Yesterday was a good day, but a rough day. With her off the ventilator, she was able to communicate with us a little bit – if we held our ear really close to her mouth we could hear “hot,” “water,” and “get the nurse.” However, she did get a bit overstimulated yesterday. She was fairly restless and agitated which is both good and bad. It’s good in that her body is waking up more, she’s becoming more alert, and she’s moving around some. It’s bad because she’s frustrated and scared, and the agitation made her heart rate and blood pressure get a little higher than we would like.
Today has been much calmer. She’s slept a lot of the day which has been good for her, and she doesn’t seem nearly as restless as she was yesterday. They took her down for another cat scan just to see how she’s progressing, so hopefully we’ll have those results this evening.
She got her first visit from the speech therapist today, and she’s doing well. She was able to say the days of the week for us, though it’s still really really quiet. The speech therapist also evaluates Mama for swallowing. Yesterday the nurse gave her an ice chip because she really wanted water badly, but she didn’t do so well with it (which was to be expected). The speech therapist tried again today and Mama did a lot better, but still not quite well enough to get the OK for regular ice chips. We’ll try again tomorrow and see how she does. We’re encouraging her to use her voice to get her strength back up.
We also told her a little bit about why she’s here. She knows that she fell and hit her head and had to have some surgery, but that everything went really well and that the doctors have nothing but good things to say about her progress. We don’t want to focus on that too much, but we also didn’t want her to feel anxious about being in the hospital without knowing why she is here.
Mama slept well throughout the night, and this morning the doctors decided to remove her ventilator! She was awake and answering some questions this morning by squeezing our fingers and nodding her head, and ever since they removed the tube she’s been sleeping. She still has not spoken. The occupational therapist said that her muscles are starting to get a little stiff, so we’ll be doing some new exercises with her this afternoon.
The surgery went well – it was actually a bit of a nonevent. She was gone for an hour, and when she came back she seemed to be as alert as she was when she left. All afternoon she continued to answer questions and follow us with her eyes, though it seemed like she couldn’t quite get comfortable. I suppose that’s a good thing, because she’s got more awareness with her body, but it was little frustrating for Bo and I because we never could quite figure out what was making her uncomfortable.
We have not seen a doctor since this morning, so perhaps we’ll have news about the ventilator tomorrow. Based on her movements today, I’m pretty sure she’s ready to get rid of that! All her vitals are good, and the swelling in her face and neck seem to have gone down a little tonight. She’s been sleeping pretty well since around 6pm or so – I hope she continues sleeping like this throughout the night so that she can get some good rest after so much movement today.
Last night was a quiet night – she woke up a couple of times and answered some questions for me by squeezing my hand, but mostly she just slept which was good for her. This morning she’s been very active – answering lots of questions, lifting her head for the doctor, lots of toe wiggles/thumbs up/hand squeezes. She’s been answering our questions by squeezing our fingers and also by nodding/shaking her head slightly.
About 10 minutes ago they wheeled her out to take her down to surgery to get the filter put in. The best guess estimate is that it’ll take about an hour to do the procedure, and then she’ll be back up in her room. The doctors have been very pleased with her progress this morning, and if all goes well in surgery today and she continues like she has been, they’re hopeful that they can remove the ventilator soon.
This afternoon they did an ultrasound on both of her arms to determine why they had started swelling. The results were that she has some blood clots in both arms because of the inactivity (they have these sleeves that regularly massage the legs, so her legs are just fine).
First thing in the morning they will take her to surgery to install a filter in the main artery that feeds her heart which will keep the clots from entering her heart. They’ll go in through a vein, so they won’t need to cut her open. The nurse doesn’t think that this should slow down the “waking up” process, but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how she does.
She hasn’t been very active this evening, but she was so active this morning and has had a big day with the ultrasound and such, so we’re thinking she’s probably just worn out. When I came in the room, I did ask her to squeeze my hand, and she did so very faintly (not nearly as strongly as she did with Bo and Daddy this morning), so I think she knows I’m here, but she’s just too tired to perform for me! I’ll be staying the night in her room, so I’ll try talking to her again in the morning before she goes down to surgery.
We’ve had an exciting morning! Around 5:30 Bo (who was staying in Mama’s room for the night) heard the nurse trying to talk to Mama, so he went over to her bed. Her eyes were open! He said that she held his hand, and that when she heard him talking she tried to turn her head to look at him. Her eyes aren’t really focusing on him, but she clearly knew he was standing beside the bed.
Then, when the doctor came in this morning, he was able to get a thumbs up from her on her right side, and she held up two fingers for him on that same side. Her thumb quivered on the left side, but there wasn’t as clear a reaction. Daddy said that her left arm and hand are starting to swell a little, so they’re paying attention to those to see what’s going on. She also raised her arm again, and she wiggled her toes. The nurse told Daddy that once she gets to this point, things usually start to progress a little more quickly, so yay!
The doctor asked Daddy if Mama likes coffee, which she absolutely does. At first he suggested that Daddy go get a cup of coffee, that sometimes the smell helps wake people up. Then he actually changed his mind and he put in an order for a cup of coffee with the nurse and actually had her give Mama some coffee through her feeding tube! She didn’t really have a reaction to that, but I still find it really funny!
They’ve removed the EEG and they gave her the last dose of the old anti-seizure medication this morning, though it may take a day or so for it to get out of her system. She’s on the new anti-seizure medication now. The occupational therapist is still encouraged by her range of motion. I’m leaving in the next 1/2 hour or so to drive to Jacksonville, so I’ll update again once I see her tonight!
Mama didn’t respond to any commands today, but she did move quite a bit. She seems to be having a lot of involuntary responses to people talking and to the exercises that the occupational therapist is working her through. He again mentioned how her range of motion has improved.
Today they gave her a feeding tube, though they haven’t started using it yet. The nutritionist is supposed to come by in the morning to determine what they need to be feeding her. They’re also in the process of changing her anti-seizure medication to a different kind. It’s possible that the current anti-seizure medication is preventing her from waking up, so they’re going to see if changing it helps her wake up.
Today Bo drove back down to Jacksonville, and he’s staying with her tonight. I’ll drive back down tomorrow and stay with her tomorrow night.
Not much to report this morning. We’re expecting a visit from the neurosurgeon this afternoon, so perhaps there will be an update then. This morning they’re noticing a bit more symmetry in her involuntary movements – she’d previously been moving around a lot more with her right arm and leg, but now we’re seeing her left side moving almost as much as her right side.
Since the right side of her brain is the side with the air around her brain and all the swelling in her face, it makes sense that her left side wouldn’t be moving around as much (since the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body). So the fact that she’s got more equal movement is encouraging. The occupational therapist is also noticing some good improvement in her range of motion all over her body. They drew some more blood to test (they’re not looking for anything in particular, just making sure they haven’t missed anything), so perhaps we’ll hear results this afternoon on that as well.
Thanks so much to everyone for your support, thoughts, and prayers. We so much appreciate reading your comments here on this blog!
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. They decided to hook her up to the EEG again, though we haven’t heard anything from the doctor as to what they’re seeing. They did some bloodwork today and everything came back fine, and they x-rayed her chest to monitor for pneumonia, and that was fine as well. Daddy was able to ask her to raise each of her arms and she did, though that was the only other movement we got a response on today. Hopefully she’ll rest well and be able to do more tomorrow!
The occupation therapist has given Daddy some exercises to do with Mama to help her move her fingers, work her legs, etc. This morning while Daddy was doing these exercises, he noticed her eyelid flutter a little bit. So he stopped and asked her to squeeze his finger. She was able to do this once with her right hand, though she didn’t repeat it. She also wiggled her big toe when he asked her too. The neurologist gave her some commands when he came in this morning, but she didn’t do much for him. When he asked her to open her eyes, she didn’t, but when he held open her eyes for her, she did follow his finger with her eye. So, small steps, but this is the most we’ve seen from her yet!