March 04, 2008

Adam v. Pulmonary Stenosis, Day 4

Tuesday, February 19

I hate waiting.

I wake up at 6 AM. From being cold.

In a NICU.

I ponder this for a while, wondering if somehow I'm getting sick. Who ever got cold in a NICU? But I am, and can't get back to sleep, so take a shower, and stumble out to see Adam. The nurse is about as surprised as I am to see me so early, and suggests I go get some breakfast, since the cardiologist likely won't be up right away.

Breakfast is yummy, and the coffee is even better. Portland definitely has more and better coffee than Salt Lake City. Then I sit next to Adam's incubator and wait for the cardiologist. Adam wakes eventually, and I hold him for a while, and wait some more. The NICU social worker shows up and I give her Susan's number to get the placement forms to prove we have any business being with this baby. This is the first and last conversation I have with anyone in the NICU that is different because of me being the adoptive father, which is fine. (Registration is another story.) The social worker also promises to try to get us into the Ronald McDonald House across the street.

Adam wakes up, cranky and mad, and I get to hold him. The nurse explains that the Prostaglandin drug he's on makes him irritable.

Meredith shows up. And we wait some more ...

Dr. Kyser shows up and he and a tech start setting up the ultrasound machine. While they're doing that, I mention some of the story of getting up here. He says, "They sent you in an air ambulance? Really? Wow." Now I really wonder who ordered this little trip. Since, you know, that was the part that made me think that Adam was going to die.

He starts drawing a picture explaining the basic anatomy of the heart (since I remember approximately none of it) and what Adam's problem is specifically. Adam's pulmonary valve isn't opening enough. In fact, it's only opening about 10% as much as it's supposed to. That tiny opening that the pediatrician in Grants Pass referred to? This is it. It is indeed tiny, it's just that it's the pulmonary valve instead of a hole between the chambers. Turns out that makes a difference.

The echocardiogram confirms what he saw before. He wants to do a Balloon Valvuloplasty on Adam, where he puts a balloon up into the problem valve through a catheter run up from the groin, then inflate the balloon to open the valve up. If all goes well, we should be able to go home by Friday.

It's amazing what they can do these days with a catheter.

The Prostaglandin is to keep his PDA open, which is a valve that's open during fetal development that normally closes within hours or days after birth. Keeping it open lets Adam get more oxygen, and he'll need to stay on that until after the cath lab procedure, which is scheduled for noon tomorrow. So not today after all. At least that means that Adam gets to eat again.

I go out to find Nathan and Christina, and to go check out from the hotel where they spent the night before. We go to Red Robin to eat lunch, where I order a giant hamburger (protein). I think about how much I would enjoy a drink, then think about how even one beer is likely to effect me on the stunning lack of sleep I've had. I order Nathan a quesadilla after extracting a blood oath from the server that it is in no way spicy. Doesn't matter; Nathan doesn't take a bite.

We all meet up, and go register at the Ronald McDonald house. It's great. We get a private bedroom with our own bathroom, then they have common areas for the kitchen, play rooms, playground, etc. Nathan immediately starts running around like mad from excitement. How he has the energy to do this on the roughly zero calories he's had lately is beyond me. Little kids must have internal nuclear reactors.

What we got here is failure to communicate.

I wander back across the street to the hospital to actually go register young Adam at the registration desk. And soon realize that I should have had that beer after all.

Adoption is a confusing topic for registration people, it seems. Because all of this basically flowed out of his birth, his records all still have his birthmother's last name. And not Dodd. "So ... who's the father." "I am [gritting teeth]". "Is this (pointing to Grants Pass address) the baby's address?" "No, the baby's address is the same as mine." "Well ..." Then she keeps asking when J is going to come in.

On no sleep and high stress over the health of a child, the world is quickly divided into two sets: things that affect my child's health, and things that don't. If the latter, then this idiotic process is a waste of my valuable time. If the former, then this person is putting herself between me and a healthy child, therefore counting on a mere 30-some-odd years of societal pressure overruling millions of years of evolution that is suggesting a more direct approach to solving the problem.

I set the pen down that I'm fiddling with as I realize I'm starting to think of it as a weapon.

This is why Meredith is the one in seminary, and not me.

An hour or so later, we finally get through this, only because it's 5:00 PM and the registration staff wants to be able to clock out. If I'd known that was the trick, I would have shown up at 4:55.

Dude, where's my car?

While I'm at registration, some guy comes wandering in wearing a hospital bracelet. "I'm trying to find my car. I got discharged from the hospital this morning. I'm not really sure why I was here. I'm not sure how I got here -- can you look up my ID here and see how I got in? Did I walk in, or drive myself? I think maybe the police brought me in. Can you check?"

If you have no idea how you got to the hospital, but you're pretty sure that in the back of a patrol car is a reasonable explanation, you fail.

Do you mind if I take a quick look around your house? I'm afraid you may have hippies.

After leaving registration, I walk upstairs to the pediatric ward trying to see if we left Nathan's bag in the playroom. As I open the door, I hear someone playing the guitar and singing. Right outside the pediatric ward. Isn't that special?

Wait, what's he singing? Oh, it's Hotel California. And I'm just in time to hear him sing the closing verse.

You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!

Wow, it's hard to imagine a better message for kids stuck in the children's hospital. I consider demonstrating Pete Townshend's guitar techniques.

Cartman is so right.

Posted by Mike at March 4, 2008 04:05 PM