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May 13, 2004

I want to start this update by apologizing for not having updated the website in quite some time.  Although very busy with Meghan, the family and my new career, I will do my best to keep everyone up to date on Meghan’s condition henceforth.

The last update was in November, so we will pick Meghan’s story up from there.  Meghan, Ellen and I flew to Rochester, Minnesota via a fixed wing “Survival Flight” aircraft.  We went to Mayo Clinic in hopes of finding a diagnosis/cure for Meghan’s underlying condition.  Mayo was highly recommended by the Neurology team at the University of Michigan as having the highest probability of finding a diagnosis.  Mayo was very well organized, very thorough, very professional, and very compassionate.  They ran a plethora of tests, performed three surgeries on Meghan and had numerous teams of physicians probing Meghan and prodding us for information.  They were confident they would find a diagnosis—but the test results could take up to 6-8 weeks to complete.

The surgeries Meghan had were: a nerve biopsy, a muscle biopsy and the placement of a “port-a-cath” in her chest.  The biopsies were performed to give clues as to the cause of Meghan’s demylination.  The port-a-cath was placed to allow nurses and doctors quick intravenous access—to allow them to administer medicines and draw blood samples for testing.  Ellen and I wished we would have had the port-a-cath placed sooner, because Meghan’s past IV’s had been very, very difficult to start and had gone bad soon after they had been started.  With the port-a-cath, it literally takes 15 seconds to gain access to Meghan’s veins.

Well, eight weeks passed when we received a 14-page document from Mayo that we hoped would give us the diagnostic answers we were looking for.  Unfortunately, we were disappointed to find that Mayo had no explanation for Meghan’s condition.  They basically concluded that Meghan’s diagnosis is beyond medical explanation.  Now, we just pray for a miracle from the “master physician” who knows the answers to everything.

Since her visit to Mayo Clinic, Meghan has been fairly stable.  She has had a few viruses this winter that offered many challenges and kept us on our toes.  Overall, Meghan would have a few difficult days with each of the viruses, but recover quickly.  Her pulmonary issues have slowly recovered to the point where she has been weaned off of supplemental oxygen, but still needs her ventilator to breath. 

Not much has changed regarding Meghan’s neurological condition.  Meghan still does not move her arms or legs.  When she wakes from a long sleep, she will stretch her back.  She also can move her head from side to side, but that is about all.  We are not sure how well she can see at this point.  She will turn towards our voice, but rarely looks right at us.  Hopefully, her eyesight will return.

We are looking forward to the warmer weather returning.  Meghan just received her new medical stroller—one that is equipped to handle her ventilator, battery (which is the size and weight of a car battery), oxygen tank, and other necessary equipment.  She seems to get excited when we take her out for a stroll around the neighborhood.  We are awaiting the arrival her new medical bed, which will allow Lauren, Michael and Shannon to easily snuggle with their very special sister.  It will also allow the caregivers to easily attend to Meghan’s medical needs as she grows.

There were some very tense moments this past weekend that sent Meghan on yet another ambulance ride, as well as a Survival Flight to University of Michigan.  Meghan experienced a condition called “bilateral pneumothorax” which is when the lung (or in this case both lungs) ruptured, causing the air (being forced in through the ventilator) to escape through the ruptured lung and become trapped in her chest cavity.  When the pneumothorax first occurred, Ellen and I did not know why Meghan suddenly was having so much trouble breathing, but we did everything on the troubleshooting list to allow Meghan to start breathing easier.  We changed her trach (in case there was a plug); we checked her ventilator, but it was working perfectly.  We gave her a dose of her pulmonary medicine to no avail.  Nothing seemed to work and Meghan continued to de-sat (blood oxygen levels continued to go down). 

When we had exhausted our knowledge of what was happening, we finally called the pulmonary doctor on-call who advised to seek emergency medical attention immediately.  The ambulance arrived a short time later and whisked Meghan away.  The Oakwood Hospital ER immediately took x-rays in hopes of finding the cause.  When the U of M Survival Flight team arrived on the scene, they quickly explained Meghan’s difficulties—the bilateral pneumothorax.  Because of the tremendous air pressure building up inside of Meghan’s chest, they informed us that they would need to immediately place two chest tubes—one on each side of Meghan’s chest.  This would relieve the pressure being built up internally and allow Meghan’s lungs to re-inflate properly.  This procedure took approximately 20 minutes and the Survival Flight proceeded to fly her to U of M Mott Hospital with a direct admit to the PICU.

We knew Meghan’s condition was very serious, but only when Ellen and I arrived at Mott did we realize just how catastrophic Meghan’s condition had been.  One of the ICU docs informed us that Meghan’s left lung was fully collapsed due to the rupture—rendering it virtually inoperable.  The right lung was 20%-30% collapsed, meaning that only 70% of one lung was supplying all of Meghan’s oxygen needs.  The ICU doctor predicted that if the chest tubes had not been placed at Oakwood, Meghan would not have survived the flight to U of M.  He quickly added that Meghan was now stable, the lungs had re-inflated nicely and that her lungs were already in the process of healing themselves. 

In the subsequent days, Meghan recovered very quickly.  The tubes were pulled from her chest on Monday evening, and she moved from the PICU to the stable vent unit on Tuesday.  After another x-ray and a CT scan on Wednesday morning, the pulmonary team released Meghan—just four days after this devastating event. 

Meghan continues to inspire all who are close to her with her perpetual courage, toughness and resiliency.  We pray that her suffering is aiding in saving souls.  Please continue to pray for Meghan and her complete healing.  We have faith it will happen…we just don’t know God’s timeline.  He could have taken Meghan a number of times, but has kept her with us for reasons unknown, for which we are humbly thankful.  Ellen and I would like each of you to pray daily for Meghan’s healing to the Blessed Mother, as well as recite the Fr. Solonus prayer daily:

Father, I adore you.  I give my life to you.  May I be the person You want me to be and Your Will be done in my life today. Thank you for the gifts You gave to Father Solanus. If it is Your Will, glorify him on earth so that others may carry on his love for the poor, lonely and suffering in our world. So that others will joyfully accept Your Divine Plan, I ask you to hear this prayer:  That Meghan is restored to complete health, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

God bless you all.

Mike and Ellen Salter

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