Following Nathan's hernia repair surgery in September, his doctor was more than pleasantly surprised at how big his lungs actually were. There were still small and under-developed, but considering how constricted they had been before surgery, they were bigger than expected.
Now, as the calendar turned to November, Nathan's doctors decided to go ahead and take him off the ventilator. This was a big step in our unofficial goal of having him home by Thanksgiving.
So at noon on November 1st, they removed Nathan from the ventilator and transitioned him to high-flow nasal cannulas.
For the first time in his short life, Nathan was breathing on his own! He was still on quite a bit of oxygen support, but each breath he took was his own! It was a tiny little miracle!
However, spending 8 weeks on the ventilator, having the big breathing tube stuck down his throat, had caused his vocal cords to become inflamed, making it very difficult and/or nearly impossible for him to make any type of noise. He did manage a weak cough, though. And he even tried to cry more than once, but even though his face made the look, there was no sound to accompany it.
When he was awake, Nathan spent quite a bit of time rolling his tongue around in his mouth, probably looking for and enjoying the absence of the ventilator tube!
As the day wore on, however, Nathan was working harder and harder to breathe on his own. They gave him some medications to try and keep him calm, but he was wearing himself out. So at 5am the next day, 17 hours after he had been taken off the ventilator, Nathan was put back on. His little lungs just weren't ready to handle all the work they needed to do yet.
It was exciting that he came off -- and stayed off -- the ventilator for 17 hours! That's almost a whole day! All things being considered, we felt that it was quite the accomplishment.
At the same time though, it was very disheartening and sad. It meant that he wasn't ready. His lungs weren't ready. And that meant that our outside shot at Thanksgiving was probably not going to happen either.