This has been one heck of a week. I’m typing from Ethan’s hospital bedside, where I’ve been almost constantly since last Thursday. Lung surgery is no joke. Here’s a recap of all the events.
Day One: Surgery Ethan was admitted at 10:30 a.m. for pre-op, where he received an epidural in his high vertebrae and was told he had a bleb in his right upper lung that they needed to staple down. He was rolled away around 1, very sleepy-eyed. He held my hand before leaving his bay and I felt about as nervous/anxious as I was when he disappeared into the van that took him to boot camp. After three hours, a baggie of mini wheats and a few pages of a new book, Ethan’s doctor came out to the waiting room and informed us that part of his lower lobe was in fact saved, the pulmonary sequestration was fully removed, and the bleb was taken care of. Ethan stayed in the recovery room for two hours, and I was so nervous I was shaking by the time his nurse called me back to see him. All I can say is– my poor Ethan. He was drained of all his color and very, very weak. I fed him tiny ice pellets to sooth his throat; he talked with his eyes for a good long while. His room in the ICU was private and large, so we ended up kind of camping out to spend as much time as possible with him. He was hooked up to a catheter, two chest tubes to drain fluid from his surgery site, and lots of little wires monitoring his blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, and I don’t know what else. He spent most of the day snoozing, and rightfully so!
Day Two: Recovery We arrived at 8:30 in the morning after just five-ish hours of sleep and found Ethan much more aware and vocal. The medicine he was on made him quite moody, and I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by it all. When he did talk, he swayed in and out of coherency. Ethan started walking around the unit and doing breathing exercises this day, but also discovered his epidural stopped working suddenly. After getting a new one inserted, he rested for the afternoon and started to eat a little and drink lots of apple juice. Because of his medicines, specifically the epidural lowering his normal levels, Ethan had to receive blood pressure medicine as well. Once I left to go take care of Simon for the night, Ethan had an issue and the nursing staff inserted a central line into his neck to monitor him more closely. When I rushed back an hour later after driving somewhat frantically back to the hospital, he was irritated, but resting.
Day Three: Recovery Day three was very productive. Ethan walked three laps around the unit and did his hourly breathing exercises without needing too much coercing. He slept less during the day and ate more. Once simple things like hiccup-ing, coughing, and burping hurt him deep inside, but relieving the pressure can only help him.
Day Four: Progress Sunday was a big day for Ethan, as he was moved out of the ICU into the PCU, which stands for Progressive Care Unit. His arterial line in his left wrist was removed as well as one of his IVs. Also they stopped feeding him blood pressure medicine, in preparation for his epidural to come out. Once situated in his new shared room with another lobectomy patient, we walked together around the unit and tried to drink lots and lots of water. By the end of the night Ethan had his catheter removed, since he could feel the sensation to go, and was urinating on his own immediately after.
Day Five: Progress When we arrived in the morning, we found Ethan looking a little bit more human. His chest tubes had been removed earlier that day and he only had his epidural and IV and central line. Then before noon, that epidural came out, and he transitioned to oral pain medication. Another big milestone was his ability to wear pants, a very sweet freedom for him as those persnickety hospital gowns make for lots of full moons in the unit. Later that day, though I know we started too late, we tried promoting his bowel movements with prune juice, milk of magnesia, magnesium citrate and stool softeners. Once the evening hit Ethan found himself doubled over in pain, and we struggled to fulfill our requirements because of it. He fell asleep finally near 11:30 p.m. and we drove home hopefully for his future discharge.
Day Six: Unknown Today was the projected day of discharge, but now I’m not so certain. He has been sleeping since I arrived, with the exception of waking up for his medicine, which leaves me fretting the arrival of the surgeon and his verdict on Ethan’s progress. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. All I know is, this has definitely been challenging for the both of us, but I am so so grateful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers. It makes me so happy to know Ethan is in all of your hearts and it inspires me to be the best I can be as we continue down this road to recovery and wellness.