Lea was recapturing some of the ground we lost a couple of days ago when her lungs just tired out and wouldn’t go any farther. She has recovered enough to begin breathing on her own again at 10:30 this morning, just after her nurse, Lori, and I moved her to a bedside cardiac chair, and went four hours without showing any adverse effects. She was averaging 23 breaths per minute with 40% oxygen, 10 peep, and was oxygenating at 100%. She was then put back on rest mode for three hours, with full ventilator support, and returned to bed so she could rest as fully as possible.

At 5:30 she started another four-hour session, which she finished with a little bit higher breathing rate, but otherwise did well without laboring. Dr. Ayer changed her abdominal dressing at six, and said the surface wound is looking really good. The CATSCAN, however, may indicate small pockets of fluid around the pancreas, called pseudo-cysts. Sometimes those pockets of fluid clear themselves during healing, and other times they have to be drained. Dr. Mah will analyze the CATSCAN on Monday to decide next steps.

The pseudo-cyst occurs when dead pancreatic tissue, blood, white blood cells, enzymes, and fluid leaked from the circulatory system accumulate. Pseudo-cysts cause additional abdominal pain by putting pressure on and displacing pancreatic tissue (resulting in more pancreatic damage), and press on other nearby structures in the gastrointestinal tract, causing more disruption of function.

By the way, Lea’s illness is Chronic Pancreatitis. The website, Health A-to-Z, helps clarify the differences between the various types and phases of the disease. The Acute version is fast appearing and often quickly healed. The Chronic version is slower coming on, causes permanent damage to major systems, and is life threatening. That’s what we are battling.

Other highlights of the day include the reduction again of her narcotic medications. She is definitely closer to the “surface” now, as she mouths words a lot. She can’t yet control her muscles, so her words are not formed well enough to identify, although Barbara, who cared for her last night might differ. Barbara said that she went over to Lea during the night to take a blood sample, and she put both her hands on Lea’s arm and told her that she was going to move the arm so she could get to the IV port.

Evidently Lea opened her eyes wide, frowned with a scowl, and mouthed words at Barbara, as though she was scolding her! Isn’t this going to be interesting? I was teasing Lea today while I was rubbing lotion on her. Because she is so apprehensive about being hurt, she grimaces as soon as she thinks she is going to be moved. I was kidding her by laying a finger on her arm or leg and saying, “He laid a finger on me . . . ow, ow, ow.” That’s pretty much how she reacts.

I can’t imagine her pain, and my heart just goes out to her each time I bathe her or comb her hair, exercise her hands and feet, or just stand by her bed reading to her. She is such a trooper! I honestly don’t know that I would have been able to go through what she is going through. And, yet, I have faith that she is fighting her way back to us. She hears your love and support as I read your messages to her, and I am certain that helps give her strength to go on.

As I mentioned, I have been getting notes from folks expressing how they have been positively affected by the ability to follow Lea’s illness and recovery through these updates. I also mentioned that I wanted to share some of these with you, and I am led to share one tonight that comes from a family with illnesses of their own to battle.

“Larry, hi I’m Maleah. I’ve been keeping up to date on Lea’s progress through e-mails forwarded from my sister in law. So many times I’ve wanted to e-mail you directly but just couldn’t do it. I want you to know we’ve been thinking of you, Lea and your family as you’ve been going through such a horrible ordeal. This e-mail comes to you today to let you know what an inspiration you are for me.

My husband, Bill, is having some health issues as well. Not nearly to the degree that Lea is. He’s facing dialysis in the real near future and hopefully we’ll find another donor for him to have another kidney transplant. Bottom line he’s not feeling well at all, filling up with fluid, high blood pressure that can’t seem to even out and he’s scared, mad at the world and so am I wondering if he’s going to have another stroke because of the blood pressure before we can get this all resolved.

It’s not been easy the last few months. But with your daily e-mails of Lea’s progress it keeps things somewhat in perspective for me and enables me to count my blessings. I want you to know you and Lea are in my prayers every day.”

How wonderful it is to know that our experience here in Hartford has touched the lives of so many. Isn’t it glorious to know that God works miracles out of the painful trials we suffer? If we can just open our hearts and seek the lesson, He will lead us where he needs us to be. And, we know that He will only burden us with what He knows we can carry. I just wish He didn’t think I was so strong! 

Thank you for your continuing love and support, If you would be so kind as to remember Lea in prayer tonight, I would be most grateful. The Lord is leading us through this trial, and I pray for the strength and wisdom to recognize and do His will. I also pray for miraculous healing for Lea, and peace and love in your life.