March 15, 2000
I visited her today at
2:00 PM.... she's still sedated and stable in the ICU. At 6:00 PM there is little
change, but she is now breathing partially by herself. They informed me that she is
stable and that they hope to remove the intubation by tomorrow. If all goes well,
she will leave the ICU tomorrow. I'm soooo tired....got to hit the sack.
April 8, 2000 7:30
It's been a frightful week, to say the least. Sharon is still in the ICU and is in stable condition. Each day they tell me that she will probably be extubated the next day. Last night was the first that she was able to breath on her own and they are hoping that she can be extubated by tomorrow (Sunday). She was semiconscious today when I visited and seemed to recognize me, but had not remembered any of my other visits. For someone who never sleeps over five hours, Sharon is going to be very surprised to find out that she was out for five days!
Breakthrough! Sharon was extubated today and she has been breathing by herself since 2:00 PM. We aren't out of the woods yet, as she has to make it through the night on her own. Also, she was having problems with her breathing exercises due to weakness. She hasn't had any nourishment for eight days. They started her on small pieces of ice and hope that she can progress to some liquid food by tonight. I pray that tomorrow night I will be writing about her further progress. We ask for your prayers and good thoughts.
Two steps forward, one step back. Sharon has been running cyclic fevers since she was in the ICU. The doctors thought that it was an artifact of the trauma from the surgery, but today we learned that it is being caused by an bacterial infection. It's too soon for the culture to be identified, so in the mean time they have started her on a wide spectrum antibiotic. As soon as they identify the bug, they will target it with a specific antibiotic. This may be a big deal, or something that is easily cured. We should know soon. On the bright side, Sharon has been up on her feet three times now, holding onto the walker for a few minutes at a time. She is also starting to eat some solid food. Her nutritional level was measured at forty percent, so she's weak from that as well but making some small gain each day. I feel each day that passes without incident she is closer to coming home. This place is too quiet without the rock trimmer cracking, the ultrasonic cleaning humming and the phone ringing every ten minutes.
Sorry for not updating sooner, but I have been at the hospital for the past three days and it hasn't been good. Saturday afternoon they identified the bug as e-coil. This was a shock to even the doctors as it's not the normal internal infection that is associated with operations. By evening, they had located the source of the infection by means of a CT scan. It had lodged in her back the length of the original incision for the back work. Later that evening they took her back to the OR and reopened the incision to scrape out any bad muscle and flesh. When they did this, large amounts of bacteria got back into the blood stream. The complication is that the bacteria byproducts dilate the blood vessels. The result was that her blood pressure went dangerously low. They said that it was hit or miss that night.... With that news, I collapsed and spent the night in the ER.
Yesterday was rather non-eventful. They have been keeping her stable via drugs. They pierced her chest cavity (not lung, as I erroneously posted previously) today to drain it. The good part was that there were no bacteria in it.
Tonight she went back into the OR for the third time. It went better tonight and the Dr. said that the wound looked better and that the antibiotics are probably kicking in.
It's not over yet, as she will undergo one or two more surgeries before we are out of the woods.
Today brought better news. I met with the Infectious Diseases Dept. Doctor and he was somewhat positive about the prognosis for Sharon's recovery. He said that she was receiving the state of the art antibiotics, and that there were still some backups if needed. It looked, at least in the short term, that she was indeed responding as her fever decreased monotonically overnight to almost 36.9C (normal). The next few days will tell. When I got to the ICU, at 1700, they were just removing the breathing support and for the second time, she breathed on her own. Still a better sign was to hear her whisper "food......gimme some damn food"! The plan now is to watch her for a few days, or possibly more, before closing her posterior incision. Once they are sure that the infection is responding to the antibiotics, she will go back to surgery for either clean up or closing the incision. This will go on until clean, uninfected tissue are noted. After that, she will have to remain on powerful antibiotics for at least six months. At that time, she will be tested for bacteria in the site. If this shows negative, we are home free. If not, they will have to remove the hardware that they have installed as soon as all of the discs are fused completely. It's going to be a long haul, but we have to be optimistic that it's all going to work out for the better. Believe me, I don't think that I could have endured what Sharon has been through. It has been a nightmare, but she's a fighter, and I'm betting on her putting that bug down in the second round. When the doctor asked her how she was doing, she gave him a thumbs up! Again, thanks to all of you for your good thoughts and prayers.
Light at the end of the
tunnel! After one major surgery, three lesser ones and spending fifteen days in the
ICU, Sharon is stable, doing well and back to the recovery ward. This morning was
the first day that she has enjoyed eating, and this is a very good indication of recovery.
But, there is a lot of physical therapy to do before she's back up on her feet.
If all goes well, Sharon should be back home in a week or two and will have to wear
an upper body "turtle shell" for three months or so. I'm off to visit
(number fifty five) her now and will start to learn to assist her with the physical
April 27, 2000 0945
We are starting the second leg of this long journey to wellness, and home is on the horizon. Sharon was transferred to a rehab facility late Friday. The place is not to be outdone by any marine boot camp nor the staff by any drill instructor. This place runs strictly on "tough love". Want to watch TV? Get up and go watch it in the common room. Hungry? Go to the dining room and eat all you want. The whole philosophy is "get off of your dead butt and do it your self"! This is a shock, after having been tended to for the past month. The results, however, are outstanding. Sharon is working very hard and is now able to walk, with the use of a walker, the length of the building and back. She has six physical therapy sessions per day, which last a total of three hours. They are teaching her everything from how to get into and out of bed to getting dressed while wearing a body shell. Medically, she is doing very well with only lingering minor issues to deal with. The infection is still under control, and every day that passes reduces the chances of a flare up. So, things are good....well relatively speaking, and I'm hoping that this coming weekend will see Sharon's return home. More later....
May 19, 2000 1235
The last week has been hectic as Sharon was released from the rehab facility, and is now at home. There was a lot to do to prepare the house for her limitations. She is doing well and is, in fact, upstairs with the home visit physical therapist at this moment. When I say that she is doing well, I don't mean that she is back to her old self, as she has many limitations that are yet to be overcome. She is able, however, to stay sitting up for a few hours now and will slowly be catching up on about 400 emails that came in while she was in the hospital. So, please don't feel offended if you don't receive an answer to your emails immediately.
Many thanks to all of you who have shown
your support throughout this difficult time. I am more than grateful to Dr. T. L.,
Dr. S. K. and all of the hospital staff for getting Sharon through this complicated
ordeal, and back to her family and all of her mineral friends . Many thanks to Dr.
J. M. who is now monitoring and treating Sharon's infection.
June 3, 2000 1950
Well it's been a while since the last update
and a lot of things have happened.... some good, some not so good. On the bright side,
Sharon is getting around much better and sometimes sheds her walker in favor of a walking
cane. She still wears her titanium exoskeleton, which was exchanged for the
"turtle shell" that she was wearing previously, and will continue to do so for
months to come. Antibiotic intolerance, which results in very bad rashes that
covered a large part of her body and result in dryness and peeling, is still an issue that
we are dealing with. A new antibiotic was prescribed a few days ago and we are
hopeful that this will not produce any sensitivity. The e-coli infection is the main
issue that Sharon has to deal with now, and hopefully she will beat it in the next few
months. The infectious disease doctor is very concerned that the antibiotics must be
continued for as long as it takes to eradicate all of the e-coli. Blood tests for
sedimentation rate, which gives an indication of inflammation, will be done periodically
and then the nuclear medicine doctors will do very sensitive tests to determine if the
antibiotics can be discontinued.
June 28, 2000 1235
Hello all! I haven't made any journal
entries lately as there hasn't been anything new to report. And, that's good!
Sharon has been doing well and has gained strength over the past weeks. She has been
able to stay up for longer periods of time now, and is back to working on minerals on a
limited basis. We were able to make it to Big Bear Lake, over Memorial Day weekend,
for an astronomy convention where we have been selling meteorites each year. It was
a hard trip for her, a ten hour drive, but I think getting out in the woods and talking to
people was good medicine. She was extremely tired, but very happy to get back to
doing what she likes, and does best.
July 8, 2000 1122
It seems like a very long time, but only
three months has passed since Sharon's surgery. She had her three month
evaluation a couple of days ago and although we didn't find out if fusion was taking
place, the x-rays showed that the hardware is all still in place and that there are no
obvious problems to be concerned about. Sharon will have to wear the brace for another
three months, which coincides with the proposed time that she will re-evaluated for the
infection. Hopefully the brace and the meds will go then. I was able to borrow
the x-rays of the before and after surgery to photograph, and have posted them
below. I added the red fiducial lines, which are only for reference. The
before x-ray was taken about six months before the surgery. By the time of the
surgery, the displacement angle had increased closer to forty degrees!
January 13, 2001 1200
Well, it's been quite a long time
since I have updated Sharon's progress, and that's because progress has
been very slow. The nuclear medicine studies and an MRI have shown
to be inconclusive as to the presence of the infection. Sharon has
been on IV antibiotics up until last month when she was switched to oral
antibiotics. At her most recent consult, with the infectious disease
doctors, she was told that she would have to remain on antibiotics for
another six months and then repeat the tests. While the infection is
still a serious issue, we are hoping for better news at the end of this
time. This is a bit disconcerting as that will mark about sixteen
months. As for the brace, Sharon has been slowly increasing the
number of hours per day that she goes without it and best news so far is
that she has cast her walker and cane away. Intensive physical
therapy has helped a lot and her strength is gradually
March 11, 2002 0630
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