A lost central line

I need to stop promising to write about transplant. Whenever I do, Patrick gets sick and we end up back at the hospital.

Thursday in the middle of the night Patrick woke up crying the inconsolable cry he only uses when something is wrong. As usual, we immediately started looking for signs of a line infection. However, his temperature wasn’t even 100 degrees (100.4 is the least his doctors consider a fever) so we fed him a bit and I sat up with him and eventually he went to sleep.

When he woke up in the morning, something was definitely still wrong, but he still didn’t really have a temperature… just didn’t want me to put him down. As we always do when he’s sick, I held him and took regular temperatures. Around 10:30 a.m. his temperature hit the magic 100.4 and I started making calls to get blood cultures drawn. Usually we have some time if we catch it that quick. However, as I started to try to make plans, his fever kept rising. At 101 I started packing for the hospital, at 102 I put some hustle into it and by the time we made it out the door his temp was 103.

Being our 3rd fever in a month, I wasn’t too happy about the return trip to Primary Children’s.

When we arrived they checked his vital signs and then they did something they’ve never done before… instead of finishing the standard check-in process, the triage nurse disappeared for a minute and then came back and took us straight to a room. And not the typical room, either… They took us into one of the “resuscitation”, a.k.a. trauma, rooms. Patrick’s temp was over 104 and his pulse near 200. He had a serious infection and was in shock.

They quickly worked to cool him down with cold packs and fever reducers and eventually he was looking and feeling better.

Labwork revealed that Patrick had a yeast infection in his central line. Since yeast gets into the plastic of the line, it had to be removed. It has to stay out we are sure the infection is out of his blood. In the meantime, he has a peripheral (in the hand or foot usually) IV. You can’t give full TPN through this type of IV so he’s getting a sugar/saline solution instead.

So now we are in the hospital waiting out the infection so that Patrick can get to feeling better. He doesn’t get as much sugar as he’s used to so he’s lacking energy. The IV antifungal medicine upsets his stomach we think. He’s getting rather stir crazy. The two things that bother him the most, though, are 1) the blood draws they wake him for at 6 a.m. every day and 2) the splints on his foot and hand to keep him from damaging his IV.

He’s just not himself these days. Keeping him calm is a 24/7 job for me. I’m basically living at the hospital while Howie works, manages the house, and does his best to take care of me. But we can’t imagine doing it another way… Patrick is fighting hard to get healthy and needs support in the fight.

I have to share one example, though, of Patrick’s indominable spirit. This morning we added the IV to his hand and so he woke up to having a splint put on that immobilizes his left hand. For the first part of the day he’d look at his hand and just whimper… he’d try his best to hold it still. Finally later in the day the nurse helped me get some toys that work with the touch of a button so he could use his splinted hand to play with them. After some work with that he started to get a little more adventurous.

He got a wrapper in his free hand and was playing with it and, after some work, he managed to hold the wrapper with the fingers on his splinted hand. He worked on that for a good 15 minutes, then he reached over and grabbed my hand with his free one. Using his new skill, he put my finger where he could hold it with the fingers of his splinted hand.

Patrick is an amazing kid. This is one of the hardest trials we’ve seen him go through so far… However, tonight’s adventures show me that he is determined to push the limits that his imperfect little body give him.

We hope that he’ll be able to stay healthy for a couple more days, have a new line surgically placed midweek, and then be able to come home for the final weeks of his recovery from this infection. If any little spirit is strong enough, Patrick’s certainly is.

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