Monday, May 30, 2011

New Blog for Garrett

I'm going to separate this out slightly.  I've started a new blog entitled "Praying for Garrett" .  This has pictures, links to articles, and all the facebook entries since Garrett was found.  Sifting through all the posts and comments can be cumbersome, so  I've placed them in chronological order. This way, newcomers to the group "Prayers for Garrett" can read his ordeal so far, and those who are not on Facebook, but read my blog and want to keep up with the latest can do so.  I'll just limit my entries here to my own feelings or perceptions, and try to get back to normal blogging again.

Thanks to those of you who have gone over to the FB group and "liked" it.  We're nearing 1000 already! Hope to have 1000 praying at the same time every evening, in addition to all the prayers that continually go up for Garrett.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Facebook Page for Garrett

If you're on facebook and have been praying for Garrett, someone has started a page for him:!/pages/Prayers-for-Garrett-Jones/118038981615121

The plan is for all of us to pray at the same time every night, in addition to whenever you usually pray.  It will be at 9pm EDT, 8pm CDT, 7pm MDT and 6pm PDT.  If you're in other time zones, you'll have to figure it out, because I don't know the different zones! Also would like you to sign the page with your town and state, or country if you're not in the US, so we can see where the prayers are coming from.

Thanks to all of you who keep encouraging me and sending virtual hugs.  They are so much appreciated.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Notes on Garrett

If you've read more than enough about The Tornado and my nephew, and are ready for some other kinds of posts--you'll want to skip my blog altogether for a while.  Nothing else is on my mind right now, though I will say I bought some fabric today to try and make a couple of summer dresses for myself.

I wanted to write about Garrett and what we've been through the past few days, but decided you could better understand it if I copied my brother's last few facebook posts.  Here they are verbatim, no corrections in spelling or punctuation.  Raw.

Thursday, May 26 4:30 pm
We have had a day of soul searching as we know that if conditions don't improve greatly in several areas, we will be forced to make possible life changing decisions for our son. I talked at length with a chaplain here, and her words were simple but clear. Her prayers for us after knowing us for four weeks are that (a) God will do what is best for Garrett and (b) what will bring the most glory to God, whatever that may be. There is nothing wrong with praying for healing, but if His will is not to heal Garrett here on earth, then we are trying to change Gods will. Not impossible, but improbable. She suggests we pray that God will, through our prayers, bring us in line with His will. And that, to me, makes sense. With literally thousands praying for us, I would ask that all of you pray that for us. God knows whats in our heart before we pray. But my prayers will be more effective if they ARE claiming His will, and not praying against His will. Does that make sense? I'm not blessed with articulation, but hopefully I've conveyed my thoughts well enough for you to understand. I'm still believing a miracle is coming, and that is the ONLY thing, according to the Doctors, that will change my Tiny Mans condition.
I do read all comments and messages, but with so many, I can't respond to every one, but please know my appreciation and love for all of you can't be put in words!

Update Midnight Thursday

Today has been extremely challenging. I realize my earlier post was vague, but due to my middle son not knowing about a crisis we were in, and not needing to inform him of it till after he got off work, I could not say anything for fear of it getting back to him before we could talk. Here is what transpired today. When we arrived at the hospital this morning we were informed of the Trauma dept head dr's of the need to put Garrett on dialysis due to worsening chemical imbalances, and early signs of possible kidney distress. The decision was ours, and being blindsided with this life changing scenario was quite distressing. This could effect Garretts quality of life when God allows him to walk out of here. Plus putting him on it will open a whole new world of infection possibilities. After stuggling for a couple of hours and deciding to allow it, the chief kidney specialist was called in and after his study of Garretts case and current evaluation, decided that it was not neccesary today, but could be at a future date. Maybe tomorrow, next week, but not today.
Then at 8PM tonight, Garretts pulse suddenly jumped from 120 to 200 and his BP started dropping. A facebook prayer request blitz happened at that time, thanks to a friend I was talking with when the doctor came to inform us of the crisis. A couple of shots os some kind of medication, and then a jolt from the paddles put him back in stride and 30 minutes after it happened he was back to his normal settings.

So now you are all up to date, and know why the earlier post wasn't more informative. Another days ride on the Garrett Coaster. We know there are more of these kinds of days ahead, and simply ask God for wisdom, strength for the journey, and the peace that passes all understanding. Good night everybody. (or good morning!)

Update Fri. 6:30 am
 Just spoke to night nurse: Garrett had a very eventful evening as we slept. His heart repeated last nights episodes another 3 times....,the cardio specialists were called in and a medication they had used on the first 3 episodes was changed and his last event was at around 4:30 AM. Since his last "shock" to achieve rhythem, his heart rate has stayed in the 90's, his O2 is coming back up in the 60's now, his CO2 is the lowest it's been in a week (almost normal) and he is, as of 6:20, resting. Unbelievable. What a story we're going to have to tell him when he wakes up. More Later

Update Noon Friday
As I write this, They are putting Garrett on dialysis, will be a 24 hr.cycle, and they hope by doing this, it will reduce the toxins that are building up. Kidney function is still at acceptable levels, but chemical imbalances are present.Cardiac Dr never showed up, so we're still in the dark on what is specifically causing it. His current heartrate is 187, and I'm sure God has his hand around his heart because that makes about 14 hours this has been going on. There's a healing coming, just hope it's on this side of Jordan. Father, nothing I can do for Tiny Man but put him totally in your strong arms. It Is Well.

Update 11:30pm Friday
I'm sorry for the late posting, but from about 2:30 till 10:15 we had a steady stream of visitors and it was just a very very busy afternoon! Garrett is on the dialysis and has tolerated it very well. The kidneys were not in crisis but were showing signs of distress, plus toxins building up were possible causes of cardiac arythmia. So he will have 24-7 dialysis until such time as the kidney's functions and creatnin (?) levels return to normal for several days in a row. No idea how long that could take, but just glad he is tolerating it. Improved blood oxygen levels in the later evening hours are a welcome relief, and CO2 levels are now normal. White count level is coming down slowly, but moving in the right direction. His cardiac team ordered a new blood pressure medicine that they feel his body will tolerate better. Several early afternoon attempts to transition him to it were met with rejection, but persistance paid off, and he is close to a complete changover. Heart had to be shocked back into rythem again around 5 pm (5th time in 21 hours), but since then, BP which had been being between 65/60 to 95/65 (yes I said 65/60), when we left was 120/75, and heart rate which had been 185-200 BPM with no rythem had dropped to 80 sinus rythem. (I know I'm not spelling "rythem" right or am I, my brain is fried) A very marked improvement in cardiac function.
I will check his stats again between 6-8 AM and hopefully post a morning report by 9:00. We are normally at the hospital from 9:30 AM till 10PM. If I can figure out a way to bring my grill in and find a deck somewhere to throw a couple of ribeyes on, I will be one happy camper!

Neither my brother nor his wife have been at work in a month. Frank's company has assured him he still has a job, but they are so small, they cannot afford to pay him while he's off. Janell's company has continued her pay so far. I lend my voice to his, if there is an Express Oil Change near you, please give them your business for supporting her during this time.

As always, thank you all for your continued prayers. I don't know how we'd all make it through the day with the love and support of friends and strangers who pray for us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Roller Coaster

For over 4 days, Garrett was fairly stable, with no adverse events.  Then the carbon dioxide level in his blood reached a critical level and something needed to be done. Since the doctors had not done a bronchoscopy to suction fluid out of his lungs since Thursday, they did a quick in-and-out at the bedside and were successful in removing a lot of junk.  However, to do that, they must take him off the ventilator, and he did not tolerate the loss of pressure well.  He was in crisis mode again, with medication to keep his blood pressure up and a temp of 103.5.

The doctors approached my brother and his wife about what they wanted done if Garrett should go into cardiac arrest.  That is never a good sign. Basically, they said they are out of options; nothing more to offer at that point.

After talking about it, my brother and his wife and son decided the doctors could give whatever medications necessary, but they didn't want chest compressions or cardiac shocks. If his heart stopped, God could take him home, and though that's not what they wanted, they were at peace with it. Local family and friends gathered 'round to wait and pray, and the word was put out that we needed massive prayers.  Again.

Late last evening the doctors decided to switch Garrett off the "pediatric" oscillating vent that keeps a continuous pressure and gives him 3 breaths/second and place him back on the original, traditional ventilator.  He never does well with changes, and I don't think they expected him to survive it, but it was a last ditch effort.

Not only did Garrett survive the switch, he tolerated it without any setbacks, and this morning his carbon dioxide level, while still a little high, is no longer critical. His oxygen levels are still low, but his heart rate has slowed from the 140s to the 130s, and his fever dropped to 102.5.  He is hanging onto the cliff by his fingernails, but he is still with us.

Prayer is a powerful thing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Marginally Better

Sometimes I find it so hard to be here, though I know there is really nothing much I can do in Alabama right now, except sit with family. It's just that getting information second-hand, from a non-medical person, is not very satisfying. I itch to be there to see him for myself, to ask questions, to read between the lines. I don't flash my RN around, but I do check his lines and drains and numbers.  I can't help it; been a nurse too long.

Thursday, we thought for sure we would lose Garrett. But the prayers are working, because he's still hanging on. They decided to try something that they haven't had much success with--giving him nitrous oxide--because that helps oxygenate the cells better.  For a while his levels were better, and then they dropped dangerously low again.  So they switched him to a pediatric ventilator that gives him 3 breaths a second.  Small miracles: there was only one of these not in use in that particular building (University Hospital covers 12 blocks in its entirety); there was a technician in-house, as well as a physician familiar with these particular ventilators; they were able to transition him to the new vent with only a minor drop in his levels.  And then, the combination of the new vent and the nitrous oxide has been working.  His lungs are functioning slightly better. They plan to leave him on this combo until Mon. or Tues., then possibly change him back to the other ventilator. For now, they are keeping him sedated and paralyzed to let the machine do its work.

The other big problem is the pneumonia/infection.  He isn't responding to the 6 antibiotics they are giving him, though cultures show these are the correct antibiotics for the bacteria growing there. If they can't get this under control, it will undo all the progress they have made. So far, his vital signs remain stable, and his kidneys continue to function. We are grateful for small things, but worry about the pneumonia. Secretly, I worry what the lack of oxygen may have done to his brain, but I don't mention it to any of the family.

The nurses and doctors have been wonderful. Nurses call on their days off to see how he's doing--even the ones who haven't taken care of him.  Doctors leave his bedside and go to the conference room to pray for guidance in caring for him--and this is not a faith-based hospital. We know the staff is doing their dead-level best to save him. I encouraged my brother to tape up some pictures of Garrett for everyone to see how he looks when he's healthy, because it helps to keep everyone focused on him as a person.  So in addition to that, my sister-in-law brought in pictures of Garrett as a 3 lb 7oz preemie--and the staff is loving it! (Garrett is 6'4" now and weighed 285 when admitted.) One of the nurses who took care of him the other night was a guy he used to go to school with. We really are blessed to have such wonderful caregivers.

My brother and family have just about staked their claim on a certain area of the waiting room. They leave their stuff underneath the chairs, and no one bothers it when they aren't there.  Those whose family members have "graduated" from Trauma ICU still come to check on Garrett's status and report on their own loved ones.  Everyone rejoices when another one gets to be "promoted" or discharged, and give encouragement when someone takes a step backwards. It's a little community all its own, there in the waiting room. A community of draftees, not volunteers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Body's Here, but the Heart is in Alabama

Thanks to all of you for your comments, and the prayers that I know are going on behind the scenes. I haven't read any blogs in a while now; I took my mini-computer with me so I could read them as I sat in the waiting room, but just couldn't keep focused.

Saturday night was a crisis; we called family in and at one time there were 15 of us sitting vigil in the waiting room. It was so heartbreaking and so stressful, but in the middle of all this, I was reminded of how much it means to have family and friends so close.  Having moved across the country so many years ago, the three of us--J-Man, DD and I--grew to be our own support group, our own entity. I'd forgotten how comforting it is to just sit with family and friends, united in a common concern.

Sunday afternoon was Jennifer's graveyard service, and a reporter friend of my brother's family had this to say about it:

It was a lovely service; the pastor was so positive and upbeat and brought several smiles to our faces. Afterwards we went back up to the hospital and socialized a bit. It was good to see everyone relaxing a bit.

Monday night I drove back home and got in about 1am Tues. morning.  Today we're in crisis mode again. That nasty stuff in Garrett's lungs is causing major problems. His heart and kidneys and all are fine; it's just the lungs.  I took my brother's dog to the vet on Saturday for a 2-week check-up on her broken paw, and he told me he's seeing the same thing with the animals that survived the tornados--a nasty pneumonia that just won't let go.  Heaven knows what was in those winds: fertilizer, fiberglass, asbestos, lead paint, rat droppings--could be anything.  Garrett's white count is extremely high, and his body is fighting it off as best as it can with the help of mucho antibiotics, but the right lung keeps filling up and has tried to collapse several times, so he now has 3 chest tubes in the right side alone, and one on the left.  He's maxed out on the ventilator, and they are running out of options.

We need a miracle here, God.  A genuine miracle. Do you hear me, God?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In Birmingham

I drove down to Birmingham to visit Garrett and my brother and family yesterday.  He's had a setback; is still on the ventilator and they have put him on total ventilator support to rest his lungs awhile.  So he is unaware of us or time passage for now, and making microsteps forward.

Yesterday, a local TV station interviewed my brother and ran a personal touch story about the tornado and its aftermath.  Here is the link if you're interested:

My brother's faith is strong, but everyone is having a hard time here. They're tired, riding the emotional rollercoaster, frustrated and still faced with the overwhelming everyday details of living.  Please continue to keep them all in your prayers.  Pray for strength, for rest, guidance and protection from illness for my brother, his wife, and his other son, as the two older have health problems already.

I'll post more later.

Thanks, friends.