Tonight I reached into the box of @Work Android Collectibles and blindly pulled out a new figurine to photograph and share. Whoa, what unexpected, sad serendipity: Healthcare Worker / Doctor / Nurse. That compels me to finally, clearly reveal our family crisis. Our daughter is at one of the local hospital’s intensive care units. Her condition is grievous.
Around 4:20 p.m. PST, on March 2, 2023, her best friend texted about being at the hospital waiting to see our only child. Someone they both know called him about an emergency with her. By amazing coincidence, he was six minutes drive from the facility and actually arrived and parked seconds before an ambulance arrived. He saw EMTs quickly haul her out of the back.
Because details aren’t all clear yet, and an investigation is underway to get them, I won’t discuss what may have happened at this time. Suffice to say she Coded enroute and had to be resuscitated. From the start, when speaking with two different ER doctors, I was warned that she had suffered oxygen deprivation that would lead to possible death or long-term health consequences.
The first MRI revealed strokes on both sides of her brain. Blood tests initially showed stress and likely damage (later confirmed) to other major organs, besides the brain: primarily heart, kidneys, and liver. For the two days that followed, she lay lumplike and lifeless, supported by a ventilator. She was 100-percent unresponsive to any stimuli. Doctors suspected brain death, and one even asked if we wanted to suspend treatment and let her pass away. Best prognosis was tracheostomy and feeding tube in bedridden state, based on her condition.
Then late that same day, March 4, a neurologist elicited response no one else had. She wanted to monitor our daughter for 48 hours longer before making any drastic decision. During that time period, she finally started showing signs of revival. Nothing dramatic. By March 8, when awake, she demonstrated intelligent awareness and followed commands. ICU staff conducted what they called a “breathing trial”. She could breath on her own but the ventilator stayed for fear she could choke on her own fluids, such as saliva.
Because her kidneys weren’t functioning properly, and as a result fluid and toxins built up in her body, I with extreme reluctance agreed to the insertion of a catheter in her neck for dialysis treatment, which was delayed because of a nursing staff shortage. The machine requires specialized skills. Meanwhile, our daughter was way more alert and responsive. I believed dialysis would be transformative—and it was.
When I arrived at the hospital on March 10, activity around her was frenetic and perceptible lightness hung in the air. Rehabilitation staff buzzed about and someone from the Services division came to discuss next steps. Dialysis finally started overnight, and she relatively rebounded. Alert. Responsive. Capable of breathing on her own. The attending physician authorized removal of the ventilator, subject to an examination to confirm that administration of a steroid had reduced swelling in her throat. That check was scheduled for 2 p.m.
But around 1:30 p.m., she vomited and possibly aspirated fluids. Staff also observed tremors that might be seizures. All of this stopped ventilator removal and started more tests, such as CT and EEG. Initially, the next dialysis commenced but was abbreviated because of the suspected seizures.
Nevertheless, next day, our daughter demonstrated almost annoying mobility in the bed and genuine responsiveness. That she could understand and follow commands was such a relief; everyone expressed surprise.
Today reminded me how tenuous is her health and vitality. Our daughter’s ability to respond diminished from early morning onwards. Looked like she might be trying to move but couldn’t. Dialysis, which twice before seemed to improve her overall wellbeing, was delayed again. Following the first dialysis, her heart rate relaxed into 50s and 60s—occasionally upper 40s beats per minute. When I left late afternoon, her pulse had finally come down to 107 bpm after staying in the low 120s for hours. She had a fever of 38.2 degrees Celsius (100.8 F). All the while, she continued breathing on her own with the ventilator still in place for support.
The doctors are concerned about damage to one side of her heart, which fluid build up can exacerbate. Dialysis delay, once more, leaves me concerned but also flushed back to reality. The attending physician told me yesterday that 90 percent of patients in similar state wouldn’t have made it this far. So we must brace ourselves for any outcome. She still might not survive, the road to recovery could be even longer than expected, and it’s too early to guess what will be the long-term prognosis—starting with the brain.
On this Sunday evening, my concern is more immediate. The longer our daughter stays on the ventilator the more likely damage to her throat or vocal chords. Meanwhile, infection risk remains (can you say pneumonia). Doctors push for a tracheostomy, but I don’t want them to cut open her throat to insert a trach tube. The request isn’t unreasonable, medically.
However, she can breathe on her own. When the ventilator is so close to being removed—and the procedure’s likelihood could increase following another dialysis treatment—I want to wait. The whole day looked like setbacks to me, which I expressed to one of her caretakers. He had a different take—that from the view inside the ICU, she progresses; improvement continues. These types of patients have up and down days, he said. One of activity and/or assertion can be exhausting.
Tomorrow, I will once again drive to North San Diego County and the hospital, where the quality of care has so far been exceptional. Google Fit scolds that I made zero of my goals over the last seven days. Longer than that and longer still, I expect. My health is nothing compared to the importance of our daughter’s.
Addendum: I suspect the anti-seizure may be the cause of her sudden immobility. I will ask that the medicine be stopped and/or replaced.
I am still surprised to randomly pull out the Healthcare Worker / Doctor / Nurse Android Collectible, which compelled me to finally share something about our family emergency.
The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2, utilizing the dedicated Macro mode. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/5 sec, 28mm; 7 p.m. PDT. Photo is straightened but not otherwise altered. Shot was handheld; I don’t own a tripod.