Lea was sleeping in again when I arrived at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. She was really only dozing, because I don’t think you ever really sleep in the hospital. All the interruptions keep you from getting any really restful slumber, so you just enter a fatigue- induced state of constant weariness, able to doze at a moment’s notice. Her eyes were greatly improved, with the bloodshot condition almost entirely gone, and her light sensitivity had cleared up. Nurses Liz and Nick got her out of bed into a reclining cardiac chair early in the morning, and she felt so comfortable there she promptly dozed off.

Naturally, as soon as she got good and settled, Dr. Mah came in to check her abdominal drain, and found that it was clogged and leaking. So, while she was in the chair he pulled the drain out about another inch and flushed the pocket it left behind with saline solution. He got a measurable amount of infection out of the drain pocket, and felt that it could have been the reason her white count has been going up for the last few days. We expect to see the white count drop in the next lab reports, since that infected area has been cleaned.

Lea was pretty tired when Dr. Mah finished, and was hoping to get a little rest, so, the therapists from physical therapy and occupational therapy appeared together and worked with her for about a half an hour. By then, she was clearly exhausted and ready to get back into bed.

She was resting comfortably when the team showed up about an hour and a half later for the bedside endoscopy examination of her stomach. The examination showed one area that was bleeding slightly, and the area was cauterized, which closed it up, and should end the bleeding. Her nurse, Liz, had taken a late lunch, after waiting quite a while for the equipment to arrive. Adam was covering for Liz when the doctor arrived to perform the procedure, and gave Lea a sedative to let her relax, and she rested most of the rest of the afternoon.

At about five o’clock Dr, Mah came in to change out her tracheostomy and fit her with one that will accommodate a speech valve. The procedure only took about fifteen minutes, and Lea was back resting comfortably half an hour later. The speech therapist is scheduled to come in at about 9:30 tomorrow morning to actually install the speech valve and train Lea how to use it. Hopefully, tomorrow she will be able to spend some time off the ventilator building up her lungs. She’s going to need lung strength to yell at me clear across the room! 

The rooms in the cardiac Intensive Care Unit are about sixteen feet square, with a utility tower in the back corner at the head of the bed. The tower is permanently installed and stands floor to ceiling. It contains connections for suction, oxygen delivery, electrical outlets, brackets for holding numerous medication drips and all the other devices and resources needed for life support.

As always, technology has advanced since the rooms were built, and the towers are being outdated. New self-supporting equipment stands on the floor around the bed. In Lea’s room there are currently two portable medication-drip towers, one on each side of the head of the bed.

The dolly is a stainless steel pole rising five feet from a six-wheel dolly, and holds half-dozen pumps that regulate the flow of liquids into the body. At the top of the stainless pole is an array of hooks that allow eight medications to be hung. A slotted track in the ceiling allows hanging of additional medications above the pole, and still have the flow regulated by the pumps. At one time Lea had twenty liquids flowing into her system!

The bedside ventilator is a portable free-standing computer with large touch screen control panel at about shoulder height, with an oversized battery back-up and pumps in the base, all mounted on a four-wheel dolly for portability. The machine has two flexible plastic hoses that deliver heated, moist air mixed with oxygen to the patient through the delivery tube, and collects anything the patient may cough up through the suction tube.

At one time Lea also had a dialysis machine bedside. It, too, was self-supporting, in that it used two connections to the patient to collect blood, filter it to remove unwanted matter carried in the blood, and then return the blood to the body. You may recall that this machine was used to remove renal poisons from the blood in the days before Lea’s kidneys restarted. It was later used to take some of the excess fluid off her body.

Additionally, the room contains a counter along one wall with base cabinets that hold supplies for the room-towels, washcloths, bed sheets, medical supplies and such. There are two sinks; one for medication preparation, and three feet away is another for hand washing. The room has a neutral color scheme-beige floors and walls with light maple wood trim. Windows on two walls look into adjoining ICU rooms and are always blocked by curtains. The outside wall has a large picture window with a view of Hartford south of the hospital.

The opposite end of the room faces the nurses’ station in the hall, and is enclosed by sliding glass doors. These doors are usually open as far as possible, to provide quick and easy access to a room when it is needed. Sometimes I close the glass doors and pull drapes across them when Lea needs rest, but most times all the noise of the ICU hustle bustle come crashing into the room.

With twelve patient rooms, there are usually around twelve or more medical team members around, including nurses and supervisors. But during the day there are also endless X-Rays, catscans, transports to the Operating Room and back, surgeons performing bedside procedures, resident physicians stopping by to check on patient progress, the guy who comes around to vacuum the ceiling vent, housekeeping to sweep the floor, the employee who empties the very noisy trash containers and removes the soiled linen from the hamper, maintenance folks who mop and wax the floor, the coffee vender, PA announcements, people stopping outside the door to chat, the lady who comes in to change the sterile bandage around the IV, another doctor comes in to check something else, respiratory therapy checks the ventilator and makes sure nothing is clogging up the valve in the throat . . . and, oh, by-the-way, it’s also time for another injection!

It wears ME out, and I’m not even a patient! 

Thank you again for your wonderful support as we continue to walk the path to recovery. Praise God for the many miracles He has given us to bring Lea to this point. I pray that He will continue to give her miraculous healing, and that He will return her to full health and happiness. Our next big obstacle is to get off the ventilator entirely. We will be doing multiple trials to get her weaned, which will happen as quickly as she can build up those lungs. She is very weak and fragile, but she is a strong fighter, and will make a great comeback. I’m betting on her!

Our friend Joe is back in the hospital in Indiana. It appears that the blood clot in his heart has finally dissolved and it is now safe to get him back into sinus rhythm. He will receive an electro-shock tomorrow to start his defibrillator, and get his heart beating properly. Please keep Joe in your prayers tomorrow, too, as he undergoes this procedure. May God’s hand rest upon your shoulder and provide peace and comfort.