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  • allenclabo 11:08 pm on July 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Sunday quick update 

    I will break my media day of rest with a quick listing of events – no stories or anything…

    • dialysis stopped – it was helpful in removing some fluid

    • lasix started – kidneys producing well so far – will continue to increase this to maximize output – it will still take a long time to get off all the fluid, but maybe the kidneys are working – keep praying

    • heart still doing well – one more heart med removed today – praise the Lord! That is specific progress –

    • she is no longer using the bipap machine to breathe – she still seems to be laboring to breathe, but that is better today

    • probably will not have the pacemaker procedure tomorrow – we’ll let you know when it’s rescheduled

    • I was reminded today that God is faithful and His faithfulness is new every morning; that many people are praying and understand the journey we are on; and that God truly is a helper when there is no other help!

    Good night!

  • allenclabo 6:28 pm on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant Day 7, Saturday, 7/11/15 

    So today is the 6th day with Tami’s new heart. She made amazing progress on Tuesday (Day 2 of the new heart) waking up and get the breathing tube out and having some meds removed and reduced. And we sort of got spoiled that that was the “normal” rate of recovery. We have been reminded several times since then – by friends who have been through a heart transplant and recovery and by the circumstances and details of Tami’s recovery – that one really good day can be followed by several where progress forward is either stopped or very slow. We know now – by experience, which is better than just having heard it before – that this truly is a long, long, long process and that forward progress is more likely in baby steps than in leaps and bounds. In addition, that there is no set schedule for Tami’s new heart to begin getting along with her lungs, kidneys, and everything else (although those two, which are also pretty important, seem to be having the hardest time so far). And I was reminded today, too, that just like the HepC was not a surprise to God and just like the transplant call was exactly in God’s time and just like everything in Tami’s life has shown that God has gone before her to prepare her and to prepare the way for a heart transplant, in the same way God has designed Tami’s entire body, including her lungs and kidneys, and God is neither troubled nor surprised that this is where we are. He already knows the end because He is God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow – the victory is already ours, but we still have to walk to it – and He knows when and how this will work out, exactly in His time and not in ours.

    Now I may start blogging differently for a while. I have realized that the blog of past hospital visits has typically been “we’re here – we’re having something done – we’re waiting – we’re going home” – sort of a “something’s happening every day that’s significant and everything is leading to an end that is in sight” approach – a story that’s short because the end is soon (“soon” in the real-world, not in the hospital sense :-) ). Well, that’s not exactly how this recovery is going to be – yes, every day is important, and, yes, I want to keep everyone current about how to pray, but there may not be much to tell every single day. So, if for some reason the blog is short or even missing sometimes, just keep praying – God knows your heart and He knows what Tami’s heart needs whether I give you a list or not. When there is something specific, I’ll definitely let you know. If not, stay where you were praying already, keep praying it, circle it (some of you know well what I mean by that!). [I won’t pontificate here, but we do like flitting around from one prayer request to another, don’t we, instead of praying until God answers.] Furthermore, I spend more than an hour most nights writing the blog – normally after we are back at the hotel, exhausted and already well past a sensible bedtime (today I am working on it all day since it’s Saturday and there really isn’t much going on :-) ). Shorter and occasionally omitted blogs will also help me get the sleep that I need to keep caring for Tami for the next long while. Thanks for understanding.

    So, today…breathing some better – more regular, slightly deeper, especially when she is sleeping and also when wearing the BiPAP machine. She doesn’t like the machine, but now she asks for it since it does help her breathe. The respiratory team can’t believe she asks for it since her oxygen and CO2 levels are fine. Dialysis is continuing – they increased twice today the amount of fluid they are taking off – it can’t be too fast, but it has to stay well ahead of the amount of IV fluids she is getting all the time, and she definitely has a lot of excess fluid now. The heart numbers are stable – no news with that – still anticipate a pacemaker to be implanted on Monday. The only real news is that the preliminary report is that the heart is showing no rejection! Yaay! Praise the Lord again!!

    But with more time to think – not to say we aren’t exhausted after 15 hours on our feet and the emotional roller coaster of the hospital experience – the Lord has been reminding to me to trust Him and has been reminding me of some truths in Scripture – so I end today with the verses that I am reminded of – many of which say (appropriately) to wait and to be still and that God’s got this. :-)

    “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17

    “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

    Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14

    “…be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5b

    “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philipians 1:6

    and, of course,

    “[He] is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think [or imagine]” Ephesians 3:20

    • Gail Garrison 7:48 pm on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hoping you will find rest for your body and spirit. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. I know that Tami has lots and lots of caregivers but she needs you by her side. Prayers for rest tonight and tomorrow.

  • allenclabo 11:07 pm on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant Day 6 – Friday, 7/10/15 

    Crazy up and down day today here at Duke. The other thing we have learned about time at the hospital is that there is no schedule. There is no day or night, soon just means it hasn’t happened yet, no just means not now but soon.

    Quick summary – we were up late last night and very early this morning, and the exhaustion has caught up with me and Alexander.

    Long story short, she did eventually have a right heart cath and a heart biopsy (that’s one procedure). No results yet, but no reason to be concerned about either as of now. The long story (sort of)…procedure scheduled for morning some time, but Tami can’t lay flat for ~2 hours for the procedure and recovery, so we’ll put it off…but no, if we do this and that and have a backup plan, well, we’ll do it anyway (about a 5 hour episode there…)

    Dialysis machine worked fine overnight, but clotted this morning – restart it, but, no, she’s having a procedure, but, no, she’s not so restart it just in time to decide that she is having it after all. Same 5 hours… Restarted normally this afternoon and the doctors are pleased with the progress so far removing fluid. It seems too slow to us, especially given how much fluid she gets through IVs, but everyone says don’t do it too quickly…

    BiPAP machine to help breathing is helping some. Breathing isn’t so labored all the time now. Tami is frustrated at having to use this a good bit and that she is still having so much trouble breathing. I can’t imagine – it’s got to be hard when even breathing is a chore – and for Tami right now, that’s the case a lot.

    Heart seems to be doing better with some fluid relief and filtering by the dialysis. CVP number that should be <10 and has been 25-30, was down to <10 all morning and in the low teens the rest of the day. Very good heart news.

    The cardiologist is pleased – he said he is sorry there are so many machines in the room (BiPAP, dialysis, IVs), but most of the extra stuff is not  heart related, it’s about getting the kidneys working and helping them to work and waiting for all that – underneath, the new heart is working great.

    Well, there is still the issue that the new doesn’t have its own rhythm. It seems almost certain that Tami will get a pacemaker on Monday.

    Gotta go to sleep – an hour past my goal for tonight –

    • Sharon/Cecil. 7:45 am on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Still praying and believing God is in control! Hope you all have a better day today.

    • campbellscorner2014 10:06 am on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Allen, I pray that you were able to rest. I woke up this morning praying for Tami, before I moved a muscle.
      Love, Carmen

  • allenclabo 12:33 am on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant Day 5 – final update 

    The only final note is that the dialysis/filtration (I’ll get technical some other day) was started around 10:30 tonight. No problem getting Tami set up and going. She asked the dialysis nurse how long it would be until she felt a difference, and she said about 6 hours. She said by morning Tami should feel like a new person! Pray that’s the case. And pray for her as she has the heart biopsy at some point tomorrow. She seemed concerned tonight and wanted everyone to know that this is a serious move (the dialysis), even though it’s not uncommon during the post-transplant recovery. Which is long. Good night, pray continuously that we will see God work and that He will be glorified in this whole, long, not-out-of-His-control recovery journey!

    • Meagan 1:23 am on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      We are praying hard for you all right now
      God is hard at work, of that I have no doubt. Passing along prayers and love!!

  • allenclabo 7:09 pm on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant Day 5 – new update 

    Well, that idea of blogging early and getting everyone to pray seems to have paid off…with everyone already praying for breathing, kidneys, and heart rhythm, here’s the newest…The surgeon came by and essentially said that the whole fluid/pressure/breathing/acidosis thing really has its root cause in the the fact that the kidneys aren’t working. Besides producing urine, which the kidneys seem to be doing ok, they also have the job of filtering the blood, and they seem to not be doing that so well. So if the acidic junk doesn’t get filtered out (and maybe not all the fluid either), then you end up with acidic blood which leads to feeling groggy and tired and unable to breathe well and other stuff, which describes Tami perfectly right now. So he talked to the kidney team again and they were convinced that they should begin a filtration of the blood – sort of a continuous dialysis – to clean up the blood, get rid of excess fluid, give the kidneys a break and time to recover from being insulted (they keep using that word…) and get Tami back on an forward track. So the VERY specific prayer request is that the dialysis – that will begin probably in the next hour – will be successful at cleaning the blood and that the kidneys will recover and get back to normal function. Seems to me God is answering both prayer requests from earlier – that her breathing will improve and that her kidneys will begin to work – with one SPECIFIC thing: a dialysis/filtration machine. So keep praying.

    On the good side, 1) Tami sat up for a while today (well, the bed folds up into a throne and she sat there), 2) she did a little movement of her arms and legs with the occupational therapist to see her current flexibiilty and strength, 3) she had a bowel movement (not something you brag about, but it’s a good thing and represents progress in the right direction :-) ), 4) she ate some real food (ok, applesauce and pudding and popsicles, but not just jello and ginger ale). In addition, the surgeon said that her heart still looks really good, and it’s just these other issues that we have to deal with to get Tami better. So, don’t focus on on the setbacks without also seeing the good things!

    The other specific prayer request is that Tami is scheduled in the morning for her first heart biopsy – checking to be sure there is no rejection of the heart. It’s a short procedure, but we need an EXCELLENT result!

    Continue to pray for Tami and for God to continue to be glorified!!

    • Brenda Richardson 11:29 pm on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Praying for all of you! Sending lots of hugs and kisses too

    • Christine Lancaster 3:10 am on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      All praise for poop moving…that is important. Praise God for Tami sitting up. Praise God for answered prayers.

  • allenclabo 5:00 pm on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant Day 5 – Thursday, 7/9/15 

    I realized that posting the blog late at night wasn’t really efficient in two ways. First, no one is seeing it until the next day some time, so you are all essentially a day behind where we are. In addition, when we need specific prayers for specific issues that Tami is having, no one knows to pray when we really need God to help us see that He is moving to answer in specific ways. (It also doesn’t help me get rest when I’m up til after midnight writing and posting it, either!)

    So let me see if I can get a less detailed but more specific update/prayer need post done this afternoon.

    First, Tami did not sleep well last night. That is related (we suspect) to the fact that she isn’t breathing well. The result is that the blood gases aren’t good (acidosis if you are so inclined) which makes her sleepy and groggy which makes her breathe shallow and that’s a downward loop. They started a new med to help with the acidosis which should then help to make her more alert and then able to try to breathe more deeply which will keep the blood gases good. That’s the upward, forward spiral we want. So, pray for better breathing and relief of the acidosis which will help alertness and further progress. We just saw the ICU doctor and I think that he thinks this is the biggest issue. What seemed to be an upward trajectory to recovery that had a small downturn yesterday seems to be still trending that way with her breathing. It was better yesterday but not so last night or all day today.

    Second, Tami’s new heart hasn’t resumed its normal rhythm. The top of the heart is ok, but the bottom half isn’t beating on its own. She has been connected to an external pacemaker in anticipation of the heart “waking up” and resuming normal electrical activity. But If Tami’s heart doesn’t resume a normal rhythm by Monday, they will implant a pacemaker. About 5% of the time this happens, and that’s not a real problem. But pray until Monday that Tami’s heart starts beating normally on its own.

    Third, Tami’s kidneys don’t seem to be doing quite as well as they should. They were already somewhat weakened because of Tami’s congestive heart failure. The kidney doctor said that the kidneys “had been insulted” by the trauma of surgery, etc. Hopefully, they will eventually get better as everything else gets better. The way we know the kidneys aren’t working is that the blood pressure as it re-enters the heart is too high (I explained that yesterday.) Of course, the kidneys are also stressed by the acidosis and also by the excess fluid associated with getting 6 or 8 IV’s at a time 24/7. If the kidneys start to play nice, then the fluid overload will be reduced and the CVP will be reduced and everyone will be really, really happy. So, pray for Tami’s kidneys to work better. If this issue doesn’t improve, they will likely do some dialysis to help the kidneys rest and recover and, hopefully, then return to normal. That is also a temporary, not really bad, solution that is often part of the normal (oh, that word again…) heart transplant recovery road.

    Thank you for continuing to pray without ceasing, specifically, expectantly, and for God to be glorified throughout this journey.

    • Christine Lancaster 3:08 am on July 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Praying Allen for ya’ll. I know God is with Tami and I pray tomorrow will be a better day and know you are prayed for by Castlewood family. Love you three

  • allenclabo 12:39 am on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant Day 4 – Wednesday, 7/8/15 

    Regular readers of the blog will recall a recent discourse on the concept of the hospital time warp, that phenomenon wherby single days seem to take forever, yesterday seems to have been a week ago, and yet nothing has been done by the time the day is done. “Good evening, friends, you are now entering The Hospital Zone.”

    Well, today was one of those days. We hardly left Tami’s room today – a lunch visit with a friend from home and another who lives nearby here, and a dinner excursion for Alexander and me – so we should have a long, complete story for tonight. Yet it’s after 10 p.m. and I wonder where the day went. I’m sure I’ll reconstruct the most of it, but it’s a weird feeling sitting here, nonetheless, the day gone, doctors and nurses and others having passed through multiple times, yet there is not a big story to tell today. In fact, somewhere in the hospital time vortex is a Facebook post that I began about 11 this morning that never seemed to materialize…

    Anyway, we began the day being told (Tami alone, first, before the rest of us got there) that her “numbers didn’t look good” and that things seemed to have taken a downturn or had a mild setback overnight. They had increased again by then the epinephrine (I’m going to go all jargon and start calling it “epi”…) that had been reduced so successfully on Monday night and started another med to help increase the pumping efficiency of the heart. The whole plan for today had been to let Tami rest and let the heart recover some more and just work slowly on reducing some of the ICU-only heart meds. Several people have asked about whether Tami has been able to get up yet or walk any – the short answer is no, that’s down the line still, after removing the epi completely and after removing a catheter in her neck that is measuring pressures in and near the heart. So the plan was changing.

    The first group of doctors who came by (actually the second since it was the doctors who had told Tami earlier that her numbers didn’t look good…) said that they were “generally pleased” with her progress, but that the trajectory of recovery, which had been going up and up seemed to have turned down last night for some reason. First, this is not unusual, and, second, this is not a major concern yet. It happens often that the recovery from a transplant surgery goes forward a couple of steps and then back one to regroup only to go forward again. Furthermore, this is a long process, so one day or one set of numbers doesn’t mean everything is wrong, it’s just part of the process. In fact, just to demonstrate the puzzle which is the transplant recovery, they said at one point today that either Tami had excess fluid and needed some diuretics or that she was dehydrated and might need to be given fluid and that the only way to know was to try one and see if it helped.

    So the concerns were these – the right side of the heart didn’t seem to be pumping as efficiently as it should be; there was too much pressure in the main vein in the neck vein leading into the heart (maybe related to the first concern); her blood was too acidic; and she seems to be retaining fluid (likely related to the first two concerns. So what to do? The only one that we can work on is the blood acid level, which is most likely caused by not breathing deeply enough and leaving too much carbon dioxide in the lungs. So Tami practiced many times today inhaling deeply, using a little device to tell how much she was inhaling and working on inhaling longer, deeper breaths. It’s a crazy balancing act that ties in with everything else, but, long story short, she was doing much better with that by this evening and the blood gas lab results were showing an improvement there. As for the other stuff, the doctor said that we did remove a lot of mechanical and medical support from the heart and lungs yesterday and that that can be contributing to the downturn also. The heart seemed to be doing great with support, but with the supports gone, the heart is now having to catch up and that may require adding back support or just being patient.

    The second group of doctors, including the surgeon (who I hadn’t seen since 12:30 a.m. Sunday night/Monday morning after the surgery), a couple of transplant cardiologists that we know, and some others, came in to say that they like the way Tami’s recovery was going – though they definitely liked it better on Tuesday. Her pulse is good, heart rate steady, heart output good, just a couple of things – one in particular – that seem troubling. And it all seems to go back to this “central venous pressure” (CVP) that is high. There’s a reason they don’t take your blood pressure in your neck (ok, besides the obviously awkward squeezing of a cuff around your neck…) – in a normal blood pressure, say 120/80, the average of the two – called the mean arterial pressure – is obviously 100. In the vein from your neck into your chest into your heart, the average pressure (that’s the CVP) is less than 10 – so obviously really hard to measure – but the blood is just flowing back at that point, with no real pressure. Ok, so Tami’s has been that, but it went through the teens into the 20s today. Why? Well, apparently the heart isn’t pumping like it should so there is a backlog – think traffic jam – getting back to the heart, so creating pressure. They can tweak some meds, etc., we’ll watch that all day, see where we are, as it improves we’ll get back to the original plan maybe, etc., etc.

    The best thing, though, would be to get a picture of the heart working – an echocardiogram – yep, they have done a couple already, they are pretty easy to do (just an ultrasound image), great. And it showed that the heart is structurally sound, mechanically strong, and has no signs of anything wrong at all. That, my friends, is really great news. So the transplant cardiologist (that we have started liking quite a bit) comes back in the room and says, “If it wasn’t for this number here” (and he points at the monitor and covers the CVP) “no one in this room would be worried about anything at all.” But the CVP and the echo are conflicting. Hmmm.  So here’s a specific prayer request: for clarity for the doctors about how to proceed and how to resolve the conflict between good, but conflicting and confusing, information.

    The other possible source (likely, in fact) of the excess fluid, which leads to too much blood backing up in the veins, which leads to high CVP and apparently low RH output, is that Tami’s kidneys aren’t happy and aren’t playing well with the rest of her body so far. So they put her on several IV and oral diuretics today and tonight to try to help the kidneys out. Now in defense of Tami’s kidneys, we know that her previous, poorly functioning heart had caused chronic kidney disease, so it is possible that there is still some residual effect and that the kidneys simply are still recovering, too, like the rest of Tami’s body to years of being poorly supplied with blood. Well, we saw a nephrologist tonight (that’s a kidney doctor) who was going to take some samples and see if there was anything else that could be done on that end to help the fluid, etc. issue. The good news was that he said he could rule out any obvious bad things and the heart meds, diuretics, etc. seemed to be appropriate for now to keep Tami stable and moving forward. So here’s the other specific prayer request: that Tami’s kidneys work like crazy and get rid of lots of excess fluid and start and continue to work well on their own.

    As the cardiologist reminded Tami, “I’m talking to you and you are awake and your heart is working and, by the way, you did just have a heart transplant less than 72 hours ago, so you are doing really good!”

    Ok, I’m sure I’ve left out something important. Maybe when I’m less tired tomorrow I can avoid the hospital time warp and remember it and get it posted. In the meantime, good night, pray specifically for Tami for improvement tomorrow, and thank you all for your continuous prayers and support.

    • Terry and Allicyn 6:56 am on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      We are praying without ceasing!!!! You are an amazing man- husband-father, Allen!! May God continue to give you peace, comfort, and joy throughout this process of healing with Tami! Prayers are with Alexander as well!! Tami,we love you and will continue with all your other prayer warriors to pray w/ō ceasing!!! I keep saying this over and over- you all are an amazing inspiration of your steadfast faith in Him❤️!!

    • kathy 8:16 am on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for your thorough updates. I know you must be exhausted, but your explanations and sense of humor are very much appreciated by all who are keeping up with this amazing journey. Knowing how things are progressing enables me to pray specifically for the present needs. I will continue my prayers for all involved.
      Kathy D.

    • Judy Eldridge 8:52 am on July 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Love seeing updates; and knowing Tami is OK! Prayers for doctors working out any problems that arise! God is good; He has Tami in His hands! Love you all!

  • allenclabo 12:10 am on July 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant Day 3 – evening update – Tuesday, 7/7/15 

    Well it has been another busy but good day.The best reminder today was that the journey to recovery is more like a marathon than a sprint – there’s no need to get there fast, but steady, forward is more important – in fact, trying to go too fast might make the final goal much harder to reach…

    So, with that in mind, there were several goals for the day: wean down on epinephrine (a stimulant for the heart that keeps the heart rate and blood pressure high); remove the balloon pump that was helping to push blood into the coronary arteries; wake Tami from the sedation; and remove the breathing tube. These had to go in order, and each of them could have taken longer than planned if there was any setback (heart function, vital signs, etc., etc.)

    By the time we arrived at the hospital, the epinephrine had been weaned to the appropriate, much lower level overnight, and the balloon pump had been removed at about 6:30 this morning. She was resting well and had responded more to the nurse’s requests to move her toes, etc., during the night as well.

    By about 12:00, she had started to wake up significantly. She was understanding and responding to questions, looking around, clearly wanting to have the breathing tube removed, but understanding that we had to wait a bit to get that done. By the time 2:00 came, she was more than ready to have the tube out! [Now, I have to say that it was not any fault of the nursing staff that the extubation (look at that, more medical terminology :-) ) was later than we had originally anticipated. Remember that we are in a cardi-thoracic intensive care unit – you’re not in here because you just feel a little bad – and many of the patients are in much worse condition than Tami is. The ICU doctors and nurses were extremely busy with what were likely life and death issues for the patients involved. So, as you are praying for Tami, pray for the other patients here, too, some clearly in truly life-critical conditions, and for the skilled medical staff providing all of the care.]

    The tube was removed with no problem, and Tami began to communicate some. Clearly hoarse from having had a tube in her throat for 2 days and clearly still groggy from various meds, but alert. She wanted most to sit up, but (long story short) that led to moving her and trying to arrange pillows and other stuff until she began to have some significant pain. Unfortunately, we also had a lot of people in the room at the time and that excessive stimulation also wasn’t a good thing so quickly after waking up (remember that sprint/marathon comment??). So we gave her some quiet time with the nurse and some oxycodone and that started managing the pain some.

    Oh, well the surprising news tonight was that Tami actually got some dinner. Now jello and frozen cherry stuff and tea and a popsicle isn’t a full meal, yet, but the fact that she is handling clear liquids is also a good step of progress.

    By tonight, she was still in some pain, but the meds were helping. We are hoping that steady pain meds overnight and some good sleep will have her pain better under control tomorrow. The only plan for tomorrow is to wean her completely from the epinephrine, if possible, and maybe some other meds. After a busy day and still now just over 48 hours with a new heart, everyone is pleased, so tomorrow may be a lot about rest and time to encourage healing and recovery – for everyone.

    Thank you for continuing to pray for Tami and the rest of us!

    • carolyn hyer 8:46 am on July 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the beautiful update of Tami’s journey. Praying for less pain, more normal function, and more rest for both of you today. Our greatful praise to an amazing God as we anxiously await the next chapter!!!!

    • Gail Garrison 6:32 pm on July 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      So wonderful to hear. I know that it is hard to be patient. Baby steps. Praying for you all.

  • allenclabo 11:56 am on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant – Day 3 – morning – quick update 

    Quick update – epinephrine down (praise the Lord!) and balloon pump out (praise the Lord!) – two of the things we were praying for last night – she seems to be waking up a little bit – they will try to slowly wake her up completely in the next hour – that’s the next big step – just keep praying!

  • allenclabo 11:56 pm on July 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Heart Transplant – Day 2 – Part 2 

    Well, when we last left the story, Tami was back from her sternum closure surgery, and we were waiting to see her again…

    So, around 3:15, we did just that. She still looked good – probably even better because a lot of the clutter of tubes and wires and extra blankets and stuff had been cleaned up a little. I didn’t say before, but the preparation to take her to the OR was quite an operation in itself. Between the balloon pump (helping to pump blood back into the coronary arteries (the arteries of the heart itself)), the IV pole with 8 bags and pumps attached, the anesthesia/ventilator gases, the bed, etc., there was quite a parade of people escorting the bed from ICU back to surgery.

    Quick summary now that it is going on 12:00 midnight and I am (no surprise!) very tired!!…Surgery went well, no problems. Echocardiogram of the new heart showed last night during the transplant that the ejection fraction (EF, the measure of the pumping ability of the heart, normal = ~60, Tami’s has been <15) was 40 – today after the second surgery it was 55 – translation: the new heart is pumping almost as good as any normal person’s heart would be! All of Tami’s vital signs, bloodwork, heart function, blood pressures, etc., etc. have been stable all day and are all in the range that they should be (that is, for a normal, functioning heart!). The new heart is, for now, being helped by an external pacemaker – this morning, it wasn’t doing much without the pacemaker, but tonight – although it is still beating too slowly without the pacemaker – it is doing better on its own. All good. They have started taking her off of some medicines and have started a couple that they could do for a longer time (in the hospital) if they needed to. Tami has still been fully sedated all day, but the rest is good for helping her to recover and heal and for everything to begin to work together. It’s a long, slow process, and we are nowhere near the end, but we kept hearing today that Tami was progressing as needed, with no problems, and that we are on the right path to get her all better down the road.

    The plan for tonight is, first, to wean her down to a much lower dose of one medicine. That should take, if all goes well, until about 4:00 a.m. Second is to wean her from the balloon pump. If all goes well, again, that’s about another 2 hours, so ~6:00 a.m. After that she has to lay still for 3-4 hours, so now it’s ~10:00 tomorrow morning if all is still going well. Then the big effort for tomorrow will be to get her awake and then to get the ventilator tube out and then (which would be a really big day!) to get her out of bed for the first time. So, that’s also the prayer list for Tami for tonight and tomorrow – pray reducing epinephrine, removing the balloon pump, waking up, removing the ventilator tube, and getting out of bed. I am personally looking forward to seeing God show out in Tami’s life (again!!) tomorrow!

    Thanks as always for the prayers, comments, friendships, and support in every way!

    • tammy maxson 6:22 am on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Allen thank you for keeping all of us updated. We are praying for all of you. God has shown his glory through this whole process and the manner in which Tami and you and Alexander have carried yourselves and lived your lives in His honor all these years with this is a testimony so much larger than I think any of you realize. In the craziness close you eyes and take a quick minute to think about the number of friends and supporters prayer warriors rallied around and know that God has and is using you all for His glory …I think to bring more people to Him by using your family this situation and yes maybe even the years it took to get here today to show us what having faith and living a God loving life deals in reward. Miracles shown right in a church service where yes even in church..people need to be reminded He is in control and He is the Healer of our hearts. The kind loving and compassioate family that you are shows us all what living a life for God can make us as His children. While I am so sorry for these struggles for you I am also grateful that God brought you all into our lives to show and remind us of His love. Be strong and know He will bring you all through this. Love the Maxsons.

    • Alicia 9:55 am on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      So thankful! We will keep praying for everyone. Love you BUNCHES!!! The Whiteheads. :-)

    • campbellscorner2014 2:24 pm on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Remarkable, delicate, strong…these three words came first to my mind when I finished reading this blog. Remarkable: our Creator God of the Holy Bible. Remarkable: the history of all that Tami’s body has been through leading up to and including this healing process that she is now in. Remarkable: all of the research and technology, schooling and training, all of the resources involved in this miracle. Remarkable: the display of real-life relay in action where a Donor declares hope to someone they will never know this side of heaven. Delicate: Life is delicate, fragile, the Bible says it is as a vapor, and yet, it is : Strong: life is remarkable, delicate, strong, eternal. Life is a gift. Allen, my prayers continue for Tami, for you, for Alexander, and for everyone who loves and cares for y’all! >

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