Ah, the delicate parental torture of feeling torn between your two children. Obviously, of the two girls, Frankie's been dealt the easier hand. But that's not so obvious from the point of view of a two-year-old. And, really, we don't (and shouldn't) expect her to see it that way. As far as Frankie is concerned, her world has been turned upside down, and all the normality that has come to signify safety for her has disappeared. Mostly she is dealing with it extremely well, thanks to the loving ministrations of my mother, thankfully retired and able to devote so much time to caring for her at our own house, which at least maintains a familiar environment for her.
But she finds her own way to let us know that she's having difficulties. She fights going to sleep, her limbs twitching with the electricity of sleep-deprivation. And, normally an adventurous and satisfyingly healthy eater, she seems to be conducting nutritional studies funded by Hidden Valley
, investigating the effects of a diet consisting entirely of ranch dressing sucked off of McDonald's french fries.
I've been spending my nights at the Kohl's House with her and my mom, but usually I shower, dress, and leave for the hospital before she awakes in the morning. This morning, though, I overslept. Frankie was delighted to find me still in bed when she got up, and I decided I would take advantage of this opportunity to finally remind her of her once healthy eating habits. I called Jörg to see how the night had gone, and to let him know I would be a bit longer. He asked me to be sure and turn on my cell phone, in case something came up, and I said, "Of course."
To my delight, Frankie ate oatmeal, blueberries, and orange juice for breakfast, with a chaser of cold pizza. Finishing up and feeling like Super Mama, I called over to the hospital to get an update on Annika. Jörg answered the phone, sounding very stressed, "Where are you? Your cell phone isn't on!" Annika had become very upset during her respiratory treatment, which consists of a therapist pounding on her chest ("I prefer the term 'percussing'," explained one therapist) to try to loosen the secretions clogging her lungs. After the "percussing," the therapist needs to suction out her breathing tube, another activity Annika despises enough to rouse her out of her generally sedated state. Jörg hadn't noticed her distress at first because he had been outside of the room listening to the doctors' rounds on Annika (the daily report and strategy session for patient care), and by the time he had gotten in there, she was very upset
. He had tried to call for my help, and not reached me, to his frustration.
Sure enough, my cell phone was still off. I felt terrible.
By the time I got over there, she was calm and looking very comfortable. But her fevers have returned, so the doctors have ordered another CT to check if there are any other fluid collections to harbor bacteria. They have also ordered a chest tap to relieve the fluid off her lungs, and to check the fluid collected for any sign of infection, which should yield a final decision on the pneumonia question. Moving a patient on a ventilator is never an easy task, so there will certainly be a lot of action around our little corner of the hospital trying to take Annika on all her field trips. Some answers would be nice, though.
I plan on staying tonight until she is through with all her tests, which means I could have a very late night over here. So I decided to spend the day with Frankie, letting her have some fun at a nearby park with a playground. I checked that my cell phone was still on approximately every 2 minutes, so I'm pretty sure that the other parents thought I had some electronic form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I even checked to make sure that the ring tone was on, and contemplated setting my profile to "outdoors," except I don't know enough about my new cell phone to really understand what that means, exactly.
When we returned from our playground fun, Frankie inhaled a bowl of spaghetti and asked for more. So at least we're making progress with one child.
Annika, we're all waiting patiently for you, too.
Meanwhile, our PICU neighbor, Matthew was successfully extubated yesterday, much to everyone's delight. His white cells still aren't kicking in, though, so the joy was tempered. Well, more accurately, his white cells keep showing up, rising, and then disappearing again. Matthew's dad, Brad (an employee of LaSalle Bank), and Jörg joke that Matthew's white cells keep Banker's Hours.
Our PICU suite has become quite the convivial place. Angela and Brad bought pizza for everyone last night and we all, nurses too, sat around in our little common nurse area, still watching our children through the glass walls of their rooms. Our rooms are in a rather private corner of the PICU, so it really does feel like the place belongs to us. I keep saying that they should have installed couches and a fireplace for the parents to relax by while waiting for signs of improvement, until Angela pointed out that the amount of oxygen flying around the two rooms probably ruled out an actual open flame. I said I'd settle for a skillfully painted simulation.
Just since I started writing this, the situation has changed. Even with two transfusions of plasma to lower her bleeding times, they are still too high to safely have the chest tap tonight. So she'll get even more plasma through the night, and they'll do the tap tomorrow morning instead.
The CT is still on, but probably won't happen before 8pm or so.
We still find ways to pass the time, though, and not just by staring at her vitals displayed on the overhead monitor. Last night we heard a strange noise coming from Annika's bed. Jörg went to investigate, leaning his head in close to Annika's. A bubble of mouth goo had collected around the tape on her breathing tube, inflating and deflating with the ventilator's puffs (her breathing tube is a little leaky). He rose back up again, a huge smile plastered on his face. "It is
Annika! Come here, quick! It's hilarious. She sounds just like Daffy Duck!"
Dear Annika, when you read this, please forgive us. You know it's all in love, don't you?