Just a brief note to let you know Graham is doing better after a horrendous day and night. His breathing was at a desperate point, but he rallied and is now holding his own.
Will give you all the details of the ordeal soon. Still not out of the woods by any means, so keep those good thoughts coming.
I'm checking in after a few hours delay from posting the above paragraph to give some of the promised details.
We watched Graham's condition deteriorate throughout all of yesterday into this morning. It seemed whatever the docs tried to do to stop the respiratory and later heart failure, nothing worked. We soon ran out of options and the situation became acute. Graham's dependence on the ventilator was total. Unfortunately, the ventilator, even supplemented with 100% oxygen, failed to maintain normal oxygen levels. A high frequency oscillation ventilator (normally used with premature babies and newborns) was tried and did not work. For various reasons, this ventilation process necessitated heavy sedation. He then went back to his regular ventilator, but had to be bagged with ever increasing frequency. Even with the bagging, Graham's oxygen levels could not be maintained at normal levels. Comparing X-rays taken in the morning to ones taken in the evening showed a marked deterioration of his lungs. Blood started to appear in the fluid that was taken from his lungs. More invasive measures had to be attempted, the first of which was putting in chest tubes to relieve pressure on the lungs and hopefully allow Graham to breath easier. This surgery took place after midnight this morning. There was no appreciable effect. His oxygen levels were dangerously low and could not be raised. An electrocardiogram found that his heart function was about half of what it should be. It was the nadir of the day and a decision was made to go ahead with a procedure called ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation), which would connect Graham to a bypass machine that would take over his respiratory and heart functions. Given Graham's condition, the procedure was extremely high risk and would buy only a week or two for him to heal. It would be the final option. While Graham was being prepped for this surgery, the surgeons tried one last procedure. A real long shot, they introduced nitric oxide in to his ventilator. IT WORKED! And it has continued to work the past nine hours. His oxygen levels are normal; he is peeing copious (relative to the last two weeks) amounts; his blood gases are normal; and added oxygen has been cut back. We know his situation is still critical, but every hour he can hold his own and perhaps start to heal those wounded lungs is a decided plus. Even if he has to have the ECMO at a later date, he will go into it much stronger with a much improved chance of survival.
Katie and Bill are tired but strong. We have learned to keep an equilibrium. We are heartened by the events of the last few hours, but we also know the G-Man has miles to go and may hit more downticks. The love and concern from friends and family was the only thing keeping us sane last night. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts ... we truly can feel it, no matter what the distance. We might have to invent a new word, because "gratitude" just doesn't cover it!