ICU Day 7 – A little progress

Rachana is now producing her own WBCs. This is wonderful as WBCs are the infection fighting cells in the body. The Neutrophiles (part of WBC) count has climbed to 1400 and they are expecting it to be in the normal range. The doctors called off the WBC transfusion they were planning in a few days. They had started the WBC transfusion paperwork the day before yesterday and had already found a donor who had started taking the steroids in preparation of the transfusion. I cannot praise these donors enough! To help someone anonymously by donating life saving blood products is a wonderful act of pure selflessness. I encourage everyone to register as a donor. I didn’t know till a few days ago that a bone marrow donor registry is different from a WBC donation, which is called Granulocytes. I’ve updated the Save a Life page with this information. Please consider becoming a donor. People like Rachana need your help.

After all the scans and tests, the doctors now know that the lungs are the only place they see an infection. Even her blood cultures are not growing any bacteria, i.e. the bacteria is out of her blood. Her chest x-rays show significant pockets of infections and the doctors have said that progress will be slow and can take weeks. They are doing a chest x-ray everyday and are basically looking at baby steps of progress. We’ll take that! Her situation is not getting worse and there is slow progress.

We now seems to be on a two track strategy to gauge progress. 1) Track the progress of antibiotics and see the reduction in lung infection. 2) Track improvement in breathing so she can be removed from the ventilator. On this second point the doctors first want to see if she can be taken off the sedatives, i.e. wake her up from her sleep and see if she will cooperate, be calm, and follow instructions. Once she is following instructions, they will slow down the ventilator and test how she is breathing on her own. If they are happy with her breathing, only then will she come off the ventilator. They reduced her sedation meds this morning and woke her up for about 10 mins. It didn’t go well. Rachana was very aggressive, was pulling her hands which are tied down and was trying to remove the pipes using her tongue and teeth. She started biting the tubes which restricted her oxygen. They quickly put her back to sleep. We were talking to her and trying to calm her down. It felt like she was able to hear us but not fully, she just looked through us. She was perhaps so upset with the situation that she didn’t follow our requests to calm down. Also many times during the day she wakes up for a few seconds, tries to pull her hands, struggle by straining her neck and then go back to sleep.

It’s difficult to understand how anyone will be calm with their hands tied down and tubes in their mouth. But the nurses say that she will calm down in few days. We are all praying that she comes off the ventilator soon; it’s definitely difficult for her and also for us to see her in this helpless state.