Saturday, February 27, 2010

We're home!

Yesterday was the worst day of our whole hospital stay. In the morning I heard them tell me how baffled in a good way they were to see how fast his infection is disappearing. The Dr told me when they first did Turtle's surgery, his knee was "Pus central" and now it is looking "pristine". He still has pockets in his thigh, but they don't think it will cause a problem. He's still swollen and sore, but it is getting better fast. And they started throwing around the words "home" and "discharge" and I felt like floating out the window. I was so happy.

Then they had to put his PICC in. Unfortunately the floor got really busy so we had to try to make a sterile environment in his own crib and go ahead and do the procedure there. When the oxygen monitor that had been working fine the whole stay suddenly wouldn't respond at all, I wondered if it were a bad omen. They were able to bring in a portable one so we got ready to go again. Then his IV suddenly was blocked and they couldn't give him medication. *sigh* They all left for a lunch break and gave Turtle oral medication, which would take longer and be less effective.

He didn't enjoy the PICC placement at all. It's so hard to watch your little one cry so, and participate in holding him down and wonder whether he'll ever forgive you. But that was nothing compared to what happened next.

He had to go down to radiology to have his chest x-rayed to check that the PICC was in correctly. They still hadn't taken Turtle off isolation, although they had planned to, the Dr who needed to sign it off was in surgery. So, since Turtle won't keep a mask on his face, they had to put a blanket over his head for the journey. No, correction, *I* had to keep a blanket over his head for the journey. My poor boy, who hadn't been allowed food or water for 6 hours, who didn't understand why I was letting people do these horrible things to him, who's heart broke everytime he signed for milk and I said "it's all done right now", fought me the whole loooong journey to radiology, he struggled to rip the blanket off his face. And everytime he ripped it off, the lady accompanying me scolded me to put it back over him. He cried his eyes out and I have never done anything that so opposed my instincts before in my life. Jumping off a plane without a parachute would have been easier to talk myself into doing. Forcing a blanket over my crying, starving, frightened baby's head while he struggled for air and to see where he was going was stupid and cruel and deeply disturbing.

When we finally arrived at radiology I was quick to remove the piece of fabric that I had torchered my innocent son with, looked guiltily into his eyes, seeing betrayal in the reflection and whispered a plea for forgiveness in his ear. He hadn't come down from that trauma yet when the radiologist asked me to hold him down in an uncomfortable position to get the xray picture.

By this point, Turtle had just had enough. He had been so tolerant his whole hospital trip. He'd had a full savings account of love and tender touch to sustain him and he tolerated everything quite well. The nurses had been saying he was their best patients ever. Drs and anesthetists wandered up from another floor when their shift ended just to say bye to him, because they all had fallen in love with him. He was the sweet, adorable boy with the peaceful temperament, cute blonde hair who had entertained them all with funny faces, adorable noises and affections. But his tolerance had just ran dry. He was tired, hungry, sore, confused, scared and so weary.

I dreaded the moment that came all too soon, when they said, "put this blanket over his head and we'll walk you back". This time was a hundred times worse than the last. He was sobbing from the depths of his soul and my face was red, puffy and soaked with tears. He begged me with his wailing, to let him breath real air, to let him see the room, to have some dignity. Inspired by his natural survival instinct, he used all his strength against my own to try free himself of this cover that was forcing him to re-breathe his own carbon dioxide. The lady accompanying us (I'm not sure if she was a nurse or what?) was not very compassionate and insisted on waiting for an elevator that was empty, since his blanket was constantly being pulled off. I was trying to keep pulling it over his head while my arms ached from the struggle and my heart screamed at me to stop.

She let every stinkin' elevator go without getting on it, because it was busy and there were people in them all. I have never been so close to having a breakdown. I was past my limit. I turned to her, tears streaming down my face while my hands forced this evil blanket to hide the most beautiful boy face, and I confessed, "I can't do this to him anymore.". She had a worried look on her face that suggested she was considering calling security. I stared at a nearby exit and prayed God would help me control my impulse to take my son and run for it. I very nearly did. I knew I wouldn't get far. But I couldn't stay in this hell, playing the roll of Satan. I almost threw the blanket at her and said "YOU keep the stupid blanket on his head". My lips took the form of the first word while I gathered up enough strength to stop myself from being so rude. Instead, I flung a "This is so stupid! He's not even supposed to be in isolation anymore, they just haven't got round to removing it. His cultures were negative and they never proved he had anything. He's so tiny and has been through enough" at her. She gulped and crinkled her face but said nothing. I shivered with cold, and would swear that anyone standing so close to her would be able to see their own breath. She was like a pillar of ice.

When the next elevator came, it was full of people and I knew she wouldn't take it. So I concluded *she* didn't have to take it, but Glenn and I sure as heck were gonna. She sheepishly followed me and uttered a disclaimer to the other people in the elevator, that he is in seclusion and isn't fully covered. No body cared. They saw this poor boy, flailing as though he were struggling for life and his mother, the perpetrator, completely beside herself in anguish while she commits this crime, unwillingly. I felt compassion in their gazes, and it warmed me.

We finally got back to the room, I hadn't eaten for hours, was sleep deprived and in post traumatic shock, when suddenly I felt as though I could lose consciousness and I started having small, trembling convulsions. Turtle went on to have the biggest freak out session he has ever had in his life. I've never seen any of my kids like that. His body broke out in a rash and he burst blood vessels on his face. His screams were so sharp they sliced through the room like a hot knife through butter. And he deserved to express every decibel of it. Intermittently, a caring nurse or volunteer would pop their head in to see if we were ok and ask if we needed anything. I just held him, apologized to him and sobbed my heart out. It seemed at that moment, everyone wanted to call us and I had to answer a number of phone calls before eventually switching off one phone and take the other off the hook. The stress and tension in the room was so thick you could karate kick it. I tried in vain to comfort him, but he cried and hit me in the shoulder, expressing his dissatisfaction that I had joined forces with the dark side, leaving him defenseless, standing alone on the side of justice.

After I begged with desperation in my red protruding eyes and urgency forcing through my vocal chords to be able to breastfeed him they allowed me, and eventually he settled down.

Just in time for someone to come in and say the x-ray showed the PICC needed redone. So we went through it all again and through the walk to and from the x ray again. It was every bit as painful but we were both numb. We went through the emotions, the sobbing, I felt like Judas, and we sort of floated above ourselves while it all played out.

A few rude interventions later, we were handed discharge forms to sign. I signed with much enthusiasm. The whole ride home I was just talking a hundred miles an hour, filling Rene in on much of what he had missed, and trying to come down from it all. I still have a lot of it to exhale, but I'm starting to realize we really are home and it really is over.

The nurse came to our home to show us how to administer his medication in his IV line. He has to have 6 treatments a day, 30 minutes each. We won't have much of a social life for a few weeks. They are intimidating and scary, but I am sure it will become habitual in time. He has an imobalizer on his leg and isn't supposed to bare weight on it for a while. If we can stop him, that is. While we recover and get used to the medicine regime we won't have to worry about meals for a while, because an awesome friend set up a mealtrain for us, online where people are signing up and bringing us meals. What a huge relief that is! We spent more than our month's worth of grocery budget just travelling to and from Omaha and grabbing fast food on the way etc. Every meal helps a bunch! We are so grateful.

I've been reflecting on our looong week and some blessings that have come about.

- The support from friends has been encouraging
- I had a lot of time to bond with Turtle, with no distractions
- I watched Rene bond with the girls and watch them turn to him when they have needs
- I felt so loved by Rene to see how dedicated he was to being mum, dad, wage earner, food preparer, taxi cab, husband, supporter, house keeper all by himself. Occasionally he slept a little too. Obviously he loves us all very much. He really held us all together
- I learned a lot about surrendering, giving up control and trusting in God
- We survived another trial, and it strengthened us
- I finished New Moon and started on Eclipse :) (Twilight series)

And best blessing of all, he's going to be ok and we're home.

I've got to get photoshop installed on this laptop!


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! I read your post with tears in my eyes. I cannot imagine what you went through.. but you are HOME! I am so glad. I hope Turtle recovers well. Prayers!

Herb of Grace said...

Oh I am soooo sorry you had to go through that :( But so glad you are home now!! I hate hospitals. Really HATE them.

Some call me Neesie. said...

OMG what an ordeal! You are sooo strong for getting through this and supporting your precious baby so well. I'm happy that your family is finally back together at home, and it sounds like you've got a wonderful support network there for you. All this truly does make you stronger - 'tho I'm sure you could have happily done without :)

Valeria said...

what??? a blanket over his face??? I'm a surgeon, and really, I've never seen anything like this in a hospital....did they think to keep him from catching something bad with a blanket?? I'm so sorry for him. I'm glad it's over and he is home safe and well!

Laura said...

I saved this one in my inbox for 2 weeks now, and finally got a chance to read it. My blood pressure is through the roof. That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard about putting a blanket over his face! I think some doctors and nurses have done their job for TOO LONG and have grown numb to the sound of a child suffering. Those are the worst kind of people to be working in hospitals. I'm so sorry you went through that, but I'm sure Turtle has forgotten all about it by now. And 6 times a day, 30 minutes a day? Now that's some major mommy dedication! *hugs*