The lowest setting used on this ventilator is about 30%. (Ventilators can provide as much as 100% oxygen but that amount can be harmful.) We humans usually take in about 21% oxygen with each breath but since breathing through a tube is like sucking air through a straw, a higher oxygen percentage is used. (Thank you, nurses Jamie and Lori for the explanation.)
Along with the switch from oscillator to ventilator, Zack is on lower doses of sedation drugs. He's also off muscle relaxants again because the ventilator settings require him to initiate each breath while the machine gives him some extra oomph and oxygen. The docs are using the word "extubation" (removal of the breathing tube) a lot these days...There's no set date yet but it's definitely on the horizon.
Regarding chemotherapy, Zack is finished with regular, weekly chemo treatments so this current illness hasn't disrupted a crucial time in his treatment schedule. The next phase is Maintenance, during which he'll receive treatments once every four weeks plus he'll have to take some pills at home. The hematology/oncology docs would like to start this next phase as soon as possible without interrupting his healing process...They plan to do a bone marrow test today to make sure everything is kosher and to help them better plan when to start Maintenance.
Thank you all so much for keeping Zack in your thoughts. Please continue to sign the blog...Zack isn't going to remember most of his time in the hospital and aside from your comments being a huge source of encouragement and love right now, they will also help serve as a record of this time and of the people who followed his progress.
Tina visited last week, arriving the day Zack came off ECMO and was switched to the (noisy) oscillator. She helped me find headphones for him and then she knit a cover for them.