Greetings from the ICU of Good Samaritan Hospital. Louise has had a good day so far on one of the days that was supposed to be the worst. This morning about 8 am they woke her up. They took her off all sedation with the hope of testing her to make sure she could come off of the respirator. She passed all of the tests even though she had a hard time puffing for cancer (you old timers who have followed the blog from the beginning would understand that). Anyway, they found that her lungs were strong enough to breathe on their own so they took the respirator out about 10 am and she has done fine breathing ever since.
Since she couldn't talk with the respirator in we had no idea if she had any voice at all. One of the problems with this type of surgery is that they often times damage the nerve of the larynx and the patient becomes hoarse or loses her voice. Louise does not talk loudly when she speaks but she sounds like she has her complete voice back and won't even be hoarse. Yay!!
When she had the respirator in we had fun trying to communicate with each other. She tried to say things moving her lips and expected me to understand. I couldn't even see her lips through all of the pipes, let alone try to read them. So she would do feeble hand motions. I would just laugh. So I did all of the talking for a while. I told her how blessed she was, how the surgery only lasted 3 hours and was totally successful. I told her about all of the people of the world who were interested and how we spent the afternoon and evening answering calls and getting the word out. I told her how my parents, sister Marti, George Reeves and later sister Barbara came to be with me and Kelsey and Katie in the waiting room and how our dear neighbor Lea came all the way from Scottsdale to bring us a basket of goodies to eat while we waited. Tears welled up in her eyes when she heard of all of these things and of many more well wishers who called and commented.
After I had her write her questions on paper, we could communicate so much better. Can any of you imagine Louise being speechless? Forget the pain and the other frustrations, not being able to speak was the most difficult.
So then when she finally could speak, Brian, Katie and I had a real fun time talking with her. Being on pain-killer narcotics she said some funny things. She said how glad she was to be on drugs. She kept telling us that she had had surgery and we shouldn't forget that. She asked at least 6 times what day it was and when was Brady going to come visit. Some of her humor was intentional but some was intoxication. We all laughed including her and that was so good to see on a difficult day.
They have actually eliminated several tubes and drains and slowly she will get to the point where she is down to maybe only 5 or 6 that she has to drag around with her when she walks. They are planning to get her up to sit in a chair and maybe walk in another hour.
I watched them change all of her dressings so I could see all of her scars. Yikes again! Her neck wound was not 2 inches, more like 4 inches long. Her abdomen scar seemed like almost 12 inches (from breastbone to past the naval). But they looked very good. I sure can't staple anything that straight. As they have reduced her pain medicine, she has felt pain but not horrible. She received a blessing that her pain would not be unbearable and so far it hasn't been. Just as I write this she is having quite a bit of pain where her chest tube (that looks like a garden hose)is connected. However, I am very encouraged and pleased by her progress today.
To close this today, let me tell you one more very interesting side notes. Debbie might kill me for saying something but I don't care. Louise has a best friend (she is our whole family's best friend). She lives in the Newport Beach area and spends time every year with us at the beach. She also came and stayed with us in September and was the nurse for Louise for a week. You have seen her comments in the blog under Deborah or Debbie. Well a few weeks ago she called to let us know that the doctors had found a 4-inch cancerous tumor on her kidney. She had to have her kidney and the tumor removed by surgery soon. She had her surgery yesterday at the very same time as Louise at the UCLA medical center. They were successful in removing the tumor and the kidney and she seems to be recovering well. What a coincidence for these good friends to have cancer surgery at the exact same time. Good luck Debbie in your recovery. Our prayers are with you!