Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sipping liquid, NG tube gone, New trach, Talked to kids

Denise got to start drinking fluids! The nose tube to her stomach was removed. The output was low enough to not need it anymore. They do have a gravity-fed collection bag for excess stomach fluid. They changed her trach out to one that doesn't have a cuff, so her esophagus can collapse easier, making it easier to swallow. She also thinks it's easier to breathe. Just like last time, the doctor coached someone in how to change the trach out. They gave Denise a little cup of water with a straw, and she had NO trouble sipping & swallowing. The doctor joked, "Whiskey sours tonight! You'll have no trouble sleeping." He turned for a minute or two to explain things to me and talk with some interns. Then he turned back to Denise and asked her to take another sip of water. She held out the cup & said, "I finished it." The doctor said, "Well, she passed that test." They were *supposed* to do a swallowing evaluation this morning. That wasn't supposed to be it, but I guess it was just as good. We were informed that she can start up on a clear liquid diet. "Yay!" Denise said. Then she coughed & vomited up some of the water a few minutes later. Apparently she drank it too fast. As I was cleaning her up, she said, "Don't tell anyone." She knew that if the doctor found out that she puked, she wouldn't be allowed to eat yet. The nurse ratted her out, though, and so Denise was eating ice chips the rest of the time. Clear liquids are on deck, though. And the doctor said that in no time, she'll be eating steak & eggs. I should offer to take the doctor for a steak & eggs breakfast breakfast, but I'm not sure that he ever leaves the hospital. Actually, I probably ought to take a whole bunch of staff to breakfast, both from Arcadia Methodist and USC University Hospital. Maybe we can arrange for the day and night shifts to have their shift change take place at Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles one morning.

Physical therapy had her sitting at the edge of her bed for about 25 minutes... better than yesterday. She was sitting up in a chiar for two hours, and knew *exactly* when those two hours ended. She asked me to get the nurse because she was tired. Up to that time, we were really moving & stretching, particularly the legs. Heart rate was a little higher today (109-115), as was her blood pressure (120 systolic). Temps were hanging around 101. At hearing what her temperature was, she said that she thought she'd like to go swimming as soon as possible. Good thing there's a YMCA with a pool nearby. I think I'll get a family membership as soon as she's able to go so I can work out with her (I think they even have a service to watch the kids if you have a family membership). She pointed out that there's a special lift there for people that can't get in & out of the pool by themselves. Hopefully she won't need that.

She made a couple more phone calls today, too. I called out to our friends that the kids are staying with, and Denise was able to talk to Gracie and Jacob. I could see Denise light up when she heard their voices. Our friend said that the kids also were visibly excited to hear Denise. When Jake was on the phone, Denise kept saying, "Hi, I love you." Apparently he closed & turned off the phone *just* as he copied her, saying "I love you" back to her. I found that out later. I guess it was pretty clear, too. The kids want to visit Denise again (they haven't visited her for over a month), so let's hope that they can bend the rules a little for us.

Of concern is what I heard from the I.D. doctor today. There is mold growing in the sample taken from the menengial fluid. He's confident it'll turn out to be the cocci (valley fever), which likes to go for the head. But fortunately, she's already on the appropriate treatment for it (and she's obviously getting better, and fast). So I assume that the treatment's working. He also said that she's on voriconazole, which is both better and about ten times as expensive as the fluconazole (so maybe we'll wait on breakfast at Roscoe's). Seriously, though, pray/pull/tug that this is where the infection stops and that it finally goes away.

Side note before I forget: They won't let Denise have flowers or balloons in her room yet. Cards are fine, though. So are sculptures (last night, visitors brought flowers & a dancing woman sculpture that is the same style as some other sculptures we have).
Another side note before I forget: At lunch time, I ran into some people I know, and we eventually got around to talking about lunch. It came up that the hospital's cafeteria got a grade of "B" from the health department.
At a hospital.
At *this* hospital.

The people I ran into are family of teacher Karen. Our brief joking about the cafeteria was a pause from the sad news that she's not going to make it. I went to sit with her husband in a waiting room and spoke with him (and tried not to speak, as well... I didn't want to be a "Job's friend"). He said he appreciated the prayers that were a result of this blog. Still pray, but rather than focusing on a miraculous healing for Karen, focus instead on an equally miraculous ability for her husband Dan (& family) to feel some peace, comfort, serenity... some relief from this surreal anguish. I remember feeling that when we lost our baby in July. Faced with the imminence of losing Denise a few weeks ago, I remember telling a neighbor, "I'm not ready to be a widower yet." I'm confident that Dan's thinking the same thing tonight. Things were very different for him 48 hours ago, but life's pretty raw for him tonight. Please save some thoughts & prayers for him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, this is such great news !!!!Praise God. I can hardly believe how rapidly Denise is improving. You and your famiyl continue to be in my prayers. Diane from Washington

October 22, 2005 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for allowing us to be a part of your prayer team by keeping us updated each day. We pray for your family daily and are believing God will continue to heal and give the doctors wisdom.
Blessings, The Cox family

October 23, 2005 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love all the great news. Keep it up, Lord! I'm grieving with Karen's family. Still praying here in Coalinga.

October 23, 2005 4:17 PM  

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