Worth the wait

Last week was one of the harder hospital stays we’ve had, and I think it’s because there was so much waiting for answers to scary questions… and while we waiting Patrick didn’t feel all that sick and couldn’t figure out why his boundaries were suddenly so much smaller. Had he not discovered opening and closing cabinet doors as a way to spend his time, I think I’d have been a goner.

After 3 days, the lab tests showed that the infection was, in fact, the same infection Patrick had back in January. This type of bacteria can sometimes live in the plastic of a central line. The doctors theorize that the reason Patrick only sometimes had low fevers and only sometimes acted sick was that the infection was living in the line and only sometimes making its way into his bloodstream.

The best way to make sure Patrick got better was to take out his central line. So – Thursday afternoon they took Patrick to do an ultrasound of his veins to see where a new line could be placed. Friday morning they explained a plan to me that involved removing his broviac line and putting in a temporary PICC line instead. (Please see previous blogs for descriptions of the differences between these lines). After 3 days, they’d take out the PICC line and put in a new broviac line instead.

I explained again that we’d been told that Patrick couldn’t have PICC lines because of the collateral vessels in his shoulders. But – it was better to try than to plan for peripheral IV’s in his hands and feet for 3 days.. So we went ahead.

Both the broviac removal and the PICC placement are sedated procedures and it took some talking to convince them that they could be done at the same time – but, despite a full-to-overflowing hospital, they made it happen.

We got ready by putting an IV in his hand where contrast could be injected and an NG tube down his nose to drain his stomach and make sure he didn’t vomit and aspirate again. This took over an hour to do. Patrick has learned to block tubes with his tongue as they try to pass them down his throat. It took several tries and a very crafty charge nurse to finally get it all done. With music therapy there to try to help calm him down, the room seemed a bit like chaos. In the end, Patrick was exhausted and furious. I took this picture as I tried to calm him down right before he fell asleep from total exhaustion.

Late afternoon on Friday, they took Patrick to Special Procedures where they use a technique called fluoroscope to view the blood vessels to view the blood vessels as they work.

The anesthesiologist gave Patrick a dose of Versed and let me hold him as it put him to sleep. This was a first for me, and interesting to see his reaction. First he got all giggly. They he took my face in both hands and gave me a big sloppy kiss on the mouth. They he went kind of limp and I put him on the procedure table and left as he was drifting off to sleep.

Less than an hour later, they called. They explained that he did indeed have collateral vessels that made a PICC line impossible. However, they’d put in a deep peripheral IV that would better survive the 3 day wait.

Picking Patrick up, I learned that Versed does two things to Patrick. It makes him loud, and it makes him fearless. He spent the entire ride to his room and then at least an hour afterwards yelling “Hi!” at the top of his lungs to every person who passed by.. including the ones all the way out in the hall where they couldn’t see him. He also took to jumping and climbing and bonking his head into things. (He still has a bruise between his eyes from this game).

Soon he got tired and went to sleep. And we went back to waiting. Surgery requires a 3 day wait before they can put in a new broviac line whenever one is pulled for infection. In the meantime, the sugar in Patrick’s TPN had to be reduced to prevent damage to the peripheral vein. This meant he didn’t feel quite as well. He also kept the IV in his hand because we don’t dare take out any working IV, for fear we won’t get one later when he needs it.

Patrick didn’t want to slow down, though. Within a day he’d figured out how to still crawl with a splint on his hand.. he was determined to stand at the side of his crib.. and he taught himself to sit up to make sure that no one else would be able to get away with trapping him by laying him down. It was an exhausting 3 days because he was extra motivated to stay active, despite his new restraints.

Finally, Monday rolled around and Patrick was eligible for surgery again. We waited all day, and finally Patrick’s doctor told the nurse to call and see what was taking so long. We found that his name had been accidentally left off the schedule. They added him at 4 and around 6:30 took him down to surgery.

While we waited for the anesthesiologist to come, Patrick was his usual bundle of energy. He discovered a pretty big blue button on the wall that he pushed. He was thrilled by the alarm that sounded and how quickly people made it to the room. Yes, he found and pushed the “Code Blue” button that is used to call emergency help when a patient stops breathing or worse. I caught on and cancelled the alarm as the anesthesiologist got to the room. He only got to the button once more as we talked, which just got a big grin from the doctor.

The pre-surgery talk with this doctor scared me. He explained that there were big risks in intubating when Patrick had RSV. He also explained that the surgery might take a long time, as they didn’t know for sure how hard it would be to get a line.

Again, they gave Patrick a dose of Versed and I kissed him as he drifted off then went to the waiting room – a nervous wreck. Howie joined me about 15 minutes later, and after another 15 minutes the surgeon appeared and explained that they’d easily gotten a line in.

When I got to the recovery room, Patrick was trying his best to sit up while everyone else tried to keep him laying down. An hour later, though, in the room, he was up and full of energy. Again, he was fearless. His nurse kept calling him “wild” as he would quickly try to escape guarding hands to stand and jump, etc. Fortunately, by 10 he wore himself out completely and other than being woken by vitals, slept through the night.

Tuesday morning, we were finally able to go home. We arrived home almost exactly 7 days after we were admitted to the hospital.

When you’re confined in a little hospital room, you don’t necessarily notice all the learning your child has done. Patrick is now able to sit himself up and just needs a little more practice to master crawling on hands and knees. He’s playing peek-a-boo and other interactive games. He is a HANDFUL and it seems as though it came overnight.

He was so happy to be home with space, though, and so was I! It’s so much easier to contain a tornado if it has a little bit of space to bounce around in. We’ve had to adapt some, though, to adjust to his new skills. It’s no longer safe to use the changing table.

Patrick did manage to break his line his first morning home, so we spent yesterday morning up at the hospital getting it repaired. (Big thanks are owed to the GI staff who managed this in their clinic and saved us a trip to a very overworked ER). Between that adventure and his daily appointments this week, I was quickly reminded that, even at home, keeping up with Patrick and his needs is plenty of work.

We did see his pediatrician yesterday and she was all grins as she handed me a growth chart that showed Patrick’s weight in the 5th percentile! He’s always been well under the lines on the growth chart. We’ve never even talked percentiles.

I don’t know how we’ve been so blessed that, even with infections, he’s been really very healthy for so long. But we are grateful as we take each day at a time. Some days are harder than others, but at least this week, the outcome is worth the wait.

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