Friday, September 7, 2007

Carsten's breathing on his own!!

Today was a significant day post surgery as Carsten is now breathing on his own again, praise God!  Since surgery on Wednesday, Carsten has had a ventilator or breathing machine to assist with his breathing.  They have been pumping him with Morphine and Atavan to basically knock him out so that he would not get agitated and move around with the ventilator in his nose.  Despite his breathing machine, Carsten has been going to town on his pacifier.  He has been sucking non-stop since Thursday morning.  Chad and I are hoping that this is a good sign for his future eating skills:) 

This evening, the team came in the room to remove the ventilator with nervous mommy and daddy at the bedside.  The nurse told me she would give me the mommy version of what might happen; a) Carsten would start breathing just fine and never look back; b) Carsten would breathe okay for a while but need to be put on the ventilator again if he goes into distress; or c) he would require to be put back on the ventilator immediately.  Chad and I waited anxiously in the back of the room while they removed the tube.  Carsten was a little stubborn at first and initially refused to breathe.  After what seemed like 5 minutes (but really probably 60 seconds) he started to turn blue.  The doctor then gave him a dose of something through his IV that would reverse the effects of Morphine.  Carsten perked up very quickly with his caffeine shot and finally took a breath!:)  Let me tell you he wasn't very happy at first because he had gotten lazy since the machine was breathing for him.  Now he is breathing comfortably with a little bit of oxygen assistance through a nasal cannula.  Chad and I celebrated by going to Juanita's (mexican)! 

It is amazing to see the difference in Carsten's appearance since his surgery.  His little hands and feet are now warm instead of ice cold, he is breathing comfortably at 35-55 times a minute instead of 115, and he looks nice and pink instead of pale and clammy.   Today was a big day for Carsten on his way to recovery and we are overjoyed!   


Mamma Bridges

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Day we have known about since March 15th - Part II

We have learned to accept, though not enjoy, all of the different things that Carsten has experienced during his seven weeks of life, most of which has been in the hospital. He has been poked, drawn, pulled, prodded, pushed, taped, attached, detached, injected, covered, uncovered, heated, cooled, elevated, measured, and checked. And then there is the rectal thermometer. Who discovered that part of the body was the place to get the most accurate temperature results and who was the poor soul who was on the end of that discovery?

Prepared with the visual experiences of the past seven weeks and the information about how the heart surgery was to be performed, we were expecting Carsten to look rough after the surgery. So we when we saw him post operation, he did look like he got hit by a truck. His eyes were swollen, he had a 12-inch incision down his chest, tape, tubes, injection marks, and various ink marks on his chest. There was a patch placed on his forehead and secured on the back of his head. He had heart leads, a pulsox monitor on his finger, and a blood pressure apparatus on his right leg. He had one nostril filled with a ventilator and the other nostril filled with a tube to empty his stomach. He had one IV in his neck, sown with three stitches so it wouldn't come out. Another IV was inserted into his left leg near his groin. Additionally, he had a drainage tube coming out his stomach to drain out the excess fluid around the heart. Worst of all, he had a foley catheter.

But his heart is fixed! Of course, he was sedated prior to and throughout the operation. What is truly remarkable is that despite having to endure all of the above treatment for his benefit, he rarely cries and I do mean rarely. He rarely fusses. He has been a Trooper throughout all of this experience. What a good temperament this boy has?!

So he is now in CVICU West. He will get extubated (get off of the ventilator) probably tomorrow morning. He is recovering well, wiggling around of late and recently opening his eyes. And he is sucking on his pacifier like he was trying to get it down his stomach. We expect another seven to nine days in the hospital to work on feeding with a repaired heart. We are anxious to see how well he does. While we knew the heart surgery wasn't a magic bullet for everything that ales him, we think his feeding will improve when he doesn't have to choose between breathing or swallowing. I think I would choose breathing.

The Day we have known about since March 15th - Part I



Back in the spring, on Kari's second ultrasound (20 weeks) we found out that Carsten had what was described as hole in his heart.  Further doctors appointments, ultrasounds, and ecco cardiograms revealed that surgery would be required to fix a complete A/V canal heart defect.  So yesterday, Carsten had surgery to fully separate the four chambers of his heart.  Amazingly, the cardio thoracic surgeon (I love saying that title.  What do you do, sir?  I am a cardio thoracic surgeon.  Wow!) placed this piece of cloth into the center of his heart and sowed the heart around it.  The actual surgery took two hours but with pre and post operation time, the total time was six hours.

During that time, we waited in a private family room where a nurse would come hourly to brief us on the progress.  There was a tremendous amount of tension in the room and in our bodies when the nurse would knock on the door and subsequently come in to tell us where the operating team was in the process. 

Frankly, there are few days in all of our lives that we can and will never forget.  We remember those days containing both good and bad events.  Days with events that shape you, change you, mold you.  Yesterday was one of those days for Kari and me.  Fortunately, it was a day with a good ending.

Honestly, it is surreal to look back on it.  We are both extremely overjoyed with the results and yet feel a sense of guilt as we think of people that we know that have experienced similar difficult situations  with not so happy results.

Kari and I believe God is faithful to us regardless of the situation.  And knowing that we haven't experienced what our friends have experienced, we believe that God was faithful to our friends despite the fact that their outcomes were not happy.  2 Timothy 2.13 says that "if we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself." (ESV) Also, Lamentations 3.22-23 state "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;* his mercies never come to an end; they are new *every morning; *great is your faithfulness." (ESV)

I think of Horatio G. Spafford who wrote a hymn, "It is Well With My Soul", during an event of extreme loss where he lost his four daughters simultaneously.  The previous link provides further background on the hymn and the story behind it.  It is well worth the read.

I say these things to impart we are extremely pleased and thankful...overwhelmed with joy because of the success of the surgery.  And at the same time, we want to be thankful and joyous, despite the outcome of the surgery.

We are blessed and I don't want to take it for granted nor forget it.  More on Carsten in Part II.

Pooped Out

Flashback from the NICU....We thought this was cute.  He is sleeping right after a feeding.   

Head Banger

Flashback... During the phototherapy that was mentioned in the last post, Carsten starts lifting his head on the same day (four days old). He wasn't quite old enough to know how to make that heavy metal hand sign with his fingers yet. This was a very difficult time for us because of how much he hated to stay under that light and the fact that we had to leave him there.

Feats of Strength

Flashback.... Here is a video of Carsten's feat of strength when he was four days old. Not enjoying the phototheraphy required to reduce his jaundice nor the snow goggles he was wearing, he rolls over on his back. We started filming him in the middle of it when he had turned from his stomach to his side. Momma is there at the end to soothe him and apply her momma spells on him.