Tag Archives: PICC line

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.

Our Seattle Adventure

As many of you know, Patrick had an appointment for a check-up at Seattle Children’s this week. He was scheduled in clinic for about two hours Tuesday afternoon. We decided to try to make a family vacation out of this trip (since we haven’t had a vacation since adopting Patrick.) I think we need to stop saying the word vacation in our household. It seems that Patrick thinks that vacations are taken in the hospital – this trip did not go as planned.

We flew to Seattle on Sunday. We rented a mini van and drove to visit our good friends, the Laylands who live half an hour north of the city. We had a good dinner and visit with them and then spent the night at their house.

As soon as the plane touched down in Seattle, my nose started to run. At first I was sure it was allergies, but by the next morning there was no question that it was a cold. But, we were determined to have a vacation, so after a quick stop at K-Mart for some cold medicine and other things, we set off for the city.

After picking up some much touted Mighty-O donuts and checking into our hotel, we headed to the Seattle Aquarium. We were in the first exhibit, a sort of aquatic petting zoo, letting Patrick play in the water and touch sea creatures when I looked down and noticed blood on his PICC line. Closer examination revealed that there was something wrong … there was definitely a leak.

So I made a quick call to our transplant coordinator and we headed back to the ER, leaving a very patient Lindy and her daughter stranded in downtown Seattle to avoid exposing them to hospital ER germs.

We were checked in quickly in the ER and sent to an isolation room at the back because of Patrick’s and my cold symptoms. Soon the IV team came to look and confirmed that Patrick did, indeed, have a cracked PICC line. And it could not be repaired.

As a result, Patrick needed to have a peripheral IV put in until he could get another central (goes to the heart) line. And he needed to be admitted to the hospital because you can’t get as good of nutrition through just a hand or foot.

Wednesday afternoon, there was finally room in the schedule to take Patrick to “Interventional Radiology” where they could place a new PICC line with X-ray imaging to guide them. They took Patrick down at about 3 p.m. At 5:30, a doctor came to the room to talk to us.

He explained that they had tried to pass the wire through Patrick’s vein to put in the PICC line and had run into resistence. So, they injected contrast into his veins and saw that there had been a clot. In response to the clot, Patrick’s body created a branch of smaller vessels to route the blood where it needed to go. This meets the body’s need, but doesn’t leave enough room to put a catheter into the vein to the heart. Because of this, Patrick can no longer have PICC lines in his arms.

They put a little bit more stable of a line in his arm then that wouldn’t go bad as quickly as an IV in his hand or foot and then gave us two options: stay here and have a broviac line put in, or fly to Salt Lake, be admitted there, and have a broviac put in.

We decided that it was best to just stay and have it done here in Seattle. The surgeons here had gone into the PICC placement procedure and had seen the problem first hand. Having Seattle Children’s put in the line also meant that he’d have it done sooner, since he could be put on the next day’s list.

Beyond that, in order to place the line, they needed to do an ultrasound study to see what Patrick’s remaining central blood vessels looked like. Since not having many available blood vessels moves you up the transplant list, we thought it was wise to have the transplant hospital have a record of what options remained.

So – yesterday Patrick had a new broviac line put in. He went to surgery about 3 p.m. and they were able to put the new line right where they wanted it. When I talked to the surgeon at 5 he sounded pretty good about how the procedure had gone.

There had, however, been one slight problem. Patrick’s stomach still doesn’t easily drain all the way. Even though he hadn’t eaten anything, and his stomach had been suctioned, it still wasn’t empty. As a result, he aspirated during the procedure. The surgeon said that they’d been able to clean out his lungs, though, and didn’t seem overly concerned. With any aspiration, there is a risk of pneumonia. He asked to keep Patrick 24 hours for observation, and then said he’d be able to go home.

I went to Patrick’s room to wait for him. When he finally made it upstairs, he was very upset. He’d curled himself into a little ball and was crying miserably. The nurse immediately set to work getting pain medications for him. And we decided to put him on monitors.

Things just seemed to get worse. The monitors showed that the oxygen levels in his blood were dropping, so we put an oxygen mask near his mouth to help keep them up. His heart rate was rising. He was breathing very heavily.

The nurse called in other nurses to help her and started taking vitals… And discovered Patrick was running a fever. They called down his doctors. While I explained the scarier things in Patrick’s medical history, his nurse wandered around the room making space to work if things got worse.

They ordered blood cultures to look for infection, gave Patrick some Tylenol, and got an X-ray of his chest.

Finally, they called the “Rapid Response Team”, which is a team from the PICU who come to the bedside. They watched him, took some tests bedside, and promised to come back to check on him within the hour.

Once all of the tests were done, I picked Patrick up again and he finally started to calm down. They started antibiotics while I rocked him to sleep. His heart rate was still high, and the antibiotics were making his blood pressure low, but he seemed to be starting to feel better.

As things started to settle down, I asked the nurse to help me reach elders from my church. One of the doctors in the room had mentioned earlier in the week that he had gone to school at BYU and we’d talked about how we’d been there the same year both studying Spanish. He spoke up and said “I can take care of that for you.” It was subtle, but we both understood that he was telling me that he was an elder and could help me with what he knew I was going to ask for.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we believe in the gift of healing by the laying on of hands by those who have authority from God. Brian is an elder in our church and had given Patrick one of these special blessings before he left. And this kind doctor subtly waited around until the nurses had left the room and then layed his hands on Patrick’s head and gave him another blessing, confirming the promises of health and comfort and strength.

Patrick slowly began turning around. His fever dropped and he started to sleep comfortably. A respiratory therapist came and tried to get Patrick to cough by pounding on his chest and back. Finally, she suctioned deep down into his chest and helped to get a lot of what was in his lungs out.

By midnight, Patrick was sound asleep. I stayed up to help the nurse get a few more things settled and went to bed. We slept till 7 a.m., when the doctors came in to check on him.

This morning, Patrick woke up with a smile. He was a bit weak and groggy at first, but has just gotten better and better all day long. Just an hour ago, he was climbing all over me on the couch in the room playing with toys and jumping. You would never know anything had been wrong.

The doctors are pleased enough with his improvement that they gave me the go ahead to book a flight back home for tomorrow. We’ll leave the hospital a little after noon to catch a 3:45 p.m. flight.  We should be home by 6 p.m.

I almost hate to write this because any time I’ve said that we were doing something this week, things have changed. But this time it feels like we really are going home. And I’ll be happy to be there.

I do have to share one example of the goodness of people in this world. While Patrick was in surgery, I put some of our clothes in the laundry room here. I got it as far as the dryer, but then when Patrick came back in such bad shape from surgery, didn’t make it back to it. I expected, when I headed back at midnight, to find my clothes piled in a basket somewhere. Instead, someone had taken the time to neatly fold them for me. This touched me because any parent using the laundry room here is doing it because their child is sick enough that they’re expecting to stay here for some time. The person who folded my clothes was certainly going through their own difficult time and would have been totally justified in being upset and offended at someone leaving clothes in a dryer. Instead, they took the time to make my day a little better.

This is just one example of the kindnesses that make raising a child with health problem so very rewarding.

Lines

Patrick just got a new PICC line.

PICC stands for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. It’s “peripheral” because it is put in through his arm (or sometimes leg) but “central” because the line then runs up through that vein into his aorta (a.k.a. into his heart).

Central lines are very important. Because they run into the bloodstream closer to his heart, they are able to put things like TPN or medications into it that would damage a smaller vein because they are too thick.  Also, because they are in a main vein, they can draw blood from it to run tests rather than having to poke him every time he needs bloodwork. (Which for Patrick is sometimes done several times a week.)

Because Patrick needs TPN to survive, he needs to have a central line. Sometimes he has a PICC line in his arms. Other times he has a “Broviac” or “Cook” line in his chest.

Lines can be lost to infection, to damage, to clotting, or to accidents that dislodge them. But every line lost is dangerous for Patrick. One of the biggest factors if his survival is continuing to have veins to put lines into and so it’s not uncommon to find us discussing what semi-heroic measures to use to make a line last just a little bit longer.

This line placement went remarkably smoothly. The procedure took less than half an hour, following by a half hour nap. Now he’s awake and happily playing in his bed. Still a bit shaky from the anesthesia, but trying his best to sit up. He must be feeling ok.

The surgery went smoothly

According to Patrick’s surgeon, the procedure went as well as could be expected.

We got up at 4:30 this morning to be able to make it to the hospital by 6:00 a.m. We discovered as we were getting him ready that his TPN pump had malfunctioned and did not run overnight. Amazingly, though, he was doing ok. I learned to use his glucometer just the day before and confirmed that his blood sugar was low, but as soon as we gave the TPN, it picked back up. When we got here, the surgeons weren’t overly concerned, since things had normalized.

We checked in as usual, put Patrick in little hospital pj’s (he’s now big enough to wear the pants!), and then waited to talk to the surgeons.

Dr. Rollins, the surgeon, came first and we talked about the plans for the day. As we discussed things, we decided that in the interest of not wasting places for a central line to go, that we would leave Patrick’s PICC line in until it becomes medically necessary to pull it. Then we visited a bit with the anesthesiologist, who looked an awful lot like Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

Then it was off to the surgery waiting room. Urology was scheduled to see him first so,  although we were tired and starving, we hung around till we talked to them. They were able to get a catheter in with minimal difficulty so they didn’t do any other procedures. They gave us written and verbal instructions to prevent future problems and then went on their way.

We grabbed a quick breakfast, then went back to waiting. Dr. Jackson, Patrick’s GI, stumbled across us in the waiting room and was excited that he could go in and see Patrick’s anatomy firsthand.

Then we had a long, long wait. We didn’t hear much over the next 3 hours. But about 12:30, Patrick’s surgeon came in smiling. Since we had a lot to talk about, we got to go to one of the consultation rooms for the very first time.

The surgery went relatively smoothly. The only thing unexpected was that the adhesions (severe scarring) that he had were worse than they’d anticipated. They had to take extra time to remove them and find the ends of his intestines.

They put the two pieces together, although they are a less than perfect fit. Dr. Rollins held up his fist and touched one finger to it and said that it looked proportionally about like that. As it turns out, he does not have any jejunum.

He has 17 centimeters of duodenum, measuring from the base of the stomach. This means he doesn’t really have any of the absorbative portion of the small intestine. He does have the left side of his large intestine, the descending colon. It is pretty apparent from what is left that the cause of his short gut was probably that the blood supply to the intestines was lost because they twisted. None of this is really new to us… but it was nice to have it finally confirmed.

They also did a liver biopsy. Dr. Rollins said that on visual inspection the liver looks relatively healthy. It is generally a good color and only a little more firm than normal. This is VERY good news for Patrick right now.

So – where do we go from here? Because the large intestine has never been used, it will need to stretch out and get used to being used. First, though, the point where the intestines were stitched together needs a chance to heal. Right now it is most likely swollen closed.

Until that point, Patrick has a tube going through his nose into his stomach that will suction out stomach acid. Eventually, his intestines will heal and adapt and that won’t be necessary.

The main goal before we can take him home is that he be able to pass stool and no longer need the suction. We’ve been told to expect about 2 weeks of recovery before this is possible. Then we can begin again to work with him on feeds.

In the short term, he’ll stay here in the PICU for a little while. Because of the amount of scarring that needed to be removed, he is in more pain. So right now he is still intubated so that he can safely be on a morphine drip. That is the plan through the night, and then tomorrow they’ll talk about extubating.

With all the tubes, though, he looks pretty good. He obviously hurts. But he has woken up and looked at me… and with the morphine, seems to be resting very well.

The rest of our day will be spent getting settled and keeping Patrick comfortable. And then just working on a quick and smooth recovery. I see all good signs here that they think he’s very stable.

I’ve got pictures to post… but forgot my card today. I’ll add them ASAP.

So what is tomorrow’s surgery, anyway?

We’ve had a lot of questions recently about Patrick’s surgery. Seems that there’s some questions about what exactly is going on. I’m going to attempt to explain what is happening in this blog post.

First, though… This is not his transplant, nor does it eliminate the need for his transplant.

Patrick is scheduled to have his small and large intestines reconnected tomorrow. To understand why this is necessary, let me tell you a little bit about his anatomy. While the average small intestine is about 20 feet long, Patrick was born with just 10-15 centimeters of small intestine. He has under a third of his large intestine. Because the large intestine has never been used, it is pencil thing. In contrast, the small intestine has been trying to adapt, which means it is larger in diameter than it would normally be. Here are a couple of images taken in April that might help you to visualize what that means.

From The Hoopes’s’s
From The Hoopes’s’s

The small intestine has three parts with 3 different roles. You can read about them here. Patrick only has the first part, the duodenum, which is very short, and an equal portion of the second, the jejunum.

The surgeons at the hospital where Patrick was born were not comfortable trying to put two pieces that were so very different in size together. Instead, they opted to create an “ostomy”, or “outward hole”. They made a whole in his side and brought the end of his small intestine out through it.

This option has it’s advantages. It’s easier to keep his skin healthy. (Patrick’s small intestine ends before stomach acid is reabsorbed so his stool can easily burn the skin.) And it’s easier to track fluids lost so that we can replace the water and electrolytes he loses. (The small intestine also ends before water and electrolytes used in digestion are reabsorbed.)

However, Patrick’s transplant surgeon and GI have asked us to take down the ostomy and connect his intestines. There are risks in having an ostomy. As his liver begins to scar, it will start looking for other ways to send blood away from it. The result is that smaller vessels will carry more blood than is usual (hyperportal tension) and a stoma could start bleeding uncontrollably.

Furthermore, the colon, while it doesn’t absorb nutrition, does absorb some bile and water and electrolytes, so in the end Patrick might lose less. This would mean he could eat more without it becoming dangerous for him.

Finally, Dr. Reyes says that he’s learned over the last 20 years that patients whose colon is in use, rather than having an ostomy, fare the wait for a transplant better. The body is happier when all the organs that can be working are. And the colon sends bile and water back to the liver, which is the liver’s version of job satisfaction. It will work better because it’s getting a positive response from it’s work.

So… the next questions you ask me are these.

1) Does this mean he won’t need a transplant as badly? No. Although the intestine does a fabulous job of adapting when it’s shortened, Patrick still is missing the vital section called the ileum where all the nutrition is absorbed. Without it, he is TPN dependent, which is where the risk to his life lies.

2) Will his diapers be normal? Well, yes and no. He will poo now. But it will still be mostly water and bile, kind of like a severe case of diarreah. We’ve been told we’ll change at least 12 diapers a day and need to use heavy duty diaper creams in order to keep the skin from breaking down in diaper rash or worse. We will also probably have to do some form of “double diapering” to prevent against explosive leaks that are common in kids with short gut and to be able to continue to monitor the fluids he loses so they can be replaced.

3) What will his recovery time be? We’ve been told to expect at least a week of recovery. He’ll go first to the PICU because he failed extubation in July. The critical care doctors will then be able to wean him off of the ventilator at a pace that is better for him. Once he can breathe on his own, he might be transferred to the infant unit… or he might stay in the PICU. It all depends on how his recovery goes.

4) Is this a risky surgery? Well, yes. With the run of infections Patrick has had lately, they are operating with him not quite as healthy as they would normally ask. There are risks of the connection leaking, or losing even more of his intestine, of the wound not healing because the skin where they are operating is so frequently exposed to stool. It’s also risky to reintubate Patrick right now. But, the risks of bleeding from his stoma are worse and Patrick is the healthiest he has been all summer, so it’s a chance we need to take.

5) What will happen on surgery day? We’ll get the time for surgery this evening. Tomorrow Patrick will fast. We’ll be admitted through outpatient surgery because Patrick’s surgeon was scheduled to be off tomorrow and added Patrick on because it was the time that was best for Patrick. The wait for surgery itself is always a bit nebulous. We’ll meet a surgery nurse and an anesthesiologist, and then finally Dr. Rollins will come talk to us.

In addition to the intestinal surgery, Patrick will have a liver biopsy, have his PICC line removed and a new broviac line placed, and have a scope done by urology to look for scarring from the catheter he had placed in July while he was in the PICU. The total OR time scheduled is about 3 1/2 hours.

We’ll wait in a parent’s waiting room where they’ll come to keep us up to date. Then instead of going to recovery, he’ll go straight to the PICU.

6) Are you nervous? It’s always hard to take your child who is healthy and happy and playing to a surgery knowing that there are risks involved… and even in best case scenario, knowing he won’t feel well for several weeks afterwards. However, we’ve been praying about this and feel calm that things will go as they’re meant to.

So – there you go. All you could hope to know about tomorrow’s surgery. We’ll do our best to keep you updated as soon as we know what’s happening. Most of the time, we’re waiting for answers, too.

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Recovering at home


I’m happy to announce some tremendous news! Patrick made a miraculous and quick recovery after my last post. The day after my last post, after much fasting and prayer by friends, family, and even people we don’t know, we walked into the ICU to find Patrick smiling and playing in his crib. He turned his head, saw Brian and me, and smiled. Over the next couple of days he continued to make steady improvement.

They gave him some steroids which helped reduce the swelling in his throat and his breathing became much less labored. Ear, nose & throat came and looked at his upper airway and determined that his vocal chords were ok and that, although he had swelling below them, that there wasn’t any evidence of scarring or other permanent damage. The only limitation that they placed on him was that he not be reintubated except for life-saving procedures for the next 6 weeks.

Neurology also came by several times in that day and watched as he progressed, began interacting with me, focusing his eyes, moving his arms and hands more normally… and in the end decided that there didn’t seem to be any evidence of a problem there that would merit further attention.

Next, they scheduled for him to go back to Special Procedures and to have another PICC line placed. Because his antifungal medications aren’t compatible with TPN, he needs two points of access. Amazingly, they were able to get a double lumen PICC placed. This means that there are essentially two tubes wrapped into one and placed in the same vein… instead of having a line in each arm. With that in place, they removed all of the other lines in his body.

The PICC made him sore, but by Thursday that was their primary complaint and they decided to transfer him out of the ICU into the infant unit.

Also Thursday he had a swallow study done. This means that they mixed contrast into apple sauce and put some him a bottle and had me feed it to him while they watched it go down his throat on floroscope. Having fasted or been fed by G-tube for 2 weeks, Patrick thought this was heaven and was furious when it was done. The end result was that he swallows perfectly… pretty amazing for a kid who is barely allowed to eat.

That confirmed, they started giving him bottles again. However, his gut had gone unused so long that it’s still working on recovering. We started out with just 2.5 cc’s every 3 hours…that’s about 1/4 tsp.

Saturday night Patrick’s PICC line got tugged and the vein started to swell. He woke up in the middle of the night and really didn’t sleep the rest of the night. We worried that it might need to be replaced again… but with some rest and elevation and heat, it slowly started to show signs of recovery.

Finally, Monday his electrolytes, stool output, feeds, and PICC line were all stable enough and at noon that day we were able to bring him home.

You should have seen how big his eyes got when we pulled into the garage! I was all grins and giggles when we walked into the house. As per tradition, once we got business squared away, Patrick and I curled up in my bed and went right to sleep. He slept till 5:30, completely peaceful.

We’ve been home for a few days now and are finally getting back into the swing of things. Family and friends have been great – bringing in meals and coming to sit with him during the day so that I can get things caught up around the house. He’s having a hard time getting used to sleeping through the night again. He doesn’t like being on his back since spending so much time in a bed. And I’m having a very hard time getting used to caring for a double lumen picc. But we are slowly moving forward and today, for the first time, has felt like routine again.

He needs to be seen ASAP in Seattle so that they can determine if he can be put back as status 1 on the intestinal transplant list. They are also looking at possibly listing him for a liver-intestine transplant, as well… since the problems with his spleen could be evidence of scarring in his liver. We have a trip planned from Wednesday through Friday next week… with appointments most of the day Wednesday. This will be my first time travelling alone with Patrick. It’ll be a process, I’m sure… But hopefully well worth the effort. If nothing else, it’ll be good practice for me.

It’s hard to believe that just weeks ago we were sure we’d lost our little boy. He has so much light and life in his spirit right now. He’s pretty weak still and we’re working on getting him back to eating what he had been eating before… And both of us have to get used to that line in his arm. But things in this house are calm and happy. It’s so good to be together… and so good to be home!

Getting settled at Primary Children’s

Arriving at a hospital on Thanksgiving morning is not the best of plans. Although we’ve been well taken care of, it took a few days before the regular hospital staff was all here and we could really start to get settled. But they’ve taken good care of him so far and we’re feeling a bit less like a family of fish out of water.

The hospital immediately started working on perfecting Patrick’s nutrition and have made regular adjustments to his TPN (iv feeding) and formula. He’s now eating 13 cc’s (maybe 3 teaspoons) of Elecare, which is a predigested formula. And, since Patrick loves eating, he still just gulps it down.

On Saturday he gave us a bit of a scare when his temperature shot up to approximately 101.9 degrees. It turns out that he’d gotten an infection in his PICC line. He’s been on antibiotics for a couple of days and today they pulled the PICC and switched his TPN to a periferal IV. (That means that it is in his hand rather than going in through a central line to his heart). He’ll have that until the infection can clear and then they’ll put in a Broviac line, which is a central line in his chest that’s a bit more sturdy so he can go home with it.

He also go quite anemic, especially when they had to start taking blood samples to check his infection so he had a transfusion this morning. His color us much better and he’s much more active and alert.

We have been getting lots of training on home care for him and are pretty good now at changing his ostomy bag… though I’ll admit that if one more person comes and shows me the same pictures of possible complications for a stoma, I might just lose my mind.

We have a care conference scheduled tomorrow morning. This means that the doctors and nurses and social workers and discharge planners will all sit down with us and we’ll talk about a plan for Patrick’s long term care. Our two main priorities are getting him listed for transplants and making plans for him to be able to go home with us until he’s big enough and an organ becomes available. After that meeting, we might be able to answer the question of when he’s coming home. I know a lot of our friends and family are dying to meet him and we appreciate your patience with us as we’ve been trying to get him settled and healthy here.

Sorry for a post with no pictures. Patrick’s due to be fed and I don’t have the time to get them off the camera. If I get a chance later this afternoon I’ll send out a post of just pictures.