Fingernails Growing

Jun 17 8:26pm – Laura took great care of R today in SICU (Surgical ICU).  She has been with her all day.  R is asleep and resting comfortably under sedation.  She is still quite puffy.  Her chest is open but packed and covered with a slightly rusty looking surgical Saran plastic wrap.  She is under a light white blanket with soft lights shining on her.  R has about 10 IVs being pumped into her – lots of machines.  The IV pumps sit off and above of her right shoulder.  Most of her meds are given through her Hohn port near her neck on the left and a PICC in her right arm.  The heart bypass machine sits on the floor off and to the right of her right leg.  The ventilator sits off and above her left shoulder.  Her new SCUF sits on a stand down by her toes.  (The SCUF will help her pee more – the diuretics seem to now be less effective.)  She is packed between two support ‘pillows’ – like being in a little canyon – with her in the middle and her two arms propped up on the ‘pillows’ on each side of her.  She lays not horizontal but with her head and upper body elevated maybe 20 deg above her legs.  The room is packed along the side walls with crash equipment, supplies, a telephone, logging equipment, a small sink, a few chairs for technicians, and a locker filled with who-knows-what.  Laura is accompanied by the heart bypass technician and a doctor at a desk just outside of her room.  R looks a bit thinner today due to the off-loading of fluids.  Her skin is also slightly flushed red due to the awesome blood that is being pumped through her and, also, probably due to the meds she is on.  She has good skin color.  Her fingernails are growing – she doesn’t like them too long.  Her hair is growing out so her normally light brown is being chased by a much darker brown – I’ve never seen her darker hair.  And she is showing quite a bit of gray.  I think it makes her look mature and serious.  Her heartbeat runs at a methodical 95 beats a minute.  It looks very clean but, of course, the new heart has no load on it.  There is a quiet purr from the ventilator and an occasional gurgle from her SCUF.  Otherwise, it is quiet and very calm in this room.  Directly out the window I can see the campus of Howard University and the big lake in front of it.  Out the window and to the right is where the Medstar helicopters take off and land night and day.  Out and to the left is the black Children’s Hospital and, in the distance, the US Capitol.  I stayed with R about an hour today holding her hand and looking at her and talking to Laura.  Zak, Nick, and Laurie cycled in and out of the SICU a couple of times to be with me and R.  Bean waited for us in the hallway with her assigned handler – whoever it happened to be at the moment.  What a trooper.  This is a family thing and thanks for the privacy.  Thanks to the well-wishers today at assembly and via email and SMS.  Thanks so much.  And thanks to the staff at Rockhill who packed her kindergarten room for the last time today.  Thanks for pulling out the stuff R wanted to keep and giving some of the other stuff R was worrying about to needy beneficiaries.  You are awesome and understanding for helping – this was a worry R had even on the night we drove to WHC to begin this journey.  She will be so grateful and relieved that the packing and sorting is all over.  Packing (and the er um associated conversation and planning) has been an annual event for us for many years.  It is now over.  (Well, I for one am glad to see it gone.)  And I have to mention (at the risk of not mentioning other very nice gestures and kindnesses) the amazing handmade prayer quilt left on our doorstep at the house for R.  Truly beautiful and meaningful – especially considering the work behind it and your prayers that are tied to the knots.  Thank you.  I hope R will get to see it – she will treasure it forever.  Zak and I had a major prayer session at Bob Evans over salad on the way home.  Rudi our waitress was so kind and acknowledged us with friendly words and service after our prayer.  Mix Bob Evans green salad, some soup, and heartfelt prayer and that is about as good as things can get as we all wait in anticipation.  On a side note, we discovered that there are only 2500 heart transplants a year in the US out of a population of over 310 million citizen – R is likely to become apart of an extremely elite corps.  On Wed this week, there is a support group meeting for transplant and VAD candidates as well as individuals who have had transplants and VADs installed.  The meeting is at WHC.  I hope I can go.  Mon will be important.  The plan is to close R on Mon – this means that her heart will have to pick up the load and perform well in place of the heart and lung machines.  While we are getting used to not having things happen when anticipated, I think that whether something happens or not, we will start getting indications on the viability of the heart and directions the path will take in our days ahead.  Of course, prayers for peace, healing, and patience.  Thank God R is not here for this – it is hard to watch.  And in the meantime, love your family, friends, and neighbors.  Go out of your way to love them and treat them well.  Give them your jacket, turn your cheek, or walk the extra mile.  Do life the way Jesus would do it.                

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