Bert Carroll

First post: Aug 2, 2010 Latest post: Aug 14, 2010
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. I've created this page about my grandfather, Bert Carroll, aka "Grumpy" to keep all of our many friends & family updated about his progress. As an introdcuction to this site, it may help to read, "My Story", to better understand his first 6 weeks in the hospital.

Thank you for visiting, and for your ongoing support, well wishes, prayers and encouragement to Bert & the family. I hope to update this site regularly, so visit again and leave us a note in our "Guestbook".

With gratitude, Rasheda Carroll

Bert entered the hospital on June 15th for what we now know were complications related to a paraesophageal hernia (a.k.a hiatal hernia).  His stomach slid into his chest. He aspirated, resulting in "aspiration pneumonia".  He was transferred to the ICU on June 17th, when he began having major organ failure.

Week Two (6/22 - 6/28): He was intubated after his breathing continued to decline on the CPAP mask.  This meant he was getting support from the ventilator, by way of a tube going down his throat. (Grumpy has pretty damaged lungs to begin with, due to pulmonary fibrosis from asbestos exposure in his early career.)  He then developed "CMV Pneumonia", which we were told, was likely from intubation.  He also developed a yeast infection in the blood, caused by the various IV/PICC lines.  Lastly, he had acute kidney injury, which means his kidneys stopped working.  This is apparently not uncommon to ICU patients.  He began receiving dialysis about 4 times per week. 

Week 3: (6/29 - 7/5): Once he recovered from the infections, he successfully underwent major surgery to fix the hernia and stomach.  They also performed a tracheostomy, as one can only be intubated for a short time before damage to the vocal cord occurs.  The day after surgery, they "Code Blued" him, and shocked his heart, as the heart rate dropped significantly.  The doctors explained that it was likely the result of delayed dialysis leading to toxic/acidic build up in the blood, and the stress overall on the body from surgery.  They inserted a temporary pacemaker (which has since been removed) and his heart was in V-tach and A-fib for a few days with very low blood pressure at times, before it mostly stabilized.

Week 4 (7/6 - 7/12): They began to wean him from the ventilator almost immediately after surgery.  This is done by slowly reducing the rate/support of the ventilator from high to low and monitoring how well he is breathing.  His weaning modes were reduced from "PRVC" to "SIMV" and finally to "CPAP", which is the lowest setting on the ventilator.  He was doing well on CPAP and he even went for 4 hours OFF the ventilator, using what is known as a T-bar.  We were making INCREDIBLE progress!!

However, we also encountered a great setback.  Grumps got a new infection.   He had Septicemia from a MRSA infection in the blood and sputum (lung secretions).  This was terrible news, and we were told that it would be hard to survive this.  (I've read some reports that the death rate is as high as 80% for the elderly.)  They explained that this was likely caused by the tracheotomy tube.  He was sedated for several days, and we were invited to consider turning off the ventilator.  Fortunately, he woke and we were able to ask him what he wanted to do.  He said he did NOT want to turn off the ventilator and wanted to keep on fighting with the antibiotics.  I was certain we had lost him. These were hard days for us all. 

Week 5 (7/13 - 7/19): They began aggressive antibiotics, and amazingly, he showed immediate improvement.  It was totally unexpected, and simply amazing.  His doctors were all incredibly surprised.  Within a few days, he was back to weaning and on the T-bar for 3 days in a row (not including nights)! He even began to practice talking with a "Passy Muir" speaking valve. The speaking valve was a challenge, as he had to figure out how to breathe in through the trach and breath out through the mouth to engage the vocal cords.  Having not used his vocal cords in weeks, his voice was similar to a laryngytis whisper.  He was doing so well, they finally transferred him out of ICU!!

Week 6 (7/20-7/26): Grandpa was transferred into the Direct Observation Unit (DOU).  While this was something we were so excited about, it comes with some anxiety in that he is not monitored quite as closely.  However, one major benefit was that we could now turn off the room lights, and he could get more rest with fewer interruptions.  Unfortunately, we learned that yet again, he had another new bout of pneumonia in the lower left lung, likely caused by immobility.  His ventilator support was increased back to SIMV & PRVC modes.

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