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.


julieQ said...

I am glad to hear of the improvement! You have eloquently summarized what we do too in my CCU...pray, and care...and there really is a community in the waiting room!

Lynda said...

Thanks for the updates. He's still in our prayers and we look forward to hearing he is doing better and better.

Finn said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you Stephanie, for your nephew and for the entire family. Hard to be the position of knowing what is what, but unable to step in and help. My prayers for a full recovery. Hugs, Finn

audreypawdrey said...

I am glad to hear an update, and I will continue to keep you and Garrett in my prayers! I know it has to be hard to not be there while this is going on.

Pokey said...

We've been in those situations when it's nice to know someone who understands the medical terms, and you are an encouragement to your family, Stephanie. I'm still praying for that miracle, slim as it seems at times. Blessings, and hugs ~ pokey

MightyMom said...

God Bless your famiy Steph.

and yes, nurses are nurses, no matter what.