Saturday, March 31, 2012

3/31 Update

Today was a great day for Alison, friends and pups! Her reunion with Piper was fantastic, and we spent a most of the afternoon hanging out with good friends. Alison's vitals have been perfect, and she really seems to be progressing. Each day she's showing more and more signs of awareness. She was laughing at our jokes and smiling along when friends were saying encouraging things to her. At one point, I was describing our dog's issues with her rear that was a little graphic, and when I said the word "anus" she busted out laughing and was even blushing because of how awkward the conversation was. We all had a good laugh. : ) Right now we're watching/listening to the Andy Griffith Show and really enjoying ourselves. Earlier, she was moving her mouth quite a bit and one of the nurses asked her a question, and she said she mouthed the response, "No." She said she wouldn't be surprised if she's talking before too long. I believe so too. They'll be swapping out her current trach for a smaller one pretty soon, and that'll help. And through the week she'll be using the talking tube more and more. Earlier tonight, there was a slight hum coming from her trach when she exhaled. I mentioned something to her about it, then it stopped, and I asked her to sing me a song, and she started making it hum over and over and she had a big smile on her face. : ) It was pretty fun! All in all, we had a really good day today. Thanks for the continued positive thoughts and prayers. I hope to continue with the positive posts each day.

Friday, March 30, 2012

3/30 Update

Well I've arrived in Lincoln and Alison is resting well. : ) Her brother gave a good report for the day, and says she's been working hard in her therapy sessions. She'll get a bit of a break from therapy over the weekend, but we have some friends coming to visit, as well as her puppy. : ) Since I just got here, I don't have many details, but her heart rate seems to be staying in a pretty normal range - in spite of all of the activity, and her breathing continues to be strong. I haven't heard any reports of new infections, but while in this stage, we're watching closely. We've secured on-campus housing through the hospital that is affordable and convenient, so we're all sharing that as we come and go. As I've said before, this is a marathon, not a sprint. And it's not even been three weeks since the stroke, but it does seem like a long time. Forward progress continues to be made, and Jeff heard from one of the therapists that it can take anywhere from 3–6 months or longer for the brain to recover to it's full potential. So we remain hopeful until we have reason to be otherwise. Please continue to pray and send positive thoughts of strength and faith for us all - especially Alison.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

3/29 Update

I'll preface my update by noting that Alison's brother, Jeff Short, was there with her today. So what I'm reporting is secondhand information. I invite him to chime in and edit/correct as needed. : ) When Jeff arrived, Alison was up in her wheelchair and seemed to not be as grumpy about it as yesterday (heart rate was stable, etc.). And since yesterday, her heart rate seems to be stabilizing, so that's good news. In addition to the physical and occupational therapy of getting her in the wheelchair, she also had a good session with the speech therapist. I guess when you have a trach, you can't talk. So they inserted a talking tube in there, and they asked her to count to five with them. So as they were counting, Alison was making sounds through that talking tube. Jeff says he wasn't certain the sounds were voluntary - as she wouldn't always pause, or pick back up when requested. But you've got to start somewhere! The therapists were encouraged there were any sounds at all. So I feel very encouraged by that! She had a bit of a temperature this afternoon, but after they got her out of her workout pants, and turned on the fan and AC, it dropped back down to normal. And her white cell count is under 11, so that's a good thing too. It doesn't seem like they're overly concerned about an infection, but they're watching her closely. So another big day, but it sounds like it was productive. Jeff will stay the night in Lincoln, and return tomorrow to KC. I'm planning on going back up there after work on Friday for the weekend. Thank you all for all of your continued prayer and encouraging words. It means so much to us. I had a lot of fun reading my update to Alison the other night before posting it, then reading her all of your comments. : )

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3/27 Update

So Alison had a very successful transfer to Madonna Rehab Hospital in Lincoln, NE, today. She slept almost the entire ride up in the back of the ambulance! (That's so like her.) We got settled in around 3pm and are resting well this evening. Everyone we've met so far has been fantastic, and we're really glad to be here. : ) They've let her settle in this evening, but tomorrow the work begins. She'll be starting occupational and physical therapy tomorrow morning and it'll probably be a bit more intense than we've been used to in ICU. But we're ready for it! I've been really impressed thus far with the staff at Madonna's LTACH. St. Luke's Medical ICU in Kansas City was absolutely fantastic though. Their nursing staff was incredible, and it was bittersweet leaving them this morning. I told them we hope to come back and visit them when Alison's not a patient! We're hoping Alison can rest well through the night, so she can be ready to work hard tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2012

3/26 Update

Alison had another good day today. There were no huge breakthroughs, but no major setbacks either. So that's a good day in my book. Her vitals remain stable, and we're planning on going to Lincoln tomorrow at 11am via ground ambulance. I'll follow them up, stay the night, make sure she's settled in, then I'll need to return to work on Thursday. I went back to work today for my first time since all if this and it was fine. Our timeline for being in the LTACH at Madonna is uncertain. Their primary goal will be to get her completely off the ventilator. But she's already close to that. The next ideal step would be to Madonna's acute rehab hospital, but she would need to be ready for three hours of therapy per day, and she's a ways off still from that. If she isn't ready for rehab by the time she's done in LTACH, we'd hope she could transfer into Madonna's skilled nursing facility. All of these stages are under the same roof in Lincoln, and all have different insurance time limits. So we'll get the most out of every stage and pray that everything would come together at the right time. We've got a big day tomorrow. Please pray for safe travels, continued good health and a smooth transition.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

3/25 Update

Alison had another very encouraging day! She was visited by a lot of good friends and family, and throughout the day continued to express herself with smiles, laughs and even some joyful crying. : ) Her vitals remain stable and the infections away. We're still on track for a likely transfer to Madonna in Lincoln in the next 2-3 days. I'll go back to work tomorrow, so that'll be an adjustment. We've got an exciting journey of recovery ahead that is sure to be challenging. Keep sending those positive and encouraging thoughts and prayers! They're working!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

3/24 Update

Today was another encouraging day. Alison had quite a few visitors and took every opportunity to show off for them while they were there. The first thing she did was laugh at a joke and follow it up with a pretty solid smile. I've seen and heard her coughing recently, and this was different. And with the context of the conversation and the immediate smile to follow, I'm sure it was a laugh. She'd not shown her teeth until today and the edges of her lips were even trying to turn up for a smile. I'd seen her frown while coughing. And I know how much harder it is to frown than smile, so I felt a smile wasn't too far away. And we've begun seeing some movement in her throat that could indicate swallowing too, so that's good. When some other friends were visiting later she was moving one of her legs a bit. That was something we hadn't seen either, so I really think she was showing off. : ) We're still in ICU but the request to transfer back to the pulmonary floor is in. We're just waiting for a room to open up. And as long as her temp stays below 101, there's little concern of an infection creeping back up. I get so excited when I see her do something new. And today had a couple of exciting moments. Please keep praying and sending positive thoughts for continued health and improvement every day.

Friday, March 23, 2012

3/23 Update

So it's looking like we'll be taking Alison to Madonna Rehab Hospital in Lincoln, NE, early next week. : ) A friend and I toured their facility today and were very impressed. It's certainly a place that can provide her with EVERY opportunity to recover in a hope-filled, encouraging environment. Their nurse liaison visited Alison today as well and everything looks very promising that we will go there. A referral has been sent and our insurance has approved it. So Monday they'll finalize paperwork and we'll likely leave soon thereafter. Of course this is assuming Alison remains stable and free of infections. So far so good though. Please continue to pray for Alison's health to remain stable and her alertness to improve daily.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

3/21 Update #2

Alison had a pretty good day. Like I'd mentioned earlier, much better than yesterday. When I left this evening, she was resting comfortably and was in good hands with nurse Lizzy in ICU. Her heart rate has remained higher than they'd like, so they're trying to figure that out still. But as she continues to improve, we'll be nearing discharge and will need to figure out the best course of action there. She's still needing an LTACH and we're seriously considering a facility in Lincoln, NE, called Madonna Rehab Hospital. We hear a lot of great things about it. And our girl needs and deserves the absolute best shot at recovery and that might be it. In the coming days, please pray that'd we'd be wise in our decision making and that God would lead us in the right direction.

3/21 Update

Quick update. Alison is doing better this morning, praise God. Her white cell count went from 19 to 11 - showing the infections are clearing. And there's no more blood in her urine. So we're doing better this morning and encouraging Alison about how good she's doing. More to come later, but any day better than the one before provides hope. Thanks for all of your continued prayers and support!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

3/20 Update

Alison had a pretty rough morning. Her heart rate had been a little high for a while. And around 10am her breathing became very labored and her heart rate skyrocketed. It was a very scary situation. It resulted in a transfer back to medical ICU and a series of tests to determine the cause. It turns out she has another infection. The pneumonia is subsiding but she may have a bladder or kidney infection now. We're still awaiting lab results. There is blood in her urine and she had a fever. But the antibiotics for the pneumonia should be helping whatever the infection is. They also did an EEG to monitor brain activity. It wasn't dead and it wasn't showing seizure activity, so that's good. There were some irregular spikes of activity, but they weren't certain what that meant in terms of recovery potential. Speaking frankly with us, the neurologist wasn't excited about her condition, but wasn't hopeless either. Like I've said before, we're praying for a miracle and faith that God is in control - no matter the outcome. But it's still very much a day by day situation. She's currently breathing better and resting comfortably. I'd guess that we'll be back out of ICU in a day or two as the infection begins to clear. We've all decided to let her and us get a good night of sleep. She's in good hands in the ICU and she needs some solid rest - as do we. Let's hope and pray for the infection to clear so Alison can focus on recovering.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

3/18 Update

Today was a pretty big day for Alison. It started by the overnight nurse updating me that Alison had moved her foot a little when adjusting her legs, and during her oral care she moved her head around and opened her mouth some. Then when I sat down with her she was pretty bright-eyed and she gave me two subtle blinks upon my request. Then they moved her out of ICU and into a larger, quieter room. In the afternoon she bent her arm about 90 degrees during a conversation with about five people about the moving she'd already done. Almost to say, "Oh yeah, watch this." And later she was moving one of her legs a bit and may have attempted to smile again for her dad and I. All of these things are great signs of life so we were encouraged. Tomorrow she will start with physical therapy every day and that should help even more. Her pneumonia seems to be clearing up and she's been breathing on her own (CPAP) since yesterday. So they might disconnect the air tubes and use a trach vent only. So today was a good day. Hopefully more progress tomorrow. Thanks so much for all of your continued prayers. We're certainly not in the clear yet.

Friday, March 16, 2012

3/16 Update #2

Alison had a good day today. Around noon she underwent a successful feeding tube insertion in her stomach and a tracheostomy. Almost immediately afterwards she looked a lot more comfortable and was showing small signs of improvement. After the evening shift change, she was awakening from her anesthesia and was pretty alert for her dad. He asked if she could smile for her and she pouted her lips out in an incredible show of strength. I came in shortly afterwards and she did it again. We were awestruck and could hardly contain our excitement. But that was a lot of work - especially after such a big day. She soon got sleepy again and a bit agitated (due in part to our excitement I'm sure). They gave her some meds to help bring her heart rate and BP down a bit so she can rest up overnight. But we're encouraged by the signs of life we've seen today and ask that you'd pray that God would continue to work miracles in her.

3/16 Update #1

So Alison's trach and feeding tubes are in and there were no complications. She's pretty out of it from the anesthesia but that's to be expected. The doctors say the goals for the coming weeks are strong eye movements - up and down, side to side and strong blinks upon request. But she looks much better.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First Mass Email Update From Jeff

Hello everyone,

Alison's family and I thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. We'll be using this email list as a way to distribute news and developments throughout Alison's recovery. Since this is the first email, I'll start from the beginning in explaining what all has happened up until now. After this initial email, I'll use it to update everyone with new developments.

Alison and Chris left the 5pm church service a little bit early this past Sunday evening because Alison felt nauseous. After being home for a while, Alison began vomiting and continued to do so off and on for several hours. After a few hours of this pattern, more stroke-like symptoms appeared (such as neck pain, numb tongue, eye irregularity, and illogical speech), at which point Chris called 911. The ambulance brought her to St. Luke's Hospital at the Plaza (which is where we still are) and began analyzing her. Initially, they considered the possibility of meningitis, but eventually ruled that out once they narrowed in on stroke. 

There are a couple of things that doctors normally try to do for strokes within the first hours of stroke (including clot-buster medication, etc.), but unfortunately, the official stroke diagnosis did not come in time for her to receive those treatments. Nobody really expected stroke in Alison's case because of her age and health, so the diagnosis took a little bit longer than it would have if she were older or in poorer health.

The stroke (or multiple strokes) appear to have affected her brain stem area. The origins of the clot are still unclear, but they're telling us it's likely that the clot originated from somewhere in her legs, escaped her heart through a previously undetected hole called an atrial septal defect (ASD), and then became lodged in her brain. That being said, as they continue to gain understanding of her condition, she is in a relatively stable condition in the Medical Intensive Care Unit of St. Luke's at the Plaza. She has been on a ventilator (breathing machine) and they have been feeding her through tubes down her throat.

At this point, it's hard to tell what the effects of the stroke(s) are and will be. She is somewhat non-responsive throughout the days (less so when she hasn't been on sedation for various procedures any given day); however, she does respond to painful and uncomfortable stimuli, such as when the nurses or doctors squeeze her fingertip or tickle the bottom of her foot. Her responsiveness to these stimuli is encouraging. She is able to open her eyes when she's not worn out and seems to respond to family (especially Chris and dad) by blinking her eyes or squeezing their hands. We are praying that these "signs" that she's giving us are really her processing what is happening and trying to get through to us -- not coincidence. 

The doctors are encouraged by some of the things that we observe, but remain cautious and they assure us that we have a long road to recovery ahead. As she continues to stabilize, we will continue to gain understanding of how severely she has been impacted by this, and in turn how difficult her recovery will be. 

God has orchestrated some miracles that seem small, but are extremely encouraging for all of us. Every time Alison seems to recognize us, squeezes our hands, or moves her eyes, we are reminded that God is good even in such terrible circumstances.

As Chris indicated on facebook earlier tonight, the doctors are preforming a tracheotomy and putting a permanent feeding tube in her stomach (which will be there for at least 6 weeks), as opposed to the tubes that currently run down her throat, which are uncomfortable and have a high risk of infection after the first week of being in action. This is encouraging in that it shows that the doctors are thinking she'll be here a little bit longer term than they seemed to have been before (working towards rehabilitation). As Chris said, she'll be sedated sometime tomorrow afternoon for this procedure, so please specifically pray for that.

They will eventually (maybe a month or so from now) patch the hole in her heart (the ASD), but they want to stabilize her quite a bit more before doing so.

At this point, her vitals remain stable. Progress remains slow, but we are hopeful, positive, and optimistic about rehabilitation once that time comes. We are comforted by a competent St. Luke's staff, but we know that God is powerful and that the situation rests in His capable hands. We are taking shifts to be with her around the clock and are blessed that family members from all sides are showing up to help us be with her throughout the day and night.

In the long-term picture, we are hoping that she is eventually able to re-gain all of her capabilities through rehabilitation, however, the doctors are clear that it is too early to tell exactly what kind of damage has been done. They also stress that once we do learn more about her condition, the road to recovery will almost certainly be long and hard.

Please continue to pray for Alison, for Chris, for our family, and for everyone who is caring for her as she recovers. We can't thank you all enough for your thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming.

Humbled by all of your kindness,
The Short/Wilson families

3/15 Update

So Alison slept well through the night. The doctors confirmed they will want to patch the ASD (hole) in her heart, but there's no rush for that to happen. Tomorrow they'll perform a tracheostomy and insert a more permanent feeding tube into her stomach. She currently has air and food tubes going down her throat through her mouth - which is very irritating as you can imagine. These procedures will make her MUCH more comfortable going forward. And I'm encouraged they want to do it as it tells me the doctors are looking ahead to the long term rather than simply seeing how she does in the next couple of days. But those procedures will require sedation and surgery around noon on Friday. Pray that all goes well and that Alison awakens to a more comfortable state to continue recovering. She is still opening her eyes and slightly squeezing hands from time to time so that's good. Her vitals are still stable as well. Like I've said before, she's still in a very critical state and we're encouraging her constantly to be strong, to fight hard and be comforted by the thousands of prayers and positive thoughts on her behalf. Don't stop.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First update to Facebook

Wasn't sure how or when to do this, so here goes. Alison is in ICU recovering from a series of serious strokes she had late Sunday night. She's in pretty bad shape so we could use any prayers you could spare. Her vitals are stable and she opened her eyes a bit today, so that's moving in the right direction. But it'll be a long, hard road undoubtedly. I'll post updates as I can. Send me a message if you have any specific questions and I'll answer when I can.

Monday, March 12, 2012

First message to our church small group

Hey everyone. I’ve got a big prayer request for you all. Alison is in ICU at St. Luke’s right now. Her stomach sickness turned really bad overnight and I had to call an ambulance. She went from vomiting for hours to complaining of a numb tongue, her vision was blurred, eyes got lazy, she couldn’t walk, and she wasn’t making sense when she talked. They’ve run tons of tests. The CT didn’t reveal any major brain issues and they just did a spinal tap to test for meningitis. So now it’s a waiting game for lab and test results. She’s currently sedated with breathing assistance to keep her stable. But she’s “posturing” while sedated which indicates irregular brain activity. All in all, it’s extremely scary and we’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks in advance.