Andrew got out of surgery at 1:30pm. They had started at 7:30am. Blood had been pooling in his neck rather than draining, which was causing the excessive swelling. They were able to solve that problem.
The cause of today's problem:
On Saturday, the flap (forearm chunk used to make a new tongue and floor of mouth) vein had clogged, because it turns out Andrew has an unusual propensity to clot. After fixing the flap, they put him on blood thinners to make sure it didn't clog again. However, when they had given him their protocol amount of blood thinner for his body size, it made him bleed too much, which is why the blood pooled in his neck. Apparently, he also has an unusual sensitivity to the blood thinner. They found he needs about less than half the amount of blood thinner than a normal person in his position would require.
They are walking a fine line between preventing clotts with the blood thinner and making him bleed too much with the blood thinner.
What they did today:
During today's surgery, in addition to clearing out the blood, there were also a bunch of clots in his leg (where they took the vein Saturday), his forearm (where they took the chunk for his mouth), and even in his flap again. They had to remove all those clots.
Where the flap is at:
When he had his 2nd surgery on Saturday, they had attached two additional veins, which drain out the blood going to his flap, totalling three veins to guarantee the flap wouldn't clog again. Normally, a person only needs one vein for the flap. It turns out that the two smaller veins clogged again, but the bigger vein seems to be fine, which as long as it stays clear, should be sufficient drainage for the flap.
Is this normal?
It is highly unusual what is happening to Andrew. I asked the doctor if she's had to go into surgery three times like this before. She said there has been occasions. I asked her if she's gone in four times, just to prepare myself. She thought hard and said, "Maybe once?"
Just as God often makes things work out unusually well for his children, it seems He is making them work out unusually badly for us. I know that He is glorifying Himself. He is doing something huge. I can see it from all the emails I am receiving and that now our blog is being read around the world. This is what we had prayed for - that God would show His glory off through this for the whole world to see. We didn't even know why we were praying for the world to see, it seemed crazy that anyone not local would care; in fact, we were already surprised how much locally people cared. But it was the prayer God was bringing to our hearts to pray.
Goals for Andrew:
The doctors want to see Andrew do well for 72 hours. If nothing had gone wrong after the first surgery, it would have been 72 hours and we would be out of ICU now. Well, the clock has started all over again after this 3rd surgery. So pray there would be no more mishaps! That the flap would continue to be healthy, that nothing would clot again, that he wouldn't excessively bleed, and nothing at all would go wrong.
Thursday is Gracie's 2nd birthday. I would love it if Andrew would be in good enough shape to be without us for a tiny bit, so I could be with her for a few minutes at home and partake in her cake with Grandpa and Grandma and A.J. I would also love it if Andrew could get out of ICU by then and at least Gracie and Andrew could glance at each other in the regular wing of the hospital. Children are not allowed in ICU.
How I'm doing
I was only able to get three hours of sleep again last night, since I got home late from the hospital. Just as I turned off the light, my phone went off with the information about a 3rd surgery. I awoke in the morning to my phone again with them asking for my consent to do the surgery. Then I returned to the hospital. I've maybe had a total of 15 hours of night sleep since Thursday. There are also some viruses going around. Pray that I and the family wouldn't get sick, since that would prevent us from seeing Andrew, which he desperately needs right now.
I feel as if I am in the eye of a storm. And so I do not know the tumult that this appears to be from the outside, except in your eyes and emails. I am also not in the midst of the tornado, because it would sweep me up and kill me. I am at the eye of the storm, the most peaceful place within it. God has provided miraculous peace through this whole time in answer to your prayers for me. I didn't even feel frustrated when I heard the news last night. This is not characteristic of me. I get stressed out when I see plates on the countertop. I get frustrated when I miss a few cups after I turn on the dishwasher. Truly, God's grace is sufficient in time of need and praise God for your effective prayers.
Please continue praying what you have already been praying and also:
1. That nothing else would go wrong for the next 72 hours.
2. That I, Andrew's parents, and the kids wouldn't get sick.
3. That the flap would continue to be healthy.