Tag Archives: output v. hydration

When the cat’s away, the mice will….

…Well, the idea was to play. This is the 2nd and last night that Brian will be away on business and I thought that, other than a Wednesday full of appointments, I had a pretty laid back schedule. So far, this past few days have been anything but laid back.

Wednesday morning, right after kissing Brian goodbye, I went to set out Patrick’s morning fluids. They weren’t cold. This was especially concerning as I’d been setting the fridge to colder and colder settings all week and there was snow on the ground outside.

So, as Brian was finishing up his last work before heading the airport, I was scrambling to shop for a new fridge. Thankfully, Patrick’s morning therapy appointment was cancelled which gave me just enough time to hit a few stores before his nap.

After his nap, we went to his monthly appointment with his GI at the hospital. All the news is good. Patrick is growing at a good rate right now… he’s still 50th percentile for weight… just above the target weight for his height. His liver is healthy. He’s about as stable as can be.

The only change we discussed was a change to his antibiotic regimen. Patrick takes oral antibiotics to help keep bacteria from accumulating in his stomach and gut. Only lately, it seems that he’s had more and more problems that lead to stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. So we switched around the medicines a little bit in the hopes that a new plan would make a difference, and then headed out.

We stopped at Sears on the way home to pick up the fridge that I’d picked out. You should have seen the look on the man’s face when I told him I wanted to put it in my car with my baby. Patrick wasn’t too excited about the idea either.

Still, we made it home and got the fridge up to his room and furniture and Patrick ready for bed.

We’d almost made it.. and then, as we were saying goodnight to Brian by video chat, Patrick stepped on the tube that was draining from his stomach and I heard a “pop”… and looked down to see that his button on the floor, the balloon that was supposed to hold it in still inflated.

Thankfully, my neighbor answered when I called and came quickly. It wasn’t easy, but we managed to get the button back in and Patrick comforted and into bed.

Thankfully, today was easier. Patrick and I managed to stay home the whole day with time to help my sister with a paper for school. But I got to talk to the GI clinic several times.

I started it. I called them to talk about how very difficult and painful placing buttons has been recently for Patrick. So first the nurse called back to find out more. Then Patrick’s dietitician called to talk to me about his TPN orders.

Apparently, as Patrick has had more and more stomach upset, and we’ve had to give more and more replacement fluids, his labs have been showing increased dehydration. They decided to try to make some changes to help him be more comfortable. They’re adding another half a liter of fluid to his TPN, plus some electrolytes so that we won’t have to give as much to catch up for what he loses.

Then, this evening, Patrick’s doctor called to talk. We reviewed the plan for hydration, and then he asked about the g-tube.

In the end of the conversation, we decided it was best to check to make sure that there isn’t a space between Patrick’s abdominal wall and his stomach making it hard to get a g-tube in. They’ll do that by taking out the tube, and then putting it back in filled with some contrast. This will let them see if there are any spaces or leaks to be concerned about.

We talked about doing this tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then sometime next week. The good news in the plan is that they’ve offered to give him a little bit of sedative to help him calm down and not remember the discomfort.

That’s a lot of changes in just a couple of days. Thankfully, I’ve had all the right help come at all the right times. Thank goodness for good friends, visiting teachers and family who’ve been there to help. And I’m sorry for those who may have called and gotten a frazzled forgetful me who couldn’t even think through all the details of this, let alone speak them.

Most of all, thank goodness for a good-natured, patient, loving little boy who has been incredibly cooperative and given hugs at all the right moments.

Brian may rethink his next business trip.

Outpatient

Last entry, I wrote about Patrick coming down with a common childhood illness and how much more complicated that is for him.

Well, as predicted, this illness definitely had it’s impact. The day after that blog entry, Patrick started throwing up. As it turns out, herpangina, better known as Hand, Foot and Mouth is caused by a series of viruses that live in the intestines. Symptoms indicate that Patrick’s was caused by one called “enterovirus.” As a result, Patrick started to lose so much fluid by g-tube that I was having a hard time keeping up replacing the fluid.

By the time Brian got home from work, he was pale and weak, running a fever, and we were worried. I put a call into Patrick’s GI to ask if they wanted to check blood cultures. By the time they called back to talk about putting in those orders, we’d changed our minds and asked if he could just come in for a night of observation. The night went well and Patrick was obviously feeling better with no additional treatment and by morning, we were asking to go back home. (Especially since we’d barely gotten any sleep.)

By early afternoon, we had been officially discharged when we discovered another problem. When I went to connect the TPN, one of Patrick’s lumen’s wouldn’t flush at all. I tried a few times without success. But we were sleepy and his nurse timid. We’ve unclotted lines lots of times at home. He still had one working lumen, so I said “let’s go.” On the way home, I made calls to get the anticlotting agent sent to me.

All night long I tried to work it, getting up every couple of hours to try again. It just didn’t work. By morning, I knew it was a lost cause for my efforts. But by this time Brian was also sick, I hadn’t slept in 2 nights, and Patrick needed rest. So I made phone calls instead of running in. Eventually, we made arrangements to go in to have the hospital staff try to unclot the line. We arrived around 8 p.m., (we asked to wait until we’d at least had Brian’s birthday dinner with his parents)… And the nurse tried all the things I’d tried. Finally, at midnight, we declared it a lost cause and they sent us home.

Patrick’s doctor called the next day to tell me that, as we suspected, Patrick would need a new line. And we went on, finally feeling a bit better, with celebrating Brian’s birthday. We took Brian shopping for a few big wishes, then went out to dinner. That was all the energy any of us had.

I talked to surgery the next day to make arrangements for the new line to be placed. Since Patrick still had sores in his throat and his surgeon was out of town anyway, we scheduled it a week away on Tuesday.

That was a week ago today. The surgery went well. We checked Patrick in at 6 a.m. then talked to the nurses, surgeon and anesthesiologist who’d take care of him. The anesthesiologist said what we all know, “He looks a lot better in person than on paper.” Still, even minor surgeries can be major for Patrick so we didn’t really relax until his surgeon came and told us all was well.

The only complication was that Patrick was bleeding fairly easily. But that seemed to be under control. We came home and I sent Brian off on a business trip to DC the next morning.

His occupational therapist came the next morning as I was trying to find an assistant for the day-after-surgery dressing changes. Since we’ve been specifically trying to help him with those, she volunteered to help. All went smoothly and we were playing with her after when I noticed that I could see blood on the new dressings.

I peeked under his shirt to find that the old line site had bled since the change so much that it had soaked the dressing and was now soaking into his shirt. So his OT made a quick departure as I called the hospital who suggested I change the dressing again and apply pressure. It worked and he went to sleep.

But, come 6 p.m. the same problem came back. I called the surgeon on call this time and got the same instructions. They worked again, but I realized that Patrick needed to be helped to be a little less active until things healed.

Lucky for him, we’d bought a zoo pass the weekend before, so I packed him up and went to the zoo where he’d be strapped down in the stroller for the morning. It worked and we had a great time looking at the animals (I think the zoo deserves a separate post)… He only scratched off his dressing once while we were there, and I was able to get a new one on without any bleeding at all! And I managed to keep the IV tubing away from the stroller wheels until we were exiting, when they got tangled so badly they broke, but fortunately I pulled off a quick tubing change without any incident and we made it home safely and ready to nap.

He seems to be healing just fine from the surgery now… and his sore throat is gone. His tummy even was better for a couple of days. He’s back to losing a ton of fluid again this week which means either the enterovirus is still there… or he’s been exposed to something else… which is possible.

It’s work sometimes to keep Patrick outpatient, but as my next posts will show, it gives him the chance to experience the joys of life, which makes it worth all my work.

Sorry this entry is so long! Between Patrick, Brian and myself being sick at various times and me “playing Florence Nightengale” as Patrick’s case manager put it, this is the first chance I’ve had to catch up stories. I thought I’d start with the medical first so I can follow with tales of fun later.

Childhood Illnesses

In the pre-transplant world, it’s good for Patrick to be building immunity. So, Brian and I have not been overprotective. Even common childhood illnesses can mean extra work with Patrick, though.

Yesterday morning, Patrick wasn’t as interested in breakfast as usual. (Not that he ever eats a lot, but breakfast is the meal he eats best.) Then he opened his mouth wide and I spotted the culprit. His tonsils were bright red and covered with little bumps.

Great. So the first question is “Is this a normal childhood thing? Or is this a complication of Short Gut?” A childhood illness we might be able to keep at home under mom’s care. However, a complication such as acid erosion or varices could mean something much more serious. Where to start?

First, call dad so he’s not caught off guard by a frantic call later. Second, call the pediatrician.

Patrick’s got one of the best pediatricians I know. However, if she’s not around, then finding the right backup doctor can be tricky. Patrick’s not a simple kid so even simple illnesses take some creative treatment. So yesterday, since Patrick’s doctor and her residents were all booked up, the scheduler did some digging and found me a pediatrician in another office.

At noon it was pouring rain. At 12:30 Patrick finally conceded that he needed a nap and fell asleep. At 12:45 I juggled a sleeping Patrick, diaper bag, medical history, and me out the door and into the car. There ought to be awards for moving a sleeping child without waking him – especially in pouring rain. We just made our appointment at 1.

Miraculously, the scheduler had found me a pediatrician with other Short Gut patients. (This is an especial miracle, since she relayed the message to the doctor that Patrick was medically complex because he had “Short Duct Syndrome”.) She put me at ease that what I’d seen was most likely the result of a virus that’s going around our area right now. Then we spent 10 minutes trying to get Patrick to open his mouth wide enough for her to see.

Sure enough, Patrick has Herpangina, a virus caused sore throat with blisters and sores on the throat. There’s no treatment for it, other than to try to relieve symptoms with soft foods. It’ll last about a week.

Of course, childhood illnesses aren’t simple when you’re sick enough to need a transplant.. no matter how healthy you look on the outside.

The bug has upset Patrick’s tummy that doesn’t have enough gut to absorb extra fluid with.. and too much stasis to even pass it through. So about 2, Patrick spit up for the first time. I drained 2 cups of fluid in 10 minutes from his stomach. He seemed to be feeling better eating french fries at a fast food restaurant last night… Until, of course, he ate one two many and it all came back, plus another several cups.

I never dreamed I’d be in a situation where my kid throwing up all over in a restaurant would be, first, not a surprise and second, not a disaster. It was a mess! But I knew it just meant it was time to go home and rest his tummy. Drain first, french fries second.

I’ve been running extra fluids all day to keep up with what he’s losing as I vent his tummy to prevent future episodes. And, I’ve been watching the thermometer.

See, if this illness follow it’s normal course, then Patrick will probably get a fever, too. If it gets high enough, we’ll probably start asking those questions I hate. “Do we call?” “Does he need cultures?” “Do we go to the hospital?” I hate to make him go sit cooped up in a hospital room for a little sore throat virus. But sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.

In the meantime, though, Patrick is being completely endearing and adorable today. He climbs up in my lap and moans his best pitiful moan. Then he grins and snuggles down. It took a conscious effort to not just sit and hold him while he slept today. How can you be frustrated by someone who’s so cute and patient when they’re sick?

3 months old

Patrick is 3 months old now and is starting to look and act much more like a little boy than just a baby. Oh sure he still wakes us up at night. And I can still tuck him under my arm and carry him around like he weighs nothing (of course, he’s still very small). But he’s growing (8 lbs 13 oz) reaching that fun stage my family calls “interactive baby”.

First of all, he’s started to give out smiles all the more willingly. I can bet on the fact that I’ll get a big grin whenever he wakes up and realizes I’m holding him. This past week, he’s also started to react more when I play with him. He’ll laugh and talk when I sing him songs or talk to him, and I can get him outright chuckling if I pretend to eat his cheek or tummy. He also is starting to take an interest in peek-a-boo. Of course, this is all the more incentive for me to sit and do nothing for hours besides just trying to get smiles from Patrick.

He’s taken a new interest in his toys. He loves to sit in the bumbo seat that Howie’s co-workers gave him. He’s actually learning to hold things so his gym, rattle, rings, etc. are suddenly much more interesting.

Course, he’s also learned to hold onto his central line… which is a bit more of a problem. Don’t need him grabbing that and giving it a yank. Thankfully, my mother in law modified a bunch of onesies to a design I came up with that send the line out the side instead of being right in Patrick’s reach and those are helping.He’s sleeping through more of the night and spending more of his days awake. Part of this may be that he’s finally feeling better. (His anemia is resolving himself and we are starting to get a hold on keeping him hydrated again). But I think part is just that he’s growing up.

Daddy went on his first business trip since Patrick came home this week. Thanks to all the friends and family who were there to watch over us, we made it through just fine. And now that Howie’s home, Patrick is just eating up the daddy time.

Perhaps the best news is that it was all pretty good news when we went to see Patrick’s gastroenterologist this week. If you don’t know, the past couple of weeks have been a bit scary as we almost had to take Patrick to the ER a couple of times. First, we suspected he might be developing a fever. Second, out of nowhere his stool output went through the roof and he walked a line with dehydration that we had to watch VERY closely. (Patrick doesn’t have the portion of intestine that reabsorbs fluids, so diarrhea will dehydrate him much faster than other children).

As so often has happened for us, though, the Lord was watching over Patrick. The right doctors were on call at the right times and they were able to teach us how to take care of things at home rather than taking Patrick into the ER. We had blood cultures drawn by his home nurse. He was put on an oral antibiotic to help fight any bacterial overgrowth that might be there. (With so little intestine, Patrick’s body can’t get rid of the “beneficial bacteria” that live there the way the rest of us can and he can get infections in his intestines that could cause diarrhea or worse.) He had his 2 month (yes, I know it was late) checkup with his pediatrician on just the right day so they could do labs to check for other stomach bugs.

And, in the end, the great news is that there is no sign of anything malicious that’s causing the change in output. We monitored him closely and gave IV replacement fluids at home so he wouldn’t get dehydrated. He got pedialyte instead of formula, and then watered down formula for about a week and a half. This week we were finally able to start giving him full strength formula in very small amounts (about a third of what he was getting, before… he’s up to a teaspoon now). And so far, so good. In fact, we’re on the other side of things right now where he’s not losing enough fluids… a sign that we need to increase his feeds. (We want him to need some replacement fluids because that’s where he gets his electrolytes).

So – if our emergency watch level were on the same scale as homeland security, we’ve backed down from red (severe) to blue (guarded). I’m getting to spend more time being mommy and less time being nurse.

I’m so grateful that Heavenly Father answers prayers. And I’m grateful for priesthood power in our home. Brian is an elder in our church and was able to give Patrick a blessing of healing this week. And really, the fact that Patrick is still home with us, and feeling happy and healthy, is nothing short of miraculous.
Speaking of miraculous, (as this blog post reaches an eternity in length), just a reminder that Patrick will be sealed to us in the Jordan River LDS Temple on February 13th and we’ll be having an open house to welcome him into the family that same day. Any of you who are in the area and would like to celebrate with us are invited. For those who are out of town, we’ll try to be quick in posting pictures, thoughts, and memories so you can share in the day with us.