Sitting here in Joanne's room. The lights are very low and all is calm. It is my favorite time of day at the hospital because it is quiet and feels peaceful. Joanne is constantly attended to by a nurse (she has her very own) who moves quietly around the room checking on vitals, updating charts, administering medications, drawing blood for lab work, etc. It is amazing the attention she is getting here.
The only other noises are the ones from the machines that are keeping her alive. One of them, her ventilator, sounds a little like Darth Vader breathing. There are other hums, and low buzzes but somehow they are reassuring because I know they are doing for Joanne what she can't do for herself right now.
This morning the swelling in Joanne's brain was at a critical level--my understanding is that a normal pressure is below 10. Her's was at 37. We spent a couple hours with doctors, seeking the counsel. Obviously we have asked them to exhaust every medical measure that they can and were assured that they have. So what does that look like?
Right now Joanne is in a deep, medical coma as a result of being given high doses of a paralytic. She actually started the paralytic last night but the nurse told me tonight that sometimes it takes a while for the benefit to kick in--which at this point it appears to be doing.
She has an EEG on her head and it is showing no brain activity. Strange as sounds it's actually a good thing. We want her brain completely at rest with no stimulation whatsoever. She is also being "dried out." She is on heavy doses of saline to pull liquid out of her brain and has also been given lasics that should also dry her out. There is a balancing act here because we can completely dehydrate her, but we need to get the excess fluid out of her brain.
Another thing: they are keeping her temperature very low, right around 94 degrees. Again, the cold leads to decreased swelling. Strangely she doesn't feel cold to the touch.
Two great encouragements today: our immediate family are all in absolute and total agreement about Joanne's treatment. This unity is one of my greatest prayers and encouragements. Joanne's dad was extremely helpful today in bringing clarity to our discussion and was the most clear headed of us all as we talked to a number of doctors. I think God for dad, mom, and Kristen and can tell you that we are all, in some way or another, holding each other up in this process. To say that I would be utterly lost without them is an gross understatement. Special thanks to Wade (my brother in law) for jumping is with Audrey and Emma so that the family could be together here today and over the last week. He is a constant encouragement to me.
The other good news is that the coma and other measures appear to be working. Her pressure is down significantly from where it was which is an absolute answer to the prayers of so many of you. Now we just need to keep that pressure down.
We are in a marathon--this process will not be a short or easy one. there will continue to be signs of hope and other of utter despair. The prayer is that over time the good stuff starts to outweigh the bad stuff--still waiting for that to happen.
We are on a roller coaster with blindfolds on. We go up and down and side to side at a dizzying, sickening rate without the ability to anticipate any of it.
And finally, there are a few dear friends and family that are walking with us. My parents have been a great source of care and encouragement, and there are others who are in that inner circle with us, protecting us, nurturing us, praying for us. You know who you are and you have to know that what you are doing is a blessing beyond measure.
And then there are all of you who are praying. I am still in awe when I see the shear numbers on the blog, fb and twitter of people all over the world that are lifting Joanne up. It is truly overwhelming (in a good way).
1. That in God's time Joanne would wake up. It will be impossible to tell the extend of her brain damage until she comes to. I can't tell you how I desire to look into her brown eyes again!
2. Audrey and Emma will be returning to Denver Christian school on Wednesday after having spent the last year and a half in home school. They are understandably nervous but I have the utmost confidence that they will be received lovingly. I can't think of a better environment for them.
3. Audrey and Emma are going to have to process through all of this. At this point they aren;t asking many questions or wanting to talk much at all about what is going on. The know mom's brain is hurt that she is asleep and that she won't get better for a long, long time. My prayer is that when they are ready to talk about it that they will feel safe and supported.