Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Homeless, Penniless, Limbless Torso

Dear Ellie,

The bacterial culture came back and... there is an infection in your lungs.  I'm glad I teach biology, because it helps with these sorts of thing.  There are basically two important kinds of bacteria in this case: Gram negative and gram positive bacteria.  Gram negative tends to be resistant to antibiotics, given the unique environment around their cell membrane and their ability to swap genetic information with other bacteria.  The other type, gram positive, isn't so scary.  Unfortunately, you've got the first one.  The nasty one.  The kind of bacteria that tends to cause pneumonia and kill babies as little as you (and bigger).  But we haven't officially talked to the doctors about it yet, so we'll see.

To make matters worse, when your mother checked in on you this morning, your arm with the PICC line was nice and swollen, like one of those big hands that people put on at sporting events.  I might be imagining things, but it just doesn't seem like you move around as much as you did before...

I find myself playing a game with myself, again.  It was a mental game I played a lot in my head back when you first showed up at the NICU.  I haven't formally named it or anything, but you might call it: "What I'd trade."  Basically, assuming there was some kind of agency to negotiate with, I'd ask myself what I was willing to give away to insure that you would live.  At first, I'd start offering up the small stuff.  All of the money in our bank account?  Chump change.  Our house?  Our Cars?  Our property?  Material things come and go, so it would seem like a small price to pay.  What about an index finger?  I'd give away the left one first in a heartbeat, since I click the mouse with my right finger, but sure, I'd give away my right one too.  What about my toes?  Honestly, I barely even notice them down there half the time, so let's throw them in, too.  I go on and on and on until my wager starts to look like a grizzly, gory pile of gold and body parts.  At no point does anything seem too big to offer.

After a few minutes of this mental exercise, I'm very quickly a homeless, penniless, limbless torso.

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