Sunday, April 26, 2009

Phoenix - Part 3 - After Surgery

The following are excerpts from the emails we sent to family and close friends:

4/11/09 - Katie had a rough night. She was sick from the anesthesia and is still in a lot of pain. They are giving her a variety of anti-nausea and pain medications to try and get it under control and make her more comfortable. She will be in ICU for at least two more days and then they will move her to a regular room.

4/12/09 - AM Update - Happy Easter! Katie is doing much better today! Yesterday was rough but they managed to get her pain under control. She was pretty out of it for most of the day. They are going to keep her in ICU for another day or two and then may release her rather than transfer her to a regular room. She looks great today. They got her out of bed and this caused some dizziness. We just ordered her a bagel and she is hoping that will help to alleviate that. She is more alert and does not seem to be in as much pain.

PM Update - The doctors and nurses say that Katie is doing very well. The physical therapist came in today to get her up and out of bed. They did all kinds of tests on her and she passed with flying colors. Unfortunately, she is in a lot of pain and said that today was the worst pain that she has had so far. Getting out of bed and sitting for even two minutes was excruciatingly painful for her. She is very dizzy and her vision in blurred. Seeing her in so much pain is almost as hard as it was to see them take her away for surgery.

4/13/09 - AM Update - Katie had a decent night. She was able to get some sleep and her pain seems to be more bearable today. The occupational therapist came in this morning and did all kinds of tests on her. He got her out of bed and she lasted much longer than she did yesterday. Her vision is still blurred and the pain increases the longer she is in the upright position. We will try again with her later as he said that she should try and get up every 1-2 hours. I can see in her face that this is torture for her.They will be removing the lumbar drain hopefully later today and this will allow her to be more mobile. At that point they are going to make her walk and I know she is not looking forward to that.We haven't seen the doctor yet today so we don't know the results of the latest MRI but as I said earlier, everyone says she is doing great. We can see a big improvement since we left her last night. Shortly after we got here this morning she asked "Who have you talked to?", "are there any emails?" and "have you let everyone know that I am doing ok?" I read her all the emails that we received and she even laughed out loud at several of them.

PM Update - Katie is improving every day. We got her out of bed several times today and although the pain gets to be unbearable, she is always willing to give it a try. They removed the lumbar drain and now all she has left is the IV line. Even though it is now 10pm Phoenix time, they are still talking about moving her from ICU to a regular room tonight and possibly releasing her tomorrow. We think it's too soon. She still has tremendous pain after sitting upright for more than 4-6 minutes and her vision is so blurry that it makes her nauseous.

4/14/09 - AM Update - It is a new day and we have so much to be thankful for. Katie had a good nights sleep and is feeling better today. She is still experiencing quite a bit of pain when she sits up but the dizziness and blurred vision seems to be slowly improving. The occupational therapist was just here and he got her out of bed for a stroll around the ICU unit. She did very well but is now fast asleep as it seems to have worn her out. The good thing is that whenever she gets woken up for these activities she is ready and willing to do them. When he came in and told her what he wanted to do, she said "Let's do it!". She seems to be more tolerant of the walking than just sitting still.We are hoping that they will keep her here for at least one more night. The thought of bringing her back to our condo at this point really makes us nervous as we will be a good 30 minutes from the hospital God forbid something was wrong. They will hopefully move her to a regular room where she can finally take the shower she has been asking for since Saturday :o) The original plan was for her to have the sutures removed on Monday morning, 4/20 and then to catch a flight later that day for home. We are hoping for that to be the case but are making preparations to stay just in case she is not yet feeling up to traveling.

PM Update - Katie did much better today. After the occupational therapist came in this afternoon, we got her out of bed several more times to walk the halls of ICU. She was bound and determined to stay upright for as long as she could take it and she did GREAT! The pain was still there, the dizziness was still there, but she did it! Her surgeon came to see her this afternoon and decided that it would be best to keep her for at least one more night. They were going to move her to a regular room tonight but had not yet done so before we left. The ICU nurses were amazing and took such good care of her. As hard as it is for us to leave her at night, we know that she is in good hands. It is amazing to see how much she is improving every day. To think that on Saturday she could not even open her eyes or lift her head off the pillow, and today she was walking the halls, is unbelievable. We even gave her a shower this afternoon! She had been asking for one since Saturday and said she felt like a new woman afterward. Her incision looks to be healing nicely. It's much bigger than we first thought but unless you ask her to show it to you, you will most likely never see it.

4/15/09 - AM Update - Katie was moved out of ICU and into a regular room last night. She had a good nights sleep but seems to have more pain this morning than she had yesterday. The doctor was in this morning and said she is doing great. They are definitely going to release her today as he thinks she will recuperate better out of the hospital.

We just had her out of bed and she walked the halls of the 6th floor neuro unit. It was a much longer walk than yesterday but she did great. She is now using a walker and that helps her to stay steady on her feet. Now she is back in bed and fast asleep - these walks seem to exhaust her and they make her head hurt even more.

Hopefully our next update will be from the comforts of our condo in Scottsdale. We are hoping that she will feel well enough in the next few days to be able to sit out on the patio and enjoy the warm sunshine that we are having here.

PM Update - Katie was released from the hospital and is now resting comfortably in the king size bed at our condo!!! She is feeling great and eating some cheese and crackers as we speak. They sent her home with a walker to help with her balance and an eye patch to help correct the double vision. She keeps referring to herself as Katie Sparrow (as in Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean). Her scar is healing nicely. They only shaved about a 1" wide by 6" long strip of her hair and the incision is about 5"-6" long. If you ever want to see it, you will have to ask her to show it to you. It's quite a battle scar. She has an appointment on Monday morning to have the stitches removed and then hopefully some R&R by the pool for a few days before she flies home. You know how my sister loves a good tan!! Several cards and gift baskets have been delivered to the condo here and she was thrilled to read and see them when we came in. We on the other hand, (Mom, Dad and Suzie) were excited to eat something other than the hospital food we have been living on for the last six days!!

4/16/09 - Katie settled in to our "home away from home" nicely and is feeling better and better every day. Yesterday afternoon we walked around the complex here. It was a sight to see - Katie in her pj's, eye patch, crazy hair and a walker. Only a few people stopped to stare. She was feeling well enough on our return to sit at the table and eat dinner with us. This was a big change from the picnics we were having in her hospital bed. For the first time since this ordeal began on February 5th, we all slept great last night! I think we averaged about 10 full hours. It is such a relief to have the worst of this over and to see her improving all the time. This morning, after having breakfast in bed (again), Katie took a real shower. We are now getting ready for another walk as it is a beautiful day here in Scottsdale. Hopefully, most people will be at work so we won't have too many gawkers.

4/17/09 - It is now 11am Friday morning and we just got back from our first walk of the day. Katie did great although her eyes are bothering her more today than they previously have. We are hoping that it means her vision is on it's way back. I don't know if I mentioned in any of my first emails, but our brother Tim and sister-in-law Barbara were here and were able to stay through Katie's surgery. It was awesome having them here and they were so supportive not only to Katie but to Mom, Dad and I as well. Tonight, our other brother KC and sister-in-law Jodi are arriving for the weekend. Katie is excited and if you know KC and Jodi, you know that we are in for a lot of laughs. Unfortunately, our brother Tom had to work so he stayed behind in CT. He's been doing a great job of taking care of Katie's dog Roxy who she has said more than once that she can't wait to snuggle with her! We booked flights for Tuesday for Katie, Mom and Dad to fly back to CT and me to FL. We are anticipating that the doctors will say that everything looks great and she is free to go home and get on with her life.

4/18/09 - KC and Jodi arrived last night, Mom cooked a delicious dinner using a lot of the food from the gift baskets that were delivered and we all managed to stay awake until 9:30pm! Katie was excited yesterday because she "skyped" with several of her friends from the school where she teaches. She was as excited to see them as they were to see her and her spirits were definitely lifted. Katie had another good day today. We went for a few "pirate shuffles" around the complex and at one point even ventured outside the gates of our home away from home. We knew that Katie was well on the road to recovery when she suggested a trip to a local restaurant for a "skillet cookie" dessert. We had one last week when we first arrived in Phoenix and she did not want to leave without having another. The second time was as good as the first and we all left with our bellies bulging. Mom and Dad bought eye patches today and we laughed so hard that we were crying. We put them on and marched into Katie's room shouting out our best pirate bootie calls. Tomorrow we are going to mass at the chapel at St. Joseph's Hospital and then will lay low for the rest of the day. Monday morning at 8:30 she will see the doctor to have her stitches removed. We are all looking forward to getting home on Tuesday.

4/19/09 - We woke up this morning and Katie was feeling better than she had been so she suggested that we go to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix where they were having a Dale Chihuly exhibit. We had been talking about doing this ever since we arrived almost two weeks ago. It was a beautiful day so we all piled into our mid-sized rental car (all six of us) and off we went. As soon as we arrived, Katie said that she wasn't feeling well and she was just going to lay down in the car, but we should all go in because she knew that we really wanted to see it. So, we did what any good family whose daughter/sister just had brain surgery nine days ago would do - we left her in the car, in the hot Arizona sun and went in. It was AWESOME!!! Fortunately for Katie, the guilt hit us when it reached 92 degrees and we headed back to the car to make sure she hadn't melted into the back seat. All was well as she had chatted on her cell phone and taken a nap for almost the entire time we were in there. KC and Jodi just left and we were sad to see them go. We had a great time and a lot of laughs. Being with our brothers from Utah this past week made us realize that we don't spend nearly enough time with them. I hope we will in the future.

4/20/09 - Katie had her stitches taken out this morning and the doctor said that she was doing great. Other than being a little sore at the incision area and still experiencing double vision, she is feeling 100% better than she was just one week ago. The doctor we saw today, who was not much older than Doogie Howser, told her that she does have a titanium screw in her head but it's not big enough to set off the alarms at the airport security check. She has some restrictions but basically just needs to listen to her body and can do things as she feels ready. She has an appointment on Friday to see a neuro ophthalmologist in CT who can hopefully help her with the double vision. She did say that as soon as the double vision goes away she plans on having a nice cold margarita! It's amazing how far she has come in just 10 days. It doesn't seem possible that less than two weeks ago she was being taken away on a gurney for brain surgery. I asked her if she remembers anything from that day. The last thing that she remembers is all of us circled around her bed, holding hands and praying for her. I was glad to know that while we were a mess watching her being wheeled away, she has no recollection of anything other than how much we love her.

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