|This is a photo of Mickala from her Caring Bridge Site. I believe she is with her older brothers last winter.|
Early last September, the same day we were traveling to the Twin Cities the day before Louisa got on the plane to head to Italy, her classmate at her school here in Oklee, Mickala M, was admitted to the hospital in Thief River Falls, and then taken by ambulance to Fargo for a mystery illness that had brought on a severe case of ARDS. Although since ARDS stands for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, by definition it is probably always severe. Whatever the situation that brought this on, Mickala's lungs were severely damaged. After watching her bounce between stable and unstable for a week in Fargo, the medical team there decided to have her flown to the Mayo Clinic to be hooked up to an ECMO machine. ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. In order to allow Mickala's lungs to rest, and in the hopes they then would more readily heal themselves, this machine would oxygenate her blood outside of her body. This is different than a heart/lung machine in that it's designed for longer term use. Even so, even being designed for longer term use, there is a constant risk of complications, and the longer a person is on ECMO, the risk become higher that complications will arise. And the complications will likely be of an increasingly difficult to solve nature.
Mickala has been hospitalized for 118 days. She has been on the ECMO machine for all but about a week of that time. By God's grace He has allowed her to do well, and He has given the medical team the wisdom and skill to solve the many bumps in Mickala's road thus far.
I believe it was in early November that Mickala was put on a transplant list for heart/lung/kidneys. The medical team was not seeing the healing they had expected to see in her lung function. That was hard news for everyone who has been following her story, but hardest of all, I'm sure, for those closest to her.
Since that time, however, her lungs have continued to make baby steps in their healing. Her kidneys have resumed functioning. Her heart appears to be fully functional. And now, after all this time, she has been weaning off the ECMO machine, in the hopes of being off it completely by the end of this week. This is truly a miracle. The doctors had not been very hopeful in October that after that amount of time healing would continue. But it has. Here we are 2 1/2 months later, and healing has continued. Any complications have been resolved. God is good.
During the last two months, in preparation for the potential transplant, Mickala has been doing OT and PT to regain some strength and muscle mass and stamina. She has continued to amaze those around her with her spirit and drive. She was eventually able to walk a short distance on her own. Her team would attend her with all her machines and tubes coming along behind, as she increased that distance by yards each day. Each step was miraculous, since the doctors had never before had a patient on ECMO strong enough to walk the halls.
Earlier this week, however, she developed a large hematoma in her abdomen.
This morning her mom wrote that they are doing surgery today to remove the cannulas that attach Mickala to the machine and if they are able, to also remove some of the hematoma. With the blood thinners Mickala needs in order to be on the ECMO machine, she has had several hematomas. Each one is a frightening, nerve-wracking situation. One of them damaged the nerves in her right arm, and her arm function is only just returning. But this time, because she is so near to being ready to try breathing without the machine, they decided to go for it and see how she does.
But this will be very tiring for Mickala. During the times she has been off the machine, for an hour or two or a little more at a time, she gets very exhausted. Her mom described just lying in bed as the amount of work for Mickala as running a marathon for a healthy person. Her lungs are not at full capacity yet. Her blood is not oxygenating as efficiently as it needs to be.
Mickala will remain on the ventilator. She will be kept still for several days in the hopes that her lungs will be able to handle this minimal work on their own.
Through this whole ordeal Mickala's mom, Judy, has kept us up to date almost daily on Mickala's well-being. Her Caring Bridge posts continue to show incredible faith in the midst of such a long and arduous path. Judy has often expressed appreciation that God has used Mickala's illness to bring so many people closer to God.
I pray that it is God's will for Mickala's lungs to continue to improve. I pray that He has no more difficulties in store for this family. I pray that He continue to use Mickala and her dear family to show His Light to the world and to bring others closer to Himself.
I pray that God give all of us increased faith in salvation through Jesus Christ His Son.
Check Mickala's Caring Bridge site for updates.