This morning (Sunday) Isita was admitted to the intensive care unit with a severe chest infection. She is stable but fully sedated, and on a ventilator to support her breathing as her lungs are very sick.
It started with a cold earlier in the week and Friday’s bone marrow aspirate and trephines probably made it worse. She vomited at the end of the operation while coming out of general anaesthetic and may have inhaled some liquid. Or perhaps the cold was more severe than we realised. It doesn’t really matter.
A lot of work went into keeping her out of intensive care from Friday onwards. We had relays of specialists in the room day and night. But unfortunately congestion in one lung spread to both and her breathing became steadily more difficult. She is exhausted.
It has been a nasty shock to see her little body vibrating from the ventilator, tubes taped into her mouth. It is also a relief that she is no longer labouring and in pain. The doctors and nurses are awe-inspiringly capable and reassuring, but it is impossible not to be scared. In the worst days of high-dose chemotherapy we dreaded an infection that would bring her down here. Then we imagined the danger had passed. To think that a a few days ago it seemed we were on the verge of being allowed home.
All being well, we expect she will stay on the unit for about a week, and we can then try to get back to where we were. But first we have to get her over this.
A little earlier today the doctors carried out a bronchial lavage to obtain a sample of mucous from deep inside the lungs. They also used physiotherapy to help empty them. Now we are just sitting with her talking and reading to her on the assumption she can hear us.
Amidst all this worry, yesterday’s good news that Isita’s bone marrow remains entirely clear of neuroblastoma cells almost passed unnoticed. I even forgot to tell Marta, who learned it from Annie, one of the wonderful Elephant Ward nurses. Yes, the situation is beyond stressful, but as this excellent result shows, we haven’t come this far to be checked now.