Friday, October 19, 2007

October 19: Surgery Update!

It is with deep thanksgiving that I report to you that the doctors have successfully completed their first surgery on Jeff, and he came through it safely!

The GREAT news is that his hands were far less severely damaged than they originally thought. This is a great praise because of all the areas damaged, his hands are what he uses this most. The doctors were able to do the synthetic grafting on his hands and fingers and on one arm and they expect them to heal very well--possibly within a week! We're very grateful they were able to conduct this surgery because it means reduced pain and risk of infection for Jeff! Praise God! They'll un-bundle his wounds in 1 or 2 days to determine how well the synthetic grafts are bonding with his own skin. Hopefully they'll find good news and they won't need to work on those areas again.

We are also excited at the news that the doctors isolated the particular organism causing his pneumonia, and have adjusted the "generic" antibiotic treatment and replaced it with one specific to this kind of pneumonia, and he is already showing great response!

We did however, receive some less positive news, too, but we are not dismayed or discouraged. Unfortunately, the burns on his legs and upper arms were worse than originally thought, so those will require traditional skin grafting. What they did today was prep those areas by adding a temporary graft of pigs skin (gross!), which will somehow prepare his own skin to better accept the grafts in about a week. Skin grafting is more involved and complicated to heal, but they are hopeful for Jeff. If he recovers nicely next week, they expect to do the skin grafting at the end of next week or the beginning of the following week. And then if all goes as planned, recovery from that surgery would take a minimum of a week, though it would require additional physical therapy to "train" the skin to behave in its new location rather than like the it did on its previous body part (likely his upper thighs).

The other disappointing news is that Jeff's lungs are now to a point where he cannot breath on his own and is dependent on a "moderate" amount of assistance from the respirator. Every day that he is intubated increases his risk of infection or additional pneumonias, so we are naturally anxious for him to heal quickly and be stable enough to come off the vent. Additionally, our own hearts long to talk to him and for him to know that we are here, but as long as he is as heavily sedated as he needs to be for the vent, that will continue to be out of our reach. However, we are grateful that the longer he's sedated, the longer he can be as unaware of the pain as possible and the more rest his body can get. The flipside though is doctors are eager to restore his movement and activity so as to avoid muscle atrophy, and again, we want the tubes out as soon as possible because of the risks they pose.

The doctor did say that based on his clinical diagnosis, his experience has been that Jeff's lungs won't be ready to stand on their own for at least 3 more days and then they might be able to consider weaning him off or removing it altogether. Our prayer is that he'll be stable early enough in the week that they'll be able to take it out before the second surgery. If it takes him too far in to next week, they'll just leave it in for the next surgery, which will be almost 2 weeks total of intubation, which starts raising new needs and concerns like a tracheotomy. So we'd obviously like for him to have some relief. And the doctor did give us hope that if he is strong enough, he could be weaned off, placed on only for the hours of the surgery, and then taken right back off. That is our specific prayer.

Also today we turned in Jeff's paperwork for State Assistance with the medical bills. Because he had only been with his employer a short term, he did not have health insurance. There may also be assistance available through the burn foundation but any information on that is several weeks out. We're praying for mercy and generosity on the part of the Program Administrators.

The doctors gave us hope that if all goes as planned and Jeff recovers well and pushes himself in he way of physical therapy once that time comes, he could be home and restored to light functionality by Thanksgiving! What a joy it would be to have him home and close to being "himself" for the holidays. Would you pray toward that goal with us?

So overall it's been a day full of a mixture of hope and the reality of the long journey in front of us. We're grateful for the triumphs of the day and hopeful for the goals the doctors have helped set.

It seems trite to sign off every night with "thank you" because we have so much more in our hearts than what those two little words can convey. Please know you have our unending love and gratitude and we offer up thanksgiving to God for all of you.

Jen for all of us

1 comment:

Ash said...

I just wanted you all to know that my thoughts and well wishes are with you all. I sent Chris an album of pictures I had of Jeff and hopefully he will be able to share that with you all.

Jeff is a tremendous person with a strong will and a strong heart and I have faith that he will defy the odds and pull through this quickly and successfully.

Please know that I am here for anything you all may need...

And please tell Jeff I saw a "beautiful bridge" and thought of him....he and Chris will understand