As of 8:30 PM last night, Cori Lou was taken off of the ventilator (for a more thorough explanation of what she has been hooked up to read here.) They had to hold off feedings “into her stomach” until 6 hours after this step was achieved. I say “into her stomach” because her first food will be via the nasogastric tube, very slowly and carefully, to make sure her digestive tract is ready to handle it after being asleep from anesthesia and paralyzed for post-surgery quiet time. As of this morning, she was getting all her nutrition via a combination of mouth and nasogastric tube. She is already showing definite signs of being able to eat without getting so out of breath and exhausted like she was before the surgery. (click on any photo to enlarge)
She may be put through regular breathing exercises (little bag apparatus over her mouth to push air in) to make sure she is expanding her lungs enough, and to help deal with some of the extra fluid that has collected in them. One of the problems with fluid in the lungs is ineffective oxygen exchange, another is increased likelihood of pneumonia due to micro-organisms setting up house. She had some extra fluid settled in her lungs before the surgery already, probably due to the hard time she was having breathing while coping with the heart defect. All of her fluid intake and output is being measured. They want to see her putting out more than she is taking in for a little while, in order to bring things into balance. She is getting some supplemental oxygen through nose prongs.
She is no longer being sedated (to keep her inactive); and blood pressure medications have been discontinued as well. Only the arterial line is being kept dripping slowly. A couple-three other IV sites are being kept available with hep-locks (mini-catheters still in place in the veins, but not hooked up to any fluids; blood kept from clotting by putting heparin in the catheters. Needles are used when they put the small catheters in the vessesl, but are not left in.) Rest assured they are still helping her with pain. The rectal thermometer was also removed, as was the Foley catheter.
The electrical signals in her heart muscle, which cause the heart to beat and pump, have been verified to be able to travel over correct pathways of communication. However, due to some of the wrong beats still periodically occurring, she was getting some electrical pacing signals sent to her atria (plural for atrium, meaning smaller upper heart chamber). She has been removed from that as of this morning, but the wires are still there. The plan is to see how her heart is doing after about 7 days. At that point, a decision will probably be made about the need for more permanent pacemaking help.
Cori Lou has been moving around some on her own and trying to get comfortable. She was not able to be held until the atrial line was also removed. It was just too much of a risk to have that dislodged or moved wrong. It has been taken out now. Note: I had written in the previous report that she had a clear “arterial” line, meaning going into an artery, but only the red one did that. The clear one went right into an atrium and was called an “atrial line.”
Heidi and Rich have been provided with a place to stay! A cousin in the area was really working on helping them with this. A friend of hers has graciously offered a currently uninhabited, minimally furnished apartment. This apartment is only about 6 miles from the hospital. Not only that, but she and the cousin have taken over some supplies so that sleeping, washing, and cooking can be done there. None of us has ever met this person before. We are exceedingly thankful for this help.
And finally, Cori Lou can be held again!