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Saturday, June 30, 2012
Alaska Providence Medical Center
I have flown up to Anchorage, Alaska to be with my family by the bedside vigil for my brother, Doug.
I received a phone call from Doug's wife, my sister-in-law Rebecca, telling me that my brother's condition was even more serious and more complicated than they had thought. A spinal tap led to another MRI, and the belief that the MRSA ( a drug resistant and very, very serious form of a staph infection) has spread through his blood supply, from his lungs to his brain.
I made plans and got a ticket on Alaska Airlines late that night, for the next day. By that next day, two of my brothers, and myself joined Becky and her three children, in a bedside vigil. Our only other brother, has stayed in Douglas, an island near Juneau, to care for our mother.
By that day, Thursday, the 29th, they decided the mass in his brain was not MRSA but an unknown infection. While at first, that seemed so much better, it is not. In fact, is far, far worse. MRSA can be continued to be treated by massive doses of the best antibiotics they have in attempt to overcome it. The infection can only be treated by the use of general steroids.
At this time, he is being treated with zovirax (anti-viral), mirram (antibiotic), diflucim (for possible yeast infection), propafol (a strong, strong sedative), vacomiacin (antibiotic for the MRSA), solonemedol (steroid), and dilantin (to control the seizures).
A group of doctors are working in tandem through the primary doctor and they all agree they have never seen anyone being given so high of a dose of all of these and not crashing from the sheer magnitude of drugs. To stop the continual brain seizures, they have literally given a dose of medication that would be enough for a very large elephant..far more than 5 times larger than that which they would normal use. Attempts to lower doses have resulted in increased seizing and therefore potential damage to his brain.
The prognosis is acutely serious, if not dire, but they will continue to monitor him in the acute critical care room and every means they have to evaluate, or treat a litany of symptoms and a pattern that is not even a know response in any of the years that they have dealt with any of them.
Providence Alaska Medical Center is Alaska's largest and best, state of the art, hospital. We wear masks, gowns, and gloves each time we enter his critical care unit room, and don a complete new set of each of them, every time we have to leave and re-enter the room in tandem with continually washing our own hands before leaving the unit and throughout the hospital. The photo is of myself, of course, next to my brother in his bed. Out of respect to him and his family, I am not, of course, showing him.
My brother continues to be in a deep, induced coma and is being treated with as many drugs in the highest doses that they knew he can stand without his crashing from the amounts he is being given and that is what can only be done.
The doctor is extremely compassionate, very honest with any, and all explanations. Doug's 30 year old son, is also a doctor based in Arizona, in his last year of an extensive/intensive program as a radiologist of the highest level, trained to use equipment that they only have a in a few major medical centers and he, of course, has been given full access to view all films etc and be a part of all medical information.
We are informed on a regular basis of any changes to the regime and we watch the many monitors in the room for changes of any kind. His high fever is now under control and he is breathing closer to the range they want but still attempting to control his own breathing against the machine..which should be impossible at this level of sedation that they have never, every used before.
The doctors are very honest in telling us that they have never, ever seen a case as challenging as this, nor a patient that has needed, and tolerated such massive does of medicines and sedatives. We have a conference table meeting, yesterday, with 9 of us, and the doctor could not have been any dearer, kinder, or more open.
Without his using the word 'miracle', that is really and truly, in the deepest sense of the word, what my brother needs.
Please continue to send positive thoughts and the continuing belief that all things are possible, miracles truly do happen, and if that is not meant to be, please send my brother's wife, and his three children and their spouses, the strength to bare whatever needs to be born.
Doug's wife, Becky, continues to travel to another center where she still needs to receive dialysis for three times a week at four hours a day. She is so heartbreaking dear as she simply stands by his bedside, holding his hand, rubbing his arm, for hours at a time, sending him such, deep, deep fountains of love.
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Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska and all of her AAQI Quilting. Sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join in the Liberated Quilting Challenge and make or donate small art quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!