Phew! Our heads are reeling from a day full of activity and progress.
The day started off with John waking up to a lot of tears. His mornings and later evenings have been filled with complaints of sharp and intense back pain, belly pain, and almost certainly fear, anxiety, and general grumpiness about still being here (and we don’t blame him one bit). We came up with another pain management plan and hoped for relief, mainly via narcotics and general pain meds.
Somewhere along the way, the nurse noticed that John’s chest tube output had dropped dramatically. He’d been trending down but it became clear that things were really slowing down. Our Nurse Practitioner told us that the lungs eventually just give in to the new pressures and stop creating and draining fluid. I’ve heard that it can take weeks, and even months. We are so thankful that this what seemed to have happened today. At 5:30 our NP said she felt comfortable removing both chest tubes! It seemed sudden to us but she said she saw lots of signs that made her comfortable with going forward.
They gave John some strong meds so he was pretty loopy. We had to leave the room (and stand outside praying and wincing with every scream) but within a few minutes the dreaded chest tubes were out! Within 30 minutes he was playing “Crocodile Dentist” (thank you, church friends for the incredible daily gifts! This was the one he opened today!) with the NP, making sure she got chomped on after what she did to him 🙂
We also had a sweet visit from our neighbors who gave Ben an art lesson on UVA’s lawn and took Katie to a bookstore. They had all our neighbors sign a canvas that says “John Strong and Courageous Witmer”. We feel so loved and generously supported.
We anticipate a night with much less heavy pain meds and back pain. There’s even some talk of going home in a few days! We’ll definitely leave the ICU tomorrow and move to the step down unit.
What a difference a week makes!