Rachel Olson

First post: Apr 29, 2016 Latest post: Apr 23, 2017
Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We've created it to keep friends and family updated. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time. We are so thankful to God for your friendship and support. 

Recently, Rachel had surgery on her toe. Last Thursday, 4/21, Rachel was admitted to Dominican Hospital for an infection in the toe that had surgery.

While checking in on Rachel, one of the doctors concluded that Rachel is too sick to only be battling an infection in her toe. The doctor ordered several diagnostics, and found that Rachel had a perforated bowel.

Normally, a person with a perforated bowel would be rushed to the ER, feeling very, very sick, and rushed into the Operating Room. However, Rachel's immune system is almost completely shut down (for some time now), so she does not have the normal reactions to injury and infection. While bacteria and gas and undigested food has been leaking into Rachel's abdomen (we don't know for how long), her body has not be properly combating it, or alerting her that something very serious is wrong.

Because of the high risk of surgery for Rachel, and her other unique situations, treatment decisions were in a holding pattern. For a time, the exact location of the tear could not be identified because doing the normal endoscopic search for the tear could have made it worse.

On Monday, 4/25, around 8:30 pm, Rachel's doctor was checking in on her, and during an abdominal palpitation exam, found that Rachel's tear/abdomen was doing worse. The doctor ordered an emergency surgery for that evening.

The plan was for Rachel to go into the ICU after the surgery for careful monitoring. The surgery finished quickly, but 1 foot of her colon was removed, and Rachel was admitted to the ICU.

The first day after her surgery, Rachel's pain was mitigated fairly well. It was a gift. She was on a ventilator and mildly sedated. They quickly looked at stepping down the ventilator. Rachel would respond with hand squeezes and smiles (yes, even with a tube and equipment in her mouth!).

Day 2 after the surgery (Wednesday) started to reveal how difficult this recovery would be. They decided to keep her heavily sedated, and on the ventilator.

Day 3 after surgery, today, Rachel's pain is evading the pain medications. Rachel's team is adjusting and trying new combinations of meds to ease her pain. She's hurting pretty badly, and is heavily sedated - no more hand squeezes are possible, and she often will not respond at all. Sam et al. are letting her sleep, and keeping quiet until she opens her eyes every now and then. She cannot focus, or make eye contact.

Per normal ICU protocol, Rachel takes a daily "sedation vacation" (sounds nicer than it is), which means they reduce the sedative to check in on her pain levels, etc. These "vacations" are pretty bad for Rachel. She is in a lot of pain, and this time is particularly challenging for Sam, et al.

Today, they tried to take Rachel off the ventilator and it failed. She is currently back on the ventilator and under heavy sedation.

Sam is very grateful to have his kids with him at the hospital. They are sometimes all there, and sometimes rotate who is there, so that someone can go home and rest.

Sammy was at the hospital from Tuesday, early morning through today, and is going back to Southern California for work during a very busy and stressful work season, and his wife Sheena and their kids. It is very difficult to see his mom in such pain, and all the more now be so far away.

Clara is wrestling with her schedule. She is currently working nights at a NICU up in the Bay Area. Working nights and spending the day in the ICU with her mom does not afford much else, including rest, for Clara. She is looking at taking family leave, but is wondering if it is best to wait to do that until Rachel is discharged, and has the long, difficult recovery process. As many of you know, seeing a loved one in pain is enough. Trying to balance work is enough. Being a caregiver on top of it all is a lot to consider.

By the way, I (Ali Olsen - cousin) work at Dominican Hospital, and have the privilege of checking in with the Olsons for a few minutes each day (this way I can get you updates). When I went in today, Rachel suddenly opened her eyes, and started writhing in pain - rather forcefully. Clara calmly stood up, walked to the side of her mom's bed, held her hand, told her to breathe, and assured her mom that she was doing really well, and that she was ok to calm down and rest. Rachel did so almost immediately. She breathed when Clara told her to, and she closed her eyes when Clara told her it was ok to do so. It was truly one of the most beautiful and touching things I've ever witnessed. Clara then calmly sat back down and finished talking to me.

What can you do? 

1. Pray.
2. Write Sam, Rachel, Clara and/or Sammy a card. Please give it to me, or Chris, or mail it to 366 Tabernacle Drive, Scotts Valley, CA 95066.
3. Share the updates about Rachel.

Please refrain from:-- Contacting Sam, et al. via phone, text or email.
-- Visiting Rachel in ICU. You will not be allowed. Please also understand that Sam et al. want to spend their time at Rachel's bedside, or at home resting, so they are not able to visit with people either.

-- Sending flowers; no flowers allowed in the ICU.

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