8 Week Update
Today was a very early appointment day! As always, Erika started the morning with a blood draw to check the levels of the anti rejection medications in her blood. Next was a chest X-ray, which showed that there was no concerning leftover fluid on the lungs, and they are inflating well. Lastly, her pulmonary function tests (PFTs) looked good. There was no significant change or improvement in these tests, which can seem a little bit frustrating, but the doctor reassured Erika that this is normal. As her pain lessens, she will be able to exhale more quickly and forcefully and hopefully that will reflect in her scores.
The highlight of the morning was a quick visit back to the ICU. Erika has been wanting to go back to the floor where she spent her time recovering and have the chance to say hi to a few of her favorite nurses. Elisa (left) and Jen (right) were two of the nurses that had the biggest impact on Erika’s recovery. These nurses are in charge of keeping their patients alive and making decisions that significantly impact their health and well being. They are taking care of a person in their most vulnerable state, while still treating them with dignity and respect.
Erika shared a story about Elisa a week or so into transplant where Elisa had Erika get up, brush her teeth, get her hair washed, and walk to the bathroom. Erika was going through a rough patch at this time. She had recently had the breathing tube removed again but was still struggling with the feeding tube and being unable to eat or drink anything for days (only ice chips). The tasks of getting ready seemed insignificant and exhausting at the time, but Elisa knew that it would help with Erika’s mental and emotional well-being. It turns out she was right. Elisa washed Erika’s hair and even french braided it for her. She also encouraged her to look at herself in the mirror and see how amazing she looked. Erika had already come so far in that first week and was just not giving herself the credit she deserved. Elisa made her look at herself and say, “I am strong” and “I am beautiful”. This was a turning point in Erika’s recovery process, and from then on she was able to agree with the doctors, nurses, therapists, and aids on their compliments of her strength, and repeat it with conviction.
We could go on and on about the quality of care that Erika received at UWMC, and we are so thankful. There were also so many individual people involved in her care that we will never forget and could never sufficiently thank.