Monday following Thanksgiving, we woke up to Patrick making the weirdest whining noise. Brian got up to check and at first couldn’t find anything wrong. But Patrick just kept whining, so Brian got a flashlight and went hunting. Then he spotted the problem – blood! Patrick had picked off his central line dressing at some point during the night and at one point or another had snagged the line and broken it. He was soaked in TPN from the side that was running and bleeding from the broken line on the other side.
I’d prefer never to have my son break a line at 2:30 a.m. I hate to imagine what would have happened had he slept through it!
At least, though, I’d just been in his room 15 minutes before and knew the line had been ok then.
It broke at a previous repair and both lumens were damaged, so we knew we needed to get the line repaired ASAP to avoid infection, hypoglycemia, or other problems.
I clamped off and cleaned the end of the line and covered it with a sterile dressing. Then, we got dressed, packed, and loaded into the car.
Brian drove because it was snowing.. actually, by that point it had been snowing for almost 24 hours without stopping. The roads were ice and snow.. the worst driving day of the year so far. The plows couldn’t stay ahead of it. And we were headed up to the hospital on the hill. I often wonder who had the brilliant idea to put two of the region’s premier hospitals up in the foothills of the Rockies.
I have dreaded the idea of having to get to the hospital in an emergency in the snow. Never would have been enough on that one, too.
But, taking surface streets in our 4 wheel drive jeep, we made it there and in plenty of time.
We’d called ahead, so they had a room waiting for us… but as it was a the middle of the night on a holiday weekend… we knew that things could still be slow.
We just didn’t know how much that would affect us.
They’d called ahead for a repair kit for Patrick’s line when we called to say we were on our way. However, lines don’t usually break in the middle of the night when children are supposed to be still and sleeping. So the night staff wasn’t sure where to look. They just knew they couldn’t find one in the usual place.
They said wait for materials to get in at 6 a.m. So we waited. Patrick’s blood sugar was holding OK and we were sleepy so we put on some Elmo and went to sleep.
At 6, they still couldn’t find anything. The computers said there were 4 in stock. But they couldn’t find them. They said, “We’ll keep looking.”
By 9, materials confirmed that they didn’t have a repair kit in stock. This is definitely a scenario I NEVER wanted to encounter! If a line isn’t repaired immediately a lot of things can go wrong. Blood can clot in the remaining portion of the line. Bacteria can get in through the exposed open end. Basically, we could lose the line if we waited to long.
And that’s not considering the effects for Patrick of going without TPN. The best case scenario would require staying in the hospital with maintenance fluid running through a peripheral IV.
This is when I started getting creative. Remember last summer when Patrick broke his line 3 times in 3 days? And I had to repair the line in the middle of Idaho? Well, I didn’t want to go all the way to Yellowstone without the means to repair the line if it broke again. So I started saving the unused pieces of repair kits. Every kit has 3 different repair tubes for different types of breaks, so I kept all the unused pieces still in their sterile packaging.
And, wanting to be prepared for emergencies, I never threw them away.
So, since the hospital didn’t have anything to fix the line with, we sent poor Brian back out in the storm to get my makeshift repair kit.
Finally, around 10:30 a.m., he returned with the necessary supplies and IV team came and did the repair. By then, Patrick had been without TPN long enough that he was thirsty and tired and his blood sugar was starting to fall. So, we asked for a peripheral IV to be placed so they could give him some fluids and sugars while we waited for the glue to dry.
We watched some more Elmo, played with blocks and cars, and slept as much as we could. Patrick was tired enough that he agreed to cuddle up and sleep next to me in a big bed.. which I was grateful for, as I was exhausted, too.
At 2:45 p.m., the glue was finally dry enough to restart the TPN and we were discharged 12 hours after the adventure started.
Amazingly, the line worked and he so far is infection free. This is even more amazing, since 2 days later his tubing came unscrewed and I woke yet again to find him sleeping in a puddle of blood. Brian was away on business that day… (Another time never would have been enough. It took 96 oz. of hydrogen peroxide to get the stains out of his clothes and sheets. And yet, his blood count that evening was completely normal.)
The only thing wrong really since our adventure has been some really bad stomach upset again, the kind he usually only gets when he has bad bacterial overgrowth, a virus, or an infection. We’re treating for the bacteria and watching for the others. So far, two lab tests have confirmed his white counts are normal, a sign that there is no infection or illness in his body… So we are just hoping that the antibiotics help his gut get back to “normal” soon.
I know we’ve been really spoiled lately with good health. But I’d still prefer not to whiddle down my “never” list any more in the near future, as far as Patrick’s health is concerned at least.