03 August 2009

Update 5 on Jennal

This is the 5th update to my blog about my niece, Jennal, and what she's been going through. Here's a link back to the 4th update on her condition. If you haven't been following this story, please read the original blog post.

So Jennal was moved from ICU to a regular pediatrics hospital bed. The staff there is not nearly as responsive as the staff in ICU but they have a much heavier caseload. As such, while it's not an excuse for the nurse to call on the Intercom ten minutes after pressing the call button, it is understandable as the nursing staff has an entire ward to tend to, instead of just one room (in ICU, it's one nurse per room/four patients maximum; it's probably about quadruple the patient load in the regular rooms).

They started -- or should I say attempted to start -- physical therapy (PT) with my niece over the weekend but Jennal just was not having it. Putting her in a wheelchair was just about all they could coax her into doing and even that took every trick in the bag to accomplish. Jennal still is very drowsy/groggy but she no longer is on narcotic painkillers so she's more alert and, unfortunately, much more in pain. "Don't even think about touching me," is the aura/look she gives off when you approach her now.

Even in the above photograph, which was taken over the weekend while she was in a deep sleep, you could tell that she was not in a good mood. She's talking but I think she's confused about what she's saying or she doesn't quite know what she's saying. For instance, when I came to her bedside and said hello she told me to go away but then she reached out and grabbed my hand. I told her I was leaving and she gripped my hand and wouldn't let go, even though I asked her if she wanted me to stay and she said, "no." So at this point I'm taking her actions as speaking louder than her words, as I'm pretty certain that her refusing to let go of my hand was an indication of her true wishes.

In any event, today, they did manage to get her into the wheelchair a bit easier and Jennal sat up in bed by herself. So she is showing signs of continued improvement. Her attitude hasn't changed, however, and she remains impossible to deal with and basically xenophobic. If you were to cut out half of my brain, however, I'm not so certain that I'd feel much differently than she now feels.

In other news, the neurosurgeon came in to visit and spoke with us for a bit. He stated that Jennal is way ahead of the curve in terms of recovery; most of his patients didn't even begin to speak/babble until 4-7 days after the surgery, whereas Jennal spoke as soon as they removed the tracheal intubator. She's also showing motor skill movement, even if it's not as controlled as it used to be, and that hasn't occurred in his other patients until after speech has returned in them. So we're all taking this as a good sign and we're all hoping that Jennal will be able to return home soon, which will be less traumatic for her, under the care of a visiting nurse or something like that.

On a personal note, I returned to my apartment for the third day in a row without hot water and I don't think I can go out tomorrow or later tonight to return to hospital without showing for a fourth day. I called my landlord, Alan Suridis, and left him an unpleasant e-mail--basically letting him know that I have a family crisis and don't have time/energy/strength to have to fight him for hot water that should be continuously supplied and not interrupted once per week for a few days as it's been over the course of the last month.

I'll update again soon, when I have more information and photos.