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