Saturday, October 25, 2008

While in Intensive Care, Things Start to Get "Interesting"

More of the emails to family and friends, beginning the day after my transplant:

Monday, Dec. 4, 9:45 a.m. (sent by Bob, our friend)

Update from the hospital. The good news is that Jay is off the oxygen mask. The bad news is that she is experience a lot of pain. Not surprising after six people to a Texas two-step in your guts for six hours. But they've given Jay the "good drugs" and she is more comfortable. Gene is still with her. Jay is expected to be in the hospital for another 10 days to two weeks or until the liver is functioning fully. Visitors are pretty limited because of the fear of infection, fatigue and about a million other reasons. Gene has also requested prayers for the anonymous donor of the really healthy liver. We'll never know who the person is, but he/she is Jay's angel.

In answer to several of you, Jay's good friend Regina has flown in from New York and is staying with Jay's kids as long as necessary. Feel free to call her at the house and offer any assistance. From here on out, assume that no news is good news. But Gene has promised to stay in touch and I'll send something out every couple of days until Jay gets home.

Wednesday, Dec. 6 - 4:27 p.m. (sent by Gene)

Dear friends and family,

I know many of you have received emails from Bob and others updating you on Jay's condition, but I personally wanted to send you all a note to thank you for your love and support. Happy [the deacon from our church] mentioned to me how she was utterly amazed at all the love surrounding Jay, and I couldn't agree more. I have never felt more loved and blessed in my entire life, and you cannot possibly imagine how thankful I am. Tears of joy and gratefulness are washing my face as I write this...

Let me move on to what you all want to know... As of 3:00 p.m. today, Jay was in stable condition and resting comfortably in the surgical intensive care unit. By far, she's having her best day yet, and trust me, that is welcome news. Without bombarding you with details, we've had our share of difficulties since her transplant operation, which concluded early Sun. morning. (She was in the operating room approximately 5 and 1/2 hours.) After a textbook procedure we hit a few bumps, everything from her blood having difficulty clotting to negative side effects from her anti-rejection medicine. While I wouldn't call these problems routine, they do occur with some frequency in liver transplant cases. So, for two days, the doctors struggle to address these issues, but they finally have managed to get everything under control. All of Jay's vital signs are good, and all of her major organs - including her new liver - are functioning well. The only concern for the moment, and the doctors assure me it is a minor one, is her breathing; she's retaining some fluid in her lungs which is normal after an operation, especially for someone in Jay's weakened condition. As a result, she's breathing with the aid of a ventilator. The good news here is that she is heavily sedated and on pain meds to minimize the discomfort of her breathing tube. If she continues to progress, the breathing tube may be removed as early as Thursday.

All in all, it's been a roller-coaster of a ride. By far, the toughest moment for me was when I saw Jay the evening following her surgery. I expected to find her sound asleep, but to my dismay she was in considerable pain and alert. Crying, she pleaded to me, "I can't take this. Please take me home." It was awful. (With the help of the nurses, we were able to calm her down and she drifted off to sleep before I left.) But there have been some pretty humorous moments, too. One morning, the nurses told me, Jay was awake but pretty loopy because of all her drugs. With her usual charm, Jay greeted anyone who came through the ICU door with a cheery, "If you're looking for Jay, I'm over here!"

Many of you have asked about sending flowers or cards... while I certainly appreciate the gesture, I ask that you hold off a few more days or send them directly to my home. Jay can't receive anything in the ICU and it'll be a couple more days, at least, before she gets moved to a regular floor. Barring complications, I'm expecting Jay will be in the hospital a solid two weeks, perhaps even longer. Again, this is nothing unusual; just par for the course for these procedures.

That's all I have for now. I'll try to send some updates every couple of days or have someone relay news to you. If you want to ask me a specific question or send a message to Jay, feel free to drop me an email. I'll be checking regularly. In the meanwhile, thank you again for all your prayers, the food, the support and the care you're providing the kids. I know the latter would mean the most to Jay, and it certainly gives me peace-of-mind to focus all of my energies on Jay.

Thank God for all of you.

My love and gratitude,


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