Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Aspiration

First, let me say that I've asked Steve politely for no more drama today. (He agrees.) Second, he's OK now, despite a very scary episode.

Melane and I were visiting when Steve took one bite of his lunch and started coughing violently. We rushed to his side, helped him sit up and encouraged him to take big, deep coughs. Then we could suddenly hear excessive gurgling and congestion -- all new.

I realized that we weren't going to be able help him through the episode ourselves and called for help.

A respiratory therapist arrived, assessed the situation and came up with a plan.

She first gave him a breathing treatment. During that time, his oxygenation level was 85 -- very low.

She increased his oxygen from 3 liters to 7 liters.

In the meantime, the remote telemetry equipment alerted medical staff to his rapid heart rate. So his nurse (and the extern assigned to the nurse) came in.

The respiratory therapist began suctioning his mouth and throat, trying to help him expel the building fluid.

The nurse paged the resident.

So there were four medical providers surrounding Steve, who was having great difficulty breathing.

I will spare you all the details, but they eventually were able to force him to expel the food from his lungs.

It was an awful, frightening experience.

He is now NPO, meaning he can't drink or eat anything. Tomorrow he'll be evaluated by a speech therapist to make sure it's safe for him to eat and drink.

I spoke with Dr. M later about this episode and the other neurological symptoms (grogginess, weakening left side).

Based on today's clean CT scan and other information, she's convinced that his worsening symptoms are because of an untreated infection. "Anything that makes you less well in your body affects your brain," she explains.

She thinks that if we can treat the infection, his symptoms will improve.

His nurse is now hanging the bag of antibiotics to treat the infection. (He had to get another line put in his arm, as Heparin and the antibiotic don't mix and have to have separate lines.)

He's remaining on 7 liters of oxygen for now. His pulse-oxygen level is in the low 90s. He's resting relatively well.

Thanks to you all for prayers, visits, meals, caring for Cooper and Katie, calls and more. We never forget how blessed we are.

13 comments:

jhuckaby said...

I am so pleased to hear that steve is resting well now. what a terrifying experience, my heart reaches out to you both. I will be praying for those antibiotics to work their magic swiftly and efficiently without any further distress. all my love!!!

Laura said...

thinking of you all, sweet damm family.

chrys said...

praying, praying, praying...

love you all.

chrys

noelgross said...

Praying for Steve and all the Damms.

magicjenesis said...

Thinkin' about your family and keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

Anonymous said...

whatever you need, personally or professionally right now, I am here. I am sorry that this has happened but know there are ways to compensate and figure out a plan to make him a safe eater... call me tomorrow if you want! We can help with Katie and Cooper too!
Love,
Jen

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for you and your family as Steve continues to be challenged by the effects of the Damn spot. Keep your faith and strength - you all inspire those who follow his condition. Out Damn Spot! Out!!

Melinda said...

Thoughts and prayers for all of you!!! So sorry to hear about this scary day. May all your tomorrows be much, much better.

Anonymous said...

May you both have a sweet, peaceful, restful, even BORING evening! So sorry you've had such a difficult day.

Mary G

emcginnis said...

My prayers are with you all! Peace for a speedy recovery!

Anonymous said...

Stay strong Brother Cheese and get some rest! You are an amazing person, father, husband, brother and friend. You inspire all who hear your story and have had the honor of being part of your life.

VTL,
Brad Sizelove

El Pastor Owen said...

Keeping you in my prayers. - Owen

Laura said...

I'm sending prayers for the whole family your way, Tyra.
Laura Schwed