On Monday we took another step in the direction of real. Believe it or not, there is the tendency from time to time to lapse into thinking that all we're doing here is filming some bizarre reality show. It's a great premise: take a happily married couple and confine them to a small space with their two small children and then don't let them leave. Have them all sleep in the same bedroom. Watch the two year old morph into a three year old before your very eyes. Trust me. It's fabulous television.
But that isn't why we're here and Monday was an abrupt reminder. Nathanael received his PICC line. PICC stands for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. It's a permanent IV of sorts. In Nathanael's case, the line was inserted into his right arm. It's 18 centimeters long and all but three follow a line up his right arm into his superior vena cava, a vein that leads into a the right atrium of the heart. The remaining three are outside his arm so that blood can be drawn without having to stick him with a needle again and again. That's wonderful. That's exactly what you want to hear as a parent. We're going to make it so that your child feels less pain but here's the kicker...mom and dad...you have to flush it twice a day. Wait...what?
Apparently, there's a chance it could get clogged with blood so all you have to do to prevent that is inject three cc's of Heparin (a blood thinner) into a port attached to the end of the PICC line. Oh, but make sure it's properly disinfected before attaching the syringe or he could get an infection, and oh yeah, he doesn't really have the ability to fight off an infection. Don't worry, we'll teach you everything you need to know.
They do their best. Of that I do not doubt. A very nice woman sat down with us and went through everything and even gave us the chance to practice the procedure, how to sterilize, what order, etc., on a plastic tray that doesn't quite move like a two month old baby and then they send you home and expect you to do it.
Enter the drama. Take two people already under a good deal of stress and then have them work together to accomplish a procedure where if they get it wrong, the consequences could be bad...for their baby. If the stakes weren't so high, it would be simply comical. "Did you touch it? I didn't touch it. You're making me nervous. Stop being so critical. I'm not being critical. I'm just stating facts. You're doing it wrong. Then you do it!" Truth be told the whole thing isn't that hard. After a couple of times you get the hang of it but then comes the anxiety associated with complacency. What if we get so comfortable with it that we don't pay attention to everything we're supposed to do? Oy.
Wednesday was his CT scan and tomorrow is his EKG and echo-cardiogram. They also draw enough blood to make an afternoon cocktail three days a week. Lord willing the tests will show what the doctors want to see and we can move towards the transplant. As crazy as this sounds, the way the flu is spreading, I'd admit him tomorrow if I could. There's actually an armed officer from the Cincinnati Police Department stationed at each elevator bay to make sure you have a valid reason to go upstairs. It's not because Children's is in a rough area. It's because of the flu. I heard it with my own ears. The germ fortress that is the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit is starting to look pretty good right now.
Give credit where credit is due. Bree did 9 hours at the hospital with Nathanael, solo.
Tell me this kid isn't going to be off to college tomorrow. Can we please slow time down just a little?