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On February 13th, Lois was not feeling well and went to the doctor. She was diagnosed with bronchitis and was given an antibiotic. Later that evening she felt shortness of breath and began a nebulizer breathing treatment. At 3:00 a.m. Christian woke up to find Lois gasping for breath and asked him to call an ambulance. Fortunately, with quick thinking, Christian decided to put Lois in the car and take her quickly to the hospital. This was imperative timing because it would have taken much longer for the ambulance to receive the call and arrive, than the quick thinking of taking Lois straight to Jewish Hospital. On the way to the hospital, Lois became unconscious, stopped breathing, and then her heart stopped. Christian carried her into the hospital and they began resuscitation. CPR was completed for 4 minutes before successfully getting Lois's heart beating again. She was intubated, and remained in the ICU. Although receiving sedatives to help her remain calm, Lois was responding to specific questions such as; move your left foot, wiggle your right toes, squeeze my hand, thumbs up, and even answered questions about her medical history and medicines by shaking her head yes or no.
However, as time progressed Lois became agitated, and her vitals were unstable. The more aware she was of having a ventilator, the more agitated she became. So the decision to provide paralytics (Nimbex) was made. This would allow relief to mom's mind, but also her body while her lungs recuperated without agitation. The doctors struggled to balance the medicines while mom was under. At one point it was discovered that the sedatives had worn off, but the paralytics were still in place. Each day was long, and the nights longer as they rotated mom every two hours, administered breathing treatments through her ventilator, and monitored the beepings and buzzings of each different machine and monitor. The nurses were amazing and provided great care for Lois, and emotional support for the family. Each day the family was hopeful for the word that Lois's lungs were healthy enough to abandon the vent. However, as each day revealed itself, the outcome was disappointing. On February 24th, one month from Lois's 60th birthday, the family received the word they wanted. Lois was ready for extubation. They were so excited to be able to have the sedation turned off so that they could talk about the upcoming cruise for her 60th birthday. However, upon extubation it was clear there was vigorous efforts in recovery needed.
During the first 24 hours after extubation, Lois struggled to make any eye contact, follow commands, or identify understanding with any emotion or response. The doctors became increasingly worried, as they thought this was a result of the sedatives. However, long after the sedatives should have worn off, Lois still demonstrated great cognitive difficulties. The doctors ordered an MRI which indicated there was damage in the lower back part of her brain (please excuse the lack of medical vocabulary). However, they concluded that this wasn't caused from losing O2 for the four minutes because she was so responsive initially. Her condition stumped the medical team. As a matter of fact, it is still stumping them. They are thinking maybe it was an adverse reaction to medications, primarily steroids and paralytics. However, each day following, Lois had an increase of understanding and abilities.
Currently Lois is talking in short sentences, usually in response to questions, in a whispering voice. We are working on speaking with vibration and swallowing so she can have her feeding tube removed. She longs for the ability to even have ice chips, but is thankful for the water released when given by a sponge. We are hopeful for an improvement in the ability to swallow correctly and protection of lungs when swallowing so that food can be introduced. She is gaining strength in her limbs, and is able to move her arms carefully up and down and squeeze her hands. We are working on building strength in her legs, and boots are helping to keep her legs upright and her feet stable. On February 26th, Lois was moved from ICU to another floor. She is thankful to have her family staying with her to provide the care she needs to rebuild strength. However, we know that Lois has specific needs that an acute physical therapy facility can provide. The family is currently working with a case manager to coordinate such care.