Thursday, October 14, 2004


After driving 4 hours and flying for 2, I eventually arrived at the hospital last night. Baby Abby was in the PICU which means Pediatric ICU. Her surgery had started at 8 in the morning and ended about 6 hours later.

The PICU starts off with giant hallway decorated by children's paintings and primary colors. Each child has a private room with glass doors. Abby, 4 months old and only 12 lbs, was laying in the clear bassinet hooked up to more tubes than I can describe. She was still intubated so the machine was breathing for her. She is heavily sedated so she could rest and also not try to pull out any tubes. She has tiny restraints on her wrists in case she does wake up. She's wearing only a diaper and some little socks, so you can see the long cut down her tiny chest. She's laying on a cooling blanket which is similar to a think water bed with cold water in it designed to bring down her body temperature. They want her to be only 97 degrees for her heart. Surrounding her is many many machines keeping track of every vital statistic. She has a nurse who is in the room with her constantly, adding new meds, adjusting the machines, tracking everything. If the nurse needs anything she calls and someone brings it so that she never leaves the room. There's a team of doctors, intensivists, pediatric cardiologists, etc who come and go one by one, checking, changing, and asking questions.

My friend Valerie had deep red eyes from not sleeping and I know she had been crying. She smiled when she saw me because of my belly and laughed when I told her I wasn't showing, just getting the beer belly I deserved. Everytime some monitor would beep she would stop and see what was wrong. She would question all changes in Abby's meds or anything they were doing to her. Her husband was a lot more at ease, but always by Abby's side, watching over her. I had been there after their first daughter was stillborn. They're a strong couple, but you could tell they were waiting for bad news. They were waiting for something to go wrong. I think anyone who has been through infertility, miscarriage or loss knows what that is like.

When they did the surgery, they put her on a bypass and stopped her heart. They then worked to repair the valves and think they fixed all except one hole in her heart that they couldn't close. She will have a little murmur but she should be okay. The good news was when they told everyone in the waiting room that they had restarted her heart and that she was doing well.

Last night her heart rate was too fast and her blood pressure too low. Because they had stopped and then restarted her heart, the chambers weren't beating in time yet. They were out of sync. The doctors were trying different medications and a pace maker to try to get them to beat together. I was told this is normal for these babies after open heart surgery so this was to be expected.

I got to talk to her, touch her legs and puff of hair, and just watch as she dreamed. She felt so cold because of the cooling blanket. Every instinct tells you to get her a warm blanket and to pick her up and hold her. She's used to being held every day. I told Valerie that she was probably dreaming of her face and her ducky swing.

I'm going back tonight after work and I'm hoping that my friend has gotten some sleep since then, but I doubt it. I'm so sorry for such a brief and factual post, but if I got into all my feelings I would show up at the hospital with puffy red eyes and that wouldn't do any good for anyone.

Thankfully Valerie has not asked me to pray with her or even for her while I was there but was just glad to see me and know that I cared. For those of you who answered me yesterday that you were praying, thank you. For those of you who answered me yesterday that you were keeping her in your thoughts and that I should do and say the same, thank you too. I couldn't find a better bunch of women for support.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a scary time for your friend. I will continue to pray. I'm glad you are there to be strong for your friend. You are a good person.

Happy, healing thoughts,

7:32 AM  
Blogger Menita said...

How wonderful for you friend to have you there to support her.
Thinking of Valerie, Abby and you.

8:49 AM  
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