Sunday, March 16, 2014

When the Booger Hits the Fan

Dear Ellie,

Heart stopping events happen about once a day here and sometimes the cause is something you never expect.  Just moments ago, the respiratory technician was suctioning your nostrils to make sure there was no obstructions and, well, there was an obstruction.  A big, fat, bloody booger.  A dry booger.  We laughed about it a little bit, but that burgundy and green colored ball of dried mucus was making me nervous.  For good reason.  Your blood oxygen level began to drop.  We all stood there, watching the monitor, waiting for you to come back up.  You didn't.  Something wasn't right.

I looked inside your isolette and found blood pooling around your CPAP from your nose.  Remember, your CPAP delivers oxygen through your nostrils.  The respiratory technician went in again and began suctioning your nostrils.  A long, thick gush of blood shot through the suction tube.  Then another.  Then another.  You started turning pale.  You hovered at 50 percent oxygen for some duration of time I can't seem to remember.  I just know it was too long because your mother saw you turn blue for the first time.  I remember thinking right then all of the things that I thought might do you in.  Ruptured intestines or brain bleeds or infected blood.  But boogers?  Really?

Slowly, you turned back to just pale again.  Your oxygen came up slowly, staggering here and there.  The blood on your nose and mouth was clotted.  It appeared as though, perhaps, things were fine.  So I started writing you this letter, and halfway through, something else went wrong.  The machine responsible for your respiratory support broke for some inscrutable reason.  They brought another one, unplugged the wires and reconnected you.  That one didn't work either.  Apparently, the NICU is the first phase of a vast robotic rebellion.  So why am I still writing a letter while you are being kept alive by hand powered respiratory support?  Well, its been half an hour with no solution and I might go crazy if I don't have something to do.  I feel like someone recording a terrible event on their cellphone camera, helplessly, with no power to intervene.                     

In truth, I'm scared out of my mind.  With a dysfunctional computer, I don't think they could reintubate you even if they wanted to.  If you decide that a hand held "bag" is suddenly not how you want to breath anymore...  I don't know.  This whole thing is almost comedic.  And I have no idea how much longer this could go on.

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