Friday, February 21, 2014

"Well, It Could Be Worse"

Dear Ellie,

Every micro-preemie is born with a thing called Respiratory Distress Syndrome.  Their lungs are simply too young to function properly on their own.  Over time, as a micro-preemie grows, they either start to breath more by themselves or their lungs begin to accumulate damage.  After a certain period of time without enough lung progress, Respiratory Distress Syndrome gives way to Chronic Lung Disease.  That’s what you were diagnosed with today.  Not exactly a good thing to develop along side a lung infection.

For the past few days, adjusting your respirator support has been a tricky proposition because the oxygen saturation level in your blood has behaved unpredictably.  One minute, an alarm will go off because your saturation is too low, and 30 seconds later, another alarm will sound because your oxygen levels are too high.  If the respirator settings are programmed too low, then you’ll desaturate too often and run the risk of suffering brain damage.  If the respirator settings are too high for too long, then you face the risk of retinopathy and blindness.

I was planning a celebratory letter when you hit 2 pounds.  Today, you hit that milestone, but I didn’t clap my hands.  You wouldn't have hit 2 pounds had you not begun to swell with fluid in your extremities.  Before, I was always hoping that your weight would go up.  Now, I just want it to dip back down.

I suppose the silver lining is that you don’t show severe signs of illness yet.  The infection isn’t in your blood, either.  It’s hard to feel enthusiastic, though, about a situation which could be summarized by: “Well, it could be worse.”      

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