Libby Lehman Updates from Caring Bridge — 9-21-13

Libby with her Nephew's Family

Libby has had a difficult month. She’s dealt with both seizures and infections (most seriously, a MRSA infection in her sinuses) that have kept her bouncing between University Place rehab center and the emergency room and has derailed her progress.

Even so, Team Libby presses on. And Libby keeps trying her best. Here is her sister Ellen’s update from Thursday evening:

An upset tummy and a low energy level (possibly from the MRSA infection or feeding problems) are still holding Libby back from any major breakthroughs. Since the early morning regime of waking and getting dressed was making Libby feel sick and very tired, the therapists decided to try giving Libby her therapies in the early afternoon instead of the morning.

PT therapist Lynn and assistant Bola were the first on the agenda, and Libby managed to participate in a very modified and shortened PT. Lynn tried having Libby stand using the parallel bars and lots of help, with some limited success.Then Lynn did some stretching and strengthening exercises and asked Libby to lift and kick each leg several times while sitting in the wheelchair. Libby was pretty good with her right leg and at least tried to initiate the action with her left leg.

Lynn seemed to really know how far to push Libby and what her limitations were since Libby was shaking, kept her eyes closed, and was obviously in some distress.In my unprofessional opinion, Lynn did not ask for more than Libby could do but got the most out of Libby that she could do today. Thanks Lynn, Bola, and Libby, too!

After PT Libby was worn out again and after some anti-nausea medication, Libby was put back into bed for a restful nap. As she was drifting off she suddenly opened her eyes and looked around. I seized the opportunity to talk to her and asked her if it felt good to be back in bed. She mumbled, “Oh, God” and nodded her head “yes”. Then her trembling subsided, face relaxed into a peaceful pose, and she seemed at ease again. After a difficult morning, we are Thankful for her good rest. Sweet dreams and may tomorrow be a better day.

Please remember Libby and her struggles.

Update for 9-16-13

Libby’s latest lab tests came back negative for MRSA, so it appears that her infection has cleared. Unfortunately, she is still not doing well. From her sister Cathy tonight:

      Lester and Ellen took Libby today in her wheelchair in a University Place van to see her neurologist, Dr. K., and her neurosurgeon, Dr. Dannenbaum, at Memorial Herman Hospital in the Medical Center.  Libby’s condition is unchanged from the past few days – lethargic and not talkative or responsive, but no seizures or vomiting.  The doctors sent her by ambulance to the Emergency Room for a CAT scan and an x-ray (shunt-o-gram).  The results of the tests showed no change from 30 days ago.  (This is good news.)
The doctors want to run some more tests tomorrow, and because Libby is having some difficulty breathing and has been requiring oxygen the past few days, she will be staying over-night in the out-patient observation area of the Emergency Room.  The tests will include a spinal tap to check the pressure of her spinal fluids and some tests on her lungs.  If these tests do not help solve the puzzle of what is causing her this set-back, they will start to adjust her medications to try and identify the problem.  Hopefully she will be able to return to University Place tomorrow.
Please pray for wisdom and skill on the part of all of the medical professionals in helping Libby get back on track to the road to recovery.

Another setback for Team Libby came from Medicare a week or so ago. Because Medicare does not deem her progress to be rapid enough, they will no longer pay for her therapy. The progress she has made thus far has happened only because of the intensive therapy she has received. Without further therapy, the likelihood of her continued recovery is very small, indeed.

Please consider helping the Lehmans via the Libby Lehman Medical Fund. You can find the details here.

Update for 9-21-13

Libby is back at University Place and seems to be doing better. A new update today from Libby’s sister Ellen:

Saturday is a good day for sleeping late for most folks, and Libby was enjoying a lazy morning when my hubby Bill and I went to visit her this morning. She was wide awake in her bed when we got there and greeted us with smiles and what seemed to be pleasant greetings, although her conversations continue to be more energetic than comprehensible.

Although we can’t understand most of her words, Libby seems to enjoy trying to tell us things and even cracks herself up sometimes with laughter. We would love dearly to know what she is trying to say, but we are happy that she is trying so hard to communicate.

In any case, we are glad that she still seems to enjoy our “conversations”, even though its is quite possible we are talking about one subject and she is talking about an entirely different one. (I bet we have all had similar experiences before in allegedly “normal” conversations with some people with “selective comprehension” capabilities.)

While we were there Dr. Merkel, her psychiatrist came by to check on her progress and any problems. We asked him about the vomiting issues, and he said it is quite possible they are related sometimes to issues like infections or even just the healing and fluctuating internal brain pressures which often effect brain injured patients by making them sick at their stomachs.

Dr. Merkel also asked us a lot of questions about her condition and behavior and told us that it might take a couple of weeks to fully recover from the MRSA (or any type) infection and to regain all of the progress she had made before its onset. He was very pleased with her attempts at language and overall willingness to cooperate with her therapists. He did however prescribe an anti-anxiety drug to help with her mood swings and to help her overcome her fear of falling. Mostly, he seemed very encouraged by her progress, which is Always a good thing to hear from a doctor!

As we prepared to leave the nurses were getting ready to get Libby up and dressed and ready to do a modified PT session with Mita. Libby was smiling when we left and enjoying feeling the texture and holes in a small, soft afghan made by a good friend of mine named Irene. Irene had included a note with a sweet prayer for Libby, and what a Joy it was to give both the gifts to Libby today. Thank you God, for our many blessings!

Keep up the good work, Libby. Hang in there, Team Libby. We are with you.

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