I was blessed with the very best nurse possible while recovering in SICU. At this point I was suffering from sleep depravation and the medications they had me on were making me all kinds of loopy. I was having severe hallucinations, which were equal part confusion and terror. I could not sort out what was real versus what was in my head. The nurse I had was amazing and had tons of experience in walking people through these thoughts and visions. But even his experience didn't help 100% and I became extremely paranoid. I was seeing things that weren't really there. I was seeing faces in the walls of the room. I was hearing conversations that weren't even happening in real life. I even became paranoid when it came to my momma! It felt like she and the nurses were conspiring against me and even trying to hurt me. My poor mother struggled to reassure me but I was convinced we were having a huge fight. It was the most bizarre thing I have experienced. And not something I want to go through ever again.
By now I am able to sit up in bed with some assistance and today I graduated to being able to eat FIVE entire ice cubes, five times per day. I have to say, the ice chip diet was a tough thing to work through. They do a lot of testing of my swallowing ability because they don't want you to aspirate anything into the 'new' lungs. At this point I am a week out from the last time I was able to eat or drink anything. I can't wait to have the freedom to drink some apple juice and eat some REAL food!
Sadly, I am struggling with an issue in mobility. I am unable to use my right arm and my right leg feels very weak. I can't wriggle my fingers or lift my hand on my own. They are trying to sort out why this has happened, wanting to rule out a stroke. Today I had an Ultrasound and they believe I have a blood clot in my shoulder, causing some paralysis. I am working hard with physical therapy and occupational therapy to try to gain strength on my right side. And I am madly in love with one of the therapists I am working with. Her name is Sandi and she makes me think of unicorns and mermaids every time I see her.
#TeamMissy Transplant Warriors Update!!
Melissa Smith has been off the ventilator and communicating with mamma Gloria Smith! She's been practicing her breathing and is getting stronger every moment
She is so excited about her new lease on life that she doesn't want to miss a moment and is struggling to get some sleep. We are requesting prayers for peaceful, restful, and healing, sleep, with beautiful dreams of reassurance about her many years of exciting activities to come!
Thank you all and God Bless you all for walking this journey with us and for every prayer and positive thought!
SECOND UPDATE FOR 10/11/20:
#TeamMissy Transplant Warriors Update!
From Gloria Smith to Rochelle Blankenship, to me:
It is now time to work on muscle strengthening exercises! These exercises will hopefully also allow Melissa Smith to be tired enough later to get good sleep.
They are helping her practice sitting and standing along with some neck exercises to help her neck strength!
Please pray for as pain free experience as possible and that her muscles gain strength at miraculous speed
#TeamMissy Transplant Warriors Update !!!!
It's another great one, so buckle up!
Rochelle Blankenship sent me this, from mamma Gloria Smith:
It has been a busy morning.
Melissa Smith is....OFF THE VENTILATOR AND DOING GREAT!!!
Her nurses have been awesome, and she is now comfortably taking a nap!
She can only whisper at this point, but she is able communicate !!!
What a glorious day.
The drive to UW after getting the call for a transplant felt long but at the same time, flew by! We made it to the hospital in record time and checked in through the Emergency Room as instructed. They took me to a room to prepare for surgery and find out if the surgery was a green light or a dry run. We didn't have to wait long to learn the donor lungs and liver would be a match and we got the thumbs up to proceed prepping for surgery. I was put into a gown, an IV was placed and they prepped my body for the operating room. Mom and I hugged and I told her I would see her again very soon as they wheeled me away. By the time I got to the OR my heart was racing, my palms were sweating and my entire body was shaking from the mixed emotions I was having. I prayed to God all the way up until I felt myself drift off to sleep from the anesthetic for Him to guide the hands of the surgeons and to keep me safe. I drifted off in prayer, thinking about how badly I wanted to survive the surgery and get home to my family.
Surgery lasted approximately 18 hours. There were two teams of people in the OR to perform this life saving surgery. There was a team there dedicated to removing my scarred and diseased lungs and replacing them with a healthy new pair into my chest. And a second team that was specifically there to swap out my diseased liver with a nice healthy one! Surgery was long and difficult but in the end a success!
The next several days went by in a hazy blur so I am afraid I can't give a ton of detail. They left me in a medically induced coma while intubated. They tried to wake me the day after surgery but I was unable to breathe without assistance from the ventilator so I was sent back to sleep to allow my body to recover more. We went through this process several times before they finally decided I was 'with it' enough to try to breathe on my own. I was incredibly excited to have the tube removed from my airway. Although I knew in my head that it was helping me breathe, I still felt like I was suffocating. This was the most horrid feeling I've ever experienced in my life. I had to relearn how to breathe. One of the nurses was very helpful in explaining to me that the lungs now inside my body were foreign objects. My body didn't want to work with the lungs and the lungs didn't seem to agree with my body either. It was truly the most effort I have ever put into anything in my entire life. It boiled down to mind over matter and commanding the lungs to breathe. It took several hours before they felt comfortable with removing the ventilator. Every breath I took was a fight. And fight I did! Today I was officially breathing on my own! I was moved to SICU (Surgery Intensive Care Unit) and mom and I were settled and ready for the fight to recover.
I have been blessed with such an amazing team to take care of me! The surgeons performed a miracle in the operating room. And the nurses have all been phenomenal! I know I won't see most of these people again in my life but the bonds I felt with them is something I will always cherish and played a huge role in my recovery!
I am currently attached to all kinds of crazy equipment. I have 4 drainage tubes still inside my body. Two to drain the area around my lungs and two were placed to drain fluid gathering around my liver. Miraculously, I only had to remain on supplemental oxygen for a day or two before they found I was breathing at 98, 99 even 100% on room air. The donor lungs are working beautifully and for the first time in a very long time, I was breathing all on my own, no supplemental oxygen. Praise GOD!
#TeamMissy Transplant Warriors Update!!!
I received this from Rochelle Blankenship early this morning. She received it from Gloria Smith :
Melissa Smith woke up calmly when they reduced her meds this morning. She wiggled her toes and squeezed their hands.
She is looking at us when we speak now!!!
We reminded her she had her surgery and she smiled!!!! Well...as best as she can with the tube still in her mouth.
She smiled at me when I spoke to her!!!!
She is communicating with nods or shaking her head and she smiled again when the nurse told her the tube was going to be taken out today!!!!!
GinnieMae KitzmillerOctober 8th, 2020
#TeamMissy Transplant Warriors Update!!
It is a busy day for updates today! Thank you Rochelle Blankenship for passing these on as soon as you receive them.
Melissa Smith breathing tube may not be removed today, but perhaps tomorrow. Gloria Smith reports the fantastic and thoughtful care Missy is getting - right down to the gentle care of her dental hygiene, and apologies if Miss has even the slightest response of discomfort.
There are lots of tubes and wires to work around, and her team is doing a great job at being gentle and keeping her as comfortable and clean as possible. Lots of pillows to keep her cute self tucked in nicely, and moving her positions to keep her from getting sore.
Please keep those prayers coming, specifically for her kidney function to return to 100%. Don't worry though - she has an incredible team that are doing a fantastic job at making sure her body is doing what it needs to keep moving right along.
The words " She is getting stronger" were used today! But of course she is strong! She is God's daughter and she is nəxʷsƛ̕ay̕əm!
Another favorite Praise song of Missy's for those who want to listen: https://youtu.be/0Qi0rTHBobM
GinnieMae Kitzmiller is with Rochelle Blankenship
Oct 8th, 2020
#TeamMissy Transplant Warrior Team, Good morning!
I want to extend a huge thank you to Rochelle Blankenship for sharing these updates from Mamma (Gloria Smith) , so I can help create the update posts. It literally takes a village! And thank you to every single one of you praying for Melissa Smith! Every prayer and all of your support is helping
I know the updates probably feel slow coming in. Our amazing fighter has been medically sedated to allow for sleeping and healing; so there hasn't been a lot of new stuff to share.
This morning around 8:50am, all of her medical teams were coming into the room to evaluate and update. AND ( drum roll ), they MIGHT remove the breathing tube today!!!!
We are continued to be told her gifted organs are working beautifully and that she is doing as well as can be expected for someone who has undergone such a procedure ( hello - double lung and liver transplant!?)
They were able to identify the bacteria infection and are treating it with the specific antibiotics. Like we updated yesterday, her kidneys aren't functioning at 100% and with all these new medications, and it is a lot for her body to process. Please pray for absolute restoration of function. The word miraculous comes to mind!
Last night she woke up suddenly and was immediately wanting up and out ( sorry honey we can't dance yet! ). Of course she wanted up and out - that's our girl! She is connected to so many things and can't be moving quickly yet. There is a lot of discomfort post surgery and having a tube down your throat is kinda scary and uncomfortable, so mamma played one of her favorite worship songs to help calm her down ( WayMaker- https://youtu.be/iJCV_2H9xD0 ) and she settled back into bed and the doctors were able to get her medications to rest again. She's been peacefully resting since.
Please keep those prayers coming because she has a lot of healing to do, but we are told by mamma that she looks peaceful resting. They were able to identify the bacteria infection and are treating it with the specific antibiotics.
If you haven't heard this song, I highly encourage you to listen to it. It is beautiful and one of Missy's favorites.
The doctors woke her up, and she calmly responded to every request !! She wiggled her toes and squeezed fingers on command !!!!!
WHOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!Onward and Upward!!!
Keep those prayers flowing, because are working! Way Maker continues to be the song that helps keep her calm. Thank you, Lord!
GinnieMae Kitzmiller Oct7, 2020·
#TeamMissy Melissa Smith update!
Great news From Rochelle Blankenship this morning:
Good morning! Last night they woke missy up just enough to make sure she could wiggle her toes and fingers.
They had a hard time waking her up because her kidneys aren't functioning 100% so the medication wasn't being processed the way it should.
Mom ( Gloria Smith ) played one of the S’Klallam songs you ( Ginnie ) sent and she started fluttering her eyes. In true Missy fashion, she not only wiggled her toes, she kicked her entire leg. Always the overachiever!
They will evaluate whether to try to wake her up today or wait another day. UW staff have been wonderful to mom and helping try to keep her comfy as well. COVID protocol says she cannot leave the hospital room at all so thankfully mom brought lots of books.
You guys, she's doing so well! I totally envisioned her throwing a kick! This made me chuckle! Great report from Rochie this morning!
#TeamMissy Post transplant surgery update **
Melissa Smith is still medically sedated and has not been woken from surgery yet. They will most likely wait another day, or two, before they begin to wake her so she can sleep and heal.
Missy started developing a slight fever a couple hours ago, and it is now up to 101. The lower temp wasn't a worry, but as it has gone up, they started to run tests. Her blood work revealed a bacterial infection in her lungs. She is already on IV antibiotics ( which is the normal procedure for post transplant ). They are keeping an eye on the culture to determine what kind of bacteria it is.
Please keep those prayers coming in and that the team of amazing doctors can figure out what the issue is and resolve it smoothly.
UPDATE 620PM. Just got word from Rochelle Blankenship that Missys temp is going down! Her liver looks great, and we are back on track! Thank you, Lord! Our girl is TOUGH and her body is working hard at healing!!!
#TeamMissy Transplant Warriors Update!
Melissa Smith got to drink apple juice!!!! Happy dance!!!!
Prayer Warriors - prayer request directly from our Warrior herself. Missy's kidneys haven't been working 100% since the Transplant, and she has been on dialysis almost daily. The doctors had hoped that by now her kidneys would have 'woke up', but they haven't - yet. Prayers for her kidneys to wakeup and begin to function again
Another prayer - food! The ability and approval to eat some delicious and nutritious food !!
Thank you everyone!