Jeff made it through the evening, waking up just once and falling quickly back to sleep.
They were able to do an internal examination of his esophagus and lungs to evaluate the extent of the inhalation damage. The damage is much worse than we were hoping for. They found a lot of soot and particles in his lungs and worked hard to suction and clean out as much as they could. They didn't rate the extent of the damage on any sort of scale but my understanding is that the damage is "pretty bad" and serious, but not life threatening.
What this assessment means is that he will continue to be intubated, and therefore mostly unconscious. They told us that they expect him to be intubated at least 3 to 5 more days, maybe as many as 7. The challenge is in trying to keep him on it as long as his lungs need to strengthen, without staying on so long as to put him at added risk for infection and pneumonia. They said his lungs have already begun constricting, which concerns them because it's fairly early on in the process for that to be happening. But they're watching him round the clock and are confident that as long as they can protect him from infection and pneumonia, he is not at serious risk for permanent damage. Obviously there are always those rare cases where things go south, but the doctor said that in "90 to 95%" of cases like this, the patient makes a full recovery. So that encouraged us greatly.
Additionally, several nurses and the doctor told us that from very initial observations, the burns are not as bad as they thought. They're hesitant to give us too much hope in that regard, but that is there is a lot of hope for recovery with none or minimal grafting required.
He did wake up long enough for us today to communicate with him and he answered us as best he could through head nods and gestures with answers that were relevant to the questions so it appears he's lucid. Tonight he was the most conscious he's been since this all happened. He was able to gesture, nod, engage. I wasn't there tonight because I wasn't feeling well but Mom, Becky and Chris are greatly encouraged by the noticeable progress just since we left this evening around supper time. They've started to bring him out just a bit from the sedation which is a catch 22 because we obviously want to be able to communicate with him, but the less conscious he is, the less aware he is of his own pain so for his own comfort, we want him as unaware as possible. The nurse tonight (who is awesome-another praise!) indicated that so long as Jeff is able to handle it, they'll keep him at this level of consciousness or more. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to engage with him tomorrow.
Other great news is that the fire investigators think they've identified the chemical(s) involved which will help the doctors better treat him.
Other great news is that the burn center he is in is #2 in the country so he has a really wonderful set of doctors, nurses, specialists and techs. While I'll be honest and say there have been some sources of frustration with miscommunication and incomplete communication on the part of the hospital staff members, and they're not as touchy-feely-compassionate as I would like, but they are VERY skilled and talented and that trumps good people skills any day.
The few concerns today were that his fever was higher and like I said, his lung damage was worse than we were hoping for, but overall, it's been a great, positive, hope filled day. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.