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February 11, 2011 - Progress!

We have a lot to celebrate about since getting the results of Greg's most recent biopsy. He had a rejection level of 1, but it was such a low 1 that it was nearly classified as a 0! The wonderful thing about this is that his prednisone dose is finally below 10 mg/day which is a significant milestone. He has to use a lot of caution (mask on, no crowds, no construction, no sick people...) but he's finally allowed to start venturing outside of our apartment! It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 4 months since he's been anywhere aside from our apartment or the hospital. 4 months! And even before he was admitted to the hospital, he wasn't going many places because he was so sick. We are really excited about this big step back to a more normal life for him!

His body is also doing a better job at keeping extra fluid off so his diuretic dose was decreased again, with the goal of him being completely off of it soon. Additionally, he doesn't need to take iron anymore. The doctors think that the iron may be contributing to him feeling so sick some mornings when he takes his medicine, and thankfully the blood tests showed that his hemoglobin is at a safe level again so we can get rid of the iron! If his terrible nausea doesn't go away now that he's off the iron they'll start working to figure out what other meds could possibly be making him sick (there's a lot of them that they can't get rid of that they know have this side effect). I know that Greg would really appreciate your prayers in this area. Some mornings are really really awful for him.

He's still not allowed to drive himself for a few more weeks (until his sternum has fully healed) so we were going to go somewhere today while most people are at work and places are fairly empty. However, he hasn't been feeling well since last night so we'll probably wait another day or so until he has some energy back.

The recovery process is a lot like that - he has really good days followed by really bad days (where he's tired, overwhelmed, and in lots of pain, or gets really sick from his meds.) but the bad days are getting fewer and fewer!

Since we've both been feeling a little stir-crazy on his good days, we started some mini home-improvement projects this week (painting some old furniture and such). The amazing thing was watching Greg work up a sweat and get out of breath, with no fear of having a cardiac arrest! He was moving around and doing things that he hasn't been physically able to do for years! It is so wonderful to see him able to do more because of his wonderful new heart. What a blessing! He was absolutely exhausted afterward, but it's going to be so neat watching his stamina increase as he heals more and more.

At the end of the month he has a cardiopulmonary stress test and then he'll begin cardiac rehab, which will be 3x/week for 3 months. The focus of this is to get his body and heart functioning better together (as the heart becomes more innervated) and helping Greg to increase strength and stamina, while getting to know his new heart! It will be very challenging, and is intimidating for Greg to think about right now (he's barely been able to walk up a slight incline without having problems breathing for 2 years) and we'd appreciate your prayers as he prepares for this big step.

So that's our exciting update! Thank you for continuing to pray for us throughout his recovery. We are so grateful for all that God has done this year!

Love, Elise

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