Monday, August 01, 2005

Valley Fever seems to be the culprit

Denise has been in the hospital 2 solid weeks.
I spoke to the doctor earlier today. Here's the breakdown:

The fungus that's the cause of Valley Fever was found in blood, lung, and plascenta. So they're pretty sure that this is the actual cause of her condition. Since it's in all those places, she has the disseminated form of the disease (the worst, with a considerable mortality rate). They still need to do the lumbar puncture to determine if it's gone into the spinal fluid. The hematologist was with her at the time, trying to determine if bleeding would be an issue (as is a concern for the procedure she needs to be cleaned up after the labor). Denise grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, the hotbed for this fungus. Apparently most people have this, but fight it off. However, with a depressed immune system, pregnancy, and gestational diabetes, the fungus probably took the opportunity to grow. You can do a Google search for coccidioides immitis if you want to learn about it.

There's a chance that they will do a tracheostomy so that they can put a breathing tube in her throat instead of in her mouth.

Her body is creating little micro-blood clots, apparently associated with fighting the disease.

They stopped the Xigris drip 16 hours early (usually a 96- hour drip) in anticipation of the lumbar puncture. She got the benefit of about 3 1/2 days of that stuff. On this topic, the nurses should probably comment on this blog. But one nurse told me that in her 10 years of nursing, they've only used this drug on one other patient that she was aware of. The patient was a 19-year-old female with menengitis. The Xigris was VERY effective in that case, and it seems that it's played a big part in getting Denise this far. The nurse also said that she can't imagine how much each drop of the stuff costs (it's VERY expensive).

The improvements include the following:

Her blood pressure is still acceptable without the blood pressure meds. I like seeing fewer bags hanging from the medicine trees by her bed.

Denise's ventilator has been lowered to give her a 60% oxygen concentration. The faster they can lower that oxygen concentration from the ventilator, the better.

Creatinin (indicator of kidney function) is 1 (higher numbers mean less functionality). This is considered normal, and in fact very good considering her condition.

Thanks for all your support. We're getting muffins, care packages, flowers, cards, calls, toys for the kids... on and on. Normally, I would write a thank you note for each kind act. But they are so many and so fast, and there's so much chaos that I'm afraid that the expression of thanks in this post will have to do. Tell you what, though... when Denise is home, you're all invited to one big huge barbecue!

:O) Phil


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