How do we know if we are making progress? How do we know if we are making ‘enough’ progress? The short answer is ‘we don’t’, but the real answer is that there are no easy answers with mom as sick as she is right now. The doctors cannot add up her condition and tell us what will happen next or when we can expect to see a certain response or uptick in her condition. So we are left to monitor mom by the day, hour, minute and to make our own assessment of her progress.
By our account the last few days have been good. There are some critical numbers that we use to monitor mom’s progress, I’ll do my best to summarize them here.
There’s the PEEP – this is the pressure that they use to assist mom’s breathing, measured in cm of water – it’s been as high as 15, today we were down to 8.
There is the Oxygen mix in the air they are giving her – it’s been as high as 70% (room air is 21%), today she was down to 40%.
Her White cell count was up to 2.1 (2100) today, a healthy person has a white count around 7.0 (7000), mom’s has been as low as 1.4.
The viral count (a measure of how much of the virus has been killed off) has been steadily going down since she has been on the antibiotics.
She also did 2 hours of breathing on her own today (unassisted by the ventilator). She opens her eyes, she responds when we talk to her and expresses how unhappy she is to have this breathing tube down her throat. It’s nice to see that her personality remains intact.
By all measures mom is making nice steady progress each day in the ICU, but still she is walking a very thin line between progress and regression. The goal in the next few days is to get her off the ventilator and breathing on her own. She will still be using oxygen but she will no longer need to have the ventilator to assist her in breathing. If she can come off the vent and is able to stay off of it then she certainly will have hit a milestone.