Well what a difference a day makes. At the end of the two week mark in the ICU, Dad made some remarkable improvements today. From the early morning, Dad was much less agitated and his BP and heart rate remained stable all day. While the inability to be understood continues to be difficult, last night Dad had a visit with the lovely Marie-Celeste who did an amazing job of listening to and connecting with Dad and helping to to calm and orient him.
Today was a more successful day all around, with not only Dad staying relatively at ease and comfortable, but the dynamic Yoshiko from Physical Therapy came by and Dad was able to sit up on the side of the bed after two weeks laying down. This is a huge step forward. He was a great sport through it all and was even willing to go longer, which greatly impressed the staff. Physical therapy will now be part of his daily routine.
On the medical front, Dad was only able to complete 10 minutes on the Spontaneous Breathing Trial but they are going to move to a new approach – pressure support – going forward to see if they have more luck with that. Dad is now showing signs of hypercalcemia, which is a serious concern, but the doctors are well aware of it and are treating it carefully. Dad’s white blood cell count is down again to 12,000 which is great.
The fact that Dad is no longer intubated through the mouth as before has allowed them to remove the main sedatives they were using and his heart and lungs seem to be responding very well to this.
It is wonderful to be able to interact and engage with Dad, even in limited ways, now that he is longer so sedated. The doctor and nurse today both credited the presence of family and friends with his positive spirit and sense of calm and ease. They were very impressed with the large community of support Dad has seen and say that it greatly contributes to his recovery. Thank you all for being a part of that.
As one of the biggest challenges is now the inability for us to understand what Dad is saying, we put out a call to folks for help finding a lip reader, and as usual, our beautiful network of friends and loved ones came through. Special thanks to Carol Brown who was so helpful to this process as well as Steve Gonzalez, who both recommended Consuelo Gonzalez, a professional lip reader in Seattle (!) to help out. We couldn’t be more grateful.
And to wrap up on the appreciation front, as I mentioned earlier, Dad would not be making these improvements if we didn’t have such a strong network of people that support him, support us and support each other. Today we would like to especially thank Marie-Celeste for her tender loving care, Carol Brown and Anne Phillips, Uncle Dan, cousins Miriam and Matthew, Eddie and Michael and Jen for making today a good one for us. We know we still have a long road ahead, but today we feel much more hopeful.
We would also like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Chuang, who has seen us through this week with the best representation of what medicine can and should be. He’s demonstrated that first and foremost it’s about people – not just their bodies but their minds and their spirits. It’s about respect, dignity and integrity. It’s about collaboration and lifelong education. It’s about family and community. We have the greatest respect and appreciation for Dr. Chuang, and wish for him a restful, sun-filled week out of the ICU. But … as much as we like and enjoy him, we hope we won’t be here when he gets back. 🙂