As I walked in to Louise's room this morning I saw two things I had not seen in a week's time. First I saw a big smile on her pretty face and second I saw her drinking water through a straw. She was so happy. I first thought she had found some naive nurse that she convinced that she could have water and she got it. But then she convinced me that the speech pathologist cleared her to drink. They started her on ice chips but let her graduate to water. I think she wanted to drink a gallon but she did take it slow. Later she had a sprite and drank it all very quickly. You would think that she had crawled across the Sahara for 5 days looking for water, the way she guzzled.
Last night she discovered that the little sponge sticks drenched in water to moisten her mouth could hold quite a bit of water. So she had me running back and forth to the sink to get more water for her lollipop sponge so she could have water. Desperate people do funny things sometimes.
Also last night they started her on her feeding tube nourishment feeding. This feeding tube is connected directly to her intestines right below her stomach. She has now been on it for 24 hours with it dripping 30 cc's of nourishment into her system. They have monitored it and I think her intestines and bowels are responding and waking up again. So that is also very encouraging.
Then, this evening they brought her a 5 course meal. She ate clear broth, green Relief Society jello, grape juice, grape icey slush and water (she turned down the tea). It was so good to see her eating everything. She couldn't eat as big of bites of jello before her surgery. It wouldn't go down. This did!! Half of the jello made it to the towel under her tray because she is so out of practice in shoveling food to her mouth, that she missed half the time. Anyway, I really think her new esopha/stomach is going to let her eat everything. She did have some coughing attacks while she drank and ate today but I really do think she is learning to swallow all over again with her new plumbing. Her eating and drinking today certainly made her merry. I can't tell you how excited she was, as well as all of the rest of us.
Today she slept the least that she has. She had more determination to sit in the chair and walk. Those are the keys to faster recovery. She sat for two different sessions in a chair for over an hour each time. She walked four laps and then two laps. She walked fast. No shuffles. She felt some real exhaustion from so much activity. I have to say that today she probably felt the most pain that she has since she has been here. The two big tubes in her side, to drain her chest are still in and are still draining a lot of liquid. They are giving her a lot of pain. Also her back seems to never be comfortable. So she has had quite a bit of pain killers. I think when the surgeon changed all of her plumbing around, he forgot to cap off certain pipes in her chest area. It seems the IV liquid goes from one bag on the pole to another container on the floor via Louise's body. They keep promising to take these drains out soon. She still has several other belly drains that are smaller and don't hurt but are still draining fluids. The only tube she lost today was the oxygen tube to her nose. Her breathing continues to improve.
Some of you have wondered how long she will be in the hospital. Before surgery they told us about 10 days. That would make it Wednesday of next week. I can't tell you if that will be the date of release or not. She hasn't even been released from ICU yet. But I think that will be soon. If she is released next Wednesday, our daughter Emily is flying in from Utah to be her home nurse from Thursday through Sunday. My sister Nancy is coming from California to take care of her from Monday, Jan. 18th through Friday. The following week my sister Marti, who lives in Gilbert will take care of her mornings and Kelsey afternoons. We are hoping that will get us through January at the Lippizan hospital with the best care. What about me you might ask? I think I will be on a cruise somewhere in the Bahamas. This hospital work I'm doing has convinced me that my post retirement profession will not be a nurse. I'm tired.
With that, I will close and try to go home and get a little sleep.