I'm sitting here late this evening with my good friend Chris Hoffman. Just out of curiosity we checked the "traffic" statistics for the blog today. The past 24 hours have resulted in almost 13.000 hits. That is absolutely unbelievable.
First thing this morning Dr. Pluenneke arrived to visit with Jen. This is his week for rounds with the KC Cancer Center patients here at the hospital. His observations were that Jen's condition hasn't worsened significantly since early last week. Her young heart and lungs are putting up quite a battle. He suggests that Jen could feasibly be with us for several more weeks. He also suggested that Jen's parents and I start to pace ourselves before we become "walking zombies". Jan and I seem to be coming down with some sort of respiratory illness and he wants us to take care of ourselves. We will definitely consider his advice and try to get out of the hospital a little more frequently over the course of the next few days. At the same time, we want to maximize our time spent with Jen even if the majority of that time we are watching her sleep.
Today was a little rougher for Jen than the past three days. The pain medications and rising bilirubin level in her body create confusion, anxiety, and hallucinations. For some reason, today the anti-anxiety medicines weren't quite as effective. Dr. Pluenneke and his pharmacist Monika tweaked her medications in an effort to maintain some consistency in her comfort level. As of now she is constantly receiving a slow drip of Ativan and a steady dose of fentanyl from a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump. This pump also allows her to push a button for an additional boost of pain medicine when necessary. She is receiving saline via IV to sustain a minimal fluid level in her body. She also receives some "as needed" medications: Actigal (to aid in biliary flow), Toradol along with Benadryl (for inflammation), a steroid, Haldol (to eliminate hallucinations), Lexapro (antidepressant to aid in her comfort), colace to help her bowels, and some additional medications to treat a bladder infection and eliminate a constant urge to urinate. Most of her medications are delivered through her Port-a-Cath which was surgically inserted shortly after her diagnosis. She is receiving four liters of oxygen at all times and has a urinary catheter in. One of the most disturbing things a visitor might see is the bag this catheter drains into. Her urine is no longer what we would typically expect to see, rather it is the color of blood. This is the result of some blood in her urine, discoloration due to medications, and poor processing due to a damaged liver and kidneys. Although she is hooked up to all this equipment and her body is badly bloated due to swelling and fluid retention, nobody who enters her room can miss how beautiful she still looks. Even the janitorial lady smiles at her everyday as she cleans up the room and comments how young and beautiful Jen is.