• Local heart surgery patient makes strides
    By David Delcore
     | February 27,2013

    BARRE — Elisabeth Walker cut her blogging brother some slack Tuesday, because when it comes to open heart surgery, no news is good news.

    The best news out of Boston Children’s Hospital came Tuesday morning when Walker, who spent more than six hours in surgery there Monday and was sedated through the night, started to stir and doctors decided to remove her breathing tube.

    She was alert and talking less than two hours later.

    Surgeons were able to repair the leaking valves of her enlarged heart, and if her condition continues to improve, said her father, Randy, she could be back at her parents’ South Barre home by this time next week.

    “We’ll have to wait and see how it goes,” he said. “It’s going to be baby steps going forward.”

    Though she remains in intensive care, Randy Walker said she has taken the first of those steps. She was taken off the respirator that helped her breathe through the night, and a temporary pacemaker that was used as a post-surgery precaution has been removed.

    “She’s on her own right now,” he said.

    According to Randy Walker, doctors hoped to have his daughter sitting up before Tuesday was over, and, if that went well, she could be on her feet today.

    As soon as Walker can support her own weight, she can be moved out of intensive care for the rest of a hospital stay that, barring any setbacks, is looking like it will be in the seven-day range.

    Some of the family members who accompanied Walker to Boston on Sunday headed back to central Vermont on Monday, but her parents, her brother and her boyfriend, Justin Rouleau, are there for the duration.

    According to Randy Walker, his daughter’s first waking words — “I love you” — were aimed at Rouleau, but her first concern was about her absent brother.

    “She said: ‘Where’s Matt?’” said Randy Walker, adding that his son had become emotionally overcome when his sister was wheeled away for her surgery.

    “She wanted him to know that she was OK,” said Randy Walker.

    At the time, Matt Walker was updating the blog he started the day before about his sister at lizmeagan.blogspot.com. The post was the last one for several hours — a departure from Monday’s regular updates while the surgery was under way.

    Randy Walker took over the blogging duties Tuesday afternoon, providing family, friends and folks from all over the world a comprehensive update on his daughter’s condition.

    According to him, the blog had more than 19,000 views from as far away as Germany and Japan — most of them coming after the blog’s web address was published in Tuesday morning’s edition of The Times Argus.

    “It’s crazy,” he said. “It makes you wonder how people all over the world are checking this out.”

    david.delcore @timesargus.com

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