My Wicked Weekend in Pictures

I had a busy weekend!

Mr. T and I got up and drove to Dallas.  I took the wrong toll-way.  This is not surprising since there is insane construction at the exchange and I was arguing with the GPS.

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This is the GPS I was arguing with for part of the trip. Mr. T was a great navigator, though! (See the hand still messed up?)

First, we went to visit Erica and meet her new baby Landon.  He is so cute!  I love babies.

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I was more focused on holding the phone properly than I was smiling… but T taught me that the volume button takes pictures! I didn’t know that!

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Her daughter Em playing around with me and the camera!

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My baby holding her baby. I just love this picture. (You can barely see the steri strips still holding the gash by his eye closed!)

Mr. T and I stopped for lunch, and I took a picture and beamed it to Erica cause I knew there was a Taco Casa by her house, she just hadn’t found it yet.  I don’t think the rest of the country (and Canada) has Taco Casa, and I’m okay with that, cause it just means more for me!!!

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You don’t know what you are missing!!

After fueling up our bodies, we headed downtown to Fair Park.  A few months ago I bought us tickets to Wicked, the musical.  I splurged and spent the $15 for a ticket for valet, too.  So worth the $15!! I loved being able to just get out of the car and not worry about finding a place to park!

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Mr. T and I eventually found our seats. 🙂

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The view from our seats.  We were pretty high up, but we had a clear view of the stage so that was really nice.

Mom and dad saw this play on Broadway and both really liked it, and T and I have been looking forward to this for months.  It was so very good!!  I was reading the Playbill and several of the cast members were from the original Broadway cast, so that was pretty cool!

Now, just minutes before the show started mom texted me that Lee was out of surgery, so several hours later, and as long as we were already in Dallas, Mr. T and I stopped by the hospital to say hi to them.  What I didn’t know was that as soon as Lee was out of surgery and back in his room, something went wrong and they had taken him right back to the OR.  We arrived just as he was getting back to his room, again.  So, we waited.  Eventually mom and dad got to go back to his room to see him and then dad came and got T and I and we went back to see him.  Bless his pea-picking heart.  Poor guy has been put through the wringer. He was taken back originally that morning because his LVAD clogged up.  They put on a new LVAD, removed the RVAD and put him on ECMO.  As soon as he got back to his room they discovered that the LVAD and ECMO were not synced up properly, so they took him back.  Lee is the first patient that they have done the LVAD and ECMO at the same time.  Have I told you that yet?

Anyway… after seeing him and hugging mom and dad, we made the long drive back home.

We got back to our side of the world and ran by my parents house to gather up some things they needed and left them for my Uncle to pick up and take to them.  That was when Mr. T and I decided we were hungry again!  It was dinner time after all!

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My view from the dinner table!

We enjoyed a nice dinner out – and I had a coupon for a free dessert!  The restaurant doubled the dessert!! Instead of one serving, they put two on the same plate – so we didn’t really have to share – we got our own!  It was the perfect way to end the very busy day!

Sunday I rested.  A lot. Well, I did laundry.  I cleaned the kitchen and my bathroom.  I pulled a lot of weeds.  But otherwise, I rested.  My buddy BA came over and helped with the yard work and mowed, weed eated and trimmed the big bush up front.  I felt so much better once that was done.  I was too physically wiped out to do it and with T injured, there was no way.  So, I’m glad that I have great friends like that who can help out.  He stayed and had dinner with us, and we laughed and had a good time.  It was the perfect way to end the day.

It was a good weekend.  And I highly recommend Wicked – and Taco Casa!

A Mechanical Heart

My brother has a mechanical heart.

It is weird to even just say that.  So, let me back up a bit and catch you up.

Tuesday Lee ended up being sedated and put on the ventilator.  He spiked a fever, so he was also under an ice blanket (a blanket that they run cold water through to cool the body down, sometimes ice packs are put on top of this blanket to help bring the temp down even more.).  We were told Tuesday that he might not make it through the night.

He stayed pretty much out of it on Wednesday – on purpose, they wanted/needed him to be sedated while he was on the ventilator as each time he would surface, he’d fight the vent.  Also on Wednesday his fever broke, and then came back.  And then broke again.  It was decided that they would do the Right Heart Cath, no matter what!! on Thursday.

Thursday.  Lee’s fever came back but stabilized.  The docs decided not to do the right heart cath but to just proceed with the operation for the LVAD the next day.  They did discover that he is allergic to one of the meds that the surgeon wanted to use.  And, thank God for the surgeon who was willing to do the surgery.  Since it was such a high risk operation, apparently several turned down the opportunity.

Friday.  He has his surgery today.  About five hours in we got the report that he was doing so very well!  He was still open and on the table, but they had installed the device and were watching the heart respond.  They were also doing dialysis to cleanse his blood of toxins and meds. Yay!  This is great news.

About two hours later they came back and told us that the right side of his heart didn’t hold up when they put the LVAD on, so they had to go ahead and install an RVAD (if LVAD stands for left ventricle assisted device, guess what the RVAD stands for?  You got it! Right ventricle assisted device.)  They were still doing dialysis, but Lee was doing very good and it would be a few more hours.

victory

The next update we got was right at 2 hours later and he had survived the surgery!! I had left the hospital by that time and dad’s text finished with “Victory!” They will monitor him closely for his vitals to stabilize and for any internal bleeding.  Mom and dad got to see him briefly, and mom said that it was amazing, his hands were warm.  Lee’s hands haven’t been warm for ages, with the lack of blood flow, they were always cold.  So, if nothing else, we have physical proof that he has blood pumping though his body.

Now, he’ll have a very rough weekend, but, what a blessing.  He will wear a couple of devices to keep his heart pumping and he has to plug in to recharge every night.  But, having batteries to recharge means that he gets to come home! No, we don’t have a release date, but if he starts to heal, he gets to come home to finish healing.

Now, I know you are all wondering, so here’s your medical lesson:

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This is an LVAD – it’s bigger than you think.

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This is the internal and external picture showing how it works. We have four fail-safes on it in case of power failure or a short circuit.

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Thanks to the Mayo Clinic, you all will be the most educated people out there!

Keep in mind, because the blood from the left and right side of the heart can’t co-mingle, Lee will have two of these in his chest pumping his heart for him.

Oh! And, he was approved for transplant!! He has to recover from this surgery, have two teeth pulled (they are decaying and pose a risk of infection) and has to conquer the infection he has that the doctors can’t identify (and Lee is on the four most powerful antibiotics there are and the infection is still present… What’s up with that?!?).  Once those requirements are met, then he will be placed on the transplant list. This is good news guys!

Thanks for being there for this journey with me!  I’m sure there will be more.  And, I have to tell you all about Mr. T totally wiping out on his bike, and the fact that he needed stitches, but by the time someone agreed with me on it, it was too late.  I have pictures!! 🙂 Tomorrow we are going to meet Graced By Emilie’s new baby brother, and then going to see the Broadway musical Wicked, followed by a stop at the hospital to see Lee!

Have a great weekend!!!

Quick update on today’s surgery

Ok, my Word Press is acting up, and I’ve resorted to doing this on my phone.

First off Kari, it won’t let me comment on your blogs, so I want you to know that I hope it works out for you guys, either with moving or for things to improve at his job!

Secondly, thank you to everyone for their outpouring of support. I’m not usually a needy person, but my baby brother is like my son. With the 10 year age difference, we’ve always been close. It has been hard to see him going through this. His life is not what any one should go through, much less a 28 year old.

Today’s surgery was successful. This morning we were told that his kidneys were shutting down even more and so we really needed surgery to go well. I must tell you that he had a great team of doctors and nurses and staff. I mean, an awesome team. We stayed with Lee until the very end, riding down the elevator with him and then split ways at the OR. We were very blessed and the OR director came and got us out of the waiting room and took us to a private room. Me, dad, mom and Grammy Skeeter (mom’s mom). We were notified that the anesthesiologist said Lee was doing good and then an hour later we were notified that he had come through. We were back in his ICU room just minutes after he was. Again, let me tell you that he had a great team!

Once he was settled in his room, Grammy Skeeter and I left. It would be several hours before he really woke up. And I figured mom and dad could use some time together and with him.

It was so very emotional, and I will admit that I cried on the shoulder of the OR director, but I just love her and she took the tears in stride! I was okay until mom and dad shed tears! Well, I was kinda okay. Lol.

The road of recovery from this surgery will be up and down, and we still have his heart condition, gout and diabetes to contend with, but it feels good to have this part over with. I texted mom a bit ago and she said that he was starting to stir and that his color looked better.

I’ll go sit in ICU with him tomorrow morning and hopefully my mind will settle and I’ll be able to get more accomplished!

Thanks again for all of the prayers and support, I just wanted to give you a heads up that all went well and we are very happy right now. 🙂