’t…Larry can you send us Lea picture… I want to see Lea. Thanks Love and blessing from Sandy”
Thank YOU, Sandy. It is my pleasure to attach a photo of Lea at a time when she was having a great day. Look at that smile!

Lea Vaughn, Kona, Hawaii, 2004.

Father, please bless me with humility and grace to be sensitive to the needs of others, and to impart the message of love you would have me share. Please put a shield of protection around those tonight who need your healing. Bless all of us, Father, that we might do your mighty work with glad hearts and willing souls. In thy name we pray. Amen.