# Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Hey, grizzly bears can dance!

Just found a great article on the BBC web site. They managed to film a grizzly bear fishing, from underwater. Watch the first video on the page to see some fancy footwork as the bear tries to kick the fish into water shallow enough for it to grab it.

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Good news about Chaya Devoira

Boruch Hashem, Chaya Devoira continues to go from strength to strength. They took her off oxygen completely this morning, and she stayed off it until around 5:30pm.

When they did the surgery, they attached wires to the electrical control centre of her heart (no, I didn't know it had one either until the other day), in case there were any problems with heart rhythms. If there had been, they would have been able to attach a pacemaker to the wires and regulate her heart. As this hasn't been necessary, and the chances of it being necessary are now vanishingly small, they removed the wires. This is another step towards home :-)

However, the best bit of news altogether was that the doctor decided that Chaya Devoira can start feeding properly, instead of using the tube. They are leaving it to the Boss to judge if she is getting enough milk at each feed, and will monitor her weight to make sure that she is taking enough. Although she is going to need some time to build up her strength fully, she did well today, and scoffed a lot!

We are hoping to get some decision tomorrow about when we can go home. As they still need to wean her off one of the medicines, and they want to keep an eye on her weight, it is unlikely that they will let her leave hospital before Shabbos, but it does seem quite likely that they will try and transfer her to Pendlebury before then. This will be a great move for all of us, especially the other children, who haven't seen the Boss or baby for a week now. We'll have to see what they decide in the morning.

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Dragged, kicking and screaming into the modern age!

Are we the only ones?

Neither of us own a mobile 'phone. We never had, and hopefully never will. I know, everyone tells how useful they are, and how owning one doesn't make you subserviant to it honest, but we're not convinced.

However, before the Boss went into hospital to have Chaya Devoira, we were offered a mobile to borrow for the (what was expected to be) couple of days that she would be there. The way things worked out, we still have it, and yes, it has been useful.

Being gadget mad, and technologically minded, the first thing I did when we were lent it was to fiddle with it until I had discovered all of the menus and options. Despite knowing nothing about the subject, I quickly worked out what text messages were, and how to read and delete them. The one thing that totally baffled me was how to send one. I got as far as where you type it, but couldn't persuade the mobile to type what I wanted, and not what it wanted me to say. It seemed to have its own idea about what I should be typing, and with all due respect to its opnion, I rarely agreed! So that was that. We used it for calls, and got the occasional text, but nothing more.

And then, the Luddite struck back!

My dear wife has never been one for technology. She insists on making cakes by hand, instead of using the electric mixer. She insists on chopping garlic by hand instead of using the garlic/herb chopper, and so on. It came as a surprise to me to discover that she had worked out how to send a text. I didn't even know she knew what they were! During her most recent (and hopefully last) stay in Pendlebury hospital (before we were transferred to London), she spent some time fiddling, and worked it out.

Well, that was it. She has sent enough texts in the past couple of weeks to require several telecommunications companies to upgrade their networks, due to the excessive traffic! I don't mind as it has been a huge boost for her, keeping in touch with her friends and accessing some of the services that people have offered.

But through it all, I never worked it out. On the one hand, I felt a bit cheated that my Luddite wife had worked out something that I, the modest and self-effacing computer genius (well, maybe not that modest!) hadn't managed. On the other hand, it gave me a weird sort of satisfaction, knowing that I wasn't subservient to the stupid device!

All that changed yesterday...

When we arrived at Yolanda's late on motzei Shabbos, she handed me a spare mobile, and insisted that I keep it while we are here. This was very kind of her, although I wasn't too sure what I was going to do with it!

We were sitting on the ward yesterday, and I decided to have a look at the mobile she lent me. I had a quick tinker, and lo and behold, managed to send a text! Yup, my very first text message ever. It went a long way, all the way from my seat to the mobile phone sitting next to the Boss, about six inches away! I acted innocent, as though I had no idea what was going on, and was amused by her expression when she realised that the text had come from me.

It turns out that mobiles have a function that predicts what you are about to type, and completes the word for you. The mobile we had borrowed initially had this turned on, which is why I couldn't work out how to send a text. The mobile was incorrectly predicting what I wanted to type. Maybe I'm weird or something :-)

Anyway, it seems that Yolanda had the same problem with it as me, and had Jon switch the functon off. This is why I was able to send a text on her mobile. I sent another one to the Boss later, this time with a picture - even she hadn't worked out how to do that yet!

So, now I'm a texting expert. I have sent four texts now. The last two came about because I got a text as I was walking down the hospital corridor to go back to Yol and Jon's last night. The Boss had remembered something she wanted to ask me, and didn't think she could catch me up. I managed to receive it, and send a reply before reaching the London Eye, which is about halfway between the hospital and the tube station. I was proud of myself. We exchanged one more each way before I was plunged into the textless underworld of the Tube.

So, I finally caught up with the rest of the world. This knowledge will stand me in great stead for the next couple of days, until we give back Yolanda's spare mobile!

I wonder what will be the next step in our exploration into the modern world? Maybe we'll get a fax machine... nah, too modern!

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# Tuesday, 17 February 2009

No present for Chaya Devoira, finally on the ward, but not going home yet

4pm, back in the KIC

As previously reported, I went off to Covent Garden, although along a rather meandering route. This was due to the fact that I have an underdeveloped sense-of-direction gland, and regularly get lost when I don't have my Chief Navigator with me. I somehow ended up in Trafalgar Square, but managed to make my way to Covent Garden without too much excess delay.

When I got there, I found that the shop had almost sold out of the little toy I wanted to buy for Chaya Devoira, and the only two they had left appeared to be defective. Ho hum. I wandered around the shop for a bit, partly as I couldn't be bothered walking back empty-handed straight away. I found a nice wind mobile that I thought would make a good present for one of the girls, so I bought three!

When I got back to the hospital, I found that they were still in the ICU. Yolanda had just gone, and the Boss was getting hungry. We kept being told that we were going to the ward very soon, and then that it would be later, and then that it actually be very soon, and so on. We finally made the move around 2pm, and by the time we had got there, settled in, plugged all of Chaya Devoira's wires in and so on, it was about 3pm. That's quite late for lunch, especially when the hospital will be bringing the Boss' supper at about 5pm. Still, we managed to force ourselves.

The doctor came around just before. He is very happy with Chaya Devoira's progress, and gave us an outline of the plan for the next few days. Obviously, everything is all dependent on how she does, as unexpected changes are to be expected :-)

The bottom line is that there is a faint possibility that we will be let out on parole on Thursday, although this seems unlikely. If all goes well, and Chaya Devoira behaves herself, then they will let us out on Friday. Given the (lack of) speed with which hospitals work, this could make it difficult, if not impossible, to get home before Shabbos. We have a few people who we could ask to have us over Shabbos, although it would obviously be much nicer if we could get home. If it didn't work out for Friday, then it would be Sunday.

So, we settle down for a few days on the ward. We are on a different bit of the ward from before, mainly due to the virus that broke out in the bed next to us. That end of the ward is still closed off. We did quite well out of that, as we are now in a bay of four beds instead of six, and only two others of these are occupied. One of those is waiting for the doctor so they can go home. What's even better is that this bay appears to be completely devoid of TVs!!! This is wonderful, as it's so lovely and quiet. We are davenning hard that they don't decide to bring the TVs back :-)

I think that's all there is to report for now. Further blog posts as events warrant.

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Still waiting to go to the ward

11:30am - I'm currently in the hospital's Knowledge and Information Centre (or KIC to its friends), which saves me having to risk more wrist-slapping by using the ICU's PC, or having to wait until I get back to Yol and Jon's tonight. Yolanda has just come to see Chaya Devoira, and they are fairly strict in the ICU about only two visitors per patient, so I have been chucked out! I am off to Covent Garden to buy a present for Chaya Devoira, which we saw the other day whilst having a walk, but didn't buy.

Anyway, after all the excitement of leaving ICU, we didn't! It seems that the ward still aren't ready to take anyone, so we haven't moved.

We aren't too worried actually, Chaya Devoira is absolutely fine B"H, and doesn't need ICU care at all. She's only here because they don't have a bed upstairs yet. Although she doesn't need it, the care is one-to-one here, as opposed to one-to-five on the ward, and it's quieter. No TVs or DVDs being played at obnoxious volumes, or even at any volumes! Suits us.

We had a small smile when the ward manager came around to explain why we hadn't been sent upstairs yet. Due to a printing mistake, her ID card identified her as a "War Manager" - presumably required for when fights break out as to why people haven't been transferred yet :-)

She said that she had spotted the mistake when she got the badge, but was sufficiently amused by it to keep it.

Not a lot else to say. London is grey, but we are bright and cheerful. Chaya Devoira is fast asleep in the Boss' arms (or she was a few minutes ago when I came downstairs, so we can't really ask for more.

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# Monday, 16 February 2009

Today's Chaya Devoira update

The previous blog post was rather short as I got caught by one of the sisters, who told me that I wasn't really supposed to be using the hospital's computer! She was very nice about it, but I had to end rather quickly!

Anyway, the news is very good. Boruch Hashem, the doctors are very happy with Chaya Devoira. After a difficult day yesterday, she was wonderful today. She spent most of the day asleep, but woke up a few times and was quite happy. Her heartbeat was steady, at a good rate, and her oxygen levels were high.

They have removed pretty much all of the wires and tubes from her, and have just left the oxygen feed to the nasal specs, and the inevitable monitoring of the oxygen levels, blood pressure and heartbeat.

Her heart seems to have settled into a normal rhythm, after having done some interesting things on Sunday. At one point, the two sides of her heart were not beating in synch, and they were considering attaching a pacemaker to the wires sticking out of her tummy. Apparently this is not unusual, but boruch Hashem, it wasn't necessary.

They were going to move her up to the ward this afternoon, but due to an outbreak of a virus, they needed to do more comprehensive cleaning than normal before letting her up, and it was getting late. They decided to leave it until tomorrow morning, so she is spending another night in ICU. We are quite happy about this, as she gets closer attention in there than she would on the ward.

Not a lot else to tell you. We are both tired, and were falling asleep this afternoon. As Chaya Devoira was asleep, we decided to go for a walk to wake ourselves up. We ended up going to Hamleys (hugely large toy shop in central London), to buy some presents for the other children. We had a great time! Unfortunately, we would have needed the bank balance of a small arabian country to buy all the toys we wanted, so we had to content ourselves with just a few things.

I'm not sure how we're going to get the stuff home, especially as Simcha's present is rather heavy! We bought her a Simcha-sized inflatable bouncy castle. I'm not sure how we will keep the other children out of it though!

Going to bed, whacked out. night night.

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An exclusive update - live from the ICU!

This is going to be a very quick one, as I'm using the PC connected to Chaya Devoira's machines in the ICU, and I'm not really supposed to be! The nurse looked the other way!

Boruch Hashem, she is doing really well, and should be going up to the ward in the next hour or so (it's 6:30pm). She's fast asleep, and has smiled a few times.

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# 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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