Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everything changed yesterday evening...and then everything changed again this morning.

Zack was having a very difficult time breathing yesterday. As a side effect of pneumonia, his lungs became very stiff and developed tiny leaks that allow air to escape into his chest. The air in his chest cavity is not alarming because the body can reabsorb it...but because of the leaks, his lungs aren't able to distribute oxygen into his bloodstream. One of the many monitors he's been hooked up to shows the oxygen saturation levels in his bloodstream, "sats." Normally we should be around 100% saturation but Zack was having trouble keeping above 90%...and then above 85%. The doctors were ready to put him on a ventilation machine but I was not...I talked it over with Zack and explained the risks and he decided he wanted to be ventilated...So that procedure took place around 6pm yesterday evening.

Zack was completely sedated during the procedure and remained so afterward, as is standard. Ventilators do all the breathing and it's uncomfortable and dangerous for a child to be conscious while a machine is breathing for them. Zack seemed to be doing great on the machine all through last night.

This morning's chest x-ray showed that air was still escaping his lungs, much more so than yesterday because of the extra pressure and oxygen from the ventilator. He wasn't able to keep his sats high enough either. The docs called an emergency meeting with me and let me know that on the ventilator, his lungs were not going to be able to recover. They offered me an option called ECMO, Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, which is essentially a lung bypass in which blood is taken out of his body, oxygenated, and returned to his body. The entire process takes seconds and happens in a constant stream day and night.

As I'm typing, Zack is just about to have the necessary catheters put in his veins. He will be taken off the ventilator and hooked up to a different respirator that won't exactly breathe for him but will inflate his lungs with air about 10 times per minute, keeping them open. The ECMO machine will be monitored 24/7...one of the doctors told me that he'll be more monitored than the space station. This process will give his lungs a chance to relax and get the rest they need to heal.

There are risks associated with this process but I'm focusing on the benefits and on giving Zack the help and time he needs to heal. Aside from his lungs, his body is very healthy. Luckily, he just recently finished the most intense part of his chemo. He's also receiving steroids to help his lungs and they are the same steroids that are part of his chemotherapy.

Keep sending your healing thoughts and your love. Though Zack will be sedated for the entire time he is on the ECMO machine, he will be able to hear me and I'll be reading comments and emails to him.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Maria, thanks for taking the time to keep us informed. Please give Zack a big hug and kiss from us. Also, let him know that Rafa told me the other day: 'I'm going to tackle Zack.' So he has that to look forward to next time we see you guys.



Anonymous said...

Maria-My thoughts are with you and Zack. When Noah was born (4 months early) he was on a ventilator for many weeks and it definitely saved his life...at that point his lungs were his main weak point too and it gave him the help, and rest, he needed. I know Zack will benefit from the help, and rest. We all send Zack our best. Beatrice, Susan, Noah, and Adrienne

crllull said...

Here's some good old Muppet Family Christmas:

"Hey Fozzie.
Yes Mr. Snowman.
Did you hear about the church that burned down?
Holy smoke!"

"We'd love to see your act.
We'd hate to miss your act.
In fact, we'd love to hate your act."

and always remember:

"Look out for the icy patch!"

"You'll be sorry! It's cold enough to freeze your winnobegah!"

Stay strong Zack! I love you!!!

Anonymous said...

Zack -- Although we only have paws to type with, we found this blog and we thought we would say 'hello' to our favorite beach-loving human. Now if we could only figure out out how to drive (and pump gas), we could visit you. Mocha says she heard that once you cross into Oregon that you don't need to know how to pump gas, so we only need to worry about that for half of the trip. On the other hand, Maya can't pass the driving test and Mocha's vision isn't what it used to be, so we'll need to wait for you to come here. So let's plan on meeting up soon down at the beach, okay?

Mocha Boca
and Maya Mariah

Anonymous said...

hey Zack-
this is noah and adrienne, his sister. We hope you are feeling better today. Here are some jokes we think you might like.

Our favorite is this one:
Every nation has to write a book about the Elephant:

The French book - 1000 ways to cook Elephant 

The English book - Elephants I have shot on Safari 
The Welsh book - The Elephant and its influence on Welsh language and culture. 

The American book - How to Make Bigger And Better Elephants 

The Japanese book - How to Make Smaller And Cheaper Elephants 

The Greek book - How to Sell Elephants for a Lot of Money 

The Finnish book - What Do Elephants Think about Finnish People

The German book - A Short Introduction to Elephants, Vol 1-6. 

The Icelandic book - Defrosting an Elephant

The Swiss book - Switzerland: The Country Through Which Hannibal Went With His Elephants

The Canadian book - Elephants: A Federal or State Issue? 

The Swedish book - How to reduce your taxes with an elephant.
The other jokes we like are:
Three guys, stranded on a desert island, find a magic lantern containing a genie, who grants them each one wish. The first guy wishes he was off the island and back home. The second guy wishes the same. The third guy says “I’m lonely. I wish my friends were back here.”
A guy has a talking dog. He brings it to a talent scount. “This dog can speak English,” he claims to the unimpressed agent. “Okay, Sport,” the guys says to the dog, “what’s on the top of a house?” “Roof!” the dog replies. “Oh, come on…” the talent agent responds. “All dogs go ‘roof’.” “No, wait,” the guy says. He asks the dog “what does sandpaper feel like?” “Rough!” the dog answers. The talent agent gives a condescending blank stare. He is losing his patience. “No, hang on,” the guy says. “This one will amaze you. ” He turns and asks the dog: “Who, in your opinion, was the greatest baseball player of all time?” “Ruth!” goes the dog. And the talent scount, having seen enough, boots them out of his office onto the street. And the dog turns to the guy and says “Maybe I shoulda said DiMaggio?”

We hope you liked them.
Take care
Noah and Adrienne

Anonymous said...

hey zack
its akay(kaeli)just typing to say YO!!! so call when ever if u wanna talk. when you feel well enough choose a friend or a few & you can come 2 my house & play guitar hero & i might get rock band -akay

Anonymous said...

Dear Zack, My prayers are with you. Love, Angel (Deja's mama)

Anonymous said...

Well Pacifica says hello to all and we are keeping constant prayers and good vibes for you Zacky and Maria...my gosh Zack you are so very brave I can't imagine how difficult this is for you but know that you are loved and one day soon you will look back at all of this and say How did we do it mom?????? Quite a journey but I think you can go take some easier roads now Okay???? Love you all Carol Z. Thanks for keeping us posted.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zack and Maria,
We just wanted you to know that many prayers are coming from the LeFave home right now. Even Kaeli's little sister, Eden, who is only 3 said a very sweet and heartfelt prayer for you this morning. We had never heard her pray like that, and know that you will be blessed! Your strength is AMAZING!!! Keep up the good work!
Love and blessings,
Kris, Desiree, Kaeli, Maryn, & Eden

Anonymous said...

Hey Mia....like Eddie said thanks for finding time to write. Tell Zack that I love him very much and can't wait to talk to him again. Jason says hello and hopes he feels better soon. Mick and Iza want to give him kisses even though they are grose. Mom and Dad say they love him very much and are keeping him in their thoughts and prayers. I love you Mia.

Anonymous said...

hey zack
hope your feeling better. yesterday i went to the skate park. there was this really good skateboarder named zack and i thought
of you.
may the force be with you,

Ruby-Do said...

Zack, Maria and any other health care professional that may be in the room at the time of this blog reading...HOWDY from SW Portland. Your bravery and courage is amazing. Hang tough and please, Please, PLEASE let me know if you or your family need any thing at all. I can bring cheese, ice cream or chocolate milk at a moments notice:) Sending you tight cyber hugs, smiles and healing prayers, your friend, Michele

Jen said...

hey Zack! you probably don't remember me- my name is Jen = ) I was one of your Auntie Cristina's best friends in childhood and my mom, Eileen, used to babysit you...you probably still don't remember me, but I'd like to send all my best to you and your Mom! You are two of the strongest people I know!

I just got back from Europe, and I have to tell you Zack...it's absolutely amazing! The second I set foot in Spain I thought of the Llull's and was in awe of your beautiful country! I also spent some time in Rome, Italy...and we got you a souvenir! I thought of you as soon as I saw it..your Auntie Cristina will be bringing it to you next week. I'm also going to send her some pictures to show you. You'll have to go to Europe one day Zack- I don't think it'll be hard to convince your Mom, but if you need any help, give us a call and we'll have you flying off to Spain in no time!

Stay Strong Zack! and thanks for the daily posts Maria! I look forward to them = )