Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

The battery of tests and evaluations continue for Theresa and this is in addition to the physical, occupational, speech (swallow, cognitive, memory, etc.), recreational and other therapies on her daily schedule.  Besides the 0700 ultrasound testing last week, her days have usually started around 0900 and go right through to 1600 with a few breaks in between.  But any testing at the Swedish Medical Center next door trumps all scheduled therapies so take this morning for instance.  The nursing aide and I had just transferred Theresa to her mobility chair (a type of fancy wheelchair that reclines) and moved the oxygen, feeding machine, etc. in preparation for going to the therapy gym when the order came to take her over to Swede for more CT scans, X-rays and an EEG (brain wave activity) scan.  That meant our 15 minutes of effort was undone as we now had to transfer her out of the mobility chair and onto a Zoom pram self-propelled stretcher for the 10-minute jaunt next door.  One thing we can be thankful for is the tunnel linking the two hospitals.  Without it, we would be braving this winter climate where the overnight low was -4F (-18C) last night; see attached photo for proof.

For Theresa, all of this morning's moving around was barely a bother as she mostly slept through it, only waking up to assist us by rolling to her side when asked, and probably wondering why we were being so inefficient.  The day's testing went smoothly except for the strobe light portion of the EEG procedure.  That irritated Theresa enough that she tried to cover her eyes with her arms so it was up to me to hold them out of the way, and keep my eyes averted as the strobe was truly overstimulating.  Even holding Theresa down wasn't enough as her struggling motion continued to throw off the EEG sensors.  I said another silent prayer to God for Theresa to receive His reassurance and healing powers and this finally allowed her to calm down and complete the testing.  By the time we returned to her room, Theresa was still so disoriented that she was unable to attend her therapies until the late afternoon.  Hopefully that is one test we won't need to repeat anytime soon.

While Theresa's days are usually 7-8 hours in duration, mine are surprisingly longer as it is Craig Hospital's policy that the family member or eventual caregiver upon discharge learn how to care for their loved one while in hospital and once back home.  This means I am reviewing video presentations and then taking hands-on courses in seizure management, respiratory care (including bagging, tracheostomy care, sterile suction techniques), mobility chair handling, weight shifts, skin care and probably a few others that I haven't heard of before.  This occupies my day and night even more than at Queen's Medical Center (last night's course ended at 2000) so the frequency of these updates may be reduced as my free time permits.  Still, our Lord has graciously given me the will and energy to make it this far so I trust and pray He will continue to do so.

Over the past week here, one of the major goals has been to downsize Theresa's tracheostomy tube so she can eventually swallow and begin to speak.  This was attempted on our last day in Honolulu but it was too early in the healing process and Theresa just gasped for air.  So up until this point, when Theresa is sufficiently conscious to communicate, she has written me a few notes when hand signals, facial gestures and lip reading don't get the message across.  I'm keeping all of these notes for her to read one day; some of them demonstrate her current state of confusion, like "where is my bedroom?" but one really touched me over the weekend -- "Don't worry, I'm dizzy but I love you and will be with you forever"  This so touched me that I cried inside and praised our Heavenly Father for all He has done for us.  Even in Theresa's current state, her true spirit comes through and that is another gift from God.


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