Lea had a difficult day today, with some good news and some bad news at the end of the day. She continued to run a fever of over 101 degrees today, and made several major swings in her medical requirements during the night. The night nurse, Barbara, had a pretty difficult time. Barbara had continued giving Lea huge doses of insulin to get the high blood sugar down, because that is what Lea has needed for the last two or three days, when her blood sugar suddenly bottomed out during the night!

Her blood pressure shot up during that time, requiring a medication to get it back down, and for the last several weeks all Lea has needed was something to get her blood pressure up! So, there wasn’t any medication available in the room, and it took a while to get her regulated once it was obtained. It varied quite a bit during the night, up and down, and Barbara was still tweaking it when my sister-in-law, Dottie, and I arrived this morning. Lea woke up this morning when we talked to her, and stayed awake for over an hour! A new record!

During that time we washed her hair, combed it out, and let it air dry on a towel. All the while Lea was letting us know by her eyelid action that she was enjoying it thoroughly. She was pretty sedated and worn out this morning, and indeed, slept most of the day, but during that morning period she mouthed words a lot, and then would fade off, as though dozing for a moment. Then, she would wake again, and start telling another story!

She wasn’t as animated as yesterday, but it still was very nice to be able to interact with her. Her day nurse, Leoni, told Lea to stick out her tongue, and after several seconds of trying, she finally did. She didn’t follow any other commands, however, for Leoni, nor Dr. Mah, who came in at 8:00 to check on Lea. He was not at all happy with the events of the night, did a pretty thorough examination of her, and requested an abdominal cat scan as soon as possible.

She was too sick to do much with today, and was not a candidate for getting in the cardiac chair. She could not work on the ventilator at all again, and probably will not until she is past this infection. All new cultures were taken today and sent off to the lab to see what bugs grow. We won’t know the results, though, before the weekend.

She was taken down to the cat scan room in her own bed, staffed by two transporters, a respiratory therapist, and her nurse, Leoni, at about two o’clock. She returned just before three, and we were allowed back in her room at about three thirty, after she had been “settled” in. That’s nurse talk for being cleaned up as necessary, and all medications and ventilator hooked up.

The good news was that the cat scan didn’t show any problems at all. In fact, those little pockets of fluid I mentioned earlier seem to have reduced in size. The bad news is that the cat scan didn’t show the cause of her current fever, nor any significant localization of infection. I didn’t see Dr. Mah after Lea came back to the room, but don’t expect that he’ll be very happy with the cat scan results.

Meanwhile, the Ativan medication is continuing to be reduced. We are down to .32 ml/hr now, while the Dilaudid remains at 1.5 ml/hr. Dilaudid will remain at that level for the foreseeable future, because it is the pain medication. The Ativan is the sedative, and Lea is suffering the DTs from withdrawal. Her body shudders uncontrollably as though she feels a deep shiver. Sometimes it starts at her head and works its way all the way down to her feet, and other times we just see it in her hands and feet.

So, she is coming off the narcotic sedative, and is being sedated with Thorazine to dampen the effects of the DTs. It will take at least a week to get all the Ativan out of her system after she is weaned completely off of it, and we will see the DTs get worse before they get better. We may experience those for a couple of weeks as they continue the weaning process. If necessary, she will be strapped to the bed to protect her from injury. Prepare yourself. Steel your nerves.

Lea is putting on weight again, as she is retaining water in her body. This is a natural reaction of the body when it gets a general infection, and she is getting visibly puffier each day. Her kidneys are working fine, but her circulatory system is letting fluid out through the vessel walls into surrounding tissue, in order to diffuse the effects of the infection. As I look at her pretty face puffing up again, my heart just has to go out to her.

She has been amazingly resilient through this whole thing, and has strength and reserve strength that just keeps welling up to carry her further through this battle. I know that if we switched positions, she would be doing the same thing for me that I am doing for her, doting, tending, supporting and caring. And, yet, as I look at her face while she is so heavily sedated I wonder if there is anything else I can do for her. The delusion she feels when she awakes is heartbreaking. The periods of panic are worse! What to do? What to say? How do you calm?

The Lord is teaching me some pretty tough lessons right now, and I know that I am up to learning them, or He would let Lea get well right now so we could go home. I just hope I’m not too thick headed, and learn quickly, for Lea’s sake. Thank you for your continuing prayers and good wishes on our behalf. Please know that every single note and email is appreciated. When we get past this experience we will make it a point to respond to everyone individually. Please forgive us that we don’t respond until that time.

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