Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sepsis and Pneumonia

Last week might be dubbed The Week of Wonderful Visits, at least if it were the only such week—there were friends from California, the very first friends to fly in to see Brooke after the accident almost two years ago, who’ve visited often since then; there was dinner with a former colleague, who’d been away for the summer and indeed much of the year, but with whom friendship has deepened in spite of distance; there was the extraordinary PT and her father, who regaled Brooke with tales of ranch life in Zimbabwe before the large landowners were kicked out and he eventually sought political asylum in the U.S. (not all these tales were funny, actually), and breakfast with a local friend, which apparently involved two and a half hours of laughter—the kind of breakfast of which the friend later said, that was what I’ve been hoping for for Brooke, the best so far ever.

The next morning, Brooke woke up with his entire skin ice cold, with his blood pressure dropping, and by afternoon was mumbling incoherently. To make a long story short, he’s now in the Medical ICU at the University Hospital, admitted with septic shock and what is assumed to be aspiration pneumonia. He is actually pretty sick, really sick, but that seems to be coming under control with antibiotics and pressors. They’ll place a nasal feeding tube by fluoroscopy in the morning—they can’t do it the usual way, because he had so much radiation for sinus problems as a kid in the 1940s (does anyone remember those days?) that he can’t easily tolerate having stuff poked into his nose. He hasn't had anything to eat in over 24 hours, but a resident we both liked very much explained that humans are quite well adapted to periods of fasting and starvation--so there's nothing to worry about in terms of nutrition for the immediate moment. We're trying to think of it as being in a monastic retreat, though that's tough with the alarms from the drip machines sounding off all the time.

This is a pretty big setback. Obviously, he won’t be coming home Monday. We haven’t any idea of how long he’ll be at the U, then how long at South Davis, or what kinds of residual difficulties he might have. But he is alert again--and discussing Walden.


Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Hi, you don't know me but I was sent a Google alert because your blog mentioned the word "sepsis."

My name is Marijke and I work with the Sepsis Alliance (, a patient advocacy group that is working to raise awareness of this illness.

I've been reading through your blog and the amazing progress and love that shows through.

Please know that we here, at SA, will be thinking of Brooke and wish him the best in battling this setback.

Lorraine Seal said...

I'm so sorry to hear of this setback. None of this has been easy; this is not only disappointing, but also a significant concern. We're thinking of you and hoping that Brooke heals soon.