Monday, February 18
Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. -- Ghostbusters
5:03 PM The pediatrician calls me, sounding relieved that he found me. It vaguely occurs to me that this might not be a good sign. He says that the hole in Adam's heart is indeed microscopic, and nothing to worry about at all. That sounds good... Oh, and Adam has something called Pulmonary Stenosis. I have no clue what this means. "Basically, the valve between the heart and lungs is too small." That sounds less good. The doctor goes on to say that he talked to the cardiologist at the children's hospital in Portland who wanted to see Adam right away, so could we please go to Portland right now? "I'm still in Grants Pass. Portland is almost four hours away." "Oh, I thought you were already north. Umm ... four hours might be too long. Let me try to figure something else out and I'll call you back. Keep this line open."
Four hours is too long? Now I know this can't be good. I later decide that this likely ranks as the scariest phone call I've ever received.
I send Meredith a text so as to not tie up my phone and tell her that we need to go now. She comes out to see what's going on, then runs back in to grab Adam. We drive to the interstate and park just off the on ramp waiting to hear what direction we need to be going in.
5:20 PM He calls back. Please go back to Medford into the NICU. They'll stabilize him and arrange ambulance transport. Got it. I start driving, somewhat more rapidly than before.
We get back to Medford, run in and find the NICU. The head doctor comes out, snatches Adam up and points us towards the wash basins. We frantically wash up and go in. Adam is already hooked up to interesting machines. The doctor says something about how Portland is flying down to pick Adam up. Flying? I ask, "When you say fly, do you mean 'fly', literally?"
Now we're terrified. I'm pretty sure that we aren't inaccessible to an ambulance with, say, wheels, which leaves the 'your kid may die soon' checkbox as the only remaining possibility for why you'd need air transport.
We have long enough to ask if one of us can go on the air ambulance with Adam before one of the other doctors shoos Nathan and me out after noticing that Nathan has a runny nose. Oh right. OK, so taking him into a NICU in his state was retarded. I wasn't thinking very clearly at that exact moment.
Meredith and I decide that since I'm a better driver at night than she is, she'll fly up with Adam and Nathan and I will drive up the four hours to Portland. Nathan, who at this point has eaten pretty much nothing all day, has finally decided that he is starving, and is Not Happy At All about the notion of being separated from Meredith. Not to mention that he's managed to pick up on the Sheer Terror radiating off of us.
I call Meredith's best friend, Christina, explain what's going on and beg for her help taking care of Nathan, since otherwise Meredith and I can't be with Adam at the same time. She says she'll meet us at the hospital. Yay for best friends.
Nathan and I head to the car. He's decided that he wants a quesadilla, and Meredith points out that we can get him a cheese quesadilla at Taco Bell. Great idea! We go through the drive through, I get something for me, I get a cheese quesadilla for Nathan, he takes a big bite of it, and -- *wailing cry* "IT SPICY!" *sob*. Great. So then we run into a Starbucks where I try to get a cookie, anything, JUST SOME CALORIES, DAMNIT, but he won't try another bite.
It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it. -- The Blues Brothers
So we start driving, Nathan and I. The 3 hours of sleep over the last 36 hours seem bad, but I am running on pure adrenaline. I make a few phone calls on the way, trying to choke back tears as I explain to various people what's happening. Nathan wails for a bit more then finally conks out. By now it's slightly after 7 PM. Meredith calls a couple of times to let me know what's going on.
Nathan and I stop once, about half an hour out from Portland, after he wakes up and says he wants milk. This sounds like a source of calories for me, so we pull over, run into the store to grab him some milk, and run out. Nathan says, "This taste ... different." "Does it taste better than what you tried before?" "No ... it taste sour." Sure that he's just being recalcitrant, I grab it and take a swig. And almost choke. Sour is right. I'll spend the next few days reassuring him each time we get milk in that same contained that THIS milk isn't sour like the milk we got that night.
Despite the hustle and bustle of needing air transport, said air ambulance (which turns out to be a plane, not a helicopter as I'd imagined) doesn't get down to Medford for a while, so Meredith & Adam don't even take off from there until about 9. In the end, they arrive at Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital at about 11 PM -- roughly ten minutes before I do. Somewhere in the back of my head I start to wonder why on earth we needed an air ambulance.
For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your television set. -- The Outer Limits
The emergency entrance is the only one open, and the person at the desk has never heard of my child, but eventually tells us to go on up anyway and opens the door for me. This is my favorite kind of security -- the rigid, 'you must show ID to prove you need to be here, unless of course you can just sound like you're going to keep pestering me forever, in which case go right on through' kind of security. The person at the front desk in the NICU knows exactly who Adam is and gives me my ID bracelet and, understandably, has exactly zero interest in allowing runny-nosed Nathan more than another six inches down the hall. She promises to tell Meredith we're here, and Nathan and I go downstairs in search of the 24/7 cafe where we get me some coffee and Nathan some milk ('no, THIS milk isn't sour').
Nathan's fever starts to come back. Of course it does.
Christina shows up, and she, Meredith, and Nathan go off to a hotel. I go upstairs to see Adam, sound asleep and plugged into enough machines to monitor a small space launch, and go to sleep myself at about 1:30 in a room off the NICU.
It is the end of Adam's third day.Posted by Mike at February 28, 2008 09:49 PM