I've been meaning to write an update of how things went this week and was just sitting down to write one when I received this update from Greg's mom (included below). She does a great job explaining how this week went and I'm very grateful because I'm feeling pretty worn out right now and didn't really feel up to writing.
As you'll see in her update Greg has improved so much this week - it's been really encouraging to see him getting stronger each day now that his pain is under control. There are some prayer concerns below but all in all we feel so blessed and encouraged by how things are going. It amazes me that he has had a new heart for 3 weeks already - in some ways the last few months seem completely surreal. Though he has a long way to go physically, most of the time (when he's not dealing with the steroid side effects) he is able to think more clearly than he has in over a year - it's awesome to see his brain working with adequate oxygen!! Thank you for continuing to pray for us. We appreciate you a lot.
I wanted to give you all an update at the end of Greg's first week home and 3 weeks (yesterday) of having a new heart. As you know from our message earlier this week and Elise's blog update, it's been a difficult week. She did a great job of explaining how things REALLY were early in the week.
He had an "emergency" visit to the clinic on Tuesday due to increased swelling, difficulty breathing, uncontrolled pain, and possible wound infection. Those concerns were all addressed and thankfully, he has been feeling much better since then. He was placed on Bumex (a diuretic) and he said that it felt as though some of the swelling in his abdomen had gone down, which allowed him to breathe more freely. Despite that, the swelling in his feet and legs has continued to increase, along with his weight. I was fearful that his kidneys were failing again, but he explained to us last night that his kidneys are functioning pretty well!
He was seen for his regularly scheduled appt. in the clinic yesterday and they did increase his diuretics a bit, but he believes that the swelling is from the steroids. The change in pain meds has resulted in much better pain control, allowing him to exercise more effectively and breathe more deeply, which was essential for his recovery. He still has some lung expansion issues, but he is definitely headed in the right direction in that department.
The area at the top of his chest incision appears to be looking better, but there is an area midway down that is causing some real concern for infection right now. He said that it has grown from about a dime size to a half dollar size in the past couple of days. The doctors are aware of it and have increased his antibiotics and are keeping close tabs on him. If this area opens up, they may need to "clean it out" and it would have to be packed on a daily basis, allowing it to heal from the inside out. Another issue that has developed is something called a lymphocele where he was punctured so many times between the heart/ lung bypass machine and dialysis catheters. If this does not go away, they might need to open it (allowing it to drain) and their plan would be to place something called a "wound vac" to it which is a sponge-like application connected to a motor of sorts that draws the drainage out and allows it to heal.
Both of these things are of great concern and we would so much appreciate your prayers that both areas would heal completely without further intervention. Greg still remains anemic and the doctors feel that is related to his kidney function still not being what it should be. They've instructed him to eat a diet high in protein which will stimulate the kidney production of a hormone that will increase his red blood cell production. He said that Elise has been making DELICIOUS food for him to accommodate that "order" and that his appetite is returning! The PT/ OT have been working with him and he is now able to walk the steps, using phone books to decrease how high the step is.
We had a wonderful conversation with him last night and were delighted to hear that his voice is gaining strength again! He sounded stronger and more clear in thought than the last time we spoke and that is such an encouragement. He said that the days this week have been filled with medical appointments at home and the hospital, but it seems that he is receiving great home care and that he and Elise are being SO supported by their friends staff with getting in and out of the apartment/ groceries/ prescriptions, etc. They and we are very grateful!
He was delighted to tell us that they had finally decorated their Christmas tree on Wednesday night and that it was just wonderful to sit and look at how beautifully it turned out. Another example of Christmas "magic"! He has made it a goal to take a shower and accomplish two "goals" each day - along with the breathing and exercises that he is required to do. He sounded so motivated and proud of the progress they are making, despite total exhaustion for both of them.
His next "outing" will be to see the surgeon for a follow-up visit on Monday, which is extremely well timed, due to the concern about wound infection. They went and had another chest xray done yesterday in preparation for that visit so it will be great to hear what Dr. Spear has to say.
That's all I know for now, but will update you as I hear anything more. Thank you so much for continuing to care and pray - God's attention and answers to your prayers is so amazing to us all. Have a blessed pre-Christmas weekend! I know how busy this time of year is, but remember to take a break and marvel at how God knew our need and provided a Savior for us 2010 years ago and continues to be with us each and every day in all of our needs.
We love and appreciate you all so much!