Transplant Day 41 and Home Away from Home

Ok – lest there begin to be rioting in the streets, I am grabbing a moment with Patrick finally sleeping. I can’t get my laptop to work inside my room at the Ronald McDonald House and my brilliant husband isn’t here to fix it.. So the only way I can get both internet and a keyboard is to sit in the kitchen.

So – here I am. What can I tell you about the past few days?

Monday morning, Patrick was looking and feeling great. The labs confirmed that Patrick’s medication levels were in the safe range. That meant that it was ok for him to be discharged from the hospital. I’d forgotten what a big feat that is when you are setting up all new home care. All day long I cleaned and packed and then tried to throw in playing and resting time with Patrick. He was excited so he couldn’t fall asleep to nap, but as the day wore on that meant that he was more and more tired, and therefore more and more excited.

The insurance company seemed to throw a kink in things right at the end, saying that Patrick’s formula couldn’t be covered through the home health agency and needed to go through a pharmacy instead. I had some worried conversation and made several phone calls and then finally decided to call directly. It turned out to not be the a problem at all, just needed to be preauthorized. But it created a fair amount of worry for a few hours.

Otherwise, though, we just sat and twiddled our thumbs until late afternoon when the pharmacists and case managers and everyone started to finally come in. I ran to the pharmacy to pick up one last prescription. It sounded easy, but took several phone calls and two trips to the pharmacy to sort it out.

Thanks to that, we ended up not leaving until 6 p.m. By then, Patrick was beyond tired and I was frazzled. We arrived at the Ronald McDonald House right before dinner time. Patrick was really scared about moving out of the hospital. He kept asking me who the nurse was going to be and if we could go back.

We had a mountain of medical supplies arrive as we did that needed to be put away. It took all of Tuesday to get things out of boxes and into shelves and drawers and otherwise in a state where I could work with them. Especially because Patrick was following behind me trying to explore and help as i worked. The room looked like a tornado hit it. I had two huge piles of laundry.  And medical supplies just overflowing.

The medications were especially intimidating to me, when it was time to start giving them I started to really wonder if I’d been paying good enough attention. But we made it through and Patrick slept for the entire night in his bed by himself. It was amazing.

The next morning, we woke early and hurried to get ready so we could get ready to meet the home nurse. We’ll be doing daily lab draws for a while to check his medication levels. They also required that someone come and watch me mix Patrick’s first batch of formula. I guess they have problems with someone mismeasuring.

However, it was nice to have the second set of eyes on the problem as it turned out that Patrick’s formula required 2 liters of water, plus nearly 3 cups of powdered formula and I ended up pouring from one pitcher to another to make the full batch.

After that, the priority of the day was moving day. We went grocery shopping and to get some things from Walmart (including a bigger pitcher). Patrick was so tired after just half an hour shopping that he was hugging me and begging me to go. But it was good to know that we had food choices in the house for him. With his allergies, he needs to have his own food.

We came back to the room and got Patrick as much of a nap as possible, but after about an hour my phone started to ring with different people checking in to see how Patrick’s first day was going. That woke him and then we were up and running again.

Patrick’s medical care is a pretty strict schedule right now.

At 7, I give him an anti-nausea medicine through his g-tube while he sleeps. We get up around 7:30 to get ready for the day. We cover his line and his ostomy to get him into the bath. Then get dressed and draw up the morning medicines. (At least the ones that are in the room.) I open 6-9 different pills and dump the powder out and mix it with water for one medication. Another 2 have to be kept in the fridge downstairs. Then I pack up the materials needed to draw labs off of Patrick’s line.

The nurse arrives at 8:30 and takes a set of vitals and draws labs. Then at 9 we give medications.

His formula has to be mixed once a day. I’m only supposed to put 4 hours’ worth in the bag at a time so we have to refill and reprogram regularly, including during the night (unless I can talk them into a bigger bag with ice with it with next month’s order.)

Dinner is at 6:30 and Patrick loves and can’t focus at all during dinner. He is all over the place when we are out in the house.

His prograf levels have been too high for the past couple of days. That means that he is struggling with insomnia. That is made worse by the fact that I can’t just lay down and sleep in his bed next to him if I’m going to be up doing medicines and refill feeds during the night.

Today, he was dead tired all day which made it really hard for him to focus on anything. We did get the laundry done. We tried to go play in the playroom, but timed it just as the volunteers who clean the toys arrived. So we went to our room and I decided to make him nap instead.

Today during nap, I figured out how to make the door stay quiet enough for me to sneak out and I was able to get out and eat lunch and move along laundry. And that made him rested enough to make it back to the hospital on time for a last-minute invite to go meet Santa.

Patrick was adorable with Santa. He thought he’d be there with his gift, but I explained we were meeting him to tell him what he wanted. So as soon as Santa came up, he told him his wishes.

Then, they gave him a gift. He tried to return it because it wasn’t what he was asking for.

It was hard to drag him away, but his teacher was coming for school today. That didn’t go great with him being tired.. But once we got past that, I was able to see a little more clearly how he was feeling. We finally ended up in the room letting him lay on the bed watching Blues Clues and that went a lot better.

And then tonight, we had a talk about the fact that I’d need to get out of his bed to take care of him but would be back. And, although it took an hour and a half to fall asleep, when he finally made it, he did so deeply and without tears.

And that’s how I’m here writing right now. I’m not doing a great job. I’m fairly distracted.. But at least you know a little bit how things are going. Patrick’s needing pretty constant supervision so even though it doesn’t seem I’m doing a lot as I describe my day, I’m working pretty constantly from the moment I woke up.

We’ll do better with time to establish a routine. And as they get Patrick’s prograf levels in range so he doesn’t feel so crazy.  I just keep telling myself, a new normal takes at least a month.. and more if it’s a big new normal.

Meanwhile, it’s nice to be where there are other moms kind of watching out for us and people cooking for us every evening. Even if it is easy to get stuck talking when I should maybe be doing other things.

Please forgive me for no pictures. I’m realizing now I left my phone in my room and can’t add pictures from it on the laptop. Maybe i’ll add a blog post just for pictures.

For now, though, I’ve got to go get back to the room before Patrick misses me.

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