So I know I've thrown up several posts the past day or two that may seem like every single diagnosis has been given to us, so I want to hopefully give some clarity on where we are and how to be unified in prayer with us over the coming days. It's a bit long, so if you just want to know where we are now or how we are praying, then skip to the last three paragraphs ;)
When we came in through the ER Sunday, the initial thought was pneumonia. Any major surgery comes with a risk for pneumonia, especially a surgery in the chest cavity and the fact that they had to go back to the OR and open him a second time causing more soreness and a decrease in his ability to work his lungs really well. Add the fever and the fact that Mark's lungs were junky prior to surgery, it was a pretty obvious diagnosis, or so we thought. Then, because of the severity of the fever and the results of the x-ray and initial CT scan, then said it was likely sepsis and a milder case of pneumonia. Antibiotics were hung immediately and have been going almost around the clock since Sunday.
Monday & Tuesday, fevers continued to be persistent and still pretty high which made the doctors question that the diagnosis of pneumonia and sepsis could be causing all the symptoms he was having at the time & not responding in a typical manner to the antibiotics. In the meantime, chest x-rays were being taken every day and labs drawn every 8 or so hours. They also felt the need to check for blood clots in his legs. Late Tuesday evening I noticed drainage from the top of Mark's chest incision. In fact, it worried me because it was mixed with blood, but if you know Mark, those things don't sit well with him so I didn't say anything, but did watch it, and even got up and looked at it during the night. The next morning, I noticed more coming from the surgical site and mentioned it to Mark. Shortly after this, the NP came in and we told her about the drainage, so she proceeded to see what she could get out of it. I'll just leave that there... poor Mark!
Wednesday, the CT (cardio-thoracic) surgical team called in the Infectious Disease doctors to join the case and see if they had suggestions that could help us all get to the bottom of this. After they visited on Wednesday afternoon, a more detailed CT scan was ordered for that night. The first one on Sunday was looking specifically at the lungs, for pneumonia and blood clots, but this next one was for the entire abdomen and chest cavity.
Thursday morning started by finding out that the blood clot test revealed a small clot that they will watch, but it is not in the deep vein, which is a very good thing. They also talked about their concern for the portions of both lower lungs that are basically collapsed and need to be worked to prevent from pneumonia. Then the NP for the CT team came in and gave us the results of the CT which definitely threw us. She said a mass of fluid had been found under his sternum which would likely mean a trip to the OR. In an attempt to process and understand what this would entail I asked, "do you mean like major surgery?" To which she responded, well it won't be like we're working on his heart..." Again, not what I wanted to hear, but I then understood she meant to open his chest for a third time. Our minds & hearts were reeling. All we could do was cry and pray. Mark said, please get people praying. And you did. And we can't express our gratitude. We had several hours of heaviness and emotion, but the peace of God truly came and filled our room, our hearts our minds. Just before lunch time, the CT surgeon came in with the NP as promised and we anxiously listened to every word he said, but there was a lot going on in the room. They began setting up for a bedside procedure to pull fluid from his chest to send off for a 48 hour culture. This was an absolute answer to prayer in that moment. Taking time to figure out what's in there as well as just time to process through prayer what could be, was what we needed. (Friday morning we were told they may wait for a 5-day culture before making a decision on surgery)
Later Thursday, the Infectious Doctor (ID) came back to visit and shared her thoughts and spent time just sitting with us and answering questions. We are thankful for the time she spent with us. So here's where things are... the fluid that was collected is from quite a large mass behind the sternum and was sent to the lab for cultures. The problem lies in that fact that he has been on strong antibiotics for 5 days already and the likelihood of something growing is slim. This is a septic infection that is responding to the antibiotics as it should. The problem is that this is basically an abscess and like an abscess in the mouth or on your skin, antibiotics will lessen or remove symptoms while you are taking them, but when the antibiotics end, the infection returns and you're back where you started. Typically, the entire abscess has to be removed to fully clear the problem and her greatest concern is that if it remains the bone itself could become infected causing far greater problems. We asked for another CT at the end of the culture time frame, just to see what things look like before making a surgical decision & she agreed that would likely be warranted. The CT surgical team has not had the same thought process on treatment as the ID team, so this is something they will have to discuss over the next couple of days. We are praying they will be on exactly the same page with the best treatment for Mark, because it will be God's plan, not just their education that leads them to his treatment!
We are asking God to supernaturally remove the fluid/mass/abscess. We are thankful they did not rush him into surgery and as much as we DO NOT want another surgery, we even more want to go home and stay home. We do not want to go home just to have the infection rage again and us end up having to come back. Here's how we are praying and we ask that you join us in a unified prayer:
God, we know that in an instant you spoke and everything we see came into existence, so we know that you don't need time, but for Your glory, would you supernaturally remove this fluid in the waiting. Whether the culture shows growth or not, let the CT scan show the mass gone. Let it baffle every person that lays eyes on the scans. Give us opportunity to share of your love and power at work in our lives! Please strengthen and encourage Mark as we wait. Help us take captive every thought that doesn't line up with healing and the hope of Heaven. Fill us with the mind of Christ. Give us rest in our minds and bodies. Healing for the blood clot. Healing for the lungs that are not wanting to function as your created them to do. Healing for every point of pain from the surgeries. Healing for our emotions. And blessing on every person that has called out our names in prayer, prepared a meal, loved on our babies or given to help us through this time. In the powerful, name of Jesus. AMEN!
My cousin texted her favorite verse, Exodus 14:14 to me last night. It is one of my favorites as well and one that I use often with my children. "The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still!" This is true clarity. Recognizing there is a battle, but relinquishing control to the One who holds the universe in His hands! Whatever battle you may be facing today is not outside the realm of His control - but only when you release your control over it. Situations like we are in right now cause us to feel totally helpless and out of control but can also help us readily see His ability, because we literally have to sit in an 8x10 room and wait. Everyday life can be tougher though. We want control. We want to fix situations or make them happen on our time frame... Whatever bump, hill or mountain you are facing - stop, be still and let God fight the battle for you. He will strengthen your frame to stand up to the "life" that flies your way, while He fights the battle! Be encouraged, Friends!
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