The doctors switched his ventilators yesterday too, and he is now hooked up to an oscillator. It's a loud machine but also the most gentle ventilator available. His lungs stay partially expanded while he receives many tiny, rapid breaths...Two of Zack's respiratory therapists, Debbie and Marie, compared the oscillator "breaths" to the gentle wingbeats of a hummingbird. Though the oscillator is gentle, it's an uncomfortable feeling to have your lungs always full of air so Zack will stay sedated until he's weaned off the machine.
The next step is for Zack's lungs to heal the tiny tears that allowed air to escape...this air caused more than one pnuemothorax (collapsed lung, partially in this case) because the air gets stuck and applies pressure to the outside of the lungs. Zack has three chest tubes on the sides of his chest...tiny needles in his skin attached to bigger tubes outside his body that allow the extra air to escape. This morning's chest x-ray showed no outside air.
This transition to an oscillator was always part of the plan after coming off ECMO. Zack was on ECMO for exactly two weeks, which is ideal because apparently it works very well in the beginning but can often be problematic with long term use. The oscillator is LOUD so Zack is wearing earplugs but I'm going to try to find him a pair of big headphones to muffle the noise.
Zack is on the right track!
A Visit from Zack's Aunt Cristina