Did you watch the TV series in the early 2000s with Hugh Laurie called House? It was one my favorites.
If you’ve never seen it, the medical drama was about a team of diagnosticians of whom House was the lead. In each episode there was a medical mystery the doctors were tasked with solving.
Typically, it went right to the wire and medical genius, House, would swoop in to determine which rare medical condition, disease or virus was at the root of the patient’s health issues.
In mid-December, we could have had our very own House episode as David had an unexplained health issue that proved both difficult to determine and unusual in nature.
David was a new baby on December 13th. His weight was 975 grams which was double his birth weight! Wow. Granted, he was very puffy but we took what we could get. He looked cute with his double chin. His oxygen was back at 21 and his ventilator settings were the best they’d been since he was born. They restarted his feeds. A total change. What a relief that was.
David was puffy but he was rocking and rolling. The surgeon who did his tummy, said David was so tough he should get a little leather jacket with metal studs and a bandanna.
David remained on room air. Our primary nurse said it looked like David had grown a twin because he was so puffy. They gave him albumin which helped remove excess water.
David's feeds were stopped because of water retention. They were trying to rule out everything possible. I gave him a full body wipe down. I cleaned his eyes, ears, mouth and his head down to his toes. He was looking freshy fresh! Plus, I helped change his ostomy bag. It was a good learning experience. Definitely intimidating but I’d have to get a hold of it because he'd go home with it on.
A cute little note: I noticed David reflexively smiling. If he were bigger I'd have given him a little squish.
If something could go wrong with the machines, they did. In our stupidity we attempted a cuddle. It only lasted 30 minutes before we returned David to the incubator as it was constantly saying he had no heartbeat. We knew the machine was wrong because he was breathing, moving and opening his eyes - tough to do with no heartbeat. Then the ventilator went all wonky. They had to put a little hat on David because there was a leak in his tube. Then his IV said it was blocked even after 3 attempts at changing it. Then David peed on his nest (his blankets). Our nurse was flushed from running around and David was massively puffy. Nobody could determine why he was excessively water retentive.
At 3:30am, when the nurse said, "You're an early riser," I thought it best to pack up and head home. The entire rainy walk home I prayed and I cried. I prayed that David's mysterious illness would be found and healed. I prayed for patience. Plus, I thanked God that everything had worked out in such a way that I had the finances, the support of family and friends, and a medical system that allowed me to sit by my son's side to monitor his days and his nights. I cried tears of gratitude that I had three healthy children and one who was fighting to join them. Plus, when you cry in the rain it feels like God is crying with you.
On the morning of December 16th I missed a call while in the shower. I called the hospital immediately to learn a doctor was requesting consent for another drain. Could this be an answer to my prayers? Had they figured out what was wrong with David?
By the time I arrived at the hospital they’d done an abdominal x-ray which showed something around the kidney. This led them to do an abdominal ultrasound. They saw a large collection of fluid. Using the ultrasound as a guide they drained the fluid out via a needle to get a sample. What they pulled out was 20 mils (which is a lot for his size) of white grainy liquid. Weird.
After a while they nurse came to get me. They had the results of the mystery liquid. It was bizarre and awesome all at the same time. David had a line that ran from his foot up through a vein to his heart (called a PICC line). That PICC line had moved and was leaking. Nearly all of his meds went through that line along with his fats and baby Gatorade (TPN). The fluid was leaking into his abdomen. They figured it had been slowly leaking for over a week but then the leak greatly increased. The reason they didn't know this had occurred was that all of David's glucose, antibiotic and electrolyte levels came back normal so there was no reason to believe there was a leak. The totally awesome part was that he had been absorbing all of the medicine from the outside of his organs inward! For serious!! That's like taking food and putting it outside your stomach and your stomach absorbs the nutrients, not very likely but ridiculously cool.
The doctor said, "Although this isn't ideal it was effective. It's quite amazing." The other doctor then said, "Well everything David does is pretty amazing." Amen sister. All I could do was laugh. Then the nurse laughed. The doctor said, "This isn't funny." I looked at him and then he said, " Well I guess it kind of is," and he started to laugh. David’s will to live was evident. Go baby David, Go!!!
Side note: They measured the glucose level in the liquid found in David’s abdomen and it was 105, the highest the lab had ever seen. They removed the PICC line and started putting the meds through the vein in his arm and restarted his feeds. Oh and by the way, when they put that IV in, I actually stayed and held his head. That was my 1st time doing that. I was sweating buckets but David never even woke up!