It was NOT a drill. Erin received her new lungs on Tuesday July 31st at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. In Erin’s place, I am blogging to keep all her adoring fans updated on her journey. Don’t worry, she will take back over soon enough!
Erin arrived at the Mayo Clinic and was in her room waiting for her scheduled surgery, by about 9:00 am on Tuesday. Family began to arrive at the hospital around 9:30 am excited and nervous for the final “Go” from the surgical team. As Erin and the family waited, the surgery time moved from noon to 2:00 PM while the harvesting division of the transplant surgical team went to get Erin’s new lungs from Miami.
Erin went down to the OR with a smile and a wave at 1:50 PM and went into surgery at approximately 3:00 pm, when the all-clear was received from the harvesting team. The Mayo OR gave the family calls a number of times throughout the surgery to update on how Erin was handling everything and where they were in the process. Finally, at 8:25 PM, the large group of Erin’s supporters got the exciting call that they were closing her up.
Erin returned to her ICU recovery room at around 9:00 PM sound asleep with her team of transplant specialists. The family was allowed to go in about an hour later to see her and say a quick prayer. Dr. Keller was there when I arrived and I got to ask plenty of questions, which he was thankfully willing to answer. At that time he explained that there was some bleeding around the left lung which could potentially cause some setbacks.
See, the left lung has been Erin’s nemesis over the years. With little, if any, true function left (due to a number of embolizations and bleeds) the lung had attached itself to her already inflamed pulmonary wall. When it was time to transplant this lung, there was quite a bit of bleeding that took place from its removal and continued into the night on Tuesday.
By midnight, and after approximately 35 minutes of sleep at the hotel, Chris gave us a call to let us know that Erin was heading back into surgery to control the bleeding that was coming from the left lung area. Back to the hospital we trekked. She was in surgery for about 2 hours and they were able to control the bleeding and remove two clots which had formed over her time in recovery. These clots had to be removed through surgery since they would not drain and could subsequently cause increased pulmonary pressure and collapse of the new lung.
By the time the family arrived back at the hospital in the morning, Erin was stirring. Being that I was one of the first in the room, I was concerned when I saw her lifting her hands (especially since the Dr. had explained to me that they might have her unconscious and on a ventilator for 24-48 hours after surgery). Chris quickly explained that they were waking her up and they were ready to get her up and moving. Things had obviously improved drastically since her latest surgery.
Erin awoke with a little confusion and fight against her ventilator but quickly calmed and focused to understand what was taking place. She was on narcotic medication at that point so was pain free but was lucid enough to spell things on her hand and show us that amazing sense of humor that is unique to Erin and, as we have seen, never failing.
Over the past two days the doctors have been working diligently to control pain and move her forward in her recovery. Let me please tell you, she is SUPER WOMAN. I have been saying it on Facebook since I started updating everyone, based on her incredible courage and strength before the surgery, but she has truly earned the name throughout this process. Yesterday and Today she has been weaned off many of the extra machines that go along with a transplant and has pushed herself to get better and better.
Erin is doing PT for her lungs and she is incredible! It’s just amazing how she is so competitive with herself and is working so hard in increase her PT numbers despite the fact that she has been told that most transplant patients don’t even EXPAND THE LUNGS ON THE FIRST DAY! Well, Erin didn’t get that memo, and neither did her husband! So, the funny part is, Chris thought she was supposed to be doing that every hour on the hour so he set his alarm and woke her up all night to do her PT. Well, yesterday morning, the nurse explained that she was only supposed to do PT during waking hours…. SOOO she earned a little extra credit.
She is awesome.
Yesterday was her birthday. She turned 28 and got the most amazing gift anyone could get. Life. Thank you Jesus for this gift, and we pray that the gift that this donor gave to Erin and our family will be a comfort to the family who lost their son/father/uncle/friend. He was able to provide a precious gift, and I can guarantee that Erin will take full advantage of the opportunity that has been given her. I only hope in my life and death I can provide such a gift to someone, I can tell you that Erin has and will continue to.
Yesterday Erin had machines removed, had a complete meal and took a motivating and awe inspiring walk. She walked around the entire ICU floor and wasn’t winded or tired. She was amazed and so were all the folks on her floor. Less than 24 hours after her surgery, she was walking… Wow.
Today she has continued to improve. More machines are gone and plans are being made to remove the chest tubes which are draining fluid from her pulmonary cavity tomorrow and the next day. The infectious disease doctor stated that would make her feel like a whole new person, especially since that is one of the most painful areas of Erin’s body right now. Great things are continuing thanks to the diligent prayers of Erin’s many friends and Prayer Warriors.
Erin’s husband has been her rock throughout this entire process and we all are so very thankful for him. He encourages Erin and knows just when and how to push her to get the very best out of her. Throughout their years of dating, and now years of marriage, I don’t know that Chris ever anticipated what his role would be in this stage of Erin’s life. I can now easily tell you, we would all not be where we are today without him, and we are so thankful!
I would like to thank you all for your many prayers and messages, Likes, texts and calls. It has meant so much to our family to feel the love and support that has been given to us all. Erin has always been a miracle but this has proven just how great His power is beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I know this is long winded but so much has happened and I didn’t want to leave anything out. Erin will be back soon. She looks forward to updating you all as she improves and feels better. Keep following, her posts to come will surely be entertaining!