Over the past few days certain tests were showing minor improvement even while Nancy did not seem better. She was not eating much, her speech was more labored and difficult, and she continued to require a smallish amount of supplemental oxygen. Eating grapes, yogurt, water, and a few bits and sips of other things isn’t much nourishment regardless of the good stuff the kitchen sends to the room.
The team of doctors contributed in various ways to a meeting this morning to examine evidence and plan a corrective course of action. They reflected on the Friday morning (11/27) heart attack and the following cardiopulmonary collapse on Saturday. The reason for this has not been known but they now think it was part of the heparin allergic reaction (I’ve previously discussed). This collapse landed Nancy in intensive care fully sedated and on life support for eight days.
When the ventilator and the rest were removed this was a sign that things were improved and likely to continue. But, she was never able to function without some small amount of supplemental oxygen. Studying this situation the team collectively believes Nancy’s system took a big ‘insult’ from the heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) (low platelet counts) leading to the condition she is in and the inability of her body to heal and strengthen.
So, they are going to try to help things along by inserting an intra-aortic balloon pump. This device consists of a cylindrical balloon threaded through an artery and into the aorta – the main artery that brings oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. The connected apparatus inflates/deflates this small balloon in a timing sequence with the beating heart such that there is a greater supply of oxygenated blood being generated and sent to the body with less of a demand on the heart. This should effectively mimic a more healthy heart not unlike repairing leaky valves.
Thus, they are going to try to cause improvement in her cardiopulmonary functions and, simultaneously, get a clue as to improvement expected from valve replacement and/or repair. They will also supplement her food intake, especially with the protein necessary for better kidney function.
The pacemaker is of no relevance in all of the above as her heart has not needed it – so any change there is on hold.
While the intra-aortic balloon pump is in place Nancy will have to be fully reclined (flat on her back). [ WHY? I didn’t ask. ]
I left at about 2:30 when a 3-member-team from the catheterization lab swept in to take her to their home roost.
I’ll see her again at 7 PM. A later post tonight is unlikely.
Here’s to a great Christmas Eve! (it’s 4:57 here)