Thursday, March 22, 2007

we're off the critical list!!!

Well, it's been quite a day!

Mama called to tell me that they not only took big brother off the critical list, but they booted his butt out the hospital door and into a skilled nursing facility!

Apparently last night the doctors were trying to decide if home care or nursing care would be better. Their concern is that some of the nursing facilities in their group are not good. They were afraid that he might end up in one of those... but they simply could not say which ones those are. But... his wife has to work and Mama could not get big brother back up if he fell. He simply can't be at home for this level of care.

Mama has a neighbor, Mrs. E that we've known since I was a baby. Mrs. E is a retired nurse. Of course Mama has been over there with questions every single day during all of this stuff. Last night, after hearing about the nursing facility concern, Mrs. E started calling her friends who are still working. They gave her a short list of 2 facilities within that particular healthcare system that they felt are still good and they would allow their family members to stay for care.

The facility that big brother was taken to today is on that list. Yay!

He will be monitored for his IV antibiotics, his neck issues, his brain abscess and will get physical therapy while he is there.

Mama said something about already set up doctor appointments scheduled for the entire time he is there. This doctor wants to see him in 2 weeks, that doc wants to see him in 1 week, etc.

I'm thinkin' they finally decided he's gonna live! Yippppeeeeeeeeee!!

He's got a long recovery ahead of him, with more surgery once he gets stronger, but I'm grateful that God has spared his life for now.

Now the biggest thing is continuing to pray about his eternity.

...may there be mercy and an answer while he heals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

reconsidered surgery

Mama didn't call until 5:30 today. Most of the day I was fine and in the "no news is good news" mode. Parts of the day, well, I wasn't in such a good mindset. But for most of the day I was able to remain in prayer for our family without trying to take back control. A victory of sorts for me.

Apparently the doctors decided that doing vertebrae replacement is just far, far too risky to do at this time. They will not do surgery for this... the loss of some of the motion/use of big brother's right arm will not kill him, so he may just have to live with that after all this is over.

Later, after big brother is better, they will discuss doing this surgery.

For now we're back on to the brain abscess and hoping that the antibiotics will start shrinking it... so they don't have to go in there and deal with it.

Staying in "no news is no news or good news" mode. Mama will call again tomorrow with an update... but if there isn't any "news" or big stuff happening, it could be late in the day again.

...may there be mercy and rest as I wait, held tightly in my Father's arms.

Monday, March 19, 2007

continuation of the rollercoaster

Update... big brother is under even more massive observation for the next 24-36 hours.

Sometime within the next 24-48 hours, he will undergo another surgery.

Apparently I misunderstood something Mama said and I thought that there was only the brain abscess to worry about.

It's still there, not growing, but not shrinking either.

The current crisis on the rollercoaster is that the infection has also settled into the arthritis in his neck... at the C-4/5 level of his spine. This pressure is already causing some paralysis in his right side.

Those vertebrae are going to have to be replaced. Probably more of the vertebrae also. This surgery will take 9-12 hours.

And again, it's another "he might not live through surgery" moment.

The doctor says that he hopes the surgery will help... before there is irreversible damage done to the spine... but it might already be too late for that part.

Once this part is over... and he survives... they will then consider the abscess.

I'm exhausted and going to spend tonight snuggling with my man.

...may there be mercy and rest as we wait.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

no change

Have talked with Mama and there is no change from last night.

The doctor says that big brother never had a stroke at all, it's been this abscess all along. Apparently the two will mimic the symptoms of each other.

The antibiotic regime they currently have him on for the septicemia is "containing" the abscess so that it is not spreading. Since this is the case, they are waiting to see if they can avoid surgery. They are also hoping that the antibiotics will begin to actually fight that abscess and not just contain it.

We will continue in the "no news is good news" mode.

I told my sweet husband last night that while I love rollercoasters, this one is "one hard-azz ride".

We are going to head over to my father-in-law's house to do some stuff with his computer and help him with a couple settings on his new cell phone. Probably going out to lunch with him after. All of which will be good distractions for me. Then home to continue taking care of myself with lots of rest.

...may there be mercy in waiting.

Friday, March 16, 2007

critical mass

Big brother now has an abscess on his brain, at the brain stem, in a dangerous area... the one that controls breathing.

The doctor told Mama this afternoon that "anything can happen, at any time."

...may there be mercy as we pray and wait.


Brief big brother report... he probably did have another stroke, but he was stronger yesterday afternoon.

He's still fighting hard, which is very cool.

His doctors have determined that he has yet another bacteria causing the septicemia... which means additional antibiotics to fight that strain and the previous strains.

Mama says he had an attitude yesterday afternoon and she actually got mad at him. He should get over that pretty quickly. He usually does.

...may there be mercy as they figure out the rest of it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

more setbacks

Big brother is not in skilled nursing, he's still in the hospital. They are still scanning him from stem to stern to determine what is wrong.

There is some thinking that he might have had another stroke. Nothing definite yet.

I continue to surrender him to God's care because I have this awful tendency to try to take him back... as if me worrying would be helpful or something.

The entire family is exhausted, both physically and emotionally, with this rollercoaster of being given small steps of hope then crashing down with each setback. Knowing that any single setback could take him from us is a very hard place in which to live.

...may there be mercy in healing for big brother and rest for my family.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Yep, there is progress in the land of prayers for big brother. He's not only suvived surgery, Mama says he's eating like he's making up eating time. I like that!

He's being moved to a skilled nursing facility tomorrow... where he will be for the next 6-8 weeks while his body continues to fight.

I find it interesting that they won't take him off the critical list (???) and yet they are moving him out of the hospital environment.

Don't really care about that as long as he gets the care he needs... and continues to improve.

I've neglected posting because I'm making a quilt for him. He needs something there that reminds him of my love for my big brother. I think I'll be able to finish it tomorrow night.

...may there be mercy as he heals.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Wow... just wow.

Big brother survived surgery today.

He is not out of the woods, and won't be for quite a long while. But tonight he is fighting and still breathing and God did it all.

The doctor even said so.


There is a wrung-out limp rag sitting in my chair. I think it's me. The emotional exhaustion is hitting hard and I will spend the weekend resting... while being thankful.

...may there be mercy, rest and healing for big brother this night.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Surgery to replace the aortic valve in big brother's heart is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. The doctor has been painfully honest, and yet so very kind.

...without surgery, big brother will die.

... at the same time, his chances of surviving surgery are very slim.

The infection has attacked most of his major organs. He had several small heart attacks today... and a stroke.

On my way to work this morning, I softly sang "Great is thy faithfulness". The words to this song speak a truth that is important for me to remember during this terribly difficult time.

Yes, this is hard and heartbreaking stuff... but, no matter the outcome, God IS faithful.

I spent a large portion of today praying as I worked, and one of the most important things I did today was to completely surrender big brother to God's care.

Yes, my heart aches that tomorrow may be his last here. Yes, I'm sad. And at the same time, finally peaceful about it all.

...may there be mercy in our surrender.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Have talked to Mama this morning. While his condition level has not changed from stable, big brother did not tolerate well all the things done to him yesterday. We talked about how he will have ups and downs and that right now he's on a down.

Tests showed two items of significance. The bacteria causing the septicemia is the MRSA version of staph. UGH! The source of the infection is deep in one of the valves of his heart, which is throwing "blocks" of infection into his brain. Double UGH! They told us that once he is over the septicemia infections, then they will have to replace that heart valve and maybe others. (if timing is right, then he will have heart surgery right about the time of his birthday)

He is so weak he can't do more than whisper, sometimes, in response to questions... and can't even lift his hand off the bed.

From something that big brother said to my sweet sister, there is some concern that he might be giving up. Mama is going to check that when she goes to see him later today.

The good report from yesterday is that his liver function is starting to come around "nicely" according to the doctors. We'll take any progress and good reports at this point!

Thanks for being here, sweet friends, and for all the prayers, care and love your pour into my life. My days are not complete without each of you.

...may there be mercy on the down days.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

a good report!

Just got off the phone with Mama. Good report this morning! Big brother is responsive and interactive in conversation... and is starting to complain about being in the hospital! Yay!

He's also royally ticked off that they lost his upper plate in the process of saving his life, which cracks me up. He's very glad they saved his life, but he wants his teeth back!

Today will be a LOT of very big tests that I don't understand, but will give a better picture of what is going on inside his poor body. One of the tests is something Mama thinks is called a T.E.E., that goes inside his heart to see if it is the source of the infection for the septicemia. Translating from the doctor to Mama and big brother's wife to me, sometimes all the info doesn't get all the way to me, but at least it tells me enough that I can start Googling and figure out the rest... or call my buddy who is a nurse!

They have been told that he will be in the hospital for at least 6 weeks, probably longer.

There are a bunch of behind the scenes details that I cannot share here in public forum... but need a boatload of work to fix and manage on big brother's behalf... Mama and big brother's wife have to do all of it and it's not going easily for them with all the privacy laws. I've reminded them that since he is now coherent and can understand what he is signing, they need to get a Power of Attorney signed right away. Prayers for those details would also be appreciated.

...may there be mercy and small damage to big brother's body.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

stable condition!

Some of y'all have gotten an extended version of this in email, but this is today's update on big brother.

Wow.. what a great phone call. More of the story is beginning to be filled in on what exactly has happened with big brother.

But... the best news is that during the night, he was upgraded to Stable Condition. (Thank you, Lord for that answer... now for the answer on his eternity, please!!)

His vital signs are all good.

He is responding to questions, with appropriate answers! He has no memory of anything since Monday night when he went to bed... and is very confused why he is in the ICU and how it can be Sunday when in his mind, last night was Monday.

Today, he will be moved from one hospital to another... the one where he was when he had the aneurysm. (insurance reasons now that he is stable)

I told Mama that she'd better start making soup and goulash for him because he's gonna start yelling for "real" food by tonight.

Too bad the hospital lost his upper plate and it's going to be hard for him to eat until his wife can get a call in to his dentist!

We recognize that he is not totally out of the woods yet. But... he's turned around and headed in the right direction.

Once he gets to the other hospital and settled in, they will begin running tests to determine several things.

1. Source of infection for the septicemia and the endocarditis: was it actually his heart or was it from a cut on his hands. (He's always getting cuts and gouges on his hands at work)
2. Damage to internal organs from the infection: currently they know there is some liver damage and probably heart damage. They do not know exactly how much for either one and also need to continue evaluating the remaining organs for any signs of damage.
3. Brain lesions: yesterday's tests indicated lesions on his brain. They need to figure out exactly what those are... they could be several things. New brain bleed from the stress on his body... the infection attacked his brain... old lesions from the old aneurysm. More testing will give the answers we need.

We are just so thrilled with today's news that we are all crying... but it's the better kind of tears today.

Mama and big brother's wife both said to make sure y'all know how much they appreciate your prayers... and you know I am grateful as well.

...may there be mercy on his long recovery road.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

grave condition

Big brother has survived the night... but is still in grave condition.

I hate that term, "grave condition."

Waiting for news from this far away is very difficult, but Mama says don't come yet. I wouldn't be allowed to see him in the ICU anyway. Only Mama and big brother's wife are allowed in.

They are still working hard to keep him alive and it's going to take several days to know if he will make it.

...may there be mercy as we wait.

Friday, March 02, 2007

please, not yet

Sometimes I hate when Mama calls me because I know bad news is coming.

I'm not ready for this... big brother, please don't go... I still need you.

... and yet, the doctors have no hope tonight.

Big brother survived a devastating aneurysm in December 2005. It does not appear that he will survive this night.

...may there be mercy as we wait for news.