Monday, July 6, 2009

Memorial Service Information

I thought I should post the memorial service information for my dad, in case some of you haven't been informed yet. Those of you who know my dad well are aware that he was full of life. Because of this, the memorial is being treated as a celebration of his life and energy. We respectfully ask that you avoid wearing all black, but you can dress as casually as you'd like. The service will be at 6:00 PM on Sunday, July 12th at the Coon Rapids Golf Course on Fairway #1. A meal will follow at the Country Club, where John Richardson and band will be playing music. If you wish to share memories about my dad, you will have an opportunity to stand at a mic and do so on Sunday. If you prefer to share with our family privately, you can e-mail me at or call our home phone. If any of you need our cell phone numbers so you can reach us, feel free to ask via e-mail. Directions can be provided for out of town friends and family if need be. Thanks for traveling on this journey with my dad and our family. We are so, so blessed.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Beginning of a New Journey

First off, I would like to thank all of you for your support throughout the past four months. On Sunday, Dad seemed to be doing better. His oxygen requirements dropped to 85 percent on the ventilator. But when Mom and I went back to Laurie's house, Mom got a call from Dad's nurse saying that he had to go back to 100 percent. They discovered that on top of his back infection, open back wound, and damaged new lungs, his kidney's were failing again and they discovered a fungal infection in his bladder. His skin had begun to break out in a rash and his body looked like it had really taken a toll. Sunday night Mom was sitting at his bedside and asked him if there was only a way he could show her if he wanted to keep going. Shortly after she asked, his respiratory rate plummeted down to 0. At this, the nurse came in and said sometimes the leads come off, so she adjusted it and left the room again, but it still showed zero. Mom asked me what I thought of that and I told her I thought he held his breath and he was telling us he wanted us to let him go. That night, Mom and I discussed our options and yesterday we talked to Dr. Klesney-Tait. She explained that she couldn't make the choice either because she loved him too. However, she explained that if there were a line of 25 doctors, all of them but her would label Dad as hopeless. I still feel like she only said that because she cared so much about him...she didn't want to give up. Last night we made the decision to take him off the ventilator, ending his suffering. We waited for Dad's sister Suzie and her husband Clyde, and my grandma Jeanette. They got at the hospital around 9:30 pm and we got to spend our time with him. It's amazing how much he proved to us how much of a fighter he was. As we were waiting for Dr. Tait to take him off, Mom told him it was okay to go now...that it was okay to finally give up. At this, his oxygen saturations, even at 100 percent ventilator support, began to steadily drop over the next half hour. He went from 92% saturation all the way down to 70%. It was his way of telling us he was finally giving up too. Dr. Klesney-Tait came in at about 10:40 pm and, in the presence of myself, Mom, Heidi, Jeanette, Suzie, Clyde, and Laurie, we watched as she freed Dad of all his cords and medications. Dad was heavily sedated and didn't feel any pain. He passed away after only about 5 minutes of no support. My father, Michael Louis Miller died at the age of 59 at 10:49 pm on Monday, June 29th, 2009. I am honored to have had him as my father and I hope you feel honored to have been his friends and family. The time and location for Dad's funeral is yet to be decided. His wishes included cremation, so we want to take time to discuss and conduct his funeral in a way that he would have wanted. I will let you all know when we set a date and a location both through this blog and through Dad's email address. We would appreciate any stories you would like to share about him. Please send these either to my email at or Dad's email .

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday, June 26th

Mom talked to Dr. Klesney-Tait today (Dad's head doctor). She said that they're going to try to put a scope in to see where the blood clots are all at. Dad's blood pressure was doing good earlier today, but has since lowered some. Dr. Tait said that if Dad's heart were to go out on him, she didn't recommend resuscitation because the chest compressions would be too hard on his bones. At this time though, his heart looks okay, but you never know. He's currently at 100% ventilator support and his O2 saturations are in the low 90's. As Mom described to me, "He's the sickest I think he's ever been." Dr. Tait said she's still holding hope for him and that she's seen patients come out of this, but he is extremely sick right now. They haven't found any infection and he only had a little bit of a temperature today. Again, they're going to try to lay him on his stomach in order to clear up some of the "junk" in his lungs. As much as I hate to use the word "grim" I think it's appropriate for his condition right now. Please, we can use all of your prayers at this time...that's all we can do is hope and pray.

Tuesday, June 23rd - Thursday, June 26th

It's really late, and I work in the morning, but I feel like I need to update you all because I don't want to give false hope with the last bad as that sounds. Just two days removed from the whole 65% ventilator dependency, Dad was back on 95% today (Thursday). His kidneys seem to be pretty much tanking (creatnine levels in the 3's) again. This was really tough on all of us today...Mom left work and headed back to Iowa City this afternoon. There's also blood in his urine, which might be caused by a blood clot in his bladder. That might be part of the reason for his rise in ventilator support as well...still no fever's as far as I know. Dad's head doctor still isn't giving up hope on him, but she's starting to get worried about the lungs and whether they've been permenantly damaged. For the first time since they said he wasn't going to make it, I can honestly say I'm scared. Not worried. Scared. I'm really starting to wonder if he's going to make it out of this. We need some progress. Soon. I'll probably be joining Mom in Iowa City soon if things stay the way they are. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Letter of Thanks

Our family would like to express our deep and sincere appreciation for all of the support, prayers, love, and gifts that all of you have given us. We are so touched by everyone's care and thoughtfulness. Please continue to keep Mike in your thoughts and prayers.

Karen Miller

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wednesday-Monday, June 17th-22nd

Dad got moved back down to the ICU on Friday because they wanted to start him on a new pain/sedative called Propofol. Giving him this drug increases his risk of low blood pressure and the ICU is constantly monitoring that, unlike the 7th floor. When I left Iowa City on Thursday, Dad's oxygen requirements were at 90%. When Mom called in last night he was down to 65%. It's crazy to think that he's only breathing 35% on his own, yet that seems like such a huge leap at this point and time. As far as his kidneys are concerned, the creatinine levels got as low as 1.3, which is nearly back to normal. Yesterday they were at up a little, but that can be due to the newly administered Propofol. Dad no longer gets agitated when he opens his eyes, and hasn't broken a fever in the past 2 days, so those are more steps in the right direction. In speaking with his floor doctor on the 7th floor on Thursday, I asked him what order we should be seeing things getting better, to which he replied, "I don't mean to sound dramatic, but our first step is to keep him alive." That was tough to stomach, but over the past few days he does seem to be improving more drastically then I've seen in the past month. With Father's Day being yesterday, it really made me sit back and fixate on this many people...right now, are taking advantage of the fact that they have a healthy father to spend the day with? If Dad pulls through, I know I'll take full advantage of every minute I spend with him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sunday, June 14th - Tuesday, June 16th

Over these few days, things have pretty much stayed steady. Dad's still under heavy sedation, is between 70 and 100% dependent on the ventilator, and still has a fever off and on. The only significant change has been his Creatinine level has gone from 3.3 to 1.9. Once again, normal levels are around 1.0 but this is the lowest those have been in recent memory. Creatinine is directly related to kidney function. It's kind of hard for me to explain exactly, but here's a link if you'd like to know more...
I'll keep you updated if anything new happens.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tuesday, June 9th - Saturday, June 13th

I haven't been posting on here much recently because, honestly, not much has gone on. Dad is still occasionally running a fever that hovers around the 100* mark, but a dose of Tylenol seems to clear that up. Dad was on 5 mg of Ativan today, which is a rather large dosage (in fact, it's the most they are allowed to give him.) This is to pretty much sedate him, although it's not quite doing the job. This is probably due to his body building a tolerance to the drug. Because of this, the medical staff is thinking about switching him off the Ativan and Fentanyl (pain medication) and putting him on another drug that would work both as a sedative and a pain reliever. Again, today Dad was at 100% dependent on the ventilator, but his O2 stats were good at that. His white count was down around the 16,000 mark...I believe 10,000 is deemed normal...but he's been as high as 26,000 so that's a positive sign. One more key thing that the nurse said today was that when she last saw him this past week, they were able to see the hardware in Dad's back through the incision. Now today when neurosurgery came in, they were unable to see the hardware because some tissue had grown over it. This goes to prove that his back is making an attempt to heal now with the aid of the "WoundVac." Once they feel it's ready, they will sew his incision shut and allow the wound to finally close shut and heal completely. The talks about having to remove the hardware were in the past and no longer seem to be a plausible option.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Friday-Monday, June 5th-8th

So I haven't been back in Iowa City since Thursday so I'm a little rusty on the update this time. So far, to me, everything's staying about the same. Again, Dad still does not have a temperature which is definitely a positive sign. Mom said that today he was "snowed in" or pretty heavily sedated. There was some blood in Dad's urine today so they are wondering if he might have a urinary tract infection, or if that was due to a new catheter insertion. Regardless, he is still hovering around on his ventilator pressure support...somewhere between 55 and 80 percent dependency. Other than that, I don't think there is much more to update you on...things are kind of at a stand-still at this point. It seems to me like this is a down time to let his back heal up a bit before they start doing much of anything else.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Posting a Comment and Becoming a Follower

A few of you have e-mailed me saying that you are less than techno-savvy. If you would like to post a comment on this blog, click on the gray text beneath the post that identifies the number of comments. Then scroll to the bottom past any comments. The white box that says "post a comment" is where you type your message. It helps if you leave your name within the message so we know who left it. To publish your comment, click on "post comment" and you will be finished! 

Also, if you currently have a Google, AIM, or Yahoo account you can become a follower of the blog. Just click on the "follow" button on the right side of the page in the green box. Then follow instructions from there. 

Let me know if you are still struggling. I can be reached at 


Wednesday & Thursday, June 3rd-4th

Mom and I haven't been able to stay in the room with Dad very much over these past two days because every time he sees us, he makes attempts to sit up out of bed and pull out his ventilator. I think all he wants to do right now is go home at any cost. However, he isn't very mentally competent at this time so I'm sure if he knew what was going on he would know to calm down and just rest. On Thursday, Mom and I went in to see him and when Mom grabbed his hand he woke up and immediately his O2 stats plummeted, his respiratory rate nearly doubled, and he tried to pull his ventilator out. At this point we have decided that by him seeing us, it's just making him want to leave more. From a medical standpoint, they upped his Ativan dosage to 2 mg which has pretty much sedated him. When Dad is sleeping his oxygen saturations are much better and he requires a lot less attention. At this point, the medical staff thinks this is the best thing for his recovery. Over the past two days he has lost the temperature, which is a huge positive at this point. They've also been talking about placing some kind of tube in his back to clean out the infection and then stitching his incision back up...but neurosurgery is going to wait a few more days before they do anything. So we're pretty much in a stage right now of letting him rest and hoping that this will further improve Dad's condition. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, May 31 - June 2nd

The last three days have been pretty non-eventful. One of the possibilities in the last post was the threat of pneumonia. Although not completely clear yet, doctors do believe that he has it. The hardware placed in Dad's back has come up positive for an infection, so the neurosurgery team is going to wait a few days to see if his spine has fused yet. If this is the case, which is unlikely, they would be able to take him in for surgery and have the rods and screws removed from his back. Again though, it is not only unlikely that the bone has fused, but it's also unlikely that Dad would be able to go through such a surgery in his current condition. The pressure support on his ventilator has been ranging between 60% and 100%. Which means he is still very dependent on the machine to do the breathing for him. Yesterday Dad was very alert and very agitated. Whenever Mom and I were in the room he would constantly be needing or wanting something from us. Today was about the same. He was back at 100% on the vent and he was constantly moving around, telling us he wanted to get up and walk out of here. It was hard for us to explain to him that he wasn't healthy enough to do that yet. I think he realized that before we even told him. They have decided to keep him up on 7th floor instead of trying to put him back in the MICU since Dad likes it better up there. The staff decided to go ahead and put a suction machine on his back so that they don't have to continuously roll him around and change the gauze out. When we called in tonight, his nurse told us that Dr. Klesney-Tait decided to give him a high enough dose of Ativan to make him sleep. Her thought process is that Dad has too many things wrong with him right now for him to be awake and struggle through the pain. After being home and talking to a lot of you already, I can tell that some of you are still a little confused about what exactly is wrong with Dad. So I will use this time to "debrief" you on all of his current problems:

Lungs: looked at the CT Scan today and his lungs have a moderate amount of inflamation and mucus build-up. This is caused probably by both his infection and the pneumonia. This is the reason he is on a ventilator through the tracheostomy.

Kidneys: Lately his kidney functions have been improving, although they are not back to normal yet. His creatine levels are at about 2.3...normal functioning is right at 1.0. He was at one time on dialysis, but he is no longer requiring that amount of assistance.

Back/Spine: Dad had to have emergency back surgery after he suffered a compression fracture of the Thoractic 11 vertebra. The fracture occured due to a combination of Prednisone use over the last 9 years, his recently diagnosed Ureaplasma, and a couple of falls while walking. Ureaplasma is a rare bone infection that can be found in transplant patients. Iowa City has had 8 cases in 25 years. Dad is currently on Zithromiacin and will have to be for the rest of his life as a preventative measure. His surgery was risky and involved the placement of two steel rods and screws to help fuse the vertebrae back together. His incision is still open because of the reoccurence of puss build-up. So Dad literally has an open wound in his back at this time that requires constant daily attention.

Shoulders: A few years ago, Dad suffered a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. They were never able to perform surgery on this due to his poor lung condition. Since he has been in the hospital, they also discovered some bone deterioration in his left shoulder. So at this time both of his shoulders are extremely weak and painful.

Stomach: While in the hospital, Dad complained of stomach discomfort. Following this, the doctors found that he had two ulcers. Although this is painful for him, they should heal on their own.

Cardiovascular System: Almost two months ago, Dad had some complications with his medications. When he was admitted into the MICU at that point, they discovered he had suffered from what appeared to be three small strokes. They in no way should have any affect on his life. This was later explained to us as being caused by a minor flaw in the sewing of the new lungs into the heart valves.

Infections: Dad has suffered from a variety of infections already. As I explained above, he still has the Ureaplasma infection in his back, but it is being treated with a drug called Zithromiacin. However, Dad is still breaking temperatures so there is still an infection in him that they haven't found yet. They are testing his blood every day in an attempt to pinpoint where it is coming from.

Overall: For those of you who don't know what's still keeping Dad from going home, this is my best explanation: The hardware (rods and screws) in his back are carrying an infection. They have to wait until his bone has fused before they can remove that and sew his incision back up. Dad's lungs are suffering from inflamation and fluid build-up due to the unknown infection, and pneumonia. These two things are the most important factors holding him back. His healing process will have to come one step at a time. First, they have to pinpoint the infection and eliminate all fevers. This will probably coiincide with the elimination of the pneumonia. Once they are able to do this, he will have to lose the infection in his back and go through surgery to have the hardware removed from his back. If he is able to make it through all of this, he will have to rehab and build strength back in his legs and basically learn to walk again. It's a long, scary road ahead of us and all we can hope is that we have as few stumbles along the way as possible. Thanks for your continued support and comments.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thursday, May 28th - Saturday, May 30th

Hey everyone...I'm sorry that I haven't been on here lately to post but I have been back home and working. If Mom was a little more tech-savvy she could do this, but I think she's got enough on her plate already. So since I haven't been around, I can only tell you what Mom has told me over the phone. Thursday was a very slow day...Dad was asleep for a lot of the day and the staff kind of wanted to let him get his rest. Friday was when I headed back to Coon, but I remember that at that point, Dad's blood pressure seemed to be doing a lot better than on Thursday. He was running about 85/60 Thursday and around 110/70 on Friday before I left. They put Dad back on Lasix to both assist his kidneys and to remove some of the liquid build-up in the lungs. As far as I know, he's been having some anxiety lately, specifically on Saturday, about being in the hospital still. Mom updated me earlier today (well, I guess it's technically yesterday since this post is so late)...Saturday...about the fact that there are a couple of reasons the doctors may have discovered for his slow having to do with the lungs, and one having to do with his back. I'm sorry, but at this point I don't feel it is in our best interest as a family to release those discoveries at this point because they are just theories from the doctors. They aren't exactly life-threatening discoveries, but they are very serious and hopefully they will make it official soon, so I can let you all know. It shouldn't be more than a few days before they find out for sure. Please don't be too alarmed by this....these are both things that Dad has fought through in the past. The only reason I am not releasing this is because I don't want to put something out there that might not be true and/or finalized. All I can say is to hold tight and keep checking this for updates! Thanks for the comments everyone and I will continue to try my best to relay them to Mom and Dad both.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 27th

This morning was a rough one. When my mom and I arrived on 7th floor at about 9:00 a.m., Dad's nurse told us that his temperature had risen all the way up to 40.2 degrees centigrade, or 104.4 degrees fahrenheit with Tylenol. The medical staff countered this by placing a water-cooled blanked underneath Dad's covers to help lower his core body temperature. It worked well and by the end of the afternoon he was back down to 98.8 degrees. Dr. Klesney-Tait decided to take Dad off of all his antibiotics except for the one fighting off the Uriaplasma infection in his back. Once again he was very drowsy and fairly unresponsive when we first got to the hospital, but once the temperature began to regress and the afternoon wore on, he was wide awake. At this point he decided he wanted to watch one of his DVD's of an Eric Clapton concert. Shortly after this, however, he began complaining about a constant pain in his lower abdomen and explained to us that he felt like he had to urinate, but was unable to. His nurse checked his urine sample and said that something didn't look right in it, so she sent it in to be tested for an infection. So at this point, we are waiting for that sample to culture, as a urinary or bladder infection seems to be a strong possibility.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25th and Tuesday, May 26th

Although my dad's physical symptoms appear to be progressing toward the positive, he appears to be suffering from ICU Delerium. ICU Delerium has been described to us as something your body goes through in a hospital when you lack adequate amounts of sleep. This has led to my dad feeling kind of bummed out about still being in the hospital, which is completely understandible if you ask me. As far as the rest, on Monday he still had a high temperature despite no cultures showing any new forms of bacterial infection. Again, this may be drug-induced, but the infectious disease team continues to assess this situation. Also, on Monday, they moved him into a chair, but he was only able to last about 5 minutes there due to his back pain. Dad had a "Trache Oxygen Mask Test" as well. This is when they remove the ventilator from the trache and place an oxygen mask directly over the trache. 15 minutes was all the longer he was able to last, but it's a step in the right direction. Another thing to note is that Dad no longer needs any form of dialysis, as his kidneys are back to functioning properly.

Tuesday: During the night, Dad's oxygen saturations fluctuated and he still had a temperature. The reasons behind both of these symptoms remains unknown. Dr. Tate (again, Dad's head doctor) decided it would be best for my dad's mental state to be moved out of the MICU and placed back into the respiratory care unit on 7th floor, where a frog balloon (courtesy of the 7th floor nurses!) was in his room awaiting his arrival. According to one nurse, there was quite the debate over who would get the oportunity to be his head nurse for the day, because he is so well liked in the 7th floor unit. Dad pretty much slept all day today, only waking occasionally to scan the room, then drop his head back down onto his pillow. So needless to say, there wasn't much communication from him today except for an occasional smile or head shake. Heidi took off for Minnesota again to return to her job and I came back here to be with Mom. When I came into the room and said my hello's to Dad, he was getting his teeth brushed. When this was finished, he turned his head toward me and smiled, as if to show his shiny pearly whites. One more thing to note was that the nurses told us that Dad is down to 158 pounds. A meare fraction of the 198 he tipped the scales at when he arrived in late February. His arms and legs might be thinner than mine now, but he's still got some meat on his stomach, so I, personally am not concerned with his weight yet. I'll be keeping in touch with you guys every night...the reason this one is for the past two days is because Heidi had a migrane last night, I was back in Coon, and Mom isn't exactly "tech savvy" to say the least. Keep in mind that any comments you leave can be relayed back to Dad now that he's conscious, so feel free to leave him a post!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday, May 22nd & Saturday, May 23rd

Since Friday and Saturday weren't particularly eventful days, I have decided to combine them into one post. Though Dad is being given the necessary nutrients and hydration through tube feedings, he continues to struggle with being hungry and thirsty. On Friday he didn't have a temperature, but a low-grade one appeared on Saturday. The respiratory team continues to peform breathing tests in which he is taken off the ventilator and breathes with an oxygen mask. On Saturday he was able to go almost 40 minutes while maintaining 100 percent oxygen saturations before becoming uncomfortable. Also, his kidney functions continue to progress without the use of dialysis. We discovered that he will continue to be on medication for the infection previously found in his bone for quite some time, possibly months.

Golf was his TV choice this weekend, and his daily reading choice...the local newspapers! We also took the past couple of days to catch him up on the story of his infection since he was asleep for most of it.

The physical therapy team helped him stand again on Friday, which is great for Dad. One of the nurses commented that he didn't seem like the type to sit, but rather a person full of energy who will be up and moving as soon as humanly possible. How true that is. It seems to me that my dad has struggled through enough years of sitting, when he is a man with plans and hobbies. I must take a moment to recognize the strength and endurance he has shown through all of this. Throughout my whole life, I have seen my dad as a strong and passionate man. However, until now I have never seen just how powerful his incredibly optimistic personality is. I look around and see all of the negative energy in this world. Then I see my dad, a man who has many things he could be bitter and angry about, including an almost 3 month hospital stay. Somehow he doesn't give in, and his positive energy radiates every single day. I'm so proud of him, and so proud to be his daughter.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21st

"Promising" is probably the best word to describe Dad's progress today. When we first arrived at the hospital, the curtain to his room was shut and we could hear all kinds of movement. As they rolled back the drapes, his nurse told us that they had gotten him to stand. Although just for a moment, it is a huge improvement from where he was a week ago. Today he was just as alert as yesterday; answering questions by shaking his head, pointing, or speaking without sound. I feel like I'm in Special Intelligence trying to read lips all day... Kidney's are working very well so far, partly thanks to the Lasix. Ultrasounds were performed on his arms, legs, and neck today to check for any blood clots. He was free of anything serious there. Again today he was constantly thirsty. We were actually able to give him ice chips today since his swallowing is improving. His extreme thirst isn't actually because of dehydration, but instead is due to his potassium, sodium, and protein levels being low (this is because of the Lasix). Dad went off the ventilator for 40 minutes straight today...I think they're going to slowly increase his time off every day so he can breathe on his own again. One last thing. The surgical team checked on his back incision and changed out the gauze. While they were doing this, I swung around behind and snuck a peak at it. It's still not healed over very well and he still has about 6-8 inches of skin that isn't healing together very well. Just another thing for us to keep an eye on... I'll be heading home for the weekend again so hopefully Heidi will keep you all posted while I'm away.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20th

Hey everyone! Heidi decided to take a break from the posting so I guess you're all stuck with me for today's update. God forbid, the journalism major has to write a blog post! Haha. So anyway, here's what's new with my dad...

Last night the staff decided to take Dad off of dialysis to better measure if his kidneys were functioning correctly. So far, so good. The kidney specialist came in earlier today and said that the lab numbers on his kidneys looked very good even though he hasn't produced very much urine yet. Apparently it can take the kidneys a little bit of time to kick in after being on dialysis for such a long period of time. They also discussed giving him a dose of Lasix which assists in the flushing out of bodily fluids; kind of like a laxitive for your bladder. Dad's throat is still sore, and understandibly so. He is constantly wanting water to soothe it, however we are still not allowed to give him anything until he gets the trache removed and the doctors feel he is ready to pass a swallow test. Throughout this entire journey, he still hasn't lost his attitude. When we told him today that he couldn't have a drink yet, he replied my mouthing, "bull***t." He's much more like himself today and his eyes are even less glazed over than they were yesterday. You can tell by his expressions that he's sick of laying around and being sick when he has these new lungs to use! Dad still has a low-grade temperature of about 100 degrees today and now that they have the PICC and dialysis lines out, those don't seem to be the source of the infection. His head doctor, Dr. Klesney-Tait said that they're just going to wait things out with the temperature and keep giving him antibiotics and Tylenol. Another thing to note was that for a span of about a half hour they took him off the ventilator and put him on regular oxygen, but his oxygen saturation numbers dropped too much too keep him off it any longer. He's not using the ventilator very much, but he's not ready to go off it quite yet. Dr. Klesney-Tait also spoke earlier today about possibly sitting him up in a chair today, but that's something that we will update you on again tomorrow. So far things are looking up, but it's still a long road ahead for my dad.


Wednesday, May 20th

The background for those of you who don't know...

For those of you who are somewhat confused about Mike's health and what has been going on since his lung transplant in February, I am posting an e-mail that was written by my brother approximately a week ago. I had planned on this being the first post on the blog, so I'm sorry if this seems a little out of order. In case you are way behind, Mike had a double lung transplant on February 26th at the University of Iowa Hospital after waiting for six years. After his initial healing process he was admitted into the SICU due to adverse reactions to medication. He was then released for a short period of time during which he stayed at Karen's sister, Laurie's house in Solon, Iowa. He continued to struggle with back pain and was re-admitted to the University of Iowa Hospital. Eventually he ended up in the MICU, where he still is to this day. The following e-mail will continue to fill you in on his condition, starting on May 5th:

Heidi Miller

(Jason's Email)

To all those who care about Mike,

Mike is currently in the MICU at the University of Iowa Hospital in critical condition. Off and on for the past month, Mike has had a fever originally thought to have been caused by the T-11 compression fracture in his back. The fracture continued to worsen to the point that emergency surgery was required. On April 28th, Mike had two steel rods placed alongside his spine in order to correct the fracture. Following the surgery, Mike was still in a severe amount of back pain, which was fairly typical after such a procedure. However, the fever returned and it suddenly became a chore for Mike to breathe on his own again. This continued getting worse with every passing day. After just over a week of struggling, Mike was admitted back into the Medical Intensive Care Unit on May 6th. Doctors assume it is some sort of infection, but have been unable to pinpoint exactly where it is located. All cultures thus far have ruled out the possibility of a bacterial/fungal infection. The medical staff is now leaning toward this being either a major inflammatory case or a viral infection. In either case, it is up to Mike’s antibodies to fight off this sickness. After being heavily sedated and placed on a ventilator, Mike’s kidneys began to fail due to low protein levels, low blood pressure, and various medications. In an effort to reverse this, he was placed on 24-hour dialysis, which would be gentler on his already fragile body. As you can tell, Mike is fighting for his life and we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers at this time. The current circumstances have greatly extended the amount of recovery time originally expected for Mike, leaving Karen to be by his side andunable to return to her job as quickly as intended. If you would like to send a card to Mike and his family, please send it to Karen’s sister’s house at:

2350 Sugarbottom Road
Solon, IA 52333

Also, if you would like to make a donation to Mike’s transplant fund, please
make checks payable to “The Mike Miller Transplant Fund.” and address it to:

Thomas Law Office
Attn: Mike Miller Transplant Fund
PO Box 101
Coon Rapids, IA 50058

Thank you for your continued prayers, encouragement, and support.

Jason Miller

Tuesday, May 19th

It was a busy day here at the hospital. The head doctor came in today and said that he is making improvements every day, which is a relief after all that he's been through. Dad's blood pressure was normal until after his colonoscopy, when it spiked. We found out that the blood in his stool was caused by two ulcers that developed, which will heal in time. He had a low-grade temperature throughout the day, which they think could be caused by infection in the dialysis line. The kidney team had been wanting to do a trial period off of dialysis to see if he could handle it, so they used today as an opportunity to do that. For the first time Dad was able to mouth words to us. The first thing he said was "pop" but we quickly told him he couldn't have any yet. He then responded to us by requesting water, but all the doctors allowed us to give him were swabs with water on them. The ventilator that Dad had in for a couple of weeks made his throat very dry, but he must pass a swallow test before being allowed to drink anything.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18th

Today was a rough day for my dad. In order to make his breathing more comfortable, the doctors decided to do a tracheotomy on him. A tube in his trachea now helps him breathe, allowing the tube in his mouth to be removed. In order to reduce the risk of infection, he had a PICC line removed from his arm and a central line was put into his neck. For the first time in a week he had a temperature. His blood pressure was consistently high and he had blood in his stool. They will be performing a colonoscopy on Tuesday to assess the source of his bleeding, and have been giving him blood to keep up with the loss. Dad remains on dialysis, but the kidney team hopes to see further improvement in the future. His chest x-ray looked better today as well, though his numbers change daily as needed. On the positive side, he is no longer sedated and is able to respond through shaking his head and squeezing our hands. It is a relief that he can finally communicate his needs to both us and the hospital staff.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's been a long battle...

I have started this blog for those of you who would like to track my dad's progress here at the University of Iowa Hospital. As many of you know, he had a double lung transplant at the end of February and has been through many battles since then. Currently he is in the ICU in critical, but stable condition. Every day seems to present new challenges as well as improvements. We will post updates on this blog daily, so that his many friends and family members may view detailed information on his health. Thank you for all the prayers and positive thoughts you have already been sending his (and our) way.

Heidi Miller