Journal entry by Charlene Johnson

On January 18 Kris brought Mark to Mercy hospital in Muskegon because he was having trouble breathing after fighting influenza for a week.  Looking back on that day I remember feeling worried but was confident that he had this and would be home in a few days.  We had no idea how serious his condition would become and how many emotions and tears would come in the days/weeks to follow. 

He was in the ICU at Mercy for 11 days.  He had a serious case of influenza that turned into pneumonia and his lungs were in serious trouble.  He was wearing a mask with forced air for several days when his condition continued to deteriorate they intubated him.  This would help his lungs relax a little and wouldn't require him to work so hard to breathe.  He was then diagnosed with ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome).  This condition causes inflammation in the lungs.  The doctors were telling us time was what he needed.  Time for the body to heal while we impatiently waited.  On January 30 his stats dropped and the staff at Mercy was unable to stabilize him so he was flown aeromed to Spectrum Butterworth in Grand Rapids.  This was such an emotional scary day for all of us.

Once at Spectrum they were still unable to get his stats back up so he was hooked up to the life-saving ECMO machine.  This machine pumps the blood out, fills it with oxygen and then pumps it back in.  This machine saved Mark's life.  He was on the ECMO machine until Saturday 2/24 and a lot of things happened during that time, lung collapse, lung fluid that had to be drained, and infection in his blood being the biggest things.  He has had a fever on and off for the last several weeks.  He also has a blood clot in his right leg below the knee.  They are watching this closely. 

He is still on the respirator which is doing a lot of the work for him right now.  But he is stubborn as you all know, so his first 24 hours off of the ECMO were up and down.  He wants to do things his own way so he was fighting the respirator a little and wanting do the breathing on his own.  But since his lungs are not working properly they decided to use a paralytic to allow the machine to completely control his lungs.  They were able to wean him from the paralytic yesterday and he was doing well at 5:00 pm yesterday.  Now when I say he was doing well, it means his blood oxygen is in the 90's and all of his other organs are working great. 

We have gotten so used to seeing him like this it that it has become our new normal for now.  But nothing about this is normal.  His condition is very serious.  When talking to the physician assistant yesterday she was very real and honest.  She said if we'd asked her a week or two ago if he was going to make it she would have said no.  But now her answer is yes but the reality is that it is likely he will never be the same.  His lungs will have scar tissue for the rest of his life.  Best case scenario is that he will have to take lung medications for the rest of his life.  There is also a possibility that he may need oxygen.

Many people have reached out to us and extended their support and we appreciate that so much.  What we need most is prayer.  So for those of you that have been in the know since Mark entered the hospital and for those of you that were unaware we apologize for not sharing and please don't take it personally.  We have been so overwhelmed with our own emotions.  Mark has been sedated for about 4 weeks so we are all longing to see him awake.  He does stir occasionally but is very incoherent which is probably for the best.

We will post updates here as we find out more information from Mark's team of doctors.  It will be much easier on the family to post updates here rather than sending out multiple messages each day. 

I apologize for the long post, daily updates will be much shorter now that you are up to speed.  You can post comments on this site and the family can read them and respond to questions.
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