Friday, April 13, 2007

No Surgery Yet, Chicken Pox Virus Re-Activates & Better X-ray

Yesterday afternoon, the doctors decided surgery to replace Brianna's current two chest tubes with one smaller one would not be a good idea today. They were sure the chicken pox virus had re-activated because the small blisters on her upper back, her low immune system and the trauma of surgery. It was confirmed by the lab's report today.

When it reactivates, it's shingles and many people get it when they are run down (low immune system) and stressed. It's also not surprising that it re-activated, because the virus has settled in the nerves on her right upper side, which is the same area where she had surgery. Another clue is that they stop at the spine and only affect one side of the body.

Surgery was delayed to ensure the virus wouldn't enter the inside of her chest. However, the thoracic surgeon/fellow (not a resident) did come by and removed the chest tube that lead to the back of her lung area. That was painful for her, but at least now she only has to deal with one until the surgery next week. She squeezed my hand tightly and did an awesome job controlling her coughing.

She's on acyclovir by IV, which will control the virus in the next five to seven days. So they are scheduling the surgery for next Thursday or Friday. Brianna will have a smaller tube inserted to reduce the risk of infection and to enable her to move a around easier. She does not like all that is happening to her, but is so compliant. Even if it hurts or is uncomfortable, she says, "Okay, what ever, let's just get it over with." She grits her teeth, pushes her pain medicine button for an extra dose and says I'm ready. She is so strong and determined.

The best news the doctors gave us was her chest x-ray yesterday showed that more of her upper lobe cleared and that even some of the lower lobe, which was totally collapsed, had opened. This was so encouraging that we are on the right road to getting her well.

However, a few days ago she was very down and cried saying this was too hard for her. That her body was so weak and she had never felt this way before. In fact, she hasn't eaten much at all in 8 days and has been in bed for almost a week - getting up only to use the bedside commode. She had major surgery and she shakes with fatigue when she gets up. (For those who know us, she was already skinny, but her legs are really thin now!) She's been put on nutrition IV, total parental nutrition, over night so she can eat during the day. If she doesn't, she'll at least get nutrition at night.

I comforted her and told her she just went through major surgery (just so you know - they cut through five layers of muscle just under the shoulder blade to get to the lung area). That it was natural for anyone to be feeling weak, shaky and just like they've been hit by a truck. Especially, when you add the fact that she really hasn't gotten a full nights rest in two months. I also said that she would get stronger as each day went by and each time she got up. I just don't like seeing her unhappy!

But she calmed down and actually got a lot of rest yesterday. She was a little stronger today and had a homemade ICEE - Italian orange ice, cranberry juice and ice cubes. She had been craving flaming hot Cheetos while in the ICU - but I could only find crunchy Cheetos. She only got about 20 down before she was full.

Also our TV was not working in our new room and my wonderful husband called the CEO of the hospital. It didn't take many emails and phone calls to explain what we've been through and how long we'd be here before he agreed we should be first in line to get a new TV. Around noon, Engineering showed up with a new television and the CEO's assistant brought a portable DVD player for us. Everything works fine and now Brianna and I can watch American Idol, Survivor and some of our other favorite shows and DVDs.

I have to say we've been blessed with so many friends. Alissa, one of my best friends from Memphis who I miss very much, will be flying out next week to spend a few days here. Her support will help me be strong for Brianna. And today I got a call from Christy, a dear friend from a group I'm in - Primitive Folk Art Tea & Talk on eBay. She said some of the members will fly in to see me around the beginning of May. I am just speechless with this kind of support and caring. I cried when I talked with both friends. We feel so lucky to be surrounded with such love not only from our family, but also from such generous friends. I am looking forward to seeing them.

Brianna and I will be here for possibly another two months. We still have a long way to go, but the new therapies are already providing some promising results. Thank you to everyone who has helped us in the past two months and continue to everyday.


Sam I Am said...

Can't wait to give you a Hug Iva!! :)

Kingfisher Farm said...

I wish I could come too Iva and Brianna, but I dont think the hospital would let the ponies come in! They are VERY disappointed, as we decided they needed new halters that match their shoes! Aqua and Pink, and I splurged for faux fur plumes on the top of their heads! So the next time you see them in your dreams, Brianna, be sure to tell them how fancy they look, its all for YOU!!! Hugs, Pam

Christy said...

Yippee for us!!! I am so looking forward to this! Do you girls like movies? Maybe some new things to watch would be nice. I am so Happy for the positive strides that Brianna is making. Woo hoo! Your little body is fighting hard honey, don't worry if you are a little weak in the knees. You are strong in spirit...and whenever you aren't WE ARE! Love, Christy

Anonymous said...

Hi Iva!! I am so happy to hear all the great news!! How wonderful for you to get some company also!!Ask Crusty if she wants me to send my "I LOVE LUCY" library along? hehehe I wish I could give you a great big hug....MWAH :) jojo

Anonymous said...

Hi Brianna!!!
You go girlfriend!! You are sooo cool!! You are only geting stronger and stronger both physically and mentally ,so keep it up!!Great great news...I am very Happy today!! a million hugs jo.... a wench by any other name ... :)

Kitty Forseth said...

Hello Girlfriend!

Just thinking of you this morning, as always :) and wanted to send you some love. Keep the faith.. you are both so incredible.. you are my heroes.

Hugs and Kisses,