Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010

Upon taking her into surgery today, the doctors were both shocked and amazed. Mom's tendons have nearly covered themselves with tissue completely. All of her previous donor sites are healed. The Engenex (negative pressure machines) on her legs have inspired another 30 percent of healing on top of the 50 from my last update just from Monday. They no longer have to graft the elbow sections of her arms that were open to the joint as she has healed them naturally. They plan to leave the Engenex on her legs for another two weeks and then graft.

I cannot thank all of the Maricopa Burn Center staff enough for their support throughout our journey. They are all wonderfully dedicated and compassionate people. Mom's primary doctor and Chief Surgeon Doctor Caruso and Resident Dr. Machado have been absolutely instrumental in saving our Mom. There is no possible way that we could even begin to repay them for all of their time and dedication to Mom's health and well-being throughout her treatment. I would not hesitate for a second in referring anyone to the Maricopa Burn Center.

Dr. Caruso is also adamant in sighting that God has had an overwhelmingly powerful hand in Mom's healing process and her progress is near short of a miracle. Her strength and love of life has brought her through all of this and will take her much much further. We have a road in front of us but, with her continued persistence and ability to shock us all, we will be skipping across the mud-flats in Cholla in no time at all.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010

Just as she has done from the beginning, Mom continues to shock us all with her amazing strength. Yesterday she wrote her name, my sister's, and mine on a sheet of paper along with her infamous lady bug.  Fo a woman with severely damaged digits, her handwriting was incredible. If there was ever any doubt that she could beat all of this and work past the handicaps that she may experience, it has dissolved into her will power and determination. 

The doctors replaced the negative pressure machines on Monday and are very confident in the progress that is being made to re-grow leg tissue. They are also giving her steroids to help with vocal improvement especially in light of the swelling that her pneumonia causes in her throat. They plan to evaluate her legs on Thursday and proceed from there. 

Both my younger sister Savannah and my Dad have spent everyday with her talking and helping her to rebuild muscle strength. She continues to be inspirational to us all in spite of the obstacles that she is facing.  We, as a family, would like to wish everyone a joyous New Year filled with the love and compassion that only a family can provide.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 24, 2010

Mom is on her way to the pool today!!! She slept for six hours last night, though not all necessarily restful, she is still having strange dreams that are no doubt a result of the medications that she is taking. The physical therapists will be working with her in the pool over the course of the next two days to get her a bit more limbered up from having been in bed for the vast majority of the last three months. 

The doctors plan to put her negative pressure machines back on this coming Monday. Though the doctors are giving her a break from the more traumatic surgical and tissue building procedures, the physical therapists now have their turn to run the show. Mom is an absolute trooper through all of this as she is constantly on the go trying to get stronger and get out of the hospital. She has spent the last few days up in the tilt table and on her Cadillac chair. We had a few spare minutes, while she was on the Cadillac to paint her toes so that she could be festive for Christmas like everyone else. She still tires very quickly but pushes through it so that she can continue to progress.

Her days are far from routine, but they do become monotonous as each day is filled with therapy, bandage changing, splinting, vocal exercise, skin therapy, and vital checks. She is incredibly strong willed, as we all know, and takes all of this in stride. She has even managed to maintain her wonderful sense of humor through everything. The nurses were discussing a lack of ski equipment for their upcoming trip just outside Mom's room a few days ago and he heard their conversation. When they came into the room she told them that she has an extra ski boot that they can have since she would only be needing one :) . She has no problem smiling through even her most hectic days. She also has no problem scolding people as my younger sister knows very well as does my uncle Loren. He came to visit last weekend and, upon entering her room, was asked: "Why aren't you at work!?" fortunately for Loren, it was a Saturday and once that bit of information was cleared up, he was no longer in trouble for fussing over her rather than being at the office. 

We all wish every single one of you a very Merry Christmas. Be mindful of family and safety over this wonderful holiday as you travel to be together. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010

Again I have to apologize for my lack of posts over the last week. Mom has done so well in that time and has managed to impress her doctors and physical therapists with her progress. Just as we all knew would happen, Mom is awake and ready to get out and about as soon as possible. She is off of dialysis and has been for several days. Her kidneys are functioning very well at this point as are her joints.

The grafting that was done over her entire right arm has taken completely which, in and of itself, is a shock. Her hand specialist is very impressed with her mobility and the state of her hands so far. They removed the pins early this week and she is still able to wiggle her fingers independently and is currently working very hard to get them functioning as closely to normal as possible though we are several months away from an acceptable range.

She has been up on the tilt table standing and in the chair beside her bed for several hours over the last two days. The doctors have spoken with her and let her know that if she can get moving and work hard to get healthy she will get to leave the hospital much sooner. Just as we would expect of Mom, she is determined to hold her doctors to their word. Though she does tire quickly, she has continued to push herself so that she can rebuild her strength. She exercises her hands and tries to talk so that her vocal cords can stretch and strengthen her voice. In rebuilding her strength she has also shown incredible range of motion considering the fact that she had been sedated for close to three months.

They plan to put the negative pressure machines back on her legs over the next few days and leave them on for around two weeks so that the tissue on her legs can build up making them more fleshed out before grafting over her legs. They are happy with the tissue that has grown to protect her knee joints so far but are hoping for more with continued use of the negative pressure machines.

We have received our Christmas present early this year and could not have asked for a more special gift. Our entire family would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hopes that the new year brings you the faith and miracles that we have been given over the last few months.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 16, 2010

Today turned out was yet another amazing day of progress. They moved Mom further down the hall into a room with a window so that she can distinguish between day and night to help with her sleeping habits. They changed her trach early this morning and have given her a Fenestrated trach tube so that she can both breath and talk. She is a long way away from her normal voice but, slowly, she will progress from her current airy whisper to her normal voice. The nurses also reported that her kidneys processed some fluid on their own last night so hopefully we are on the road to increasing kidney function.

Dad and I put up her decorations and pictures in her new room for a few hours today while talking with her. She asked questions periodically but was pretty worn out from having confused day with night and the rather rigorous bandage change she has everyday. The doctors will be coming in sometime tomorrow afternoon to check all of her wounds and make sure that the new grafting is still holding well.

Mom wishes everyone a  merry Christmas and we will continue to pray that her kidneys and grafting progress and that she will be home just as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010

Mom's surgery went well today. They cleaned her from top to bottom, grafted her right arm fully, put the negative pressure machines back on, and reduced the size of her tracheotomy tube. They are quite convinced that, if these new grafts will take, she will be on road home. The doctors plan to leave her alone until the end of the month and then evaluate the progress of her legs to see if she is ready for grafting.

Over the next few days we will have to keep a close eye on her as she has a tendency to squirm about quite a bit and be pretty "feisty" as the nurses have said. The right side of her body needs to remain very rigid so that the grafts can take fully so there will definitely need to be conversations with her about getting too wild and absolutely no right arm waving.

They all of said that she is incredibly strong willed and blessed from above. With some of her cooperation and tons of support, we will get her going just as fast as she is ready for.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13, 2010

Today was filled with huge leaps in progress. Though we are still in fear of bacteria spread from Mom's lungs, she was up and about today. They put her in a chair so that she could sit up, which made her much more comfortable and even led to a few smiles. She remained off of the respirator for the majority of the day as well.

After having spent the morning with Dad at her side, she had a wonderful afternoon communicating with her nurses and family. With the help of my best friend Megan and aunt Cheryl, Mom was able to communicate some of her concerns. They were able to talk about Christmas and, with a bit of guesswork, realize that Mom was concerned about the gifts that she had stashed in her office for everyone and the cookies that need to be made for the Jim Witt Mechanical (our family business') Christmas baskets. This is a mind frame that only a true mother could have in such circumstances. More specifically, a mind frame that only my Mom could have.

She asked about everyone and quite obviously misses all of us. She was able to laugh and find humor in even her own mistakes and cuddle a bit with dad when she felt insecure. She was a bit scared this evening, of what exactly we are unsure, but Dad sat beside her and let her lean against him until she could calm down and fall in to a more restful state. With only our short phone conversation is was obvious that this bit of consolation that he could finally offer Mom was an absolute relief to him. Finally having the chance to help her in any way will be a gift from God in and of itself.  Overall, it was a wonderful day that will hopefully set the tone for the days to come. With our support, constant acknowledgement of her strength and dedication, and some serious anti-bacterial soap, she is bound for further progress.

She is set to go into surgery sometime tomorrow (Tuesday) to finish grafting her right arm. We can continue to pray that she is squeaky clean and that all goes well so that she can heal quickly and get back to moving and miming for us all.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11, 2010

My Dad (as he does everyday), sister, Jeremy, and I went to visit Mom today. Both her blood pressure and temperature were stable all day. She was able to rest for small periods when fluids and machines weren't being changed but, was very alert overall. She is able to move her arms and legs quite readily when she wishes or is requested to.  Savannah and I talked to her for quite a while and as we were leaving we had the most lucid response that either of us have seen from her since the accident. It is amazing how special even mouthing the words, "I love you"  can be. The next important move other than the acceptance of further grafting is the full function of her kidneys. The quicker she can function on her own, the better she will be in the future.She still has a very long and painful road to follow but with her famous determination and our love we can all beat this.

Dad is healing well though he finds physical therapy to be challenging. Just so that all is clear to those of you who read the blog avidly, Dad is living in Mesa about ten minutes from the hospital. He is also receiving treatment through outpatient therapy and visits Mom several times throughout the day. My blog is generally based upon the information that he shares of Mom's progress so that my sister and I can convey it to all of our wonderful and caring friends and family.

As a side note today, I would also ask that you keep my two year old niece Bailey in your prayers. She has her own battles, even at such a young age, with kidney function and currently a blown ear drum as a result of an infection. I ask for your prayers for her sake and because my Mom would ask your focus to be put on this little angel rather than herself if she were given the chance.

Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for all of your support.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9, 2010

Thank you all so very much for your positive encouragement. It is unbelievably inspiring to know how small the world can be when people are in need. We wish you all the most wonderful holidays.

Though the surgery was not quite as productive as we had hoped, baby steps may be a better plan of action. Patience is a virtue that we must all develop during this process. They did not finish grafting her right arm as the donor sites had not healed as much as they had hoped. The doctors plan to wait it out for a few more days with twice daily bandage changes to ensure cleanliness and progress. They are currently trying to establish a middle ground with the new pain medication that they are administering but, all considered, she is much more stable than she was this time three weeks ago.

Though we have prayed fiercely, deep down in my heart, I know that Mom has done so well because of her will to live. She is the light of so many lives. Throughout my life alone I have seen her do nothing but inspire and challenge people to rise to their strengths and face life head on. She has devoted her life to caring and loving everyone. It is not only my sisters and I that she lives for, It is for herself. She is facing adversity and pushing through it daily because she wants to.

December 9, 2010

According to the nurse early this morning, Mom had a very good night. Her blood pressure was finally stable in comparison to the lows that we have been seeing for the past few days. She is set for surgery today to cover the section of her right arm that had been covered in cadaver skin last week and was taken off. The nurse also reported that she was trying to move around quite a bit more on her own which, I have to say, is inspiring. I am sure that she would love to jump up and run out of the hospital at this point.

She must know that all of her kids are wishing and praying for a miracle this Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6, 2010

As much as it pains me to have to say this, I have to retract a bit of the good news this morning due to some miscommunication. Mom's lung x-rays have improved, however, her lung cultures are still showing growth. Whatever bacteria that has managed to make camp there is not leaving easily. The doctors have made an executive decision to pull her off of the antibiotic and see how her own immune system tackles the issue. Removal from the lung antibiotic is also necessary as it is not helping to get rid of the bacteria though it is still very damaging to her kidneys. We need to pray that she continues to be tough and that her body has some better ideas as far as her lungs are considered.

Thank you all so very much for your prayer and concern.

December 6, 2010

In comparison to the last few grafting procedures, Mom is still doing well. We did have a scare on Saturday evening as her temperature rose over 104 and the nurses were forced to remove the negative pressure machines from her legs and put her back on dialysis. Her response in this manner is thought to be a partial result of overstimulation throughout Saturday's visiting hours. Mom misses and loves all of us very much I am sure but, we have to keep in mind that she is incredibly fragile both physically and mentally at this point in her healing process. While she can still have visitors, we must keep it down to a minimum until she is completely stable. Visitation will become absolutely crucial when she reaches a point where she is completely grafted and awake and will want company and uplifting. This is often the greatest concern over weekends as it is the most convenient time to visit, however, we need to be conscious of her well-being above all else and make sure that we are only an aid to her healing.

She has managed to bounce back a bit from Saturday after they gave her a few units of blood to stabilize her pulse and covered her with ice blankets. Her grafts are still sustaining, which is an absolute miracle as we have had so much issue with their adherence. The doctors also confirmed yesterday evening that her cultures are continuing to come back clean with the new inclusion of her lung culture. Yes, this means that we are breaking the lines of the pneumonia battle front. According to the nurses report this morning, she had a good night and they have decorated her room for Christmas!!!

We hope you all have wonderful holidays and continue to pray if for no other reason than to be thankful for the miracles that we are all given everyday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2, 2010

The surgery went very well. They began by evaluating her through their cleaning process and reported that her tissue was healthy. The doctors were able to put the negative pressure vacuums on both legs so that they will inspire tissue growth to improve the overall appearance of her legs prior to grafting. Her previous donor sites are healing well, excluding one small section in the crease of her upper thigh were took some skin from her back ad grafted over it.

They were able to rebuild her right hand with her own skin and were very happy with the end result. They have used a section of cadaver skin putting a 1/2" gap between it and her own healthy skin and completing all but that small section of her right arm. They have made such spacial precautions so that in the event she rejects the cadaver skin, her healed skin will not be contaminated. Her left arm is entirely covered with her own skin now as well as her chest.

They will be taking her bandages off early (most likely Friday) so that they can catch any sign of rejection early without her general traumatic response. If all is still well on Friday, they will leave her until the following Thursday where they will take her back into surgery to graft her own skin in the place of the cadaver skin.

As of 5am this morning she was still doing very well. Her pulse was fully maintained and as reported by the nurse....she smiled. I hope this post has given you all as much hope as it has to our family. The strong will prevail. Please continue in prayer with us that she will bypass rejection and completely adapt to her new skin so that she can be on the clean and clear road to recovery.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1, 2010

Due to emergency surgeries that took precedence yesterday, Mom's surgery was pushed to this morning. They are set to take her in a 9am for a six hour surgery. There plan is to replace the negative pressure machines in order to better prepare her legs for grafting so that they are smoother and will have a better tissue base beneath future grafts. They will also use her back as a donor site for the skin that they will be grafting over her left arm and the remainder of her chest.

She has done much better over the last few days and had continued to maintain blood pressure and all vitals without having to be given blood or stabilizers. She was very awake in comparison to what we normally see yesterday. Dad went in to look through her doorway yesterday morning and noticed that she was staring up at the ceiling. He called out to her and she actually turned her head and looked out at him in the doorway. When she focused on him her pulse shot up so he had to go and throw a gown and mask on to go and stand by her. She calmed down quickly as he began to talk but, obviously, there was a definite response. This one particular action is such that my Dad has been hoping for over the last few months. It is amazing how we come to cherish the smallest actions in times of strain and desperation.

We pray that all goes smoothly today and the days to come so that we can avoid the plummeting sensation that is normally felt days after surgery and, instead, be overjoyed by the blessings that we receive in her recovery.