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Mar 31, 2017 Latest post:
Apr 2, 2017
Welcome to Paul Blomer's CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
Here is Paul's story (written by his daughter, Kat, 3/29/17):
Dad was in the hospital for a knee replacement back in October. During that time, he was unexpectedly diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, which is a lung disease that involves damaging and scarring of lung tissue. The thickened, stiff tissue, of course, affects the ability for the lungs to work properly. Nobody knows why or how he got this disease. It could be from years of exposure to harmful gases and chemicals while he worked in the HVAC industry. It could be from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Nobody really knows, but Dad has it.
Since the October diagnosis, Dad's Pulmonary Fibrosis has progressively worsened. On February 28th, Dad had a scheduled surgery at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati for a more aggressive test (where they took a larger piece of his lungs for testing). The medical team never found anything more from the test results (other than the fact that he has Pulmonary Fibrosis, and that it keeps getting worse), and unfortunately, Dad hasn't left the hospital since then. He ended up in Medical ICU at Christ due to increased oxygen needs a few days after surgery, and his medical team quickly ascertained that Dad needed a double-lung transplant.
The team focused its efforts on a transplant hospital in Indianapolis (Indiana University Health Methodist), and a plan was put into place to get Dad some new lungs. The IU medical team listed some requirements in order for Dad to be accepted/transferred to its facility as a lung transplant candidate, which included having an ablation and left/right heart catherization performed on his heart. It also included the ability for Dad to walk 1,000 feet in 6 minutes, which is needed prior to a lung transplant to ensure that the patient is physically strong enough to handle the rehab that comes after a transplant. (NOTE: Dad's family completely recognizes the irony of that last requirement! He can't walk far or well because he needs new lungs and can't breathe...but he can't get new lungs and the ability to breathe unless he can walk far and well. Yeah. That requirement was a frustrating pill to swallow.)
The procedures on Dad's heart went well, and for a couple weeks, the focus was on walking, walking, walking. The folks in MICU (nurses, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy) came daily to take walks with Dad (while dragging his bi-pap oxygen machine, oxygen tanks, and monitors, etc.). Some days were better than others, but at least a few times, Dad walked 1,000 feet or more around the MICU! He had to rest a lot while walking, so he wasn't close to the time requirement yet, but the distance was there, and Dad's demeanor started to get more positive as well.
On St. Patrick's Day (March 17th), Dad took a good walk, was cracking jokes with the hospital staff, and he even sang himself to sleep with a high-flow-oxygen-tube-stuck-on-your-face version of the hymn, "How Great Thou Art." The next day, he was even moved to the step-down unit because his oxygen needs decreased. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse after that.
While on the step-down floor, Dad became more and more lethargic. He wasn't able to walk far, if at all. His oxygen needs started to increase again, and he started having extreme panic attacks during attempts to move or get up. The panicking is due to a feeling of oxygen starvation, and unfortunately, the attacks cause his sats to go down, so it's a bit of a vicious cycle. Eventually, Dad became bedridden for the most part, other than an occasional move from bed to chair.
On Monday, March 27th, Dad was moved back up to MICU. There is still a hope that he might eventually feel better again in MICU and can possibly "start over" the process of walking therapy at some point. His panic attacks, sats dropping, oxygen needs, feelings of misery, and bed-ridden status, though, are all contributing to a pretty grim outlook right now. The palliative care team is now involved in Dad's care, and the plan is to try to get Dad feeling at least a little better so that he can make an informed decision regarding what he wants to do from here.
At Dad's request, a priest visited him earlier this week and gave him the Anointing of the Sick sacrament, and we have all assured Dad that we will respect whatever decisions he makes in the coming days. He has been in the hospital for over one month, now, and is losing his drive to fight. We remain hopeful that he will start to feel better over the next few days so that he might find that will to fight again, and that he might be willing to "start over" with building strength in preparation for new lungs. We've also petitioned the medical team to start reaching out to other transplant hospitals (ex: The Cleveland Clinic) to see if another location might accept him as a candidate as-is (without the walking 1,000 feet in 6 minutes requirement placed by IU Health Methodist).
At times, it seems like we are grasping for straws; however, as long as there is at least a sliver of hope, we are going to remain hopeful and push for Dad and his team to keep trying. We do realize the reality of the situation at hand and are now praying for some miracles. Thank you for your continued prayers! We will use this site to update everyone as things go along. Please also know that you can post messages for Dad on this site, and we will relay them to him.