Thursday, March 20, 2014

Papa update

Hey family and friends,

I'm sure my mom will post a more thorough blog on Papa's status, but I wanted to get some information out there so you can be praying. More details/backstory here:

A little backstory: Papa has a PICC line that runs medicine directly into his heart. He has a port in his right arm that then feeds a tube directly to his heart.  One of the common dangers with a PICC line is infection.  The PICC line delivers Milrinone to his heart, which is helping his heart to pump harder, extending the time he has until he gets a donor heart.  The Milrinone is a temporary fix, which will quit working at some point.  At that point, if a donor heart isn't available (and Papa isn't healthy enough to receive it), he'll have to have open heart surgery for them to remove his artificial heart valve and put in an LVAD wire to keep him alive until he gets a heart. 

While we were visiting him last week, he wasn't feeling well. He tried his best to participate and enjoy Lucy.  He would disappear for hours at a time to sleep -- much more than usual.  He developed body aches and a low grade fever on Thursday night.  After calling in to their nurse coordinator at the Mayo, they were told to head in to the doctor.  They went to the ER and, of course, by the time they got there his fever was gone.  The doctors ran a chest x-ray, blood tests, and found that his PICC line (the IV that runs from his arm into his heart and delivers his medicine Milrinone) had moved from his heart up into his neck.  They have no idea how that happened, but they backed out 20cm of line out of him to get it out of his neck. It's now sitting in his chest, though not in his heart.

Fast forward to Monday night and they returned to the ER with fatigue, low blood pressure, and continued aches.  They ran blood tests again and yesterday the bloodwork came back positive for staph and another bacteria.

Papa returned to the hospital and was admitted and started on broad spectrum antibiotics (Vancomycin).  They're now running more tests, trying to narrow down the strain of staph and any other bacteria that's in his blood so that they can tailor his antibiotics to treat it most effectively.  The big question at this point is whether the bacteria has lodged in/on his heart.  Since he has an artificial (graphite) aortic valve, they are running a scope down his throat today to see if there's any bacteria on it.

If his heart is clear of bacteria (and we should know this tomorrow -- Friday), then he'll be discharged once his PICC line is replaced with a sterile line and he'll be on antibiotics via IV twice a day for two weeks, then he can be put back on the active list for a heart transplant.

If they find any bacteria on the valve or anywhere on the heart, it's much more serious.  They will have to treat him with strong antibiotics for six weeks (or more) before he can return to the active list for the heart transplant.

Either way it's somewhat serious, but it's certainly more serious if he has an infection in/on his heart as it's more time off the heart transplant list.

I'm summarizing many, many details that I've been told over the last months/weeks/days, so I'm hoping I didn't miss anything important. My mom will have updates available soon on her blog:

Through it all my dad has shone the light of Christ to us and to the doctors, nurses, and staff at the Mayo, and to friends along the way.  His take on it is that it's a win-win: If he gets a heart, he gets more time here with his family: wife, kids, grandkids!  If he doesn't get a heart, he goes to be with Jesus.  He's remained upbeat throughout this whole process. It's amazing.

So, how can you pray:

1. Pray that the infection isn't in his heart!

2. Pray against further complications/infections

3. Pray for peace for Papa and for my mom.  This takes an especially heavy toll on my mom, watching him go through all of this, ever being on alert, not being able to do anything for him

4. Pray for a heart! -- Pray for the family of the donor. We pray that he will be a Christian and thus the separation from his family will be temporary.  We pray if the family is not Christians, that the Gospel will be shared with them through their loss.

5. Pray for the recovery post-transplant -- that it will be successful, complication-free, and that Papa will have patience and joy in the long, slow process of recovery.

Thank you all!

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