•Supplemental O2... more like O who?!•
Erika has continued to make impressive, steady, forward progress. Despite dealing with persistent pain, significant lack of sleep, and medication induced hallucinations, she has remained positive, determined, and brave. She’s had two chest tubes removed (4 to go), lost many pounds of water weight that she’s accumulated since surgery (still more to go), has been able to stand unassisted, and take a few more walks over the past 2 days.
Her body is working hard to correct and heal itself. It’s doing this now because it has over-compensated for her poor lung function for her entire life, and most significantly in the last year. Her body is now having to learn how to work correctly with new lungs that function as they were meant to function.
A huge part of this process is her brain recognizing that she has new lungs that are capable of taking full, deep breathes. And another piece is managing her anxiety. It’s hard for most of us to imagine how it would feel to be concerned about our breathing every second. To lack complete faith in our body’s ability to oxygenate itself.
INHALE. EXHALE. INHALE. EXHALE.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It’s so involuntary. But Erika has been completely dependent on a small tube that administers supplemental oxygen through her nose. Without this, her oxygen saturations drop dramatically. Without being tethered to a tank or portable machine with only hours of battery life, she could not have survived. But today, that all changed.
Her new lungs are doing their job and they’re doing their job well. For the first time in a very long time, Erika spent the day without supplemental oxygen!
Her old lungs did the best they could for as long as they could, but they stopped doing the job on their own. These new lungs of hers are healthy. They will free her from the tube that marked the start of her health decline but also kept her here until her new lungs were ready. She was scared to let it go and it isn’t hard to imagine why. But with the help of sneaky nurse, she did it!
It may seem like a small victory but this is monumental!