Monday, October 23, 2006

Volume 1 Edition 14.....

"I'm a big fan of modern medicine. I mean, ever-lengthening life spans? Near eradication of many serious childhood diseases? Babies tiny enough to fit into the palm of a hand growing up to run amok on playgrounds? Movies-on-demand in patient rooms? These are good medical times.
But let's face it: there's nothing scarier than a dark hospital corridor at 2 a.m. Unless maybe it's a dark hospital boiler room, at any hour of the day. Even business-as-usual, broad daylight events in a hospital can scare the sweatpants of an unsuspecting parent. Take this single day we experienced on our last PICU stay with Annika:

9:36 a.m. A member of the hospital's new Central Line Team enters the room. We smile and wave, expecting the usual check of Anni's central line dressing. Instead we were startled to see her begin to unfold a surgical towel containing line placement supplies.
Us: Excuse me.
Her: (continuing her work) Yes?
Us: Are you getting ready to place another line?
Her: (beginning to check veins for a good site) Yes.
Us: I think there's been a mistake. She's not supposed to be getting any more lines.
Her: (finally stops work long enough to give us a quick glare, before changing to a voice dripping with condescension) Your child is very sick. Your child needs to get medicine. Sometimes the doctors and nurses need to have more places to give medicine. Especially when the child is very sick. It's important the nurses can give medicines when they are needed. Because your child is very sick.
Us: (a few blinks, wondering what to make of this treatment) Um, yes. But the latest plan was to consolidate meds and pull as many lines as possible, given that she's having Mystery Fevers. To eliminate possible sources of infection. (finishing lamely)
Us: (thinking) See Dick run. Run, Dick, run! See Jane sick. Heal, Jane, heal!
Us: (contemplating central line nurse's unmistakable irritation, and signaling frantically to Anni's nurse through the window) I'm sure we would have been told, if they were planning on placing another line.The line nurse charges out of the room, clearly disgruntled at having to deal with such high-maintenance parental patient baggage.The line nurse charges back into room, gathers supplies, and heads to correct room down the hall. Where the patient who actually needed the line was waiting.

12:42 p.m. One of the PICU residents stops by to let us know they'll be stopping Anni's anti-fungal.
Us: OK. And the liver team is also on board with this?
Her: Well, I don't know if we've talked to them. But this is really not a big deal. Even if she does have a fungal infection that we're not catching, since she has a normal immune system she should be able to fight off the infection herself with no problem.
Us: (a few blinks, wondering how to respond) OK, you mean normal except for the Prograf, Cellcept, and Prednisone? [ed.: common post-transplant immunosuppression drugs]
Her: (a few blinks) Oh. She's post-transplant?

3:37 p.m. Having heard that the parents in room 228 were difficult, Infectious Disease sends not one, not two, but three residents to explain the new plan of action to fight the suspected infection.
Them: We'll be stopping antibiotics X and Y, and replace them with antibiotic Z.
Us: OK. But antibiotic Z sounds like a Cephalosporin.
Them: (smiling in agreement) Yes! It is!Us: OK. But she's allergic to Cephalosporins. (picturing in our heads the warning stickers plastered all over her chart.)

Yes, all in one day! And no exaggeration, either, except I might be a bit off on the exact times. My memory's not that freakishly accurate.

But, still, we owe our daughter's life to her doctors and nurses at her hospital. We never forget that, and we know how wondrously talented they all are. One bad, scary, wretched day notwithstanding.

Nevertheless, medicine can be vertiginously, horrifyingly, gut-wrenchingly scary. Witness the following collection. I call it: Medical Links of Doom! (doom...doom...)"

This edition can be found at The Wait and the Wonder and was published on October 22, 2006.


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