Tag Archives: child life specialists

Transplant day 35 and no news is good news

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This is going to be kind of a nothing post, because pretty much nothing happened today. I got up as soon as Patrick woke up and told the nurse I needed to run back to the Ronald McDonald House. I had a shipment of diapering supplies there and needed to pick up Patrick’s medications from there so I could be trained on them. I did my best to finish all the work in record time but, alas, I was 5 minutes late getting back for rounds.

I’ve been beating myself up about this all day because the adjustments they made today are just so mediocre that it’s hard to feel like we are going to gain any forward momentum anytime soon. Patrick is back to full feeds. Today, they added giving enteral replacement fluid back into the mix. (I asked them to do this yesterday, but they didn’t think he’d need it because his outputs had been lower. This is the problem with a rotating team. They have to try everything new.)

And otherwise, things have just been quiet today. We did some crafts and played with toys. I drove to the west suburbs to buy a little kid’s desk I found on craigslist. My goal today was to get back to Patrick moving freely about the room to play. He stumbles a little over the IV pole, but overall has done quite well.

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Patrick and Captain Fred

We went down to pet therapy. I was going to skip it because it was naptime and because he seems pretty hesitant to interact with the dogs. (And because it’s in one of the highest traffic areas of the hospital so I’m nervous about germs.) But alas, child life popped in to invite him while I was out of the room and his heart was set when I got back. He was pretty uncertain at first, but we found one of the dogs who would shake and sit up to the side of Patrick’s wagon, and he warmed up to the idea a little.

I’m afraid this is what posts are going to look like for the next little while and I wonder if I’m going to be boring you with them. The attending surgeon this week seems to be pretty conservative and hasn’t even mentioned the possibility of discharge.. However, other than making sure that medication doses don’t need adjustment, right now, Patrick is doing pretty darn well. He’s come a long way in the past week and even in the past 4 weeks.

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We’re coming into the weekend, though, so child life adventures are over and volunteers are more sparse and other than having to do some laundry and grocery shopping to get us through the weekend, there isn’t much to be done here.

I am stir crazy, can you tell?

So let’s relive some of yesterday’s fun. I said that no video had been posted from yesterday’s news stories. But two came online today. I still can’t believe I let them put me on TV in this state.

http://www.ketv.com/news/carolers-bring-holiday-cheer-to-nebraska-medical-center/30042774

http://www.jrn.com/kmtv/news/Carolers-Spread-Christmas-Cheer-Through-Nebraska-Medicine-284705651.html

Transplant Day 34 and child life

It was so great to get Patrick to bed on time last night. He slept well and even slept in a bit. But we were up on time to catch one of his favorite volunteers first thing in the morning. I was glad she came because Patrick’s nurse was really busy and without Brian to provide backup, getting up and going was a bit of work.

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A before picture from yesterday’s bathtime

And we needed to do it quickly. Once a month, some stylists come in and give haircuts to any kids who need them. Patrick’s last haircut was in September. He definitely needed one. They trimmed off an inch and a half at least all the way around. The pile of hair was huge.

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During the haircut

He looks and feels a lot better.

Then we came back up to the room to wash off the hair clippings and the volunteer came back again. She did some of Patrick’s homework with him while I made his bed.

The team came for rounds. Patrick’s to do list before discharge is getting shorter and shorter. He looks and feels good. He is back to full feeds and off of TPN. But his rejection medication levels have been pretty unpredictable and they are trying to find the right balance of keeping the fluid out of his lungs while still keeping him hydrated. That and some training for me are about what’s left… assuming nothing else pops up, which certainly can happen.

Next, it was time for the hospital’s annual Christmas caroling. We went with the music therapist and pharmacy students and some other kids and families to sing to the other patients around us. It was fun to see it actually bringing smiles to people’s faces. Patrick didn’t much care for it, but enjoyed the wagon ride. And it meant he got to play with the Child Life specialists a little bit.

When we first arrived, we were the only family to show up. And there were news crews there to cover the event, so that meant they asked us for an interview. Mind you, I was unshowered, no makeup, wearing a bright purple t-shirt and a bright orange Santa hat Patrick had decorated for me.  But hey, it’s a little way to give back. So we shared that side of me with Omaha to day.

Amazingly, I was able to get Patrick down for a nap on time. This was good as Wednesday is a school day. Thanks to a sweet hospital mom friend, I even had a yummy lunch to sneak in eating during this time. Patrick’s teacher comes a little after 2:30. He certainly could have used a longer nap. In fact, he cried big fat tears when I woke him. But once his teacher was here, he was happy to play and learn with him. And it gave me a good excuse to clean up the room so that the little table in his room was ready as a place for them to work.

We wrapped up our day with some time doing puzzles in the playroom, making our daily Christmas ornament, and video chatting with some friends back home. He’s still clumsy and weak, but didn’t need pain medicine all day. He is walking mostly on his own and since it’s been over 4 weeks, is even ok with getting up and down by himself.

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When it was time to eat, Patrick told me what to make for dinner and asked to have some. That’s the first time he’s chosen to put food in his mouth in a couple of weeks, so I was thrilled.

And now, if we’re going to stick to a regular schedule, it’s time for me to get him to bed. Especially since I need to make a trip back to the Ronald McDonald House first thing in the morning.

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Gotta say, though that our first day alone didn’t go off too badly. Of course, child life had activities planned for us or sent volunteers for most of the day. But I’ve learned that even when we are outpatient, we are invited to come over for all of these events. So movie night and craft times and all of the fun stuff is still available to help us pass the time.

Transplant Day 33 and back to being a kid

You’re going to love this update.

Today has been a very good day. I got back to the hospital to find Patrick just waking up. One of Patrick’s primary nurses who loves him and really advocates well for him was back on today, so I knew things were headed in a good direction. We did our usual morning routine, including a bath that he didn’t want to do because he hates getting up and coughing till it makes him sick. But we got through it and then Daddy said it was time to go to the playroom.

At first, Patrick was just as fearful of walking. But we got into the playroom and he saw a toy he wanted and he couldn’t describe.. So he got himself up off the floor and walked over to his dad to get it. Yup.. We are 4 weeks post-transplant and his abdominal strength should be coming back. Apparently, the pain from Saturday’s surgery is getting better, too.

We stayed in the playroom for 2 hours. Part of that time, Brian went back to the room to pack. When finally I could tell he was getting bored by the number of toys strewn on the floor (where they aren’t supposed to be) I grabbed his wagon and suggested we go for a walk. From time to time Patrick gets a card with cash in it. This week, there was a book fair downstairs so I suggested we go pick out a book. He was really excited about this! When he saw the giant dry erase book, he was sold. Letting him pay with his own money for the first time was priceless.

Then, we came back up to the room and it was time to leave to get Brian to the airport. Patrick got to take his new book and go sit at the nurses’ station. They told me they were also taking him downstairs for craft time.

So, after saying goodbye for a few weeks to my husband and best friend (hard, no matter what) I decided I had time to do a little something for me. I’d heard that the casserole from last night’s dinner at the Ronald McDonald House was amazing and decided to go get some. (Yup. It lived up to the description.) Then, I went upstairs to our room and put a bedrail and mattress protectors on Patrick’s bed so it will be ready when he gets to go there. And I headed back to the hospital.

Well, I got there at 3:05 and found that Patrick was back upstairs in the playroom. And they had already gotten him a volunteer and promised him painting. I asked if he would like for me to stay and he said that, no, he’d like his friend to himself. So I came back to the room and did some things on my computer while he played for a couple more hours.

All told, Patrick got to decorate a Santa hat, make a bracelet, make a jingle bell shaker, paint some pictures, and just generally play with toys. Then he came back to the room and was ready for some myself time and spent another hour playing with playdough.

The ward (church) called a new compassionate service leader on Sunday. She called tonight to see if she could bring me pot pie. After having stuffed myself on chicken cheese stuffing casserole at lunch (thinking dinner would be light) I am going to bed with a super full tummy. Also, she is crazy super nice. She has only been in the ward a little over a year and got leukemia and had to have a bone marrow transplant right after.. so she knows this hospital and life being sick and being new in the area and the whole shebang. She made pot pie so I could have comfort food. Patrick loved her visit, too.

After dinner, I got him up and we went for another walk, and then climbed up into bed. We called grandma to video chat until I could see his eyelids dipping. Then the nurse came in, gave him his meds, and he went off to sleep.

Today Patrick is off oxygen and doing well enough we dared to take the cannula off of his nose. He is sleeping lying flat in his bed with both oxygen saturation and heart rate perfectly normal. This is a huge comfort for me as I consider trying to decide when it is safe for him to go outpatient. Breathing while I’m sleeping, check.

The other great news is that after needing to go back on TPN for a few days because of the problems with his stoma, they put him on full feeds and turned off the TPN tonight.

So, all-in-all not a bad day.

We have bacteria species, and a plan to try to stay at home

From our hospital stay 2 weeks ago: Playing with another family from our support group. Daddies are awesome!

From our hospital stay 2 weeks ago: Playing with another family from our support group. Daddies are awesome!

We’ve been home for a couple of days now. By Sunday evening, Patrick was feeling 100 times better. He started talking and playing again. We went to the playroom and raced cars down their giant car ramps. His cousins came to visit and while we waited for them, he was playing around in the lobby by walking every silly way he could think of, including with his eyes covered.

But the night shift rolled around and, yet again, they didn’t send up his melatonin on time. And the pumps didn’t like running TPN, lipids, and antibiotics all at once. And he didn’t get to sleep till 11. And then he woke up vomiting (because his g-tube had to be clamped because the medications had been late).. not once, but twice. Only the melatonin had come up by then and so he couldn’t wake up all the way and it was well, just sad..

From two weeks ago: Pushing Daddy in a wheelchair as a form of occupational therapy. Heavy work=happier child

From two weeks ago: Pushing Daddy in a wheelchair as a form of occupational therapy. Heavy work=happier child

And by morning, I was fed up. It’s time to go home when hospital routine is making him feel sicker instead of better. So I asked them if we could finish up care at home. And they agreed. (With some cautions, but agreed.)

And so we came home and the antibiotic thankfully was due just once a day.. and so we all got to visit with Brian’s family who has been in town visiting, and then we got to go to bed and sleep at night. First time in 3 weeks that I didn’t have to be up at midnight for antibiotics.

And we’ve all been feeling much better.

One of the joys of our July hospital stay was the discovery that because we have a Physical Therapy goal to learn to ride a tricycle, if the doctors order physical therapy for Patrick, he's allowed to borrow a bike. He learned to ride a tricycle during that hospital stay.

One of the joys of our July hospital stay was the discovery that because we have a Physical Therapy goal to learn to ride a tricycle, if the doctors order physical therapy for Patrick, he’s allowed to borrow a bike. He learned to ride a tricycle during that hospital stay.

Well, except for Patrick this morning. Again today, naughty behavior has been emerging. And the nausea, which never completely went away, seems to be getting worse. And I was really beginning to worry.

And then the phone rang. It was Patrick’s pharmacist. AT LAST they have species on the bacteria. Our two best-friend bacterias… Klebsiella Oxytoca and Citrobacter. The drug-resistant bacteria that have set up shop in Patrick’s gut. Only this time, the Klebsiella is no longer susceptible to Rocefen, the antibiotic that I threw a fit to get them to put Patrick on. It’s mutated some and that drug won’t work anymore.

One of the best ways to pass time when you don't feel well in the hospital is doing crafts. This past week, Patrick discovered glitter glue and puff paint. Our lives will never be the same.

One of the best ways to pass time when you don’t feel well in the hospital is doing crafts. This past week, Patrick discovered glitter glue and puff paint. Our lives will never be the same.

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So tonight, they’ll be sending me a new antibiotic called ertapenem. And they’ll be sending a nurse to keep and eye on Patrick during his first dose.

And hopefully by tomorrow, he’ll be feeling better.

Primary Children's Hospital has it's own LDS branch (congregation of the Mormon church) and every Sunday, volunteers will bring primary lessons and longs to any kid who wants them. Here's Patrick enjoying singing time.

Primary Children’s Hospital has it’s own LDS branch (congregation of the Mormon church) and every Sunday, volunteers will bring primary lessons and longs to any kid who wants them. Here’s Patrick enjoying singing time.

But I’m still happy that we’re home. Because at least he’s sleeping through the night. And I can keep a better routine so he doesn’t feel as sick. The good news is that this new medicine can still be given just twice a day and we can all still get some sleep. I certainly trust that things will work more smoothly with our GI writing orders instead of an intern, and our home care pharmacy and home nurse helping provide his care. No missed or forgotten doses of medications. And there is still a tiny chance that I can catch up on dishes and laundry. And feed us something other than cafeteria food. I think we are all happier at home. Even if Patrick does miss visits from Child Life with fun new toys to play with.

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One of Patrick’s favorite people in the whole world: Jo from child life. She is the sunshine of every hospital stay.

 

All too familiar

Here we are again. Back at Primary Children’s hospital – battling yeast yet again.

Sunday morning, Patrick developed a fever. It started low, but after a couple of hours, it was evident that he didn’t feel well. It seemed to both Brian and myself that he was trying to communicate with us that he wasn’t feeling well and needed help.

We’d made it through 2 hours of church, but decided it best to leave before Sacrament meeting was over. We got home, took his temperature – 101.4 – and he was starting to have chills. So we packed up and headed to the E.R. as quickly as possible.

Once we arrived, things were pretty much the usual drill.. they gave him some Motrin, took his history, drew blood cultures and started antibiotics and antifungals.

It didn’t take long for us to get into a room. But we started out right away with excitement. Before the nurse had even finished her initial assessment, Brian noticed hives forming next to Patrick’s ears. Within 5 minutes he was covered with hives from head to toe and his lips and eyes were starting to swell. They turned off the antifungal medicine and the reaction stopped and started to reverse. We think that they ran that medicine faster than his body’s used to and it caused the reaction, but it was a very scary moment to think that our preferred antifungal medication might suddenly have become off limits.

That night, Patrick was really, really sick. His fever reached over 104 degrees and he was sick to his stomach. We barely slept at all. The only rest he got was if he had both Tylenol and Motrin in his system. The problems continued through the next day and the antibiotics and antifungals didn’t seem to be making much difference until afternoon when his fever finally broke for the first time.. But his blood cultures stayed negative all day.

Around 8 p.m. a doctor came to visit us, though, and gave us results. Patrick has yeast in his bloodstream again.

The rest isn’t unexpected, but that doesn’t make it easier. Today’s been scary, stressful, and exhausting. Especially since Patrick is not cooperating with me about sleeping in his bed and neither one of us has had a good night’s sleep since we got here.

We talked to the doctors early and they confirmed that we needed to pull out his line. They also explained that Patrick’s spleen, yet again, is sequestering platelets and his blood counts are falling to dangerous levels. This means transfusions again with all the potential complications that come with that.

We spent the morning getting a little more settled in. Social work and child life came to visit. Child life talked about ways that we can help Patrick to be less afraid while he’s here. They brought him a baby doll with a little oxygen mask and blood pressure cuff to show him that they’re ok. He gave the doll lots of kisses and snuggles.. But took the blood pressure cuff off.. I think he was protecting it. They came along to all the following tests and surgery, too, to help minimize the trauma of these procedures. This was a new experience, but he seemed to enjoy it.

We went down to ultrasound around noon. They were looking for fungal balls in his organs. The poor radiology tech and radiologist were very confused trying to understand the anatomy they were seeing. I tried to explain that his gut looks funny and that his gall bladder is so small it’s almost invisible.. but they still were pretty sure his small intestine was his gall bladder. As we were leaving, the technician said “He looks so healthy, though”.. implying that on the insides he looks far from healthy.

When we got back from ultrasound Brian was waiting for us. He’d been given the afternoon off of work to come help. I was so grateful he was here!

We hurried and got ready for surgery. Just as we were about ready, the resident from the infectious disease team came to examine Patrick and take a history. Surgery showed up to take us down before he’d finished his exam. Patrick was jumping on the bed. I said to Brian “He’s just jumping because he knows he’s about to loose his foot”, referring to the fact that he’d come back from surgery with an IV in at least one foot. The guy from surgery looked up and said “Wait. What? Do I have the wrong kid?” We had a good laugh after that.

We went down to surgery with the child life specialist and infectious disease doctor in tow. After talking to the anesthesiologist, we sent Patrick on his way in a crib full of toys. Then we sat down to finish the history with infectious disease. Before we finished, Patrick’s surgeon came in.

Dr. Rollins, the surgeon, talked to us about what a dangerous situation we are in as Patrick is running out of more and more places to put lines. We’re aware of this, but hearing it vocalized by our surgeon made it all the more real.

Worse yet, he called from the OR as they were trying to place peripheral IV’s to tell us that they couldn’t get them in and to ask my permission to put in a “shallow central” line in his leg or neck. Apparently, they’d stuck him 8 times attempting to place a peripheral IV.

In the end, though, they got 2 peripheral IV’s in. Infectious disease didn’t like the idea of using a central line at all and asked them not to leave one in. So we find ourselves in a scary position now. Patrick needs IV’s for his nutrition and medication. He also needs to have labwork drawn to keep a close eye on his fragile health.. and we don’t know where else they can get needles in.

After talking to the surgeon, they let me go back to the recovery room where I found Patrick just by following his screams. He was hysterical and they told me that the anesthesiologist had prescribed me as his pain medicine. So I sat and rocked him and eventually got from screams to whimpers to sleeping.. But that was the situation for the next 5 hours or so. Patrick screamed bloody murder whenever anyone but me or Brian touched him. He was only content being held and rocked by one of us.

He just woke up about half an hour ago, though.. and for once seems back to himself. They gave him medicine for nausea and started his last transfusion of the day and it seems to have him finally feeling better. The best news is that he doesn’t have a fever.

Right now, he and his daddy and playing with toys in his crib. He’s not 100%, but doing ok for now.

Prayers for IV’s to last, for veins to be found when needed, and for Patrick to feel comfort in a very scary situation would be appreciated.

The attending from infectious disease explained that they don’t think this is the result of an untreated infection. The previous infection didn’t grow back. Instead they think these infections are coming from his gut.. and we don’t know how to stop that for now.

A lot is still up in the air. I’ll post more as I know it.