Monday, March 31, 2008

Vicky's Choice...And The Answer Is...

Today was sort of a milestone for Vicky. She got to taste something; notice I didn't say drink something. At first she requested V-8 juice, which is something she drinks at work. I was happy to hear that she remembered what she drank at work. But then she decided on Diet Coke. Neil bought some, put a bit on a sponge and rubbed it around her lips. He did that three times. Each time her tongue wiped the liquid clean and she tasted something for the first time in nearly eight weeks.

Now the question for all of you is; after nearly eight weeks without tasting anything, what would you have requested? No need to be serious about this. I think a pomegranate martini would be at the top of my list.

She did very well with her breathing today; she also demonstrated how much she wants out of the ICU. She was in her chair after dialysis and she managed to undo the seat belt and was trying to get out of the chair. That would have been a disaster. Luckily one of the nurses looked in on her and thought that doesn't look right; Vicky did not pass go and did not collect $200, she went back to bed. I love to see this determination from her.

I'm not sure I understand the bleeding thing that Neil wrote about last night. Surgery and radiology conferred and decided they didn't need to do surgery. No shit Sherlock; I won't let those folks open her up a fourth time. They took her off the heparin, which should help, and are going to put something in a main artery to catch a clot should it break loose. That's my non-medical understanding.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Small Step Backward

Another message from Neil:

I was hoping to let you all know that Vicky had been transferred to Regency hospital, but she is still at Methodist. She had a low grade fever on Friday so the doctors didn't want to move her until they could bring that down with antibiotics. I did not see her on Saturday as I came down with some kind of stomach bug.

According to her nurses, Vicky threw up on Saturday afternoon. They stopped her nose feeding and placed a drain line in her nose instead. She had a CT scan today as her stomach felt firmer and they found she had a pocket of blood collecting between her stomach and her stoma. This caused her intestines to stop and back up into her stomach.

She was very tired when I saw her today. She had been breathing with the tracheotomy dome most of the day, has a good heart beat and blood pressure plus her fever is gone. So we have one more delay.

The doctor on duty today thinks that she should be better by the end of the week. Everyone in the ICU wants to see her go because she has been a miracle in the making.

Again, I want to thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.

Love, Neil

Saturday, March 29, 2008

She Didn't Get Transferred Yesterday

She had a low-grade fever so the hospital didn't want to release her.

This is a picture of my wonderful sister with our brother, Richard. It was taken in Albuquerque three years ago when the family gathered to celebrate my 60th birthday.

I thought you should have a picture of the person for whom you have been praying. She still needs those prayers.

Once again yesterday she was mad as hell. She wants to go home and doesn't understand why Neil won't take her there. I think we are seeing some of the brain damage the doctors told us she has. I hate the fact that she has brain damage; she deserves so much more than what has happened to her.

She had dialysis yesterday, which really tires her out, so luckily she slept a lot of the rest of the day. We will see just how mad she is over the weekend.

They will try for a transfer on Monday.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Beginning Of My Latest Creation

The pattern is called "twisted bargello." I took a class about ten days ago to learn how to do this type of quilt. Once I got started I just had to keep going until I finished this part. There are 20 fabrics and 1,751 pieces in this quilt top. The smallest piece is 3/4 inch by 1.5 inches.

I still need to add two borders. I'm going to Cabin Fever Quilt Shoppe tomorrow to have them help me pick out those fabrics. I want something quite plain so they don't distract from the main part of the quilt.

These are the colors in our bedroom. Once it's finished, it will hang on the wall directly behind our bed. That wall has been blank for nearly five years. Every time I walk in the room I think, that spot needs something. I didn't want anything heavy there that would fall on us during the night; a quilt is light and perfect.

I have lots of other projects so I'm on to the next one.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Great News About Vicky

A note from Vicky's husband Neil:

Hi everyone:

The weeks have passed by with Vicky in the hospital. Last week, as the sedatives wore off, she opened her eyes. She was still glazed over and it took another week for her to realize where she was. On Good Friday, she tried to talk, but with the respirator in her throat, she could not make any sound. She has run the gambit of joy and sadness as she has become aware of her situation. On Saturday and Sunday, she got to sit in a special chair and had some breathing test to help her get off the respirator. It made for a great Easter, thus our miracle. I greatly believe that all of the many prayers said on her behalf have been answered.

Today, I got great news from Dr. Moreno, her ICU doctor. She is well enough to be transfer to Regency Hospital, where she will receive respiratory and physical therapy. Regency is in Golden Valley, behind the Courage Center. It is a small hospital, only two floors, that specializes in acute care. The average stay is around 35 days. They can do dialysis and they also have an ICU unit. They can handle most medical emergencies, should they occur. The best thing is that they have free parking, something unheard of nowadays. She will be transferred on Friday, March 28, after 45 days in ICU and52 days at Methodist Hospital.

I will be with Vicky all day on Friday and will let you all know how she is after the transfer.

Keep your prayers and good thoughts coming.

Love, Neil

Monday, March 24, 2008

Introducing The Kitten

I have no idea how old she is or where she came from, but here she is in all of her black and white glory.
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She Sat In A Chair Yesterday

Yes, it's true. The chair was a recliner that could accommodate all of the stuff that pokes into and out of her. The chair flattens out right next to her bed and then they move all the linens, tubes and Vicky directly to the chair. Then they moved her to a more upright position.

She tolerated sitting very well although she had to be propped up with lots of pillows. She was also off the ventilator twice yesterday. She is too weak to squeeze Neil's hand.

Today they are going to attach something to the tracheotomy so she can talk. That will be a huge relief because Neil says she is mouthing words but he doesn't read lips. My brother does but he's back home in Evergreen, CO. Neil did understand one question she mouthed "How long?" He assumed she meant how long has she been in ICU. When he told her she cried. Breaks my heart to hear this.

Today she will have another echocardiogram and some kind of look at her esophagus. Her temperature is back to normal after giving her antibiotics.

Still no date to move her to Long Term Acute Care. She has been accepted at the facility closest to Neil's house.

Meanwhile Kitten Vicky is surviving but wobbly. The feedings during the night brought back memories of how tired I was when Mark was still feeding every four hours round the clock. Right now she is in a sling I fashioned out of a shawl. She seems calmer when she's close to me.

Thank you Dykewife for the tip on getting a kitten to pee and poop. It worked. I never would have thought of it. If you are wondering what it is, just read Dykewife's comment on my blog from Saturday.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We celebrate Easter in sort of a different way. Saturday is the horseshoe tournament at our neighbors Kevin and Vicky. Sunday is brunch at our other neighbors Richard and Hillary.

But we had a special treat today when we got home from Vicky and Kevin's, we discovered a very young kitten (oxymoron) in our driveway. We have lots of feral cats in the area. So today one of the babies of a feral cat found our driveway and refused to accept anything but unconditional help from us.

I've never cared for a kitten who probably had not been weaned. It was too late to go to PetSmart to get the kitten milk so we made do with half and half with water warmed to a nice mother-type temperature. We also built a den for the kitty that included a heating pad under a bunch of towels.

I will be up at two hour intervals tonight to feed her; yes I think it's a girl. I found some old syringes (minus the needles) that we used with our late Golden Retriever Emily. They are great for feeding teeny tiny kittens.

Tomorrow I'm off to PetSmart to get the kitten formula. It seems sort of right to have a new baby when the rest of life seems intent on taking away life. My sister is still doing okay; she loved rescuing cats so I'm sure she would love this one too. I think I'll name her Vicky. Our two cats were really curious about the new kitty. They wanted to climb into her den but I wasn't sure what they would do.

So I'll be mothering all night. I just want her alive in the morning. She is a noisy little thing.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Not A Great Day

Just heard from Vicky's husband; news is not great. She has brain damage from lack of oxygen, she has blood clots in both legs and she has an infection of some kind that is causing a fever in the 100-101 range.

I had been thinking about the brain damage thing; don't know why. I do know that in some of the darkest moments the CO2 level in her blood was very high. Brains don't need CO2; they need oxygen. The brain damage may be why she is not responding to people now that she is awake. According to Neil the doctors think this can be fixed in therapy; I take that to mean that they can teach another part of her brain to do what the damaged part did. Don't know for sure.

The blood clots have me worried too. Her lungs could not handle having those clots move upward in her body. She is on heparin (Creamy Silver: I guess some people can get it) to clear the clots.

There is some good news: she is making more urine, the new way they are doing dialysis (three times a week for four hours each time) is working; she seems to be trying to form words but with the vent she cannot speak; and when the nurses were re-arranging pillows to move her into another position, she lifted her right arm to help them.

Tomorrow her son Mike is bringing grandbaby Max up to see her. If anything will impact her it will be seeing Max. She adores him.

So don't stop praying. It's not over yet.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Good Question From A Favorite Blogger

"How are you?" That was from Creamy Silver. I was taken aback at first and then I realized that she had asked an important question. I have been so focused on my sister's well being that I have sublimated my own health and welfare. Our parents have been dead for a long time so I think of myself as the matriarch of the family. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with that, at least in my mind.

The short answer is that I'm okay; the long answer is that I think about her all the time. The good part is I had a great dream last night where she was sitting up in bed talking to me. That was far better than the dream the night before when I was trying to board a flight to London and couldn't find the gate. I hate those kind of dreams.

To take care of myself I have immersed myself in Kerry and in quilting. I had an all-day quilting class last Friday and Saturday. On Sunday Kerry and I went to a quilt show in a neighboring county. The woman taking our money looked at Kerry, then looked at me and said, "would he be here without you?" I said no and she said then I will only charge you for one person. Quilters are wonderful. They lost out on $6 but they knew they would have lost out on that if he hadn't come. I promised to buy him lunch; we ate at Red Robin (it was Yuba City after all; the one decent restaurant in town, City Cafe, is closed on Sundays).

I have not gotten my hair cut or colored. I thought I would do that right away but somehow it doesn't seem important. It's spring here which is great for my spirit.

I'm working on a quilt called "Twisted Bargello." You need 1,715 squares for the quilt. It's not as torturous as it sounds but it does take some concentration.

My badge of honor as a quilter was acquired on Sunday at the quilt show. I now have my scissors attached to me with one of those cords that reels in and out. I'm always looking for my scissors so this really helps.

The one thing I haven't done yet for myself is get back on the treadmill. I need to do that for my lungs, heart and blood pressure. I tried today but my lungs would not cooperate.

Anyway, that's the best I can do on taking care of myself. Thanks Creamy Silver for asking.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More Good News; It's Boring But I Love It

A report from Neil.

A number of milestones were reached today.

1. She breathed on her own with pressure support from the respirator for 8 hours; she had physical therapy at the same time. She did not like the leg lifts.

2. She is off the continuous dialysis. The renal (kidney) doctors will put a new cathetor in her on Wednesday and will start her on regular dialysis. She will have this 3 times a week for about 4 hours at a time.

3. She is going to be recommended for transitional care. She will be checked on either Tuesday or Wednesday and be recommended to go to Regency in Golden Valley or Bethesda in St. Paul. These hospitals partner with Methodist to take patients that need respiratory and physical therapy.

She has been opening her eyes and has winced some when she feels pain. These are good signs. I expect that more breathing exercises will be done over the next couple of days. All of the staff at Methodist ICU are just thrilled at her recovery.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Love, Neil

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another News Flash

Today they took Vicky off the ventilator for short periods of time and she seemed to breath on her own pretty well. They will continue to do that for short periods so they can finally get her off the thing. Her eyes were open a lot today so they put in her hearing aid in which they had placed new batteries. Neil said he stood right over her and his his most stentorian voice said her name and his. No response. She is still pretty heavily sedated. One of the nurses said she smiled last night. Making lots of drool which they suction out of her mouth. She doesn't like that and bites down on the tube.

Dr. Sue Ravenscraft, who is the Director of ICU, came by as Neil was leaving tonight. She commented on how strong Vicky is. That is an understatement. Despite their attempts to inadvertently kill her, she is still alive. You go girl!

Late Breaking Bulletin

She opened her eyes. They were glazed but open. The pain killer she's on, Propofol, allows some awareness at the same time keeping her pain level down. Stay tuned for the next bulletin.

Friday, March 14, 2008

How Many Ways Can You Say "Good News"

More good news from the ICU. Doctors removed her final chest tube today and nothing bad happened. Her vent setting is down to 35% oxygen plus the rhythm of her setting has changed to a more normal breathing just like you would have if you were asleep, which she still is. With all these changes her blood gases remained normal. The Versed is totally gone and they have reduced the Propifol slightly.

Nothing much will happen over the weekend. She has two nurses that she has had many times: Kent at night and Lori during the day.

Neil thinks they may wake her up next week. I hope so.

The nurses told us that they had seen miracles; people who never should have made it out of ICU come back to thank them for the good care. Vicky is a miracle and so is the prednisone that made that miracle possible.

Once again Neil wants me to tell all of you how much he appreciates your positive energy, prayers, Reiki and anything else you are sending.

I had a quilting class today where I learned a Korean way of folding fabric called Chopkey. Tomorrow I'm taking another class called "Twisted Bargello." Gotta make up for two weeks of not quilting.

Sunday I'm going to a quilt show in a neighboring county. Life is good.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good News Again

Just heard from Neil. Vicky is down to 1 mg of Versed and has her vent adjusted to 40% oxygen. Tomorrow the final chest tube will come out. The renal doc says her kidneys have a 75-80% chance of recovering. I wish it was 100% but I'll take what we can get.

Neil went to the auto show today, which was great. He needs to take care of himself by doing things that please him. He promised me he would stay healthy.

That's all for tonight. I'm in quilt classes for the next two days. That's how I take care of myself. Tonight we are having stew in the crock pot. Yummy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Good News Bulletin About Vicky

From Neil:

"Today was another good day. The Versed sedative, a derivative of Valium, has been turned down to 2 mg/hr and Vicky has been displaying good vitals. The doctors removed one of the chest tubes from around her lungs. This was put in weeks ago to vent air that was leaking from her lungs. The lungs have sealed up and there is no air build up in her chest cavity. They will clamp off the other tube tomorrow and, if there are no problems, remove it on Friday. Dr. Ravenscroft was very happy at her progress and Dr. Willis (the surgeon) observed her wound as it was being redressed this afternoon.

I also met one of the social workers who will be helpful when Vicky moves on from the ICU.

Heidi (our cousin) visited with me and we had a good talk.

As good as the results have been, our girl has a ways to go yet. Dr. Ravenscroft wants to get some better numbers on the respirator before Vicky is awakened. I can only hope that by next week she will be looking at us and then freak out when she is told what has happened to her over the last 5 weeks.
Thank you all for your love and support. It has been a great comfort to me."

Food Glorious Food

Nothing to report on Vicky. She is still making progress, but slowly.

So I'm switching topics. I watched a lot of HGTV and the Food Network while I was in Minneapolis. Both channels are sort of soothing and mind numbing. Neil would retire to his bedroom to watch what he wanted.

Anyway, one day Adam (Vicky and Neil's son and my nephew) and I were watching Paula Dean on the Food Network. I love to listen to her talk. But this episode she made something that was so over the top I just had to write about it: deep-fried Mac and Cheese. I'm not kidding. The recipe is on her web site. To make this dish even fattier. She wraps each square of Mac and Cheese in bacon which she secures with a toothpick. Then she rolls it in flour, egg, and bread crumb. Then it's into a deep fryer filled with peanut oil for about three minutes.

At this point Adam and I were drooling. It looked so good. I stole the picture from her web site. Adam is going to culinary school in the fall so he's really a foodie. He makes the most amazing meatloaf.

I'm feeling almost back to normal. I went out today and bought some fabric for a class I'm taking on Saturday. I went to the grocery store; then decided I was too tired to tackle the library. I came home and napped for two hours.

Neil is still doing what I did...sitting in the ICU. It is so stressful. I didn't fully realize that until I wasn't there. I have quilting classes all day Friday and Saturday. Then I will figure out when to return to Vicky's room in the ICU.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Good Bulletin Just In From ICU

I just got this from Vicky's husband:

"Vicky has had another good day. The Versed sedative has been turned down to 6 mg and she seems to be handling it well. Everything else today was routine. Dr. Willis (the surgeon) came in to look at her stomach wound and says that it looks good and is healing properly. Erin, the pregnant nurse with the spring heel shoes, took care of Vicky this afternoon and told me that Dr. Ravenscroft will be trying to remove one of the chest tubes on Wednesday. That's the short and sweet of it."

I Came Home To Spring

These are not the exact flowers blooming outside my sewing room window, but they are as close to the color of my Gerbera Daisies as I could get. My daffodils are nearly all in bloom. Tiny buds are showing on the trees and every flowering tree in the area is in bloom. Nice way to come home. It's going to be 73 today.

Vicky had an uneventful day yesterday. She is tolerating the slow removal of the Versed which is good. She tried to breathe over her ventilator a couple of times but the nurse just increased her Propofol (pain med) and she stopped.

The head of ICU came to see us yesterday to talk about what she wants to do next: remove Vicky's chest tubes if there are no more leaks; tweak the vent settings to see if she can do more on her own and discontinue the continuous dialysis in favor of three times a week. The latter depends on her blood pressure staying stable. Apparently the dialysis is playing a role in that. Yesterday she again made more urine on her own so we are hopeful.

Once the Versed is gone from her body they will put in her hearing aids and see if she can follow some simple commands. I did see her eye lids flutter a couple of times yesterday. She's in there. Also, she is tolerating being moved.

The doctors are stunned by her recovery. According to her chest x-ray she should not be doing this well. They have decided to stop using the chest x-ray as a determinant in her treatment. They would like to do a CAT scan, but it just isn't possible to get her to the CAT scan right now even though it's on the same floor as ICU. She doesn't like to be bagged and they would have to do that for quite a while to do the scan.

I realized once again last night how much I hate to fly. I was in a middle seat on a completely full flight. Got to bed about 1 a.m. PDT which is 3 a.m. CDT. I'm going back to bed. I have my book group tonight so gotta get some rest.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

No Post This Evening

At 9:15 CDT I will be sitting in seat 14B on a non-stop Northwest flight to Sacramento. We are going to the hospital in a bit and then Neil will take me to the airport about 7.

We have heard nothing from the hospital to indicate that she has worsened. I'll post tomorrow. Thank you again for all your support. It means a lot to the family.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Today Was A Really Good Day

The doctors are astounded by her progress. They said that steroids are not supposed to work in these cases. That's the only change they made.

She is off the paralytic; blood pressure meds are gone, vent is down to 55, they have her on a new pain med and are weaning her off the versed she has been on. Versed (accent on the second syllable) is a powerful drug that is often used on patients in ICU who are on ventilators. It relaxes them so the vent can do it's job. It also causes amnesia so she won't remember anything that has happened. Her blood Ph is 7.2 and her CO2 level is down to 74 from a high of 125.

She should be off the versed totally by Wednesday afternoon. Then they want to see if she can follow simple commands. Her husband will have to be there for that because she is hearing impaired. Even with her hearing aids in her ears she will do better hearing his voice which is very deep and loud.

Last Tuesday I really thought she would be dead by now. She is by no means out of the woods. We don't know how effective her lungs will be in transferring oxygen to her blood and her kidneys are still barely functioning.

But the fact that one of those poles that they hang bags of medicine on is gone from her room is proof to me that we have hope. They also removed the EEG monitor from her forehead and the screen for that is gone as well. Now that she's not on the paralytics we don't have to worry about her being under medicated for pain.

I'm going home tomorrow night feeling a whole lot better than I did when I arrived nearly two weeks ago.

Again, thank you for all your prayers, Reiki and energy. We would not be where we are without all of you.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

It's Almost Boring

Even though things are going well, I still have this feeling in my gut every time a doctor walks by or a machine beeps. She is doing well. I won't bore you with the stats. She just seems to be tolerating whatever they do.

The sad news in ICU today was the death of a 44-year-old woman. She died of complications of the flu. Her teenage son looked so sad. I'm amazed that while all this sadness is happening, the staff continues to care for the rest of the patients. I guess you have to do that to work there.

Her nurse last night, Kevin, reorganized all the poles on which her meds hang. This means that we can approach her from either side of the bed. Also it makes the whole scene look less foreboding.

My brother goes home Sunday afternoon and I go home Monday night. Of course, all of this could change in a heart beat, but for now I feel calmer.

The family came for dinner tonight. I made pot roast in the slow cooker. Lots of folks had seconds. And grand baby Max at my leftover Mac and Cheese. Made me so happy.

My brother and I went to Whole Foods so he could get some vegan things to eat for dinner. We also bought fresh guacamole and chips but then forgot it in our cart after buying his vegan stuff.
But I did get to finish his vinegar and salt kettle chips because when he read the ingredients he found out that they had lactose in them. Vegans don't eat lactose. Score one for the non-vegans.

That's all for tonight. My brother is at the hospital early tomorrow because he has an afternoon flight. We will probably get there in the early afternoon. I haven't had any Imodium since Thursday so I guess I must be doing better mentally.

Thank you again for all your prayers, Reiki and energy. It is most definitely helping.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Another Uneventful Day

Her numbers were good today: vent turned down to 70%, oxygen level at 97%, blood pressure good, weaning her slowly off the paralytic drug, making more urine on her own and she tolerated having another central line put in plus being moved.

The additional central line was needed so they can do blood tests. The flaw in all of this, which is a big flaw, is that her CO2 levels are still in the 80s pretty much unchanged over the past few days. She is tolerating the feeding which means she's getting some highly concentrated nutrition plus amino acids to help heal her wound.

I'm hoping we are seeing the impact of the steroids.

One of our cousins, Chris, came to visit her. Unfortunately my brother and I weren't there. I'm sure it was a shock to see her like this. I wish we had been there to help him see what is happening. But now he knows where she is so hopefully he and his siblings will stop by occasionally. It's just good to know that she has someone there from time to time.

I'm feeling much better thanks to the Imodium AD. Nothing like letting the nutrition stay in your body for a while.

So, keep those prayers, good thoughts and Reiki coming. There is a tiny ray of hope, and we are clinging to it for all we are worth.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another Uneventful Day For Vicky

Nothing good or bad happened today. She just remained stable. The lung doctor said that we would know in 24-48 hours if the prednisone would do anything. I sort of wish he hadn't given it a time frame. Now I'm fixated on Sunday.

It's great to have my brother here. He brought me lunch today from Whole Foods. He's a vegan so it was an eclectic mixture. A vegan cordon bleu (weird but tasty), a raw golden beet salad (yuck) and a spinach, garlic clove, raisin and pine nut salad (yummy) and two raspberry chocolate vegan cupcakes (delicious). He has promised lunch tomorrow, without the beets.

I think I'm becoming an ICU junky. The newspaper reporter in me just can't stand not to know what is happening around me. The biggest news today was the woman next door to Vicky who arrived via helicopter on the roof. She came from Redwood Falls, MN. No idea what happened but she doesn't look good.

Max, Mike and Minna visited today. Little Max (nearly three) really lights up the place. He has cars that are characters from the movie "Cars." He and his dad know a lot of the dialogue and act out scenes from the movie. I think the nurses enjoyed the lighter moments when Max was there.

When Max leaves he looks at Vicky and says, "Nana go night night." Sort of breaks my heart.

Went out for Thai food tonight. I think it was Neil's first Thai food ever. So now he's eaten butternut squash and Thai food while I'm here. We are moving his taste buds forward one step at a time.

Adam (Neil and Vicky's youngest son) comes home tomorrow night from the Duluth area where he's painting. It will be nice to have him here.

I finally got my Imodium AD and am feeling much better. That's all the news from Lake Wobegon.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blissfully Boring Except For My Stomach

My stomach seems to know long before I do what my mental status is. I need to buy some Imodium AD. Okay, that was pretty graphic but it's what life is like right now.

The good thing today is that nothing happened; it was neither good nor bad. This morning the herd of doctors descended on her room. They would probably be offended by the "herd" comment, but it's true. The docs decided to put her on steroids. We have nothing to lose. Of course, then her blood pressure was out of whack but we knew that was going to happen so they turned up her blood pressure meds.

She is tolerating being physically turned, at least for now. The challenge now is that any statement I make at this moment in time could be cancelled out by whatever electrical impulse she has.

Our brother arrived today which is really helpful. He can't stay with us because he's allergic to cats. He's over at cousin Dennis' house. And tonight Neil's brother Tom arrived and stayed after we left. That was really wonderful. It's not easy to be in that room but he knew that his brother needed him to be there.

The kindness of people both here and in the Ethernet goes a long ways toward making this tolerable. I thank all of you; keep praying. I need to get some rest.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Very Hard Day

Things are not looking good here. Today the lung doctor, her husband and I had what they call a "care conference." That's where you discuss what to do if she codes. Neil is such an optimist; I know it was so hard for him to hear what the doctor had to say. He agreed to a do not resuscitate (DNR).

They are having trouble controlling just about everything. She is so fragile that just moving her in the bed to prevent pressure sores sets off all the alarms.

The problem is really with her lungs. They are just not working very well; about 35%, which is way too little.

So we need even more prayers than you have been sending. My brother is arriving tomorrow about noon.

To compound all this sadness I found out tonight that a dear friend of ours committed suicide. I was speechless when I found out. The sheriff's possee found him in the woods about 300 yards from the house he and his wife shared. They are wonderful people. Margo, his wife, is devastated. She is a breast cancer survivor. I have no idea why this happened. Then a wonderful woman from my Red Hat group died this week as well.

What is wrong with the universe. I wish the news was better but it's not. No one has given up but we are worried that Vicky does not have anymore strength to continue to fight.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Another Day In The ICU

Tomorrow night will be the end of Vicky's third week in the ICU. Not something I want to celebrate, but I am glad she is still with us.

Today was another good day. The herd of doctors descended on her room about noon to look appropriately serious and gloomy. I've decided that this is how most male doctors look. They decided to return her respirator to the setting it was on before surgery; this is a big deal because it is less hard on her lungs. She's also down to 70% oxygen from 100%.

She tolerated the change very well. Her blood gasses continue to be good, her blood is no longer acidic and her CO2 level continues to drop. Even her glucose tests have been good so no insulin today.

I had to sign a consent form for them to move her feeding tube deeper into her gut so it's right near the entrance to her small intestines. She had been throwing up some of what she was being fed. She needs the nutrition so this will do the trick. They brought in this huge machine (a fluoroscope) to guide the process of getting the tube into the right place. Kerry and I stepped out. Besides I don't think there was space for us in her room. The dietitian came by and suggested a change in nutrition to something that has amino acids that will speed her wound recovery. That will start tomorrow about noon.

It's amazing how many specialists are caring for her. She has a respiratory therapist, a physical therapist, an acute care dietitian, a renal doctor, a lung doctor, her original surgeon, ICU nurses, radiologists and many more. She doesn't know anything about any of this. But her family is very thankful for all of them.

Her blood pressure is stabilized with very little medication. Her heart rate and BP are good.

You may be bored by all these stats but I'm not; I love the fact that some of her readings are normal.

It was sort of slow in the ICU today but the nurses said as we were leaving that the 3rd floor where they have the telemetry patients (aka heart surgery patients) is full so many of them will come to the ICU. Vicky's nurse Kent said that ICU nurses don't like these kind of patients. "They want us to fetch for them when they turn on their light," said Kent. "We are not that kind of nurse." I laughed. It's always good to laugh in the ICU.

Kerry goes home tomorrow night. I have a flight set for a week from today. That, of course, is still tentative.

One person died last night in the ICU. I knew something was up when the whole family was there around her bed last night as we left; everyone looked really sad. I think it was a grandma who came in unconscious on a ventilator. This morning her bed was empty. There is very little space between life and death.

We still have too much food but we did find out that the wonderful soup that Theresa made has MSG in it so I can't have it. She is such a sweetheart; she's making another batch that I can eat. I just wish they would stop sending the desserts.

Time for more leftover Mac and Cheese. Thank you again for all your support.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Another Stable Day In The ICU

We went in a bit later this morning and discovered that her blood gas levels were up once again. Her CO2 is still declining, which is very good. Her heart rate is down to about 95. It had been as high as 115. Her oxygen level is good with the ventilator set at 90%. She had gotten down to 50% before her last surgery. We hope she can get back to that level. They are taking about a half-pound of fluid out of her each day with the dialysis. She's actually below the weight at which she came into the hospital.

Today they added yet another bag; this time it's phosphorous. The nurse told me what it did but I don't remember. They also have a monitor on her forehead to check for brain activity so they can make sure she is sedated enough. Because she is paralyzed they want to make sure she is comfortable because she couldn't tell us if she wasn't.

We went to Mike and Minna's house for a great spaghetti dinner tonight. We toasted Vicky at the start of dinner. We are home now and stuffed. Kerry is leaving on Tuesday evening. I will probably stay another week. Just can't be away from her right now. I want to continue to see slow but steady progress. Then I'll feel like I can leave.

Once again, Neil wants me to thank all of your for your continued prayers, energy and caring. It means a lot to all of us. We got another care package of food from people at Vicky's work; great homemade chicken wild rice soup, lettuce, Parker house rolls and then, are you read for this, apple pie, French Silk Pie and cinnamon streusal coffee cake. Yikes, Neil is going to have to roll me on the plain. I'm glad he can take this stuff to work where people there will devour it.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

She's Stable

It was a roller coaster ride today that ended with good news and stability. The surgery she had on Wednesday really knocked her for a loop; it has taken her a while to recover but the good news is that she is.

I'm eating leftover Mac and Cheese (made from scratch) and having a glass of chardonnay (okay two glasses), but I've earned them.

My sister is amazingly strong. Somewhere inside her quiet body she is busy fighting this. Neil and I both spent time holding her hand and talking to her.

It's amazing and scary how you can become so used to all the beeps in the room. The dialysis machine is constantly beeping. A bag needs emptying or refilling or they just need to test to make sure it's working right. The redundancy's are very calming for me.

Dr. Hamm spoke with us this morning. Very attractive but very skinny. I found out from Vicky's day nurse that she is a triathlete. Probably helps relieve her stress level.

Vicky had an echo sonogram of her legs to look for blood clots and an echo cardiogram of her heart. Both were clear. That is a relief.

Back to the hospital tomorrow morning. We found out we can get a reduced parking rate because she has been in the hospital for so long. That will be nice. It will be $4 per day rather than $10 and you can go in and out as much as you want for the $4.

I know I'm not going home on Tuesday. I don't know what Kerry plans yet. The good news is that his last blood test showed his platelets at 37,000. We cheer for anything over 30,000. That's all the news on this Saturday night.