Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You really wish there was no need for oxygen masks that small

I did great when they did all the vital sign checks.
I didn't even flinch when it took two nurses several minutes to put in an IV.
I was stoic as they wheeled us from the prep area down to nuclear medicine.
I made sure to ask my questions rationally when the anesthesiologist came in to the room.

But when they put that little oxygen mask on my 2-month-old, I lost it.

We were up early today. Ben's big day. The renal scan.

We had to be to the hospital by 6 a.m. to check him in and start the pre-procedure prep.
He was right on time, waking up at 4:45, giving me plenty of time to give him some water (all he was allowed to have after a 2 a.m. feeding) and giving me time to make myself some tea and breakfast.

We got to Torrance Memorial and got him signed in and up to the short stay area. Once there they weighed and measured him so they could make sure to give him the proper amount of anesthesia later.

They put the tiniest little baby blood pressure cuff on him. It looked like something from a child's toy set. But when they did not have the proper adapter for the machine to read it, they switched to a child's cuff on his leg.

Through all this, though he had to have been hungry, Ben was a champ. He even managed to charm every nurse who came in to help prep him.

When it was time for the IV to be put in they took us to pediatrics. After trying one hand, then a foot to no avail, the first nurse brought in another nurse who was able to get the IV on his left hand. He screamed, of course. But all in all he was quite good the nurses assured us.

So good, so sweet, so strong they kept saying.

Then it was back to the first room.

Finally, shortly after 8 a.m., they came to take us downstairs to nuclear medicine where Ben was laid out on a full size bed while the anesthesiologist explained what he would be doing. We asked our few questions.

And then they put that mask on him and told us it was time for us to go to the waiting room. It had never occurred to me that they would put an oxygen mask on him.

It had never occurred to me that they even made oxygen masks that small. It is just not something one really thinks about in the normal course of a day.

But there it was. A little mask on my big baby, who suddenly seemed like such a tiny baby.

After some more kisses, we left Ben there and went to the waiting room. Me, Nick, my mom... waiting. I had a book with me, but it was impossible to think of anything but Ben.

About an hour later the anesthesiologist came in to tell us that the procedure had gone well and that Ben was fine. He was being moved to post-anesthesia recovery.

A few minutes later we were allowed in to see him. Me, Nick and my mom checked on him, but the area was too small for us all, so I was the only one allowed to wait with him until he was awake.

Several minutes later he started moving the arms and legs, slowly waking up. The eyes fluttered open, the arms were windmilling and the mouth was making the hungry face. But there were no cries.

We needed cries before we could go back upstairs where they would continue to monitor Ben.

Finally, we got the appropriate number of cries and little noises out of him and we were wheeled back up to short stay where we would be for another 90 minutes or so while we fed him and they checked his vitals often.

He ate well and was able to keep it down. Finally, 6 hours after we got there, we were able to leave the hospital and take Ben home with the instructions to change the diaper often and make sure to give him a good cleaning. We were told to wear gloves.

Because our baby will have radioactive pee for the next 24 hours.

And with that, we left to make the short drive home.

By the time we got there our happy, smiling baby was back, wanting to be fed again. The only sign that he had been to the hospital was the little ID band around one wrist and the blue bandage where they had removed the IV.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When it comes to a baby, making tough choices gets tougher

If anyone would have told me that I could fall so totally, completely, head-over-heels in love with a guy in just two months, I would say they were crazy.

But it has happened.

Of course the guy in question is my sweet little bug, Ben.

It was two months ago today that I met Ben, and it did not even take two seconds to love him, let alone two months.

It was love at first sight.

Not that this has been all peaches and cream. We have had our ups and downs these past two months. But all in all, the ups are far greater than the downs.

Ben is a sweet-natured baby. He can look serious and contemplative, but when his little face breaks into a grin that grows wider and wider until his whole face smiles... I melt.

So it seems so unfair that we now are dealing with a medical issue. It seems so unfair that any baby would have to deal with any medical issue, but it is especially rough when it is your own.

When I was pregnant with Ben one of the doctors found something on the ultrasound: There was some extra fluid in Ben's kidneys. We were told that it would most likely clear up and resolve itself before he was born. But I still had ultrasound after ultrasound to monitor it.

And right up to just before he was born, the fluid was still there.

We then were told that most likely it would resolve itself soon after he was born.

When he was just a day old, Ben had an ultrasound of his own. The fluid was still there.

At that point we could only wait and check it again when he was a month old. And there it was, the fluid was still there after a month.

So now we get to the point where we are referred to a specialist.

At this point it still does not seem to concern the doctors terribly and so we don't worry about it too much, but we make the appointment to see the pediatric urologist.

We are told that what Ben has is called hydronephrosis. Basically there is a blockage somewhere along the urinary system. It can be anywhere from the kidney, down the ureters, at the bladder, etc. Whatever it is, it is causing the fluid to build up in the kidneys.

This could be a problem because it can lead to permanent kidney damage if it does not resolve spontaneously or if it is not treated.

The verdict from the urologist is that Ben needs a more comprehensive test. The ultrasound shows that there is a fluid build up, but it cannot show where the blockage is or how serious it is.

And until those things are known, they cannot treat him. So we have an appointment tomorrow to have a test done.

A test that scares us more than we like. It is called a Mag 3 lasix renogram.

What it means for Ben is that they will have to put in an IV and a bladder catheter then inject him with a radioisotope. A camera will then track the isotope along the path from kidney to ureters to bladder until they can see where the system is backed up.

Yes, radio as in radioactive. According to the doctor and the research I did, the exposure is less than a regular x-ray. Sorry, but this does not make me feel better.

And in order to do this test he has to be completely still for about an hour. And the only way to make sure a 2-month-old stays completely still is to sedate him. Again, this does not make me feel better.

But we were told by more than one doctor that this test will give us the most complete picture of what is going on with Ben. So we will be there tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. to get him signed in.

We will watch as they put in an IV. We will wait while our baby goes through something that the doctors say is fairly routine, but that for us is the complete opposite of routine.

And what then? Well, that depends on what they find. There are different treatments for different things based on where the blockage is and how severe it is.

It is easy when the doctor tells me they need to do some test or procedure on me. No big deal.

But when it comes to a baby, that is a whole other story. He has no say in it. We have to make the right decision for him. We can only take the information we get from the various doctors and try to do what is best for Ben.

So please, whatever it is you do for luck or divine intervention, please do that for Ben. Cross your fingers, say a prayer, rub some worry beads... We will take all the good thoughts we can get.