Saturday, November 20, 2010
One Week In
All news from the front lines is good so far today. Looks like sedating RJ was a great decision, as his vital numbers have been really good for the past 24 hours. His lung function is improving and the doctors are thrilled with his kidney function. Overnight, they swapped out the old ventilator for a new one that should be gentler on his lungs and cause fewer long-term problems. News sent to blog central this morning is that they were able to reduce the oxygen levels on the new ventilator to 50%. Weaning him off of the machines to the point where he can breathe on his own will likely be a step down process as they swap around equipment and medications.
One thing about RJ - he has an amazing metabolism. We saw this the first few days as the doctors tried to find a level of pain medication that would ease his discomfort - they were giving him adult sized doses and it wasn't touching the problem. We saw it again yesterday as they worked to keep him sedated constantly. They gave him enough medication to sedate a horse, and an hour later, he began to stir and struggle to consciousness. More than anything RJ wants to be in control and work to get himself better quickly and unfortunately, right now the best way to do that is to take his consciousness out of the equation entirely.
The thing that's hard for his caregivers is that touching RJ at this point seems to interrupt his sedation, so it's pretty much a hands-off policy. When he is conscious, he wants you to hold his hand or touch his leg - contact with other people is really important to him, but anything that might interrupt his healing has to be avoided. Even though he is asleep, we're sure he can still hear us so we make sure that we have positive conversations while we are in the room. Depending on his level of sedation, just hearing the voice of someone he loves can cause his heart to race and his oxygen numbers to fluctuate, but as much as we want to lean down and give him a big hug, it has to wait until he's more stable. Sometime soon, he's going to be hugged so hard and so long, he's going to be sick of us.