Posted (The West's) in All Posts on August-26-2007

Yes, we have already posted twice today, but we couldn’t resist sharing this video with you. Please note that it does require a high speed Internet connection to view.
We ask that you pray for Ella’s upcoming x-ray, and possible procedure related to her superior vena cava, scheduled for tomorrow (Monday).
Have a good night all.
UPDATE (1:30am EST): Just called on our baby girl. She’s doing better then last night, not as good as earlier, but good enough for us to get some rest. Praying for peace and comfort for our baby girl.

Posted (Josh) in All Posts on August-26-2007

Ella did better this afternoon. Her stats looked good and she only fussed a few times while we were there. Tell you one thing, you couldn’t peel Grandma off her for nothing! Dr. Kays went to introduce himself but Grandma didn’t dare take her hands off Ella. She stood there in that position (see picture) for almost 2 hours! =)
Ella was really awake too. Her eyes were wide and bright and she was really engaging her audience. Angie hung Ramona the monkey above her for her to look at. How sweet is that.
It is always so great having Angie as her nurse. It really puts the parents at ease. It’s hard when Ella has a new nurse who’s not had her before. It’s takes them a bit to acclimate to her required treatment. Angie is just so attentive, plus you can see how she really cares for our baby girl!
I’ve calmed down after talking to Dr. Kays. Just having the information in his head, plus getting a feel for where he is at, puts me at ease. I’m just hoping that the communication will improve as we move forward. Having a brief phone call with him yesterday would have helped me a lot.
My beautiful wife isn’t doing so hot though. The bummer news is that her infection has come back again. We weren’t totally sure last night, but the pain and slight fever have confirmed it. At the moment, Tina is taking a much needed rest in bed and Grandma is socked out on the couch with Pumps.
Please pray for healing in Tina’s body and for our baby girl’s possible procedure tomorrow. We hope that when she has the x-ray they decide that the vein has resolved itself, but we’re ready for her to have the procedure if necessary.
Thanks again for all the prayer, love, and support. You all have made such a difference. God Bless!
UPDATE (6:45pm EST): Just spoke to nurse Angie on the phone. Ella has been sleeping ever since we left and her blood gases (cO2=44 / O2=107) and O2 saturations (99-100%) look real good . She really hasn’t required much suction either which is a positive sign. Thank you Lord Jesus for this incredible gift that is Ella Renae. May You continue to be glorified through all these circumstances! Amen.

Posted (Josh) in All Posts on August-26-2007

UPDATE (7:30am EST): Shift change at the NICU and nurse Angie is on. I just feel better knowing she is there. Ella is doing a bit better right now, her stats are going in the right direction, but she’s still having a lot of secretions in her lungs. Going to catch a few more zzz’s, if I can, and then we’ll update after we see her this morning.

UPDATE (11:00am EST): Ella is doing better this morning. She’s been awake and looking around for the last couple hours. She’s only needed to be suctioned once. Another blood gas test was done and she’s definitely doing better. Nurse Angie was concerned about the O2 levels in her brain though, so she paged Dr. Kays. He made some adjustments to the ventilator, and her O2 saturations have come back up to 100%.

Dr. Kays is still in surgery so we’ve not had a chance to meet with him. Hoping to this afternoon so we can share more details. Daddy’s breathing a bit easier this morning though. Thank you Lord for your hands that hold our little girl.

UPDATE (1:30pm EST): We finally got to speak to Dr. Kays. He still feels good with her overall progress, but there is concern with her symptoms that show a possible restricted superior vena cava. It could be a clot, but he believes that that vein has become inflamed from having the ECMO cannula inserted into it. This inflammation would cause the vein to constrict, which in turn would cause her fluids to back up. This is also the reason for the large amount of fluid coming out of her chest cavity.

He would really like to verify that this is in fact the problem, and the only way to do this is with an x-ray using contrast. The challenge is, they cannot perform this procedure in the NICU. They will need to move Ella down to radiology for this procedure. The fact that Ella has had her surgery makes this move a little less risky, but they will still need to be careful.

Once they move her down, they will perform the x-ray to determine the state of her veins. If they do see that the vein is restricted, they will insert a balloon to open it up. There are risks involved with this procedure, just like any procedure, but we pray that she’ll come through it without any issues.

Mom and Grandma are spending time with her now (only 2 visitors in the NICU at once). Her stats have been more stable now then they were last night and she looks more calm. She continues to wake up and look at her surroundings.

Tina just came out so I’m going in to take some pics and video.

Posted (Josh) in All Posts on August-25-2007

Well, Ms. Ella is doing ok tonight, but I’m feeling a bit more anxious. Her stats are maintaining, she is still fussing here and there (gee, isn’t that what babies do!) and her fluids are reducing.

The reason I’m feeling a bit of heightened anxiety is because her head swelling has not really gone down enough. We’ve not really talked to Dr. Kays about this yet in detail. We last spoke to him on Thursday.

My logic tells me that it is a big enough deal though because he has scheduled her for a test that requires her to move out of the NICU. Ok, moving her is no small task, considering all the machines she’s hooked up to, so this would lead me to believe that he really wants this test done which makes me wonder how critical things are. (Holy freakin OCD batman!) My mind is just on overdrive.

Throw on top of that the fact that Tina is not feeling well — again. She went back to a doctor in the labor and delivery area because she’s having some pain related to her previous issue. They’re having her take another regiment of antibiotics (yay).

Tina may be in pain, but she is not as on edge about Ella as I am. She conjectures that if it were that critical, he would have already made a move to take care of it. This makes sense, but I’m still anxious.

We’re supposed to talk to Dr. Kays tomorrow to go over the details. If you remember, they are concerned that she might have a blood clot that is preventing blood from leaving her brain. Really looking forward to our conversation.

Ella will be having another blood gas test done tonight @ 10pm (EST). I’ll give a quick update later once I know the results.

Mom, Dad, and Grandma are going to escape into a movie now. =)

P.S. I know God is in control. My human nature is just getting the best of me this evening.

UPDATE (10:45pm EST): Adding to my anxiety, Ella is not doing well this evening. Her gases came back with poor numbers (cO2 57 & O2 59). She’s also building up a lot of fluid in her lungs as well, which is requiring suction every 30 – 45 mins. Her stats do come back up after suctioning, but these episodes are definitely more frequent this evening. I can guarantee I won’t be sleeping well tonight so I’ll be posting another update later. Prayers are appreciated.

UPDATE (1:15am EST): They took another gas at midnight. Her gases were even worse this time, but she had been fussing quite a bit. So, still not looking good, but the nurse said that she has calmed down over the last hour. They are not planning on taking another gas until 5:00. Praying that our baby girl remains calm and for the fluid to draw out of her lungs. We know she’s in your hands Lord.

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on August-25-2007

Ella sustained through the night and is doing well this morning. She is still losing a good amount of fluid from both chest tubes, so they are replacing her fluids as needed. We don’t expect much to change with her care over the weekend; we’re just hoping for the swelling to reduce.
As for the parents, we’re hanging in there. We miss the Colorado weather – – Florida is way too hot!
It has been nice to have Grandma visit. She and I escaped a bit yesterday for some shopping at the mall.
Then, all three of us went to dinner last night. Josh could not help himself. He took pictures of me last night as I was thinking of my litte girl. We were at Macaroni Grill where they provide crayons and paper for the table cloth. So, I went to town!
Thanks for all the support and prayers. We plan to visit Ella later today at the hospital and will take some more pictures to share!

Posted (Josh) in All Posts on August-24-2007

Ella’s rough night turned into a so-so day. The swelling in her head was starting to cause a bit more concern. For this reason Dr. Kays ordered an echocardiogram thinking that there may be a clot in her superior vena cava. After two of these tests were performed, one by a tech and another by a cardiologist, they were unable to confirm any conclusive results.
Tina and her mom spent most of the day with baby Ella. I think it was hard for them to see her so swollen (heck, it was hard for me to see her so swollen the other day too).
Dr. Kays had planned on adding a second chest tube this afternoon, but held off due to this mornings x-ray results. He did turn down her O2 level on the ventilator to 50, and she seemed to tolerate it ok, but throughout the afternoon she became agitated.
Tina and Grandma came back to pick me up around 8pm tonight. We grabbed a bite and then headed back over to the hospital. We found a couple things had occurred in our absence.
Ella’s stats dropped after 8pm, without a quick rebound, and the staff paged Dr. Kays. He then took another chest x-ray and it looked as though the fluid was building up again on her right side. Right then and there, he decided to add the other chest tube. Immediately her stats improved and within an hour and a half, 100 mL drained from her right side. This confirmed that the additional chest tube was working.
Tina and I spent a good amount of time with her tonight and she seemed very comfortable. The swelling in her body and head appeared to have reduced as well. We were all encouraged by how well she looked tonight, and her stats confirmed how well she was doing. Dr. Kays mentioned that he was still “pleased” with where she is at, but he’s planning on having another echocardiogram done on Monday just to be sure.
We’ll get some better sleep tonight knowing that our little girl seems to be back on the right track.
Please continue to pray for the safe reduction of fluid and for no ill affects related to her swollen head. She still has more fluid to lose and it needs to be done slowly and safely.
Thanks for all the love and support!
A FEW SIDE NOTES: First off, a praise report: baby Evan got to go home today! Second, for the people who may be concerned that we aren’t letting out our tears, be assured that we are crying plenty =). Also, the question was asked about the “bandage” across Ella’s head. Actually, it’s a sensor pad that’s used to monitor oxygen saturations in her brain. Finally, Grandma brought 2 other monkeys to join Ella’s zoo: Julep (hot pink) and Ramona!
UPDATE (1:45am EST): Just gave a quick call to the NICU to check on Ella, and nurse Lisa confirmed that she is doing real well. Just wanted to let you all know. =)

Posted (Josh) in All Posts on August-24-2007

Well, we were hoping for a perfect streak, but Ella had a rough time last night. Dr. Kays and the team are being challenged to manage her fluids. They’re having to constantly calculate how much and decide what to put back into our baby girl’s body.

Due to the rate of her fluid loss, she risks being dehydrated, even with all the water retention! It’s her circulatory system that can lose too much fluid while her other tissues retain it. Her poor little head is really swollen too.

This type of swelling is to be expected, but it’s not a good thing. It is also building up in her chest cavity on the right side which is reducing her lung capacity. Dr. Kays is going to be placing a chest tube on her right side early this afternoon. We hope that this will give some relief.

Her cO2 gas wasn’t looking good last night either. It was pretty elevated (in the high 50’s, should be around 40). They were able to bring this back down this morning after a good suctioning though.

Her other stats look pretty good. Her O2 saturations are doing alright, and her acid levels are in check.

Ella is still very sick though and we need to pray for her to get over this fluid management hump.

Father God, we lift our baby girl up to you and know that you are in control. Please ease her fluid retention and let her stats improve. We also pray for no negative events around the other chest tube being inserted. She is weak but You are strong. Thank you for our baby girl, and the support and prayers of others. She is in your hands Jesus. Amen

SIDE NOTE: Tina’s mom made it last night, but her flight was delayed and it took awhile for her to get the rental car. She didn’t arrive here until 3:30am! It’s nice to have some family around and we look forward to our future visitors too.

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on August-23-2007

Ella looked good this evening. Actually, her stats looked really good. We were excited to see her progression.
When we spoke with Dr. Kays, he mentioned the excess fluid leaving her body too rapidly and how they are backfilling some of that fluid with saline, sodium and electrolytes.
He did mention that there is excess fluid on her right side too. Apparently, the chest chambers stay separate. So even though she has a chest tube in on the left hand side, you cannot expect that the fluid on her right side will drain. Therefore, he is planning on another minor surgery tomorrow, to insert a chest tube on her right hand side.
Visiting with her tonight, she was engaging – – looking around and grabbing our hands. Her left side is a bit less swollen, as she could finally open both of her eyes. That was good to see!
Please pray that her chest tube procedure tomorrow will go well. And that she will wake up at some point to meet her Grandma!
P.S. Baby Jordan did well with her feeding today – – she nursed from Mom! A very exciting day for the Brantley’s! Thanks for your prayers for Baby Jordan.

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on August-23-2007

Ella had another good night – – she remained stable.

Her chest tube is working but she is actually losing fluid too quickly. So, they are trying to balance the fluid loss with an increased saline drip. They want to see a nice and steady reduction in fluid over the next several days.

Ella will have her first outside visitor starting tomorrow. Grandma Eusey is coming to visit!

P.S. Baby Evan is doing well – – thanks for asking! We don’t see his parents too often since he is in the NICU II, but we did see his Mom yesterday. Evan’s liver is working better; his biliruben count is lowering steadily. But the best news is that he gets to go home tomorrow! Thanks for the prayers!

Ella’s other friend, Jordan, was born 8/1/07, and moved down to the NICU II the other day. She is progressing really well and is just starting to try feeding. Pray for her too!

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on August-22-2007

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers throughout the day.
Ella is doing well this evening – – and we pray for her stability throughout the night. Her pain medications and sedation medications will slowly be reduced over the next few days.
You can’t tell from the black and white pictures, but she is beginning to look better! Our little tangerine has now turned into the little Michelin baby.
So, the next steps are going to be safely reducing her body fluid. This can’t be done too quickly, so we’ll need to be patient.
Praise God that she has made it past the 48 hour window from her big surgery too!
But she is sooo swollen – – her face, head, back, arms, etc. She has so much extra fluid in her body. Her left eye is still swollen shut from so much fluid and being leaned to one side.
After the procudure today, they were able to position her with her head straight up. Already, she looks better! If nothing else, her parents feel better. We cannot imagine being in one position for the last 4 weeks – – yikes!
Dr. Kays again confirmed that Ella continues to do well and is progressing in the right direction, albeit slowly. He is “pleased” with her progress at this point.
We know that everyone is praying for Ella, coast to coast, and that is having a direct impact on how well she has been progressing.
Thank you Lord for this day, for our baby girl, and the love of friends and family.
p.s. “Therefore we do not lose heart….For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)