Coming Home

Well, it took a few days longer that we’d hoped… But on a grand scale we actually made incredibly good time at getting back home to Utah. The ICPC came through late on Monday… unfortunately too late to do anything about it. So – Tuesday morning arrangements began to be made for the air ambulance. We were scheduled to leave Michigan at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Since space on the plane was limited, and there were things to do at home, Howie flew home Tuesday as soon as we’d made arrangements. I stayed behind to tie up the last loose ends and to take care of Patrick.

Of course, the best laid plans… Weather and mechanical things put the air ambulance enough behind that they had to take an FAA required break… So instead of leaving at 2 p.m., they finally made it to the hospital at midnight. I did my best to sleep before then… but Patrick wasn’t too keen on that idea so I was pretty tired even before I left.

The trip home was a very unique experience. 3 flight nurses and 2 EMT’s showed up around midnight and talked to the nurses at Beaumont to make sure they understood Patrick’s needs. Then, we wrapped him up in the snowsuit I’d bought for him at the last minute and strapped him into the carseat, which had been secured to a stretcher.

We made our way out through the ER of the hospital and were loaded into an ambulance. When transporting an infant, their biggest goal is to keep them warm… So the ambulance was a bit like a sauna. It took 45 minutes to get to the airport in Pontiac.

They put me on the plane first to get settled while they got things warm and ready for Patrick. Then they brought the rest of everything along. (Everything means Patrick in his carseat and a tiny little vital signs monitor and a tiny size pump for his TPN). Plus the flight nurses. We rode home in a leer jet so the space was quite cramped, but pretty comfortable. There were two nurses, a respiratory nurse (to make sure Patrick didn’t get hypoxic), and two pilots.

We flew at 70,000 feet because there is less turbulance at that altitude, so the climb took forever. But Patrick, who’d been asleep since we’d put him in his snowsuit, barely stirred. Once we reached altitude, I got to trade seats so I was closest to Patrick. But he was determined not to wake up. I had to work really hard to get him awake enough for his feeding, and then he fell asleep again right away.

Since he was determined to sleep, I went back to the comfier seat myself and tried to get some sleep in. I think I slept for about an hour and a half, and then woke up on time to start recognizing the silhouettes of mountains. One of the most stunning sights from the flight was the moon setting over the rockies, seen through the front windows of the jet.

We landed at the Salt Lake Airport about 4:30 and it took about 40 minutes to get loaded into the new ambulance and up to the airport. We found the NICU at just about 5:30. The hospital staff knew we were coming, but had expected us several hours before. And, for some reason, the ambulance crew didn’t think to call ahead and came in through a back entrance they weren’t expected to use… so we caught them a bit off guard.

They did an exceptional job through getting us in. I guess that, although the hospital had been in communication with the GI accepting Patrick, that information didn’t get passed along to many people. So, fortunately, the staff at Beaumont had done a great job educating us and we were able to help provide the basic information they needed to get started with his care.

They did pull me out to do some admissions and orientation stuff. And right about then the stress of the past day and the flight hit me. I was so glad for a stash of food and water in my bag because for a few moments there I was sure I was going to pass out. Fortunately, Howie finally got to us (he’d missed us because we came in an unexpected door) just as I hit the non-functional state and was able to take care of the most crucial things there.

Then, with Patrick mostly settled, we went home to get some much needed rest. I would have liked to spend a few hours with him, but I’d about hit my limit. So we got home at 7 a.m. Boy was it nice to see my own car and my own house!

We slept a few hours then got up, put the 200 some odd pictures we took in Michigan into a photo album (Howie had all those digitals printed), and then went to Thanksgiving dinner. It was early afternoon before we made it back to the hospital but Patrick was doing pretty well when we got there. He wasn’t sleeping, he was just laying there looking at his new surroundings. (He’s in a much busier room and I’m sure was confused).

That night, he got to meet my dad, his grandpa, for the first time.

Now we’re just trying to get things settled. We brought stacks and stacks of pages from his chart in Michigan with us. But- as we’d been warned they would- for most information they are relying on us to help explain. Again, we are so grateful for those doctors and nurses who took time to make sure that we really understood everything from Patrick’s care to his treatment, tests, and diagnosis.

This is a bit of a big adjustment for us. Different hospitals do things in different ways. Of course, the hospital wants to do their own assessment, so we’re repeating some things. He has to earn his way back off of pulse-ox and back into a crib. But they’re also being pretty proactive in his care. They’ve tried continuous feeding… but it sent his output levels through the roof. So now we’re trying progestamil by mouth… and he seems to be doing fine with it. We’re hoping to be transferred into the infant unit instead of the NICU pretty soon… but that all has to wait till the end of the assessment period, so it may still take some time. Some of the fun changes in this hospital are that we are dressing Patrick ourselves and he gets a bath 3 nights a week. I got to give him a bath last night, and boy oh boy did he love the baby lotion massage afterwards.

We expect things to pick up once we make it through the weekend. Yesterday, as people came back from the holiday, we started to meet some of the important people who’ll be involved with Patrick’s care. Monday we expect to see the most progress as things are finally back to work as usual.

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