Tag Archives: spleen

Transplant Day 17 and feeling better

During the night, Patrick’s temperature got higher (but just under the official fever line) until, at midnight, he woke up feeling uncomfortable. The nurse brought him some pain medicine and it seemed to break. By this afternoon, Patrick’s temperature was back to normal. Who knows what exactly triggered the change, but he certainly seems to feel better today.

Today’s been very VERY quiet. So much so that Brian and I are getting more than a little stir crazy. We held our first family Primary (sunday school) this morning. We colored. We went for several walks the entire length of the pediatric unit. Patrick and I snuggled up and read books. We played with almost all of Patrick’s toys. And we got to video chat with my family at the end of their Sunday dinner.

IMG_20141116_162649

Patrick’s feeds are up once more. And otherwise, things still seem to be moving in the right direction.

So – with so little news, I thought we’d start a little educational series about what changes transplant means.

Let’s start with what changed. Patrick was born with Short Bowel Syndrome meaning that his entire small intestine and 2/3 of his large intestine were missing. Over time, his liver has become scarred by TPN. So he had a multivisceral transplant.

This is the anatomy of a normal GI tract.

regular-anatomy

The greyed out portions are the parts of Patrick’s anatomy that were missing.

short-gut-anatomy

The in this image, the purple portions are what was transplanted.

transplant-anatomy

Patrick was given a new liver, duodenum, small intestine and pancreas. The pancreas comes along as part of the liver/intestine transplant package because those organs are all connected. To make room for the new organs (and because of other complications) they removed both Patrick’s gall bladder and spleen.

Normally, they also remove part of the stomach to make room for the transplanted organs to swell. However, because we asked for Patrick’s g-tube to be saved (because we didn’t think he’d be good long-term needing a tube in his nose) the surgeon saved most of his stomach, but divided his duodenum into a Y shape that should keep him from having too much trouble with reflux. (The sphincter of the stomach can’t be saved in this type of transplant, so they have to build in a different mechanism. Also, for some reason making the stomach smaller in transplant is important because most often the underlying disease makes the stomach not work as well.) If you follow along with medical stuff at all, this procedure is called a roux-en-y.

Having no spleen does leave Patrick with an extra level of being immune compromised. He’ll have to be on penicillin for the rest of his life. However, his spleen had been so damaged because of infection and TPN-associated liver damage that it wasn’t going to do him much good anyway.  Kids with intestine problems often develop problems with their gall bladders, too.. so that just got to go.

Obviously, this was a huge surgery, as they removed or replaced pretty much everything between Patrick’s stomach and colon. And that means a lot of immune suppressants to prevent rejection. But, the new liver will actually help prevent rejection of all the other organs.

And that is what we’ll call Patrick’s new anatomy 101.

Relieving pressure

With Patrick, there are certain chain reactions you can count on. An infection will make Patrick’s spleen go into defensive mode and hold all the platelets that pass through it, kind of like people who hear a natural disaster is coming and run to the store and buy up all the food so that they’ll be prepared in case of emergency.

When the spleen sequesters (or hoards) platelets, Patrick becomes anemic. Without platelets in the blood, there’s a lot more fluid floating around in Patrick’s veins. The veins become “leaky” and the extra fluid goes and sits in any space it can find in the body.

Eventually Patrick becomes a little marshmellow baby that feels like he’s made of concrete because of all the extra fluid he’s carrying.

Last night, we added an element to this problem. When Patrick had enough fluid in his body, it became too heavy for his lungs to be able to move oxygen well and the oxygen saturation in his body dropped.

We discovered this problem as I finally got him to bed around 10 p.m. His nurse came in and put him on oxygen and then called the doctors. This started a better chain reaction for Patrick.

The extra oxygen was enough to finally mellow him out enough to sleep. Although he just kept getting puffier and puffier and needed more and more oxygen, he finally felt well enough to sleep. His kind nurse came in and held him which allowed me to get some much needed sleep.

The doctors prescribed a diuretic called Lasix that helps make it easier to shed extra fluid from the body. With just a half dose, Patrick started to to look and feel better. By his late afternoon nap, he almost looked like himself and I didn’t think my arms were going to fall off from the effort of picking him up. Better yet, his oxygen saturation improved enough that this evening they dared take off the tube that holds the oxygen on.

The best part of this chain reaction is that as Patrick is getting to feel better.. the infection clearing now that the line is out – and an end to the fluid overload problem have made it so he can finally rest. He actually was able to take naps today at their regular times, and fell asleep right about 9 p.m… not too far different from the home routine.

I’m really happy with how today went.. We just need to  make it the next couple of days without a central line and without running out of places for peripheral IV’s.

Just wanted to share that good news. There’s probably more to blog about, but I’m going to take advantage of the change to actually get some sleep tonight without having to call in reinforcements.

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.

An excellent Seattle trip

Patrick had his quarterly appointment at Seattle Children’s on Thursday. And it was a very good trip in every way.

Because Patrick’s morning med schedule is so complicated right now, I opted to fly out on Wednesday afternoon. Our flight left at about 2 p.m. As usual, it took some effort to get through security and I probably looked insane hauling Patrick, his duffel sized diaper bag, two suitcases, a carseat, and of course, him in his stroller around the airport. But we made the flight without incident. In fact, we landed early and had time to visit and exchange blogs with a very nice woman from the same flight while we waited for our ride.

We stayed with my friend Lindy, her husband Kelly, and her little girl, Lauren. Lauren is 4 months younger than Patrick. They have always gotten along really well and it was fun to let the two of them play. Most of the play consisted of stealing each other’s toys and pacifiers.. but they did spend some time dancing to YouTube videos and there was more than one hug exchanged.

Patrick and Lindy

Thursday were the appointments. It was kind of strange to actually be seen in clinic. This is the first time since Patrick’s evaluation a year ago that we’ve done this visit in clinic instead of inpatient.

They did the usual set of vitals: weight, length, blood pressure. As we finished, another little boy about Patrick’s size came in to be weighed. He had a Broviac line and TPN in a backpack, too. I think this is the first time that I’ve ever met another kid on home TPN. It was kind of strange for me to see.

Our first visit was with Patrick’s dietician. She walked in and her first words were, “This weight looks spectacular! I had to come see if it could be correct!” She remembered meeting a tiny, frail, jaundiced baby last year. To be met by a happy, chunky, energetic (almost to a fault) toddler was a surprise.

She looked at Patrick’s TPN, his labs, and his growth charts. We talked about his current diet and in the end, she said that she was nothing but pleased with what she was seeing. She even said that it’s time to back off a bit on his feeds so that we don’t make him overweight.

It’s been recommended recently by some doctors to try continuous feeds again so I asked her her opinion of it. She told me that it’s pretty common for kids with anatomy similar to Patrick’s to stop continuous feeds after this long. She said that focusing on oral feeding so that Patrick would have an easier time learning to eat after his transplant was her preferred goal.

She also explained that some kids who’ve had problems with hypoglycemia when tiny can outgrow the problem and tolerate breaks from TPN. She watched Patrick attempt a few head dives off the bench we were sitting on and said that she thought it might be good for him to have some untethered time. This is something I’ll discuss more in depth with Patrick’s GI and dietician here. We’ve always been a bit nervous, considering his history.

Looking at books in the waiting room

Next, Patrick’s transplant nurse came in and took copies of his labs and other medical history that I’d brought with me. Then Dr. Reyes, the transplant surgeon joined us.

Again, he was excited to see how much Patrick has grown. He asked me how well he was eating and pooping since his ostomy was taken down. I explained to him all the questions that had been raised last month about whether or not Patrick had an obstruction that needed to be fixed. Then I told him that some of the doctors wondered if he needed another surgery to try to correct the problem.

Dr. Reyes’ reaction was quite direct. He said “No. We’ll get him a transplant. That will fix the problem.” He didn’t think it was a good idea to mess with things when Patrick is otherwise stable and healthy… especially if that reduces the remaining pieces of intestine.

I asked how Patrick’s reaching 10 kilos in weight would affect his candidacy for a transplant. Dr. Reyes said that that was a really big deal for him. This size changes the rules a bit for what he needs in a donor. Before, we’d been told the donor needed to be the same size as him, preferably smaller. Now that he’s bigger, they can reduce the size of a larger donor, too. His donor could be up to 6 or even 8 years old. The result is that his chances of finding a match go up.

So I had to ask if they could estimate a wait time. The answer, for all who are wondering, is still no. Dr. Reyes was careful to explain to me that Patrick’s B positive blood type is a mixed blessing. It means that there will be fewer matches. However, it also means that there are fewer waiting children with his blood type, which means his priority is higher, even while he’s healthy. Dr. Reyes just kept saying “We’ll get this transplant done.”

Next we talked about liver health. Patrick’s biopsy in September showed some early scarring of his liver. However, doctors responded quickly with a low-lipid diet and for the past several months his bilirubin and liver enzymes and other measurable signs show that his liver is relatively healthy. The clarity of his eyes and skin are also proof of this fact.

I told Dr. Reyes that we’ve been worried that Patrick’s spleen reacts so severely to infection. He admitted that the scarring in the liver was probably contributing to problems with the spleen. Recurring infections don’t help either. However, he said that a large spleen wasn’t as much of a worry if the liver isn’t also large.

Transplants are scary in a patient with a failing liver because as the liver fails, the body stops clotting as well.  Dr. Reyes said he’s not worried about that at all with Patrick. He feels safe doing the surgery. Then he said that if you fix the problems with the intestines, the liver can heal, and the spleen will get better. And he told me again, “We’ll get him transplanted.”

I asked one last question. Should we be keeping our bags packed? The answer was a resounding “Yes”. I really need to wrap my mind around that and get things in order so we’ll be ready to go quickly. The regular trips to Seattle and to the hospital here keep me practiced in packing and packing quickly – but still, it would be good to feel in some way prepared.

The mood of Patrick’s appointments was almost celebratory. His good health, his weight gain, and just the fact that we made it to a clinic visit without being admitted were all worthy of celebration.

We’ll go back again in July.

Roughousing with Lindy

The rest of the trip was pretty laid back. Lindy, who was kind enough to drive us half an hour to the appointments and then wait two hours for them to be done, took us back to her house. Patrick and Lauren crashed early. I was amazed that Patrick put himself to sleep there on just the second night.

And then, after a pretty amazing feat of getting three babies (Lindy was babysitting a 4 month old that day) into the car and off to the airport on time to catch our flight home… including all of Patrick’s medical care.. was impressive. Not the smoothest, but we accomplished it.

We got home Friday afternoon exhausted. Patrick and I both went to bed early. We all slept in. And today has been spent mostly in recovering from a pretty intense week.

I can’t really complain, though. It may be exhausting to chase after a one-year-old who crawls around the house emptying drawers and making monster noises… especially when I am the only thing standing between him and many broken lines. But I wouldn’t want to trade having him happy and wiggly and full of life – and best yet, at home – for anything in the world.

Possible Bowel Obstruction

For the past few days, Patrick has had a really swollen, sore belly. A lot of it has to do with his spleen and how big it gets when he’s sick or when he gets a transfusion. He’s had both this week and so his spleen was really big.

However, with a yeast infection, there’s a chance of the infections building up inside an organ and causing similar symptoms. So, yesterday Patrick went for a CT scan. The findings weren’t fungal balls or absesses.. in fact, they weren’t what we expected at all.

Yesterday afternoon a doctor came to tell us that they’d seen evidence of a possible bowel obstruction. He then went on to describe findings that were kind of confusing to us. Basically, he explained that Patrick’s intestines were very dilated before an obstruction and very narrow after it.. kind of like when you blow up one of those long balloons and the air doesn’t go all the way to the end of the balloon.

The reason this confused us is that it sounded exactly like a description of the problem of a narrow colon that we’d discovered after Patrick’s ostomy was taken down. We didn’t know if the findings were new or if they were just telling us what we already knew.

Yesterday the GI attending and the surgeon, Dr. Rollins, who’d reconnected Patrick’s intestines back in September sat down and looked at the images together. In the end, the decision was that Patrick’s small intestine is much more stretched out than it previously was and that the place where the small and large intestine were sewn together is still very, very narrow and probably is the cause. (Like if you were to pinch your long balloon so the air can’t pass through all the way to the end.)

Now the question remains if this is something new or not. It’s possible that the surgical site has scarred making the connection even more narrow and unflexible.

Tomorrow morning, they’ll do another study where they put contrast into his belly and watch it move through to his intestines. If they find that the opening is about the same size at it was after surgery, they probably won’t do anything about it right now. However, if they find significant narrowing, then Patrick will probably have surgery tomorrow night or sometime Tuesday. They’ll take the scarred section out, taper down the small intestine to make it a better fit to the narrow colon, and sew the two back together.

Both the GI and the surgeon are saying that they think it unlikely that this problem is completely new or that Patrick will need the surgery. However, they want to prevent bigger problems in the future for him, if they can. So – they’ll do the study and then we’ll talk about it.

Either way, Patrick should be able to get a new central line in the next couple of days. They’ll try to put in a “double lumen” meaning that two tubes go into the vein, instead of one. The double access will make it easier to give antibiotics and antifungals and might make it possible to help prevent them by treating the unused lumen with medicines to prevent infection.

I’ll do my best to keep you updated here as we find out more.

Not again!

Infection is a vicious cycle! The cure makes you vulnerable for further infection. A couple of posts ago I wrote about a bacterial infection that hadn’t been fully treated by antibiotics back in February. Well, at the beginning of last week that same infection grew back yet again! We don’t know exactly why, but as a result we spent a few days in the hospital while they worked out a treatment plan that would help to knock this infection out for good.

The plan included a change to the antibiotics he takes to control overgrowth of bacteria in his gut and a regimen of super high dose IV antibiotics prescribed for the next 6 weeks.

We were sent home on Thursday without Patrick ever having really been too sick. We joked that it must be time to plan a family vacation because with so many antibiotics, how could Patrick possibly get sick again?

That’s what we get for uttering the word “vacation”. Tuesday of this week Patrick wasn’t a very happy kid. He followed me around all day just wanting to be held. That night, he got another fever. At midnight, when it was rising, we called one of our favorite doctors at the hospital, Molly O’Gorman. She also couldn’t explain the fever, given the antibiotics, and so she recommended we stay at home till morning with the hospital would be less busy. So, we gave him some Motrin for his fever and I set my alarm clock to get up every hour to check to make sure he was still ok.

At 5 a.m. Patrick woke up just screaming. By 6 his fever was back and climbing rapidly. We gave him more Motrin to keep him from getting into even more danger and took him to the ER. He seemed to feel ok with the Motrin and the doctors were stumped as to the cause of the fever. But throughout the night he just got sicker and sicker. Every time his fever reducers wore off he’d have chills and high fevers and nausea.

His first night in the hospital was just miserable! I think we slept a whole 3 hours. By morning, the blood cultures came back with a definitive result, Patrick had a yeast infection in his central line.

For those of you who don’t know, Patrick fought a yeast infection for most of last summer.. and almost lost that battle. Yeast has to be the scariest bug I’ve ever seen him with. Unfortunately, this infection doesn’t seem to be much of an exception.

Yesterday was an eventful and stressful day. Because yeast loves to set up shop in catheters, Patrick’s central line had to be taken out yesterday. He’s strong and wiggly and fiesty enough now that he has to be sedated for this to happen.

This had a few ramifications for him. First, he had to have a transfusion. His spleen gets greedy whenever it’s sick and he becomes anemic. He’d fare ok for normal things, but in that state would not have been strong enough for anesthesia. The transfusion helped his blood counts, but it also further fed his blood hungry spleen and as a result he’s all puffy , swollen and sore today. His belly is hard as a rock and hurts, too.

Also, Patrick still has to have IV’s to keep up his blood sugar and give his medications. Right now, he needs 1 all the time, and 2 most of the time. But between the scarring and damage to his veins from previous IV’s and the effects of this bad infection, they’re having a hard time getting them in, or finding places to draw blood from for needed blood tests. Yesterday, he was poked over 10 times in 12 hours.

My poor little munchkin is sore and sad and sick. He has to have splints on his hand and arm to keep his IV’s from being pulled out, so playing with toys is frustrating.

The good news is that pulling out the line and treating with antifungals is helping. He hasn’t had a fever since last night! And this morning, for the first time in days, he is resting well enough that I was able to put him down. Hence, I found time to write this blog.

I apologize for the lack of pictures so far. When I get a minute, I’ve got some adorable stuff from our hospital stay a couple of weeks ago. This stay so far Patrick hasn’t felt well enough for us to do something as frivolous as picture taking… but now that he’s on the mend, I’ll be doing that soon.

As for mom and dad, well.. we’re pretty darn exhausted. It’s been nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep.. or even to get a nap in. On top of that, we’re worried. We still have bad memories and plenty of heartache from our last experience with yeast infections. It’s scary to be facing one again… And it is the hardest thing in the world to watch your child suffer and not be able to take the pain away.

Still, all we can do is live each day as its given to us. It is more than a miracle that Patrick is still with us. He fought so hard to be here and is fighting still. We are doing all we can to make sure that he gets the best out of each moment he’s here.

We’ll keep you posted as we know more. For now, it’s just a matter of waiting for the medicine to do it’s job and then keeping these two infections from coming back.

How everything changed in a moment

WARNING: THIS POST INCLUDES DETAILS OF PATRICK’S CARDIAC ARREST AND SUBSEQUENT PROBLEMS IN THE ICU, INCLUDING PICTURES.

I’ve been asked to explain several times the events of this week. I’ve decided it’s probably easiest if I just take some time to sit down and write this in a blog. It will save frequent emotional repetitions for me… preserve some of the last week while it’s still fresh in my mind… and hopefully give some answers for those who are wondering how things got to where they are. These are things that are still hard for me to remember and talk about so please don’t be hurt if I don’t want to talk more about what I’m posting in this entry.

In my last post, I wrote about a yeast infection called candida that Patrick had in his central line and in his blood. He was hospitalized for 11 days in June for that infection and then went home on antifungal medications. On July 5th his fever returned and we came back to the hospital to learn that the infection had grown back again.

In order to treat the persistent infection, they decided to return to giving him a very dangerous medication called amphotericin (a.k.a. “ampho-terrible”). He was on a very high dose but seemed to be doing ok. He always got chills while it was being given and wanted to be held and held very still, but all other signs pointed towards it doing it’s job without too much problem.

On the 15th, we were making plans to go home. We would give 3 more weeks of treatment at home to make sure the infection didn’t come back. However, before we went home, we decided to try giving the medication the same way he’d get it there. This meant shutting off his TPN (IV nutrition) for a few hours while the medicine was being administered.

He’d been doing so well that I ran home to shower and take care of a few things right before they were supposed to start the ampho. I got back an hour into it and he just didn’t seem to be tolerating it well. His hands were as cold as ice, despite several blankets and heatpacks. He was pretty restless. We tried to feed him to comfort him, but that just make him sicker.

About 3:30 p.m. he got really agitated and started to squirm and pull at his ears and cry. Then he just went limp. I called his nurse in and she called in one of the charge nurses. They took him from me and started administering CPR.

They also hit a button on the wall that pages for a “Code Blue” on the PA system. In under a minute the room was filled with people. A PCT who had cared for Patrick before came immediately to my side, as did a social worker and they stayed with me until we were delivered into the hands of another social worker in the PICU.

One doctor took charge of calling out orders while another kept track of everything that had been done. There were at least 10 people bedside helping with CPR, medications, watching vitals and I don’t know what else.

After about 15 minutes (a.k.a. an eternity) they finally revived him and they took Patrick straight to the Pediatric ICU. I followed with the social workers and his nurses in another elevator.

On the way up I finally got a hold of Brian and told him to come up and where to find us.

Normally parents are taken to a waiting room, but they knew us and how involved we are with Patrick’s care so they let us stay and watch as they placed an arterial line to monitor his blood pressure and worked to find out what happened.

The best guess is that his weakened little body was hit with a few things at once. Being off his TPN caused his blood sugar to drop. At the same time, his weakened kidneys weren’t processing potassium in the right way. When those two things hit at the same time, it created a sort of perfect storm that caused him to seize and caused his heart to stop.The next day they worked madly to stabilize him. His organs had been starved for oxygen for long enough that they’d forgotten how to work. His blood sugar was all over the charts. His potassium levels were out of control. He was anemic and his platelet count just kept dropping. His nurse that day didn’t sit down for the entire 12 hour shift.

Over the next few days things started to stabilize but there were a lot of things out of whack still. His spleen, which had already been in bad shape because of his cholestasis (liver damage) and prolonged infection, decided to protect itself by sequestering all the platelets that went through it. As a result, although they were giving multiple transfusions, his platelet count was still low and he was bleeding easily from anywhere that could bleed. His kidneys also had kind of shut down and so all of the extra fluids being poured in to give transfusions and electolytes and medicines weren’t being cleared by his body. Instead they were soaking through the veins and collecting in the other tissues of his body.

To top it all off, he had some bacteria “leak” from his gut and get into his bloodstream causing a bacterial blood infection.

Saturday they tried to extubate him, but by Sunday morning it was pretty obvious that he was having trouble breathing. X-rays showed that the fluid in his tissues had made it’s way into his lungs. And so they had to put him back on the ventilator and started to give him medicines to make his body shed the extra fluid.

We watched and prayed and waited and tried to get ready to say goodbye until Wednesday when something amazing happened. Patrick peeked at me through heavy eyelids and seemed to know that I was there… He started reaching with his hands and so I gave him a rattle… and he shook it! The next day I was actually able to get him to laugh!

As the day went on, he woke up little by little and started to play peek-a-boo and smile and hold toys. His X-rays and labwork improved. As he woke up, they started to wean him slowly off the ventilator and off the sedatives.

His throat was very swollen and we weren’t sure if the airway would stay open without the tube in. But Friday evening they decided the only way to know would be to try. So they took him off the ventilator and put him on high flow oxygen. And he was the happiest kid you could imagine.

Without the breathing tube to bother him, they were able to turn off his sedatives and we became aware of what might be another problem. We noticed as Patrick started waking up that he wasn’t focusing his eyes well… staring off into space and not always following what’s going on in the room. He’s also been holding his head and arms very still. When these issues didn’t go away when the sedatives started wearing off, we became more concerned.

Neuro came to see him and said that they think there is reason to evaluate him. He will have an MRI on Monday as well as a neurodevelopmental workup. There is a possibility, especially considering how long he was down, that Patrick’s brain was damaged. Neuro will be able to help us see if that is true… and if it is, they’ll help us do all we can to help him do the best that he can.

Regardless of how weak his body is, though… the spirit inside of it is still Patrick’s. His eyes still sparkles and he loves to play and laugh with us. It has been a gift to be able to hold him and play with him again… to know he knows us and loves us still. It breaks our hearts to see that magnificent spirit confined by such a weak little body and we hope that those limitations will be brief.

As far as long term planning- Patrick will need to stay in the ICU until he is better able to breathe on his own. He is doing it right now, but he is working very hard at it. He’s on hold for transplant until he can go back to Seattle for another evaluation. At the very least, he will probably now need a liver transplant along with the small bowel transplant. We won’t know if he’s still healthy enough for transplant, though, until he is evaluated again. We’ll continue working with the doctors and therapists and nurses here to help Patrick regain as much as he can. And the rest we’ll leave in the Lord’s hands.

We’ve always known that there was a plan for Patrick’s life. We’re just humbled to get to be the parents in that plan. We trust Heavenly Father to take care of the rest.