Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jonathan, Part II

Time to do an update on my brother, Jonathan's, progress. I'm typing slowly and making a ton of mistakes because I'm on my mom's computer, which is almost harder than driving someone else's car...

Today is 2 weeks since he entered the hospital. This Saturday is the 2 week mark since his craniotomy. Since then we have seen some slow, but steady, progress.

After the surgery, it took another 5 full days before he even opened his eyes, Those first few days were very difficult, because the progress just seemed so incredibly slow. The first time I witnessed his eyes open was when he had a 15 second seizure--not a sight that was easy to see. 15 seconds lasted a long time.

He opened his eyes the Thursday after his surgery. Well, he opened one eye. The eye below the abscess was very swollen. His speech was very slow, and his left side was having difficulty moving. They put in a feeding tube in his nose and there was still an assortment of other tubes sticking out of him from every direction.

Despite the apparent success of the surgery, there were still many concerns...his heart rate was lingering between the high 30's and low 50's, sometimes even taking a quick trip into the 20's and a few times stopping altogether for up to 7 seconds. There was a heated debate over whether a temporary pacemaker was necessary. His blood pressure, which runs low anyway, as does mine, was lower than it should be, and we were always waiting for him to regain use of his left side--fortunately, that has recovered almost completely.

Nerves became frayed during these few days...between my mom, me, Jonathan's wife....each day was a challenge with 2 steps forward and 1 step back. The pluses and minuses could be gauged differently depending on which medical personnel we were talking to, our own moods, and individual filters of life experience.. Let's just say it isn't a time any of us care to revisit.

Then we began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly Jonathan was able to eat real food. And not only was he eating real food, but he was eating food that he would normally never touch, like a bowl of spaghetti! Jonathan... eating spaghetti!

Two days ago they moved him out of the ICU at USC hospital. He spent about 8 hours in another room and was moved to the local community hospital late that night. He spent last night in the ICU there, not because he is in such bad shape, but because the doctors were still a little worried that he was trying to do too much and wanted to give him some extra supervision.

Last night when I went and visited him, his wife and my uncle were there. It makes me giddy to see him eating so well, even if it is hospital food. He has always been a slow eater, but he is eating everything...everything...on that tray they bring. I guess I would too if I had gone 9 days without real food.

This morning his wife took the kids for a visit, their 2nd to see their dad since this all began. Later we learned that he had been moved out of ICU at the local hospital and into another room.

This morning I went to see him on my own and was there from about 11:45 to around 4pm. It was very good and helpful to spend so much time alone with him. The speech therapist had been there earlier and the physical therapist came while I was there and walked him up and down the hall and did a few exercises in the room, like some deep knee bends. It was encouraging, again to see him eat a big meal. The doctor came in and gave us an update, although she is still waiting for the cultures from USC.

They have determined that the brain abscess was fungal, not bacterial. It could have been growing for months, which is kind of scary to think about. And he'll be on anti-fungal and anti-seizure meds for up to a year. That could mean a long, long time of not being allowed to drive, but we'll just handle one thing at a time.

The next step, which could happen as early as tomorrow, is to move him to the rehab floor, which is a place where he can continue to heal for another week or 2 and where physical therapy will be twice a day instead of once. His wife has returned to work for a few hours each day, which is good, because that she feels confident enough to not spend every day at the hospital like she did for 2 weeks.

My ticket back to WA is for October 3rd (leftover from my original plans) and it is very possible that I'll stay that long. I miss my sweet husband something awful, but it is comforting to know that he is managing things up there so well.

What a learning experience this has been. What a time of emotional highs and lows. Instead of seeing 2 steps forward, 1 step back, I see things as 1 slow step forward at a time. We are still just taking things 1 day at a time. And, although everyone is aware that some definite adjustments lie in wait for the future, we cannot bring ourselves to see that far ahead quite yet.

The prayers, emails, cards, flowers, phone calls, messages and good thoughts from friends and family have been abundant, and we are all so grateful. The news of Jonathan's illness has reached across the US to Mexico to Vietnam and we constantly feel the support of so many. Thank you, thank you.

Because the progress is slow and we are in for more transitions at the hospital, I will update again in a few days. I pray and look forward to having more good news to share as time goes on. Thank you again for those who have kept Jonathan and the rest of us in your prayers and we ask that you continue to do so. There is still a long road ahead.


Karen said...

Oh Kristie! I can only imagine what the last two weeks have been like for you and your family! It is heartwrenching to see someone you love suffer. Thanks for the update, and it's great to hear that things continue to move in the right direction. Even if progress is slow, it's still progress.

I'm so glad you're able to be there - not only to support your mom and Jonathan but also for you. Can you imagine being in WA, not able to come down? What a blessing that your circumstances allow you the flexibility to spend this time with your family right now.

We'll continue to keep your family in our prayers! Love you!

Sally said...

I'm so happy to hear about Jonathon's progress! And I echo everything Karen said. I'm sure that Jonathon's healthy habits have helped aid him in his recovery as well as having such great family support.