Sunday, August 14, 2005

Breathing better, Blood worse, Reading Lips

The doctor just called with the usual good news/bad news/neutral news update.
Denise's lung mechanics are going well enough that they're going to turn down the vent pressure and let her assume more of the work in breathing. The holes in the lungs have closed up. Chest tubes will stay in for the time being, however.
Last night she was responding fairly quickly to news of how long she'd been sedated, what the date was, and much of what has happened. She expressed disbelief. Can't remember a thing. Good.
A therapist will be coming to start working on muscle movements. She's very weak from the severe sepsis and the meds. The neurologist will also be coming in to do some more evaluations.
Her fevers haven't spiked beyond 102 for the past 24 hours. As mentioned numerous times, some part of the fever is her fighting infection, some part is brought on by the meds (I believe Abelcet or Albecet, used to fight the cocci fungal valley fever). That med also causes problems with potassium and magnesium. During this whole crisis, I've often wished that I took chemistry instead of physics throughout school.
An anti-clotting med is going in (Lovenox) to treat the SPT mentioned on Thursday.
Blood numbers have drifted downward. Hemoglobin count is down to 6.8. Earlier I mentioned that 7 is currently the limit if oxygenation isn't an issue (and that's been going well). There have been issues with her creating antibodies to the blood from other people, so they don't want to do too many transfusions. White count is 1.7 (normal would be 8, they say). So they're starting her on a drug to boost that (Neupogen). Denise & my dad have that in common now. For those that don't know, my dad's been dealing with cancer in colon, liver, lung, and lymph since November... indeed, I thought I'd be sitting by *his* hospital bed by now, not by Denise's.
They are also treating Denise for colitis (inflammation of the colon). The situation was described as having tons of antibiotics killing almost everything off. But the really resistant bugs are just having a big party in the colon. I imagine that this is how the phrase "party pooper" originated. But I digress...
I was encouraged to hear the doctor tell me that overall, she's better now than she was a week ago. So I'm off to the hospital to visit with her. At this point, let me toss up a small prayer request for me. I've got to learn to read lips FAST. She's too weak to write anything, and may be lacking in the fine motor skills department at this time, anyway. It was tough to see her completely sedated. I don't know if it's much better to see her awake but unable for us to communicate so I can understand her needs. The most frequent things are pain/discomfort and thirst. But she's trying to say a whole lot more to me that I can't understand. Some of the biggest arguments we'd get into over the years were over me doing something but not stopping to look at her when she talked. Don't get me wrong, we'd focus on each other most of the time, but when I didn't actually look at her, I fully understood what she said and certainly was listening. It's just that I interacted with her while still carrying on with whatever else I was already doing. Computer guy that I am, I tried to explain to her that I was just "multitasking." She wasn't amused (men, your wives aren't amused, either). Right now, I wish I'd watched her so I could get practice at reading lips. Any of you adept at ASL and lip reading, let me know some pointers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil & Denise, Schuyler is a 4 year ASL student and is home for the summer! Give me a call, he is available if you need some basics or have questions. What a miracle this has been! Keep fighting Denise, you are both amazing! Phil, "piggy back" with Jesus is definitely our favored mode of transpotation, hang in there!Remember, the way to eat a bear is one bite at a time. Keep chewing! Love and hugs, Diane & Family

August 14, 2005 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Sarah Mair said...

hi Phil,
I can imagine that not being able to understand her is almost as bad as when she was sedated. I grew up with a lot of exposure to the deaf culture. One of the things I learned about lip reading is to watch her whole face, not just her lips. A lot of what she's trying to say will be shown in her facial expressions and eye movements(however weakly). This may be part of why she would get upset with you before, knowing you weren't able to read her facial expressions when she talked to you (communicating even more meaning than just the words and tone of voice) if you were turned away. I don't know if that will be helpful at all... I'll definitely be praying for you, still.
Also, I hear my friend Kristin Booth has been in touch with you about child care. It fills my heart with joy how so many people that have never met you have reached out to help in so many ways.
love in Christ,

August 14, 2005 12:28 PM  

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