Ruthie update: 4/8, 10:00 pm
Got a full report of the day from Will earlier this evening. I know that many of you are continuing in steadfast prayer for Ruthie, so I always want to pass along specific things to be praying for with each update. There is some good news to pass along as well as specific ways we can continue to ask for healing.
There was a lot that happened today. Ruthie was taken down for x-rays this morning and had to be moved around a lot in the process. Because of that, her pain level was heightened again. This continues to be the pressing issue that is keeping Ruthie from really getting some good rest. Will commented that she didn't sleep much at all last night due because of the level of pain and discomfort. However, the good news is that at one point today, Ruthie's pain level was down to a 7.5...the lowest it has been so far. So even though the pain throughout the day has extremely pointed moments, it is dipping into a lower range at times as well. It's encouraging to hear about some movement in that direction. Dr. Morrie (sp?) has been attending to Ruthie for the day-to-day issues this week and has been trying, along with the nurses, to adjust the pain medication to find the most comfortable fit. Although the pain remains elevated most of the time, Will said tonight they have hope in the knowledge that the pain is only temporary. Unfortunately, dealing with pain is something Ruthie has done daily for several years now. But we sure would love to see more and more of the edge taken off and for her to get more hours of sleep during the night.
Ruthie's blood level was also much lower than normal today and had to get 2 pints of blood through a transfusion this morning. Will mentioned that this was something that happened as a result of the surgery (not sure of the exact details with this), but the doctors now feel that her levels are back to normal. The procedure took a couple of hours and Will feels that Ruthie will have more energy and feel better tomorrow as a result of it.
Now for some really good news! Today Ruthie walked to the nurses' station (which is a good 30-40 foot distance from her bed) and back. And she also sat up in a chair for about 45 minutes tonight and ate her dinner. She continues to make gains each day with what she is accomplishing!
They also took off her neck brace at some point today and changed her dressing and monitored for spinal fluid leakage (of which there was none). Will said that he was able to see the incision while they were doing this and that the new incision had been made right over the incision from Ruthie's previous surgery. They also used surgical glue instead of staples to close the incision up, so there is a clear sheen over it instead of ugly old pieces of metal. Sounded impressive.
Finally, Will said that the most encouraging moment today was when the doctor tested Ruthie for something called "clonus." According to my limited internet research on the topic, clonus refers to "repetitive, rhythmic contractions/tremors of a muscle when attempting to hold it in a stretched state. It is a strong, deep tendon reflex that occurs when the central nervous system fails to inhibit it. Clonus is initiated in the spinal cord and is usually a sign of damage and spinal cord injury."
In other words, clonus is a condition that people often exhibit when there has been spinal cord damage. To gauge the severity of the damage, doctors perform a physical test with a person's arms and legs to see if they exhibit these tremors. A higher number of muscle tremors indicates more extensive spinal cord damage, so the tremor count is used as a gauge for what kind of shape someone is in. In past tests, Ruthie has always exhibited clonus on her left side, giving the doctors clear indication that there was spinal cord damage of some degree. Today, however, the doctors reported that her clonus is significantly better! This is a REALLY positive sign because it gives a strong indication that her spinal cord damage is not necessarily permanent and irreversible. Although it is still to soon to say exactly what improvements may follow, what amazing news to hear today! God continues to give hope.
Prayers for tonight and tomorrow:
Pray, pray, pray for Ruthie's elevated pain levels to subside. It would be wonderful for her body to get more rest and for her to have more peace of mind.
Pray for continued daily encouragement for Ruthie and strength for Will and Marsha as they continue to support one another
Pray for there to be more strides made with each passing day.
There is still no clear indication on when exactly Ruthie will be leaving Mayo as the pain really needs to be brought under control before moving forward. We will keep you updated if anything develops on that end.
Thanks again for following this blog and for keeping this precious family in your thoughts and prayers!