The last hour has been eventful beginning with the doctor’s progress report. We began backing down the muscle relaxant around 4:00 PM CDT and the sedatives around 7:00 PM CDT. The muscle relaxant exited Claire’s system in short order and we discovered how quickly when her feet started twitching. The doctor confirmed that the movement we were seeing in her body was her controlling the movement. Muscle control is just level in a hierarchy of neurological functions, and items like her pupils dilating, eyes twitching and muscle movement demonstrate that the injury to her brain most likely doesn’t extend to her brain stem. The extent of the injury is still in question and the doctor indicated that he’d like to see some big steps toward some higher neurological functions over the next 24-36 hours.
The big step took place during the next 30 minutes when the vital monitor alarm interrupted our progress report. Claire was showing agitation and expressing it with eyes open and tears. While Tiffany comforted her bedside with her voice and holding her hand, I watched with the doctor who broke the silence with “This is a big step.”
The big step led to a couple of changes. The doctor asked the respiratory therapist to reset the ventilator so that Claire would now be directing the breathing. While the machine will continue to give pressure support and eight breaths per minute, Claire will direct the rate of breathing for the 32-40 breaths she is taking each minute. Because she is agitated, we are also adding a non-narcotic sedative to help the transition.
While Tiffany continued to comfort Claire, the doctor and I discussed the significance of Claire’s crying. Crying is another level in the functional hierarchy and helps us further narrow the extent of the injury. He restated that he said he would be looking for big steps over the next day and this is one of them.
This has been quite the capstone to a big day. Nurses and doctors were very encouraged today and didn’t hesitate to share that perspective with us.
We’ll next start looking at scheduling a time for an MRI tomorrow or Friday.
With today’s close I want to thank everyone for their support and prayers. My sister Emily is also flying back to Colorado tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM CDT. I’ve loved having her here and her presence has meant a lot to me. Please pray for her safe travel.
We wanted to make sure and get a picture of Emily with Claire before she left. I look forward to showing it to Claire soon.
Also, in the first picture, the restraints around Claire’s wrists are there to keep her from pulling out the tubes and cords on her body as the sedative is drawn down.
It’s been a long, but positive day. I’ll post the nights events in the next update tomorrow.