Happy Friday and happy birthday to my dad!
HAPPY 66th BIRTHDAY TO MY DAD!
While this year’s birthday celebration is going to look like a party in my mom’s hospital room, I’m glad to be here with him on his big day! I spent way too much time researching the best spots in Durham for carrot cake this morning and I’m planning a little outing to pick up a slice before I head to the hospital.
I have to take this opportunity to recognize my dad for being such an incredibly loving, steadfast, supportive and selfless father and husband. He has had these qualities for my entire life but watching him support my mom through her disease, their relocation to Durham and her surgery has been inspirational. When my mom got fast-tracked into the transplant evaluation after her initial pulmonology appointment at Duke on September 23, my dad packed up the car and their 14-year-old golden retriever Sam and drove from Florida to North Carolina.
They arrived in Durham on September 29 and checked into a Marriott Residence Inn that has now become home for the last four months. My dad accompanied my mom to every single medical appointment. He pushed her to get to pulmonary rehab on the days when she was tired, in pain or wanted to give up. He stirred heavy cream into her oatmeal and constantly brought her Boost shakes to drink when the transplant team asked her to gain weight pre-surgery. I honestly can’t believe their marriage survived my dad pestering my mom constantly to eat. I’m joking, of course, but there were some tough moments in keeping her motivated and hopeful. Their anniversary is actually tomorrow and they will celebrate 43 years of marriage! There is nothing I wish more for both of them than an abundance of ease and to enjoy life on the other side of all of this.
On a lighter note, here’s a post I wrote on my dad’s birthday two years ago where I shared 10 things I’ve learned from him about food and cooking.
LAST WEEKEND AT HOME WITH FINN AND THE PUPS
It has been hard to be away from Finn so much over the last couple of weeks but we’ve done some FaceTiming and I did go home for a few days last weekend.
Our days looked like sleeping until after 8a (so grateful for my good sleeper!), staying in PJs until noon and hanging close to home.
One of my neighborhood mom friends dropped off a shepherd’s pie, salad and chocolate chip cookie dough and it was perfect comfort food for a cold weekend.
I also baked some brown butter banana bread.
And made a pot of potato cauliflower soup. (Will share recipe, I made it up as I went.)
All in all, it was a very restful weekend that filled up my cup so that I could head back to Durham this week to support my mom and dad.
I’ll be heading back to Charlotte tomorrow evening and I’ll pick up Finn on Sunday. I can’t believe it’s already the weekend again. This week was such a blur.
UPDATES FROM DAYS 11-13 OF DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT RECOVERY
Here are a few updates from days 11-13 of my mom’s double lung transplant recovery:
- My mom had her first post-surgery bronchoscopy procedure done on Wednesday to check her new lungs for signs of rejection, infection, etc. Other than cleaning out some mucus plugs, we got a good report! Although the procedure was only seven minutes long, she had to be sedated for it so it made for a sleepy afternoon coming off the anesthesia.
- She had her second swallow study done on Thursday and unfortunately, she did not get cleared to eat or drink anything other than “honey-thick” liquids. She was super bummed about this because she hates the nasogastric tube and tube feeds but the speech team is super strict in their standards for swallow integrity after surgery to protect the new lungs from aspiration and infection. She’ll continue to do her swallow and breathing exercises and they’ll repeat the study next week.
- Her surgeon stopped by last night to check in on her. It was my first time meeting him and it was wonderful to be able to thank him in person for all that he’s done for my mom and my family. He gave my mom a huge pep talk and told her that she’s progressing really well, there are no major complications and things are going to get better. He reminded her that she had a major surgery where he “cut her in half and put her back together” (his words) and that it’s going to take time to regain strength of body AND mind. He explained that they put a huge tube down her throat when they intubated her for surgery and that her swallow muscles will regain strength and the nose feeding tube is not forever. He also said it’s a good sign that she’s starting to get frustrated about things like the feeding tube, the two drains that are left, her inability to do anything without someone helping, etc.
- They removed the epidural that they placed for pain management yesterday so that’s one less thing that she’s attached to. Her pain is now being managed by medication through her IV and she’s getting used to feeling things that have been numbed since surgery. She was in some pain yesterday but hopefully we find the right dosage/frequency of meds to manage it.
- OT came and worked with her yesterday and got her into the bathroom for the first time since surgery. She brushed her teeth over the sink and saw herself in the mirror for the first time. Besides desperately needing her hair washed, I think she looks great! After transplant surgery you can only use sterile water while your incisions are healing so a shampoo cap has been the best they can do for her hair…and it leaves much to be desired.
- She walked three different times on Thursday for a total of seven laps and 2,800 feet. Go mom!
- They are removing one of the two remaining chest tubes today!
Lastly, I was surprised when Dr. Haney told me that my blog was making a splash around there. He has already had a patient’s family bring it up in clinic, and one of his residents brought my post about my mom’s surgery and recovery to his attention. He said he believes word-of-mouth and grassroots marketing is the best way to promote the lung transplant program at Duke and is all for sharing patient stories and experiences.
Alright, time for me to get a quick workout in and then go cake shopping before I take over the afternoon/night shift at the hospital.
I’ll check in again once I’m home in Charlotte! Enjoy the weekend, friends!