# Sunday, 15 February 2009

Quick Chaya Devoira update

Sunday night, still at Yol and Jon's.

After a difficult day, Chaya Devoira was sleeping peacefully when we left her this evening. She has had a few tubes removed, and is looking a lot better. They are hoping to take her to the ward tomorrow, and we are quietly hopeful that we may be home for Shabbos.

All Tehillim is still greatly appreciated, as she is not out of the woods yet, but boruch Hashem, she is well on the way.

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# Saturday, 14 February 2009

This is your Captain speaking, everything is under control

This has been an amazing few days. We are currently at Yolanda (the Boss's younger sister) and Jonathon's house in Golders Green, London England. I thought it would be a good opportunity to type up some of the events of the past few days.

Before I start, please let me assure you that boruch Hashem, Chaya Devoira is fine. The operation seems to have been a complete success. She is still in ICU, but they are expecting t otake her to the ward tomorrow. Right, with that out of the way, here's the story...

We arrived around 2pm on Thursday, and checked in. We were met by a Jewish nurse, who said straight away that she would help sort us out for Shabbos! That was a good start.

The afternoon was a whirlwind of blood tests, x-rays, scans, etc. They discovered along the way that along with all of her other problems, she had a narrowed aorta, which would need sorting out at the same time.

The surgeon turned out to be someone we had heard of, and had davenned that we would get. Apparently he is one of the top heart surgeons in the country.

As you can imagine, we didn't sleep too well that night. We were tired, but the hospital was a bit noisy, and we were a bunch of emotions. We slept on the ward, or rather we lay down on the ward. Neither of us slept much.

Friday morning, they took her down to anesthesia about 9:15am, giving us only a very brief chance to kiss her before she went under. It was a very difficult moment, not knowing if we'd ever see her again. I wanted to give her a brocho before they took her away, but I didn't even get chance for that. They said that it wold take about 45 mins for it to take full effect, so we reckoned they would start around 10am. The surgeon told us it would take about 3-4 hours.

Anyway, we decided that staying in the hospital would be a very depressing and stressful experience, so we went for a walk. We found a park by the Thames, and sat and said Tehillim for a while. After that, we walked along the river, crossed over and went to Covent Garden. It was a surreal experience, knowing that our baby was on the operating table, but us acting like tourists. We couldn't think too much about what was going on, and it was the best way to cope.

Maybe we were wrong, but there's only so much you can daven. After that, you have to accept that we are helpless. Hashem was in control, not us. We have never felt so helpless, and yet so helped!

We got back to the hospital around 1pm, thinking that the operation should be ending sometime during the next hour. We ate something, assuming that after the operation, we would go down to ICU, and may not get chance to eat for some time.

The time dragged on, and we got very nervous. Once 2pm came, and we hadn't heard anything, we were even more so. By the time 3pm came along, we were seriously wondering if something had gone wrong chas v'sholom.

We finally got word at 3:30pm that they were just finishing, and that she would be going to ICU sometime in the next half hour. As it happened, we didn't get called to ICU until 4:40pm, by which time we were in a state! We had already got as ready for Shabbos as we could.

Whilst we were waiting, we had called the children and some friends to let them know the good news. The happiness in everyone's voices certainly helped calm us down.

Going into ICU was not something I would wish on anyone. Seeing her little body, with a huge bloody line up the middle of her chest, and tubes and wires everywhere was pretty tough. There were monitors and machines all over the place, and about five doctors and nurses around the cot.

They told us that the operation had taken longer than they expected, but that everything seemed ot have gone OK. They had done all the work they intended to do, and hadn't found anything unexpected.

We sat there for quite a while, each lost in our own thoughts. Oddly enough, we reacted in very different ways. Once I had got over the shock of seeing her like that, I was elated. I had seriously been thinking that we would never see her again, so being able to see her breathing and alive was like having all my birthdays (and a few of yours as well) all wrapped into one. The Boss was in floods of tears, partly from relief, partly from seeing her like this. She calmed down after a while, but it wasn't easy for her.

We stayed by her bed for an hour or so, then decided to go and have our Shabbos meal and come back down.

We went back to ward, and had just got things ready, when the nurse came and said that the surgeon was in ICU if we would like to come. We raced down, but missed him by a moment. In her haste to get us, the nurse forgot to ask him to wait, and he went off. We hung around to see if he was still in the area, but it became obvious after a while that he had left so we went back up. I suppose after doing two very long and difficult operations in one day, he wanted to go home.

Anyway, we went back upstairs and made kiddush. I started singing in a quiet voice, trying to block the TVs and mindless babble of the people around us from my mind. Halfway through Sholom Aleichem, it occurred to me that the other people on the ward seemed to think it was perfectly OK to play their TVs at a high volume, so why was I singing quietly? I decided to sing louder, and to heck with the lot of them!

We had a surprisingly nice meal, considering the situation and the surroundings.

Afterwards, we went back down to ICU and sat by her cot for a while. They were a little concerned about her blood pressure, as it was higher than they wanted, but they kept telling us that this was not unusual, and a lot of things could happen during the first 24 hours after major surgery.

Sheer mental and physical exhaustion finally dragged us away. We went back up to the ward and went to bed. Neither of us slept too well, although the fact of having so little sleep the night before helped us.

Today was a weird day. I davenned on my own, which I have only done twice on a Shabbos morning since we got married, the second of those being in Crumpsall hosptial, the morning Chana Liba was born. After that, we made kiddush and and some cake and nosh, before going down to the ICU again.

She had stabilised during the night, and they were happy with her progress. It was an odd experience, being totally helpless, and having nothing to do there, but not wanting to leave her.

We stayed for a couple of hours, then went back up to the ward to eat lunch. After we had finished, exhaustion hit me, and I decided to have a rest. The Boss went back down to the ICU.

Due to the TVs, I couldn't really sleep, but dozed fitfully for a while. I came to around 3:34pm, davenned mincha and went down to the ICU. They had taken the drain tube off her, which was a very good sign. This tube was left by her heart after the operation, and was sticking out of her tummy. Any blood that came from the incisions was drained through the tube into a bucket on the floor. This helped them see how the wound was healing, as when the tube stopped dripping, they knew the heart was repairing itself. Being able to take out this tube was a significant step in her healing.

We spent the rest of Shabbos there, and ate a sholosh seudos of biscuits and crisps. The nurse on duty today was quite chatty, and made a point of telling us everything she was doing. This was both interesting, and a useful way of helping pass the time.

After Shabbos, we came to Yol & Jon's, where we had our first hot drink for a couple of days! The Boss has gone to bed, and I am following suit right now.

They are intending to take her off the ventilator tomorrow, and see if she can manage to breathe on her own. Once she is off this for 24 hours, they will send her back to the ward. This will not be until Monday at the earliest. We are going to stay here whilst she is in ICU, and then we'll see after that. The Boss will stay in the hospital once she goes back to the ward, but I may still sleep here and go down there for the day. we'll see.

Anyway, this has been far longer than I expected to write. Hard to stop, there' so much more to tell, but I can't think straight.

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# Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Latest Chaya Devoira news

Well, having managed three blog posts that didn't really have anything to do with Chaya Devoira, despite her being mentioned briefly, here is one that's just about her and no-one else.

Despite my best efforts, she remains very difficult to photograph. She actually looks a lot cuter than this photograph would imply, but this is the best I could manage this morning...

Chaya Devoira this morning

For the technically minded, the white tube is a nasogastric feeding tube, which currently has 23 ml/hour of milk flowing through it, up her nose and down into her tummy. The clear tubes supply oxygen to the little device stuck up her nose, and all that tape is to hold it all together!

Anyway, it's not Tuesday, and we aren't in London. For various reasons that I haven't quite clarified, but are immaterial, we didn't go to London yesterday. There was a surgical meeting at the Evelina hospital yesterday, and it seems they decided to stick with the original date of this Friday (13th Feb) for the operation. We are waiting for confirmation from them that they have a bed, and that the hospital here can arrange transportation, but it looks like this is what will happen.

Boruch Hashem, Chaya Devoira is doing a lot better today. She has been off the SiPAP since 7am yesterday morning (it's now 5pm today), and she's coping fine. As a result, they are moving her out of intensive care today, as soon as they can find a bed on another ward. We are actually quite sorry to leave ICU, as the care has been fantastic, but we don't have the choice. Amusingly enough, the nurses there have become very attached to Chaya Devoira, and are quite upset to see her go.

One thing that we are going to miss when she leaves the ICU is a wonderful fibre optic device they have there, which keeps her amused for ages. It is a large bundle of thin tubes, which glow at various points, and change colour in a very mesmerising way. She will sit and gaze at this contentedly for ages, as will we. If anyone fancies buying us one a present, you can buy them here for the bargain price of £559.00! Can you say "e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e" boys and girls?

So, if you find yourself with nothing to do on Friday (no idea what time yet), please say some Tehillim for her. Thanks.

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Stupid and pointless poem, but quite amusing!

'Twas an evening in October, I'll confess I wasn't sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,"
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Then I heard a gentle mooing, it was like a pigeon cooing,
As a home returning cow stopped in her stride,
And her eyes were big and gentle; her expression sentimental,
As she curtsied low and sat down by my side.
Then I saw her eyelids flutter and a tear fell in the gutter,
As the owner of the cow did loudly say:
"Leave that brute this moment, Sonja, or your milk will curdle on ya,"
Then the cow got up and slowly walked away.

Then the moon began to shine in that old gutter I reclined in,
Thinking of the weakness of the human race,
When a dog sat down beside me, and I thought he came to chide me,
Till he gently licked the stubble on my face.
In the gutter, still reclining, I began "Sweet Adeline-ing,"
While the dog raised up his head to loudly bay;
Then his mistress said, "Come, Fido, that disgusting man may bite you,"
Then the dog got up and slowly walked away.

Down the street there came a clatter, and a gentle pitter-patter,
As a pair of goats along the gutter ran;
And it seemed that Billy knew me, for he quickly drew up to me,
While his wife munched on an empty sardine can.
Then again my pulse did flutter, and my heart was soft as butter;
Till the Nanny goat, unto her mate, did say:
"William dear, your social status don't include men such as that is,"
Then the goat got up and slowly walked away.

Then I started in to mutter and I rose up from the gutter,
Then I sadly went about my lonely way;
I was weary, sick and busted; I was really quite disgusted,
And I vowed to sign the pledge that very day.
For each humble, lowly creature, a great lesson he can teach ya,
Like the one learned while I in the gutter lay;
In the tavern, do not tarry, when you've got all you can carry,
But take up your load and slowly walk away.

Now lately I've been thinking that I will quit my drinking.
I'm going to leave off whiskey, beer and grog,
For there's no consolation, but only aggravation,
You can't even find friendship with a hog.

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# Monday, 09 February 2009

New PSG video

Being very busy, without a moment to spare, I have uploaded a new video of the PSG children. For some reason, the quality seems to have deteriorated when it was uploaded, but you get the gist anyway...

If you like the video, please leave a nice comment below, and maybe one on YouTube. Open the video on YouTube, and you can leave a comment and rate it there.

See, didn't mention Chaya Devoira once. Oops, did there!

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# Sunday, 08 February 2009

A fruity post for a change

Just to prove that this isn't actually the Chaya Devoira blog, as you might have thought recently, here is a post that has nothing to do with her.

As tonight is Tu BiShvot (note that the correct Ashkenazic pronunciation is Sh'vot and not Sh'vat, despite the latter being common usage), Shayna Brocho and Chana Liba made fruity crafts in school today.

Chana Liba made a fruit garden, complete with fence...

Chana Liba's Tu Bishvot craft

The fruit, from left to right, are a star fruit, a slice of orange with a piece os glace cherry in the middle, a rolled slice of dried apple, and a fusalis (also known as a Chinese gooseberry, despite not being Chinese, and not remotely related to the gooseberry).

The grass effect was made, rather curiously, by smearing a piece of cling film with jam, and sprinkling desiccated coconut over it. I'm not quite sure why, but it did make for a rather sticky walk home from school!

Shayna Brocho made a very cute craft, which at first glance does look rather like a hippopotamus, but is in fact a baby buggy, complete with grape baby...

Shayna Brocho's Tu Bishvot craft

It looks a lot more like a buggy in real life! This craft was rather appropriate for Chaya Devoira, who unexpectedly ended up being mentioned in this post as well! Maybe I should change the name to the Chaya Devoira Blog :)

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# Wednesday, 04 February 2009

Common cold, so we could be on our way!

The results of the test finally came back, and it looks like the illness was nothing more than a common cold. They are going to take another sample tomorrow and confirm this, but if it is, then they are going to get moving.

Given that tomorrow is Thursday, so the results won't come back until Friday, they will probably keep them in hospital over the weekend, and then take them down to London in an ambulance on Monday, with the intention of operating on Tuesday. This all assumes that the hospital in London has the availability.

I'm terrified and elated all at the same time. It's a weird feeling.

Any Tehillim and davenning that you can do for Chaya Devoira bas Sharon Yehudis would be greatly appreciated.

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# Tuesday, 03 February 2009

Still in ICU, coming off the SiPAP

Chaya Devoira is still in the intensive care unit, but is doing OK. They took her off the SiPAP (machine that pumps pressurised oxygen into her nose) for a few hours this morning, but had to put her back on afterwards. They are going to try again in the morning, and see how she gets on.

The interesting thing is that the doctors are now suggesting that the breathing difficulties might not have been due to a virus or infection, but might have been heart failure :-o

They are also talking about transferring her directly from the hospital to Guys in London, which should speed things up. Trouble is, they still don't know if it's viral or bacterial. It seems that they don't send off samples over the weekend, and Monday's batch are sent at 10pm, so if they take any samples after about 5pm on a Friday, they don't get sent off until Monday night at 10pm. Very efficient!

End of bulletin. Further newsflashes as events warrant. This is Silver of the PSG signing off...

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# Monday, 02 February 2009

In intensive care - but don't worry, it's not that serious!

Chaya Devoira was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) this morning. Before you panic, this was only because they didn't have a bed in the high dependency unit (HDU) where she went the last couple of times. Just like before, her breathing became more difficult as the virus/infection set in, and she got to the stage where they wanted to put her on to the SiPAP machine that pumps the oxygen into her at a sufficient pressure to keep her lungs open. They would normally have done this in HDU, but they didn't have any beds, so she went into ICU instead.

Now, I'm pleased to be able to say that I've never had the need to see inside an ICU before. Having seen the HDU, and knowing that ICU is one step up in care from HDU, I imagined that ICU would be a very silent place, where each bed was in its own cubicle, where the nurses crept around and spoke in hushed tones, and the inert patients would lie semi-comatose in their beds, each hooked up to a wealth of serious-looking machines.

Hah, was I ever wrong! Talk about noisy! It was more like an open ward, albeit with rather more security on the door, but with loads of people bustling around. True, there were more machines than I'd seen in one place before, but the majority of these were familiar to me from other wards.

Anyway, right in the middle of it all was Chaya Devoira, with her strange mask on and the SiPAP bubbling away (it removes the moisture from the oxygen before shoving it up her nose, as it wouldn't be too pleasant having a nose full of water!). She was calm and drowsy, although it turned out that this was due to heavy sedation.

All in all, she is doing fine. They slowly reduced the oxygen levels during the day, but she is still on 35% oxygen, which is quite a lot higher than the 21% in normal air. They aren't in a hurry to get her off the SiPAP, as they would prefer to make sure she's really better first. Sounds good to me.

The cardiologist came round while I was there, and we asked him how this would affect her operation. He said that it depends on whether she has a virus or an infection. If it's a virus, then they will want to leave her for a couple of weeks before operating. If it's bacterial, then they can go ahead straight away.

It turns out that Guys hospital, where she is to have the operation, currently has a very short waiting list, and they were going to ring us on Sunday to ask her to take Chaya Devoira down, so they could operate today! As she was admitted on Shabbos, this never happened.

It seems that if she has an infection, they could call us at any time for the operation. This is good, in that she should get seen sooner, but it puts us on alert pretty much the whole time, which is quite a strain. It also brings the whole thing more closely into reality, which had to happen some time or other. Subconsciously, I think we were putting off the thought. Looks like we can't now!

Anyway, no more news for now. IY"H she will be home soon, but we'll see.

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# Sunday, 01 February 2009

Sigh, back in hospital - when we were so close

Due to breathing difficulties, we had to take Chaya Devoira into hospital yesterday (Shabbos). It seems she has yet another virus, so is back on the same routine as before.

Unfortunately, we are still at the difficult stage, where her breathing is very laboured, and she needs high amounts of oxygen pumped into her to keep her levels to a safe point.

Apart form anything else, the problem with all of this is that she was supposed to have her heart operation on the 13th Feb. The cardiology people said that they want a full ten clear days from when she gets over the virus before they will operate. Her previous bouts of these viruses have kept her in hospital for 11 or 12 days, so if this pattern is to be repeated, she would only be coming out of hospital the day we are supposed to go to London to check in.

Oh well, all in its right time I suppose. For now I'm playing Mummy again.

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