- The doctors are almost sure that she has a condition called chylothorax. Essentially, a duct is leaking lymphatic fluid to the lung, which is what made it difficult for Samantha to breathe. This is a pretty uncommon disorder in itself, and it is even rarer that they do not know of a cause, such as complications from a surgery or lymphoma or leukemia. In this case, not having a cause is a very good thing, compared to the alternatives.
- The surgeon and Samantha's doctor believe that the thoracic duct can heal on its own. So, to reduce the lymphatic fluid, Samantha has a PICC line (an IV that snakes from her hand to her chest) that will give her nutrients, because not ingesting anything will reduce the lymphatic fluid. If all goes well, within two weeks it will become clear that the duct is fixing itself. If after two weeks, however, the duct is still damaged, they will consider some more aggressive forms of treatment, such as surgery.
- Samantha currently has chest tubes in her draining fluid from her lungs. She cannot go home with these tubes in, but her doctor thinks there is a chance that within a few days she will no longer need to have fluid drained away from her lungs, and that we can take her home and administer her medication and nutrients through her PICC line ourselves. However, this all depends on whether she stops having so much fluid accumulating in and drained from her lungs.
- The results from her CT scan this morning will confirm all this for the doctors, but they are pretty confident they have an accurate diagnosis.
The great news is that now that the fluid has been drained away from her lungs, she can breathe without oxygen. They have removed the tube, and she is sleeping peacefully as I type. She looks as good as she has for the past few days. We are praying that she gets to go home sooner rather than later, but we are glad we finally have some answers and a way forward.
There is so much to be thankful for right now, even though there are a few uncertainties in the next couple of weeks as we see how Samantha's body starts to heal. Thanks to all for your prayers, calls, texts, emails, and visits. We will continue to give updates as we get new information, so keep checking back here!
Update on Saturday Night: The CT scan showed a normal heart and lungs, so everything's on track at this point!