Noelle Updates

Sat 8/25

1:15 pm.  Noelle is home!  She was released directly from ICU and sent home.  She has a whole list of what she can do and what she can't.  Can walk and climb stairs, cannot drive or go for long car rides, use the computer for more than 20 minutes at a time.  etc...

She was in a lot of pain after the ride home.  The jiggling, turns, and bumps all aggravated her pain so we got her pain prescription filled right away. 

Fri 8/24

9 pm.  I can't imagine why they wouldn't want to let her go home.  She is socializing with all the nurses, climbing out of bed (and causing alarms to go off), and generally looks great.  They are serving her regular hospital food which she is (understandably) turning her nose up at.  The progress she has made since surgery is amazing.  Swelling is down and spirits are up.

She is still in ICU but only because they either can't find a bed for her or they are enjoying her company too much to let her leave.

We are hopeful that they will release her to go home in the morning.

2:30 pm.  Getting out of bed and walking about 50 feet was the physical therapy for today.  Noelle hasn't been on her feet since Wed but she did great.  She really enjoyed being vertical for those few minutes and she is looking forward to moving out of the ICU later today.

Tests indicate that the surgery was a smashing success.  The Dr. told us before the operation that it would take weeks before any real improvement was noticed.  Not so!!!  Before the surgery Noelle had right arm pain (gone), tingling in her right arm and leg (gone), weakness in her right arm (now strong as the left) and a "heavy" right foot (now the same as the left).  Various numb areas have gained feeling.  It would seem that the operation has done exactly what it was supposed to do.

Her bags are packed for a move out of ICU to a regular room later today.  Once in the regular room she can have visitors but there may not be time for that.  They told her that she might be able to go home tomorrow if she gets all the releases (her Dr, physical therapy, the lung Dr, et. al.).

She is still complaining of pain level 7 but she is off the morphine so I guess that is progress.

Thurs 8/23

8:30 pm.  Every visit shows more improvement.  Noelle is sitting up in bed and getting to know all the ICU workers, not only by name but by number of children they have, spouses occupation, etc...

She borrowed my cell phone to call her mother in Hawaii who was delighted and relieved to hear from her even with her frog-like voice.  Lisa visited with her today and they had a nice girl-chat while I read and listened to the ball game.

She is slowly taking in food again, starting with a weak fruit juice and a weak broth.  Tomorrow they move up to Jell-O.  Also (can you believe it) physical therapy begins tomorrow along with a  move out of ICU.  She is still describing pain as a 7 on a 1 to 10 scale so we will look for improvement in that area tomorrow.

Once again, Noelle was delighted to get emails from friends.  They really mean a lot to her.

2:30 pm.  The breathing tube has been removed.  No more notes from Noelle in ICU!

Her voice is raspy, she sounds like a caricature of herself but she is communicating and drinking juice.  We just had a small visit during lunch time but her spirits are up and she seems fairly comfortable.  I had a brief talk with the Dr. who was pleased both with the surgical outcome and Noelle's progress.  

One more day in ICU and then she will spend a few days in the regular hospital where she can have visitors.  She really appreciates the emails she has been getting.  I am printing them and taking them to the hospital where I read them to her and leave with her for later perusal.

9:30 am.  Noelle is much better this morning.  She is breathing on her own but still with the tube in place.  Hopefully, they will remove the breathing tube this morning and that will be a big step forward in comfort level.  She describes her pain currently as a 5 on a 1 to 10 scale.

I read some emails to her this morning and that was a cheerful moment for her.  I left a packet of get well cards and printed out emails so she can look at them today.

She is much steadier with the pencil and paper this morning and the nurses are kept busy reading her notes and keeping her supplied with paper to write on.  She is communicating with the nurses, asking me about baseball scores, and asking how the business is going.

Noelle is the only patient assigned to her RN at the moment so she is getting lots of attention and good care.

Wed 8/22

10 pm.  I left Noelle sleeping soundly and apparently comfortable.  It would seem that the worst is over.  Her spirits are very good.  She is still writing notes.  The nurses are often surprised with a painfully difficult written note that simply says "You are nice." or "Thank you."  

6 pm.  I've just spent a couple of hours with Noelle in the ICU.  She is doing very well.  She had a little problem getting used to the breathing tube (who wouldn't!) and she is in some pain but they are giving her something for that.  

She demanded a tablet by waving her arms and making a writing motion so she could write what she wanted to the nurses and doctors. We had to hold the clipboard up while she shakily guided the pen but it didn't take long until she had them pretty well organized.  Once she had them organized, (the correct pain medication, a wet cloth for her forehead, the blankets turned down, and the breathing tube adjusted) she dismissed them and turned her attention to me.

I was told to call Lisa (our daughter) and her mother while she listened in.  Then I was ordered home to eat and watch the Padre game.  I am grabbing a quick bite and will return to the ICU to spend time with her this evening.  The Padres can win without me today.

She is in good spirits.  She has mastered an insistent wave (hello, who are?) for each new person that comes into the room.  Once they introduce themselves they can go about their business but not until then.  Nurses, orderlies and doctors all get the same wave and hand squeeze once introductions have been made.

2 pm.  The Dr. says that everything went exactly as planned.  She is in recovery right now and they are waking her up after the surgery.  They hope to be able to remove the breathing tube tomorrow.

7 am.  Delivered Noelle to the hospital at 6 am this morning.  We were both wide awake at 4:30 am and did not need the alarm.  Noelle was surprisingly calm and confident.  She was joking and talking with the nurses when I left her at the hospital.  I will post more as soon as I hear from the Dr. this afternoon.

Tuesday, Aug 21, 10 pm

I appreciate all the advice I have been getting:  Relax.  Trust the doctors.  Go with the flow.  Don't worry about a thing...  Yes, I really do appreciate the advice but, I will still confess to a small case of the jitters.

There will be no problem with the Dr.  He does this all the time, it is all he does, and he does it well.  The hospital, Scripps Encinitas, is also very good.  No worries there.

But, I hope the OR nurse is having a good day tomorrow.  I hope the anesthesiologist gets a good nights sleep tonight.  I hope the janitor did a good job of cleaning the OR and making it sterile.  Perhaps I am over thinking this.

I have prepared in every way I can.  I have asked dozens of questions and the medical staff has been very good about answering every one of them.  I understand everything about the operation and aftermath.  Oh, wait, I just thought of another question.  With this metal in my neck will I be more susceptible to lightning strikes now?  Should I hide during thunderstorms?  Will these things rust?

Ok.  Maybe I should follow the advice.  I have done my part.  I can think of nothing left to do.  My bag is packed. The alarm is set.  

It is time to trust in God.

PS.  If you want to send me email please do.  Bob will print them and bring them to the hospital.

Tuesday, Aug 21

Tomorrow is the big day.  I go to the hospital at 6 am and the operation starts at 7:30.  They tell me the job will take about 8 hours to complete.  After that I have a couple of days in ICU to look forward to then a few more days in the hospital before going home.

Oh, if that were the end of it!  I will have to wear a cervical collar for 8 weeks or so (even in the shower and while sleeping).  No driving during that period either.  No car trips longer than 15 or 20 minutes as a passenger.  If I go to the airport I will have to have a note from my Dr. explaining why the metal alarms all go off when I'm around.

They say that sleeping will probably be most comfortable in a recliner rather than the bed.

Then, physical therapy. 

I will be looking forward to Thanksgiving.  By that time I should be my old self but with a few expensive new parts and an extended warranty.

Bob will post updates here tomorrow as soon as he hears anything.

Monday, Aug 20

Wed, Aug 22 is fast approaching.  That is the day that I undergo cervical spine surgery.  You can see what will be done to me by looking at IV on page 23 and 24 of this pdf file(1.5M).  The photos will give you some idea of the fun I will be having for the next few days. 

I have been told that I should expect to be in Intensive Care for 2 or 3 days and out of the hospital in about a week.

Thank you for caring enough to check up on my progress.  There will be an update posted by my husband (Bob) at least once per day while I'm in the hospital and perhaps even after I get home.