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Relive The Past

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Lissa Update {Thank You!}

It's been a LOOOONG (almost) 7 months since my sweet sister-in-law Lissa went to the ER with excruciating stomach and back spasms. 

{Lissa and her youngest son, Logan.  Early 2009}

To have Lissa complain about something was shock enough, but to have her ask to be taken to the ER - we knew something must be terribly wrong . . .  and it was.

Ultrasounds and MRI testing showed that due to several gall stones, Lissa's pancreas got terribly infected.  Both of her kidneys were in failure.  Her lungs were in failure too as she had created Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a more severe form of pneumonia. Her blood pressure dropped to an alarming rate.  Her white blood cell count was up, indicating infection and her liver enzymes were also high.

Ironically, her oxygen and temperature, at this point, are good/normal.

{Lissa playing cards and drinking a Pepsi. September 2009}

Lissa needed dialysis since her kidneys have shut down.  With all the immediate and extreme care Lissa needs, Tooele hospital send her into Salt Lake City to the University of Utah Hospital.  This is where she remains.

Lissa's heart was restarted THREE times with in a three day period.
Naturally, family members were getting worried and gathering so I flew back to Utah to be closer to the situation.

While there, Geri and I bought a pink Christmas tree for Lissa's room and some decorations.  The hospital staff was sooooo encouraging of us brightening up Lissa's room.  Arrangements were made for a CD player and some of her favorite CDs (mostly Country) to be brought into her room.  Since it was Christmas time, they played Christmas music including her favorite soundtrack of The Nutcracker.

Operations to remove the infected organs at this point was not a possibility since her heart was too weak to handle that additional trauma.  The longer the affected organs remained nonworking, the harder it would be to get them started again.  Time was not on her side. 

During this time Lissa was in and out of consciousness and on pain meds.  It was so hard to see as her face grimace showing the pain and nightmare that is going on within.

About a week later

Lissa is still on life support.  Anti anxiety meds are being administered so her heart rate can come down making it possible to go in and remove the gall bladder and any other infections.

Another week goes by

A feeding tube has been inserted into a vein because her stomach and intestines are not working.  Lissa has an intestinal infarcment in her small intestine, meaning a part of the small intestine has died. There is also a blood clot by her liver.

Nurses report that Lissa has become even less responsive, not responding to by opening her eyes or squeezing their hands.

By this time, still in December, the medical staff got Lissa's body stable enough to remove infected organs and infection.  At this point, much of the decision to do so was life threatening - there was so much toxins inside her that Lissa would certainly have died if the dead or infected areas weren't removed.

They took out Lissa's gall bladder, colon, and large pieces of her pancreas and  small intestine.  Removing these organs were critical to her life, but as expected, pockets of infections were harder to locate and get rid of.

Lissa was going into surgery at least once a day to be 'cleaned out'.  To keep this procedure as quick, easy and sanitary as possible, the Dr's kept the incision open (from her sternum to her pelvic bone) using a Velcro type technique.

Lissa had been hooked up to continuous dialysis since her kidneys were still not working.  A tracheotomy was performed for direct oxygen. Lissa is having to be tied down (arms) because she tries to pull out all her tubes.  It is very, very heartbreaking.

On December 30th, when her husband Mark went into visit, Lissa was able to smile and mouth some words.  Because of the trache, she had no voice.

Into the new year, nurses unofficially put Lissa at a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worse.  Not a great way to start the year.  The daily operational clean up continues.  Abnormally colored fluids are coming from  unknown location internally.

End of January

Lissa is more awake now and is becoming depressed. There are no answers for her/our questions and no end to her boredom.  Lissa has not seen her boys for almost 2 months.  Her three boys are her life.  It's so hard to see our care free, always happy Lissa in such emotional and physical pain.

During a 'clean out' the Dr. could see blood filling up her abdomen cavity.  The artery to her spleen had burst about the same time they got her dressings off.
After 5 hours of vascular surgery, they had patched the artery and removed her spleen.  40 units of blood were needed for this surgery.

In February Lissa's kidneys have started working!!  The trache has a button now that allows Lissa to speak for bits of time.  Physical therapists are working Lissa's arms and legs.  Infection pockets are still forming and so are the daily clean outs. 

Lissa's boys were able to go in and see their mother in March!!  The visit lifted her spirits immensely!  Because of all the meds Lissa is delusional from time to time.  Lissa is able to talk more and reports of her talking endlessly make us happy!!  She seems to be working through the depression.

Doctors take a skin graft from the top of Lissa's thigh in a third attempt to patch the artery that broke.  This time they used mussel tissue.  She still has the huge opening for surgeries, the trache, still being fed through an IV. Pneumonia sets in again and is accompanied by sepsis.

By the middle of April, Lissa has had 28 surgeries and over 200 units of blood.  The Doctors are going to skin graft over the huge opening in her stomach - no more clean outs!  She has sat up in bed on her own for a couple of minutes!  

A couple of days ago Lissa had a swallow study done to see if she could tolerate food. Saltines, yes.  Applesauce, no.  Ice chips, good!

Friends and family are going to go celebrate Lissa's birthday with her.  The staff thinks this is a wonderful idea.  I wish I could be there with them, but they promised to take pics and tell me all about it!

I was having lunch with a friend while back in Utah and was updating her on Lissa.  She commented that if she didn't know us personally, she would have thought all this was exaggerated or made up.

Thank you ALL for your prayers, thoughts, positive energy, and kind words you've sent.  I'm amazed and comforted by those of you who inquire about Lissa even when I haven't posted about her.


Deb said...

Wow! this is an incredible story. What can I say... Lissa is one amazing lady and her family are obviously amazing too.

Stefeven1 said...

Hi from France, I have been following your blog for a while now ... and so waiting to hear news about your sister-in-law. She seems like such a brave woman ... Hold on and all my prayer are with your brother, Lissa and their three boys!
Stéphanie from France

Cathy said...

Mel, I am so sorry to hear of your families long journey. My daughter became seriously ill 4 years ago and so many times we were told that she was not going to make it. Last year at this time she weighed in at 78 pounds and today she weighs about 117. Life for my daughter has finally become as normal as life will be for her. She also was not sewn shut but not as long as Lissa. I will keep Lissa, her husband and kids and all extended family in my thoughts and will pray for the strength that is needed for this horrible journey.

Linda said...

Thank you for sharing and the detailed update on Lissa. She is a determined young lady. I will continue to hold her, her young family, and her medical staff in my prayers.

Why Not Sew? said...

Mel, thank you for updating. I think of Lissa often. She is still in our prayers. She sounds like a fighter. God Bless your family. ♥ Erin

Pat said...

It sounds like Lissa is on the road "back" from this painful and long journey...and I pray that she will be able to get home soon. I cannot even imagine what she and all the rest of you in the family have been feeling these past 7 months. Thanks for the detailed update.

Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Mel, thanks for some good news on Lissa, I have prayed for her, her family and those precious boys. It sounds like she is on the road to recovery.

Needled Mom said...

What an amazing story!!! It truly is a miracle that she has made it this far in her recovery. I will continue to keep her in my prayers.

Trisha said...

Oh my gosh, Mel. I am totally bawling. My prayers are with you and your family. I can't even fathom how hard this has been for you and everyone else in Lissa's life, especially her husband and those boys. Please keep us update on how she is doing.

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Lissa is a strong lady and will to live is quite evident. I know it was hard for you to post this, but so many of us have grown to love and care for you and your family. So thank you for this post. Prayers are still going strong for this remarkable lady. I am going to email you with an idea……

Pokey said...

Thank you for sharing this! It's good to hear things are improving, but this story is amazing. I do pray for a continued recovery. I guess we should be thankful for all the medical abilities of the day. w.o.w.

Dawn said...

Thanks for the update. I'm glad she is doing better...what a journey she has been on. Hugs!

WoolenSails said...

I cannot imagine all of the pain she has gone through and I feel for her and your family. Lissa will be in my prayers.


Bonnie said...

My heart goes out to your entire family. Thank you for the update. I also have thought about Lissa and wondered how she is doing.

Makes me think of a favorite quote by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." May the prayers of many continue to bless her and bring you comfort.

Micki said...

That is such a heartbreaking story. I do pray that Lissa is alright. She and all of you have gone through so much! My prayers go with you all!

Carrie P. said...

Oh my, I remember when you first asked us to pray for her. Poor thing, she certainly has been through the wringer. I will say a pray for her.
Happy 4th of July.

kjquilts said...

I'm so glad you gave us an update. Everytime I come to your blog I think about Lissa. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. It sounds like she has good doctors and nurses to take care of her. Hopefully this good news will continue and one day soon she'll be home with her family.

Marls said...

What a strong woman Lissa is. Such a long journey for her and all the families. It's good to hear she is making progress.
Hugs to everyone.

Patchwork Penguin said...

I am so sorry I haven't seen this before now. Hugs and prayers to you and your family. I am hoping and praying that things turn around for Lissa soon.


Aunt Pitty Pat's Fun said...

I didn't know you and your family were going trough such hard times.. I will keep you and Lissa and her family in my thoughts and prayers.