progress report from the 2nd week in icu

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 9:00 PM

Dad was being a little more responsive today and seemed much more relaxed than the past few times when we saw him moving around.  Chaplain Armstrong from the SJAFB Chapel came in the room and said a prayer with him, and as they were praying dad turned his head towards the Chaplain and his heart rate increased.

We have news from the nurse that dad's kidney function is down some.  We don't know exactly how bad this is or what the side-effects are going to be right now, hopefully we'll get more information from the doctor tomorrow morning.  However, this may be the reason that he was so slow to react to the reduction in sedatives (the kidneys help to flush this out). 

This is just another bump in the road that prayer will soon fix.  He is very broken up inside, and has a lot of complicating things going on, and I know I wouldn't want to be awake for any of them.  Things will soon start to straighten out, and Dad will soon be back to his normal self, telling stupid jokes, quoting Seinfeld and Chevy Chase, letting the grandkids (and hopefully kids) jump on his hospital bed...back to the "old man" that we all know and love.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 4:30 PM

Dad's white blood cell count was up to 29 yesterday (again, this is supposed to be about 12), but they started the antibiotics to fight pneumonia and a blood infection and as of 4:00 AM the white blood cell count was back down to 26.  Dad's also running a slight fever and they say that is his reaction to fight off the infection.  Dad's CK level (enzymes in the blood) is also down to about 4500, from a high of 25,000.  This number should be about 10-20, so we've got a ways to go but it's coming down quickly.

Speaking of pneumonia, the culture that they did last week was negative, but the doctor didn't understand why his white blood cell count continued to go up.  He made the decision to start dad on antibiotics for the pneumonia and it seemed to work.  We don't know how long this will take to cure, but we've got plenty of time to get him back up to 100%.

Monday, December 25, 2006 9:20 PM

No real news today, everything is about the same as it was yesterday.  Mom was not able to speak to the doctor today, probably because of the holidays.  However, the nurse told her that they feel that he may have an infection in his bloodstream.  They have started him on antibiotics to try to fight it, but as antibiotics go it will probably be several days before we see if they are taking effect.

Although Pitt Memorial won't actually classify him, dad is still in "critical" condition as long as he is in the ICU.  Once his condition improves they will be able to remove him from the ICU and his condition will "upgrade".  As far as dad's consciousness, he is still very sedated and we have not gotten a response out of him in several days.  They tried taking him off of the sedation and pain medication late last week but he seemed very much in pain and they started him back on both medications.  They are slowly removing the sedative from him again, but every time he goes into surgery or goes downstairs for a CT scan it takes so much out of him and we have to take a step backwards again.  We're not sure what the next step is or when it will be, but we just hope that we can get some sort of response from him soon.

It is very frustrating for us not having any communication with him; not knowing what he's thinking, how he's feeling, if he even hears us, if he doesn't want us seeing him this way...We don't know if we should be spending the time at the hospital waiting for our 15 minutes 7 times a day or if we need to be taking better care of ourselves.  I know dad would say "don't worry about me, I'll be fine.  Please don't worry yourselves sick over me.  I'm going to make it through this."  However we want to be there with him so that we don't miss anything, and we want to be there for my mom.  She's still being such a trooper through all of this, but she's tired.  We're all tired. 

I'm only telling everyone this because we need prayers as much as my dad does.  I never realized how much something like this affects everyone involved until now.  A lot of his close friends are having just as hard of a time dealing with this, and they haven't had the pleasure of being able to see his face since before the accident, and I can't imagine that.  Please continue to pray for my dad as well, for all of the small things that plague him right now as well as for his complete rehabilitation and recovery sometime in the near future. 

If you haven't noticed already, I was able to put together a Guestbook for folks to sign.  The link is above and it should be pretty simple to use.  Please use this to let my dad know who is praying for him, where you are, how you are connected to our family, etc.  I think it will help tremendously in his healing to see how many people were praying for him and thinking about him.

Merry Christmas, from the Galloway Family to your family.

Sunday, December 24, 2006 10:00 PM

There was finally an article in the paper regarding my dad's accident as well as the need for public awareness of bicycles.  It can be found here.  Thank you Seyboro Cyclists for putting this together for us.

Again, there hasn't been a lot of change today.  Our family spent Christmas Eve (of what is going to be the best and most memorable Christmas ever) at the hospital visiting with each other and with our Pops.  Dad got a new helmet for Christmas; I hope he'll be able to use it pretty soon.

Dad's white blood cell count continues to be high, which signals an infection, but they haven't been able to locate one.  They took him down for another CT scan today, this time of his abdomen.  When we left the hospital this evening there were still no results, (everything is on a holiday schedule right now), but we assume that if there was something serious they would have notified us immediately.

He is also still running a slight fever (about 102), another sign that there might be an infection.  He is still on the respirator to assist him with his breathing while he battles the ARDS.

We will be working on an electronic "Guestbook" that people can sign and leave their words of encouragement, wishes to get better, and thoughts for him to read when he gets better.

I can't state it enough, but our family thanks everyone that has given and offered support, and all those that have come to visit us in the waiting room and cafeteria numerous times. 

We hope that all of you enjoy a very Merry Christmas.

The Galloways

Saturday, December 23, 2006 10:26:11 PM

Just wanted to send out a quick update.  There hasn't been much change today but they did get him more sedated and visibly more comfortable.  The cultures came back and he does not have pneumonia, but he does have Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).  I think it is basically fluid in the lungs as well, and it's no better or worse to have than pneumonia. 

His left thigh (the unbroken leg) looks very bruised and very tight but they're not sure why.  They took him for a CT scan where they saw some fluid build-up.  They took a sample for a culture, but again we won't know the results for 2-3 days.

That's about it for now.  The wireless internet was down again today, and hopefully tomorrow if it's working we'll have more details to share.

We love you all,

The Galloways

Friday, December 22, 2006 11:57:28 PM

Dad had surgery today to close up his abdomen.  We thought they were going to do it early in the morning, but they didn't take him in until about 2pm.  He toughed it out and they were able to close him up completely, no need for the mesh and skin grafts that they thought they'd have to use.  His stomach actually looks very flat now, more than it ever did before!  Mom's pretty happy about that, she's hoping for a nice firm 6 pack when he's out!!  He's got a cute little girdle on to keep him sewn up in case he has any coughing fits.  It's actually a binder, but we'll stick with the girdle story when we talk to him.  Man I wish we could take pictures.

They had taken him COMPLETELY off of the sedatives and pain meds, so he looked very uncomfortable when we saw him.  His heart rate and blood pressure was up, oxygen was down.  Luckily he had a compassionate nurse that started dosing him up again.  They put a pain med drip in him now, hopefully he'll be more comfortable when we see him tomorrow.  It's so difficult to see him like that; we're not sure if he's in pain, uncomfortable, trying to speak...the nurses think it's the pain that's causing those numbers to go the wrong way.  But seeing him like that upsets all of us so much, we feel so helpless.

Speaking of numbers, his enzyme level (CK level) is still up at 15,000, which is still very concerning (remember they should be well below 100).  They don't know why they're so high, but as long as they continue to come down we should be OK.  He is still very jaundice, so during the surgery they checked his liver and his gall bladder, both checked out fine.  The only thing they can think is that since he received so much blood the first week (he got at least 35 units, but we never heard a final number) that some of that blood is breaking down.  It also could be the diet that they have him on, so they've started switching that out.  We'll see how he looks tomorrow, and if he's still yellow then we'll leave the lights off when we visit.

We hope you don't mind the jokes, but we've got to find some humor to make it through this.  You all know that my dad will soon be playing jokes on the nurses - apple juice in the urine samples, fake extremities...anything that will make the time pass for him.

The wireless internet at the hospital has been down most of the day, so we haven't been able to access email or anything.  Hopefully it will be back up and running tomorrow for us so we can keep in touch.

Thanks everyone!  Stay Strong with us and for us!

The Galloways

Thursday, December 21, 2006 10:37:42 PM

Dad's a little jaundice tonight and his heart rate is up higher than it has been the past few days, and his temperature continues to be elevated.  I don't think they know why, but they're keeping close tabs on him to make sure nothing goes wrong.  They won't know about pneumonia for a few days but they have begun medicating him just in case. 

He will be going into surgery tomorrow sometime, they're not sure exactly when.  They are going to try to close up his abdomen and get the skin to close back together.  If the swelling hasn't gone down enough and they can't get him closed, they will have to put a mesh inside him to hold everything in and they will possibly have to do skin grafts for the outside.  We should know sometime very early tomorrow morning when the surgery will be, and we'll try to let everyone know.  Everything seems so up in the air right now, until all of a sudden they have to do things NOW.  It would be so much easier to have a schedule written out for the next few months, but I guess that's asking for a bit much.  We'll continue to deal with things as they come our way.

I haven't mentioned much about either of my sisters, their husbands, or my wife in these emails, but they are the glue that is keeping my mom in 1 piece right now.  Missy and Becky have done so much for my mom the past few days, from Christmas shopping, to cleaning the house, wrapping presents, and trying to find and/or chase the presents that my dad has bought for everyone.  They've spent both day and night with her, chauffeuring her back and forth to the hospital or following her home late at night.  Shane and James have been taking care of the kids while Missy and Becky help out with things, since the kids aren't allowed to be on the 4th floor, or they've been playing the role of supporter.  My wife Stacie has been incredible too, commuting back and forth from Apex to Greenville with me on most trips, usually doing most of the driving so I can get some sleep, and especially putting up with me when I have a down day (I've had about 7 of them this past week).  This whole ordeal has taken a very close knit family and made us even closer, even more dependent on each other. 

I know I don't need to ask, but please continue to pray for everything that's going on right now; the fever, the jaundice, the heart rate, the pneumonia, and the upcoming surgery.  All of this is very frightening to everyone involved, friends and family.  We're all going to make it through this though.

With love,

The Galloways

Thursday, December 21, 2006 2:19:42 PM

Sorry I haven't sent out an update since Tuesday evening, things have been a little hectic because I'm actually back at work now, today being my last day until next year.  If anything serious comes up I will email immediately, but otherwise please realize that no news is good news.

I was able to get by to see my dad last night (Wednesday) and it was an amazing transformation - he looked so much like himself!  He wasn't really coherent, but his breathing and heart rate was heavy, like he knew we were in the room and he wanted to talk to us.  It looked like he may have been trying to mouth something, but we're not sure.  They put him into a different type of bed that does not move from side to side, so I know he's more comfortable now, but he was pretty heavily sedated; I can't even imagine how they moved him.

His enzyme levels had started coming back down from 25,000 to 18,000, but a normal healthy person's is in the 100's so they are still pretty high.  He was also running a fever last night of about 103-104, they say that is normal in the ICU.  His fever came down over night, but it is back up again today to 102.  They are doing some culture samples of his lungs and throat, but they believe he might have pneumonia.  I'm not sure if that is what is causing the fever or not, we're kind of in the dark about things right now.  The nurse last night also felt that he was 99.9% likely to get an infection of some kind.  That just means that there is a 0.1% chance that he won't.  He's already beat all other odds, why stop now?  If you are looking for specific things to pray for, I guess this is where to start.

Dr. Sagraves told my mom that he felt with his new bed my dad would be able to sit up and communicate with us soon.  We're not sure how soon, but at first he'd only be able to mouth words and write to us, and when the finally put a tube in place of the tracheotomy he should actually be able to speak to us.  The most important thing that he told her was that my dad would survive this.  We all knew it, but it's good to hear it from the guys that are working on him.

One other positive note, one of his nurses is apparently a former semi-pro triathlete.  He seems to have a connection with my dad since they have the cycling in common.  All of his nurses have been very understanding, playing CD's and audio books for him, talking to him, telling him what's been going on.

I can't thank everyone enough for what they've done for us.  Please continue to pray and to ask God to watch over my dad, our family, and especially the doctors that are caring for him, as well as everyone traveling back and forth to visit us.  There are still possibilities for many more complications, some unforeseen right now, so please pray for those as well.

With love,

The Galloways