Carol Palmer's Medical Condition -- Updates
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First of all, I want to thank everyone who is praying for Carol. I know this helps.
The outpouring of support from friends and from people I know only via the internet
has been gratifying and amazing!
Even more amazing are the people who remember Carol from the various conventions.
She never seemed to think anyone would remember her. We are both delighted.
I also must thank a very special person, my mother-in-law Jane Houston Thurman, who is a retired Registered Nurse. She drove all the way down here from Abilene, Texas to help me with Carol. Jane has been a Godsend. I coudn't do this without her.
I also need to thank Trixie Bond, Dennis Keim and Leigh Jenkins, who have been aces in helping me get through this.
This morning about 5:25 AM, I got a call from the hospital, requesting approval for the installation of another IV line. I consented, and the line was installed. At 7:45 AM, just before I left for the hospital, I got another call, stating that her blood pressure was dropping rapidly, and they were going to do everything the could to keep it up.
I looked in on her at the hospital, and could see that she was not doing well at all. She was in a state of agonal breathing, which looks very painful. Her bodily functions were not good. I prayed for her several times during this period.
I returned to the hospital at 3:45 to see if there was any improvement. There was none. I asked them if they could keep her alive until her mother shows up tomorrow. They said they would do their best.
Their best wasn't good enough to combat the general physical failure of Carol's body. At 8:20 PM, after a series of attempts at CPR and other heroic measures, Carol slipped into eternal rest.
This is very difficult for me, but I do have a support group of friends, some local, some national, some international. They have all been a big help to me.
I thank you again for your support. I will keep everyone posted about funeral arrangements, etc.
Carol had a terrible night last night. Sometime during the night, the transformer that supplies the electricity to the hospital blew out, leaving them on their emergency generator. Their air conditioning also went out. This morning when I entered the hospital, it looked like a scene from a sci-fi movie. There were portable air conditioners in the corridors. The lights were on low power. I got to Carol's room, and she was lying on her back, staring off into space. During the night, she had become agitated and had shaken her head so violently that she dislodged the trach tube. She coded for a few seconds, but they got her back. However, between the shock and a lingering infection, she had become unresponsive. During the afternoon, I came back, and she was a little better. By 7:00 PM she was doing a bit better, but she isn't back yet. This has been a major setback. But we are not giving up.
This morning, they replaced the PEG tube, so Carol is once more ingesting the rather odd-looking yellow mixture that passes for nutrition. I understand that the mixture is actually good for the patient, but according to a nurse friend of mine, it doesn't taste as good as it looks. I warned Carol not to burp any of it back up. She has been somewhat agitated in her sleep, so she is being restrained while asleep. This is not pleasant for an independent spirit like Carol. However, it is necessary.
Weekends are really strange at the ICU. There is a partial staff. Early this morning, Carol pulled out her PEG tube, so she will need to have that reinserted. However, they are keeping an eye on her fairly closely so it doesn't happen again.
Today's visit was cut somewhat short. Carol became quite agitated during the night. She couldn't sleep. She kept trying to get out of bed and disconnect the ventilator from the trach tube. They had to subdue her. She was asleep when we came in this morning. The nurse explained that until she was having better results, we needed to keep out of the room, because she got too excited when people were in there. We will keep in touch with the nurses and continue to give reports.
This morning we received a rather odd shock when we came into the ICU. Carol was lying there, eyes open, but completely unresponsive. We were somewhat taken aback, because we thought something bad might have happened. This was not the case at all. She was basically sleeping with her eyes open. She had been somewhat agitated last night, and had been given a rather potent dose of a painkiller to keep her quiet. The exercise from yesterday's stint on the ventilator had been rather strenuous. After about a half hour, she woke up and recognized us. She was feeling very relaxed. She also figured out how to speak by moving air past the trach tube. This is a lot like esophageal speech, which is used by some people who have had laryngetomies. The sound of a voice coming from Carol was really wonderful. (Note -- Carol still has her larynx. The trach tube makes it difficult for her to use it. Once the trach tube is removed, she will be able to speak normally once more.)
Today she showed some improvement in my opinion. They are trying to wean her from the ventilator, so they had it set for one breath every 30 seconds or so. She got one breath from the machine, then she did 3 or 4 breaths on her own. This forces her to use her rib cage to keep enough air in her lungs to feel comfortable. She wasn't really happy about it, but she managed to stay on it for about 4 hours. Her attitude is good, and that's of major importance.
Today's update is not positive at all. Quite the contrary. Carol has been downgraded to a stage 4 cancer. She continues to have a lot of fluid in her chest, and it's not draining as well as we were hoping it would. She needs your prayers and support now more than ever before.
Today was a milestone, perhaps even a positive turning point. She sat in a chair for about five minutes this morning. This afternoon, she sat on the edge of the bed for about 15 minutes. Her x-rays show improvement, as well.
Carol's general attitude is somewhat improved. She really wants to get out of the hospital, but it's not time yet. Her mental functions are clear. They are gradually weaning her from the ventilator.
Carol had a bit of a positive turnaround last night. Evidently, the trip back from the radiology lab and the problem with the bed had shaken her up a bit. The respiratory technician said that her progress was very good.
Today's update isn't as optimistic as some of the previous ones. Her chest isn't draining as quickly as necessary, so they haven't been able to wean her off the ventilator completely. It's not a huge setback, but it's not good, either.
Evidently the results from the endoscopy were good. They installed the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube (which was the direct feeding tube I referred to in the August 18 report, and removed her nasal feeding tube. The folks at this hospital are great.
I have not seen the results from the endoscopy; however, they must have been good, because they have decided to remove the feeding tube from Carol's nose and use a tube that goes directly to her stomach. Her numbers were excellent today.
This morning before I arrived at the hospital, Carol had an endoscopy, which shows how her innards are doing. Haven't got the results back yet. Her trach tube was attached to the ventilator machine, but the machine was not pumping. In other words, she was breathing on her own. Once in a while, the ventilator would assist her for a moment, so the nurse tells me. I didn't see this happen. They turned the ventilator to full pumping before she went to sleep this evening. All in all, we are very happy with her progress.
Carol is steadily improving. Tomorrow she goes in for some special testing. There was more work with the physical therapist today. She is experiencing less pain today.
Today was spent mostly with administrative matters -- evaluations by the wound care specialists (went well!), evaluations by the physical therapists (also went well!!). Last night, Carol was able to be off the ventilator which goes directly into her tracheostomy tube, and she breathed on her own for a while. Later, they reconnected the machine. But this was real progress!!
Carol rested most of the day. Her mother stayed overnight last night. The cardiologist came in early this morning and stated that her heart was fine. She is very lucid. She may start physical therapy tomorrow. That is all very good news!
Carol is now firmly ensconced at Triumph Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas. It's a nice facility with an excellent staff. Several of the doctors from Memorial Hermann Southwest also practice at this hospital, which is why we moved her here. Her friends Leigh Jenkins and Jesse Garcia came to visit her. She still can't speak, because of the tracheostomy tube, but this may be corrected soon. Thanks again for all of your prayers, kind thoughts and get well messages.
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