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Monday, November 26, 2007

ICU Day 1 25 Nov 2007

I’m sitting in ICU, 3 South, Brooke Army Medical Center. Andrea is asleep, well knocked out on drugs is more like it. “We” are watching Football and I’m keeping Andrea updated on the progress of the Denver/Chicago game. It brings a sense of normalcy to the stark hospital room and the beeping of the machines. Not to mention, I just like talking to her. Sometimes she tries to open her eyes but it is only for a second, but I love those seconds.

Andrea seems very relaxed and comfortable. She was struggling so much last night just to breath it is nice to see her resting so well. She has the full compliment of hoses, IVs and wires on her and the monitors display the signs of her life.

This all started last night, neither Andrea nor I could sleep. As the night went on Andrea was having more and more difficulty breathing. I had the oxygen generator up as far as it would go and she still was having problems. There is a sense of panic when you can’t get air, and I think that just compounded her problem. We prayed and prayed but there was no relief. Why I do not know, but God was silent last night as we begged for healing. Sometimes God answers us in silence and we just have to trust. I may not ever understand His silence at least not in this lifetime but I do know He was with us. Finally this morning Andrea said, “You need to call 911.”

I did not want to call 911. I was scared and to be honest I felt angry. I had not felt that way before but I was mad that Andrea needed to go to the hospital. Maybe I was mad at the cancer and its relentless pursuit. Maybe I was mad at the finality that seemed to be drawing near. I told her I did not want her to go to the hospital. But it was obvious she needed to go and I knew I had to take her. I just could not get past the thought of an ambulance outside our house and them wheeling Andrea out the door. Events I had dreaded were playing out before me. All I know was I was scared that Andrea would not be coming home, at least not soon. As we walked into the ER I asked Andrea “Okay are you sure you want to go in?” Hoping in some way she would say, “I’m feeling better and we could go home.” That was not to be. Again what I hoped for was denied, and I was forced to walk through a door I wished was just part of a bad dream.

In we went and it was a good thing we did. Andrea oxygen level was 72 when we checked in. You and I are probably around 95. There was an initial flurry of nurses and doctors around Andrea and within 15 minutes she was on a pressure-breathing machine and seemed stable. Her oxygen level was between 97-100 but her heart rate was high at 130. Next the tests began, blood, X-Ray, Urine and a CT. The CT and X-Ray showed extensive cancer in her lungs and possible fluid in and around the left lung. It was just too hard for the doctors to tell exactly what the problem was. The decision was made to move Andrea to the ICU and the doctor from ICU came to talk to us. It was then that Andrea’s oxygen level dropped from 100 to 60. She began to struggle to breath and was trying to get the mask off her face. I could see the panic in her eyes and I tried to calm her, but to no avail. Her oxygen continued to drop to 50 then 40 and her heart rate dropped to 60 then 52. I knew enough to know this was suddenly serious. I leaned down and whispered in her ear, “It is going to be okay, I will see you in a little bit.”

Suddenly there were a lot of doctors and nurses swarming to her bed, with doctors issuing commands. Andrea’s feet were turning a little blue and for the first time ever I thought Andrea is dying. I stayed at the foot of her bed and held her feet and prayed. I was scared. Once Andrea was sedated the doctor began to insert the tube for the breathing machine. I looked up and a man asked me, “Are you her husband?” “Yes” I answered. He said, “Hi, I’m the on call chaplain.” Now I knew things were serious.

So far all I know is Andrea’s lungs are about 25-50% of normal capacity due to the cancer. That in it self puts her on the margins of  being able to function. There is some fluid around her left lung and her stomach. Both put pressure on her lungs and make it difficult for her lungs to expand. That combined with the possibility of pneumonia probably caused her difficulty in breathing but the doctors are not really sure what the exact cause is for the sudden drop in oxygen levels. We hope to know more tomorrow.

Well it is now 13 hours later and Andrea is sleeping well and they have her on antibiotics. The nurses are great, as usual in an ICU. Andrea is well cared for and tucked in bed. They put towels to prop up the tubes and hoses and they turn her every couple of hours. Friends have stopped by and helped pass the time. The hospital is very open about having visitors in this ICU which is so nice. I enjoy having people visit; I know Andrea can hear the voices, as she tries to open her eyes every once in a while. But at the same time I really enjoy the time alone with Andrea right before I leave. It is when we pray together and I read her favorite scriptures to her. It is a very intimate time with my wife.

Well it’s time for me to go home. I need to check on Anthony and get some sleep. I dread the empty bed and the silence that awaits me. I will probably leave the TV on for the “company.” Thank you all for your prayers and support.

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