Friday, April 15, 2011

Stuck in Traffic

We had Tomas' appt. with the new GI and it was a good one. He is a man who likes the puzzle kids, and he and Tomas' oncologist share a few of the more challenging kids at the hospital, so I really think it will be a good team for him.

Another huge plus is that this GI nurse actually calls you back, and has been tremendous at keeping contact going between the doctor and myself during the last week. Tomas is having slow to no motility again and I and his home health nurse have been sidewinding our way through trying to keep him home. It has always been, "Well, do what you can for him at home, and when you can no longer feed him enough to keep his sugars stable or he gets dehydrated bring him in." So frustrating.

He had 4 fabulous days last week where he had zero bile output and he tolerated his feeds great. That ended on Sunday and has been progressively sliding downhill, to the point where yesterday was an on the fence kind of day. Problem is, Mike is gone, and I KNOW if I bring him to ER he will get admitted. So we struggle on here, hoping that the next day is better than the last. As of right now he hasn't hit his calorie goal since Sunday, but I am doing my best to use a mix of pedialyte and formula to keep his GI tract running. Oh, and I need to add that the little stinker is now smart enough and coordinated enough to yank off his extension set. He knows it hurts when he eats, so he just wiggles and wiggles it until it comes loose. He has managed to free himself a few times now and make giant messes!

He had a sleep study done on Friday and I should have the results at the next pulm appt. I hope they were able to get some good data as I don't really know how well people sleep at those things. I did find my miracle - make your baby sleep - cure though. It is a farrell bag. It hooks up to his feeding set and is a way for the stomach (or in his case intestines) to release gas pressure. Basically, the bag is an outlet for the tube set, if the pressure inside is greater than the pressure in the bag, then the formula will flow up into the farrell bag until the pressure equalizes, then slowly drips back in. We tried it when he was an infant but it has so much tubing he was never strong enough to push it all the way through. Now, it is amazing to see the difference in how he sleeps at night. If I leave the bag open he sleeps like a normal kid. Falls asleep, moves a bit in the night, but stays asleep without a sound. The problem is that he is not getting all his food, so if too much starts to back into the bag I have to clamp it shut so he can eat and not become hypoglycemic. He does not like this and within 30 minutes of the clamp is moaning and whining in his sleep just like before. So we do the farrell dance through the night, but all in all, he is sleeping so much better.

Due to all the bile output, we are having to monitor his electrolytes closely. Last Monday his sodium/potassium/chloride were low, and they were still low on Wednesday. This Tuesday we had them drawn again and the only one still low was potassium. This was after the good 4 days and before yesterday though so I am thinking his next check (Monday) won't be as pretty. Yesterday was tough. The girls had a field trip.

It sounds so simple doesn't it? It's not, and it has nothing to with the amount of gear or prep involved. That is not it at all. It is the absolute lack of consistency in Tomas' state of being. It is never knowing if he will make it through. I can't say if it is the GI problems or the hypoglycemia that are more the culprit here. If he could eat fine then we wouldn't have issues, but then again, if he wasn't so severely hypoglycemic, it wouldn't be as dire a situation when he is not tolerating his feeds. You and I, and Victoria and Olivia, and most other people on the planet can skip a meal. You eat breakfast, and for whatever reason something comes up and you miss lunch. Before you know it, you look at your watch and it has been 8 hours since you ate. Maybe you had breakfast at 7, and now it's 3 and you're starving. You eat and all is well. Not so. He can't do it, if he were to go 8 hours or 7 or 6 or even 5 without food there is a very, very good chance he'd be in a coma. It is the single most difficult thing we are dealing with right now because it means he HAS to go to the hospital when he can't eat.

Back to yesterday, It started out pretty darned good. It was a progressive field trip through historical markers in a nearby town. The first two stops were perfect, he was happy and playful and just regular old Tomas. It was early, and not time for his feeds to start. The third, and final stop was the long one, were we would spend the rest of the day, so his nurse got him all hooked up and everything running and sat with him while I bounced back and forth between the two girls' groups. A little into it things went downhill and I was calling the doctor to tell him if Tomas didn't wake up from his nap better then when he went to sleep I would be bringing him into Dallas.

 Their plan was to try to get him through to his already scheduled surgery appt. in just a few hours and see if the surgeon had any ideas on what was going on with the bile output. Tomas did wake up a bit better and we did make it to the appt. Unfortunately, the surgeon didn't have anything to add, and it was more of the same;. bring him to ER when it gets bad enough. I asked if there were any tests we could run to see what was causing the bile reflux, or if it could be fixed with any different motility meds. Nope and nope. Just a long talk on how dangerous it would be to do any kind of surgery on his bowels given what they had already been through, and to call him any time. Thanks; and we walked out just as close to an admitting as we went in.

As we were leaving the hospital pavillion I thought I'd pop into the blood disorders clinic and see if his hematologist was there. I've been mildly worried since Tomas' pathology report came in from his last bone marrow biopsy; not too much because I figured his doctor would've called if anything terrible was going on. But I still had some questions and had been playing phone tag with the dr. for a few days. Luckily, she was in and close to finishing so we hung out in the waiting room for a few minutes. She came out, saw his bile drainage, and pretty much became as stressed out as I was over the whole thing. She spent a very long time talking with me and going over EVERYTHING that has been happening with Tomas in the last month. She wants a CT of the abdomen and brain (for unrelated autonomic issues).  When we left she was going to call the GI and then call me back today.

That means that within an hours time I had two wildly different opinions on what could be done for my son and on how to proceed with his care and maintenance. This is the stuff that drives special needs' mommies insane! Truely, who do you listen to? In this case it was easy, since it was do nothing and hope it gets better or let's do a CT and see what we can see. But it is not always that clear cut a choice.

The bright and shining spot not to be lost in the mist of all this GI junk is that his bone marrow was normal! Even though he has blasts they are the "friendly" kind and she is not concerened at all by his report. That made yesterday get a whole lot better.

Last week when Tomas and I were driving home form the new GI appt. it was rush hour and we were stuck in traffic the whole way out of Dallas. It very much struck me that caring for him and navigating the medical world is very much the same. Slowly, so so slowly, we trudge forward. Every once in a while we switch lanes hoping to move at a faster pace, all the while watching those around us do the same exact thing. But the most amazing thing happened while I was stuck mentally and physically in traffic on Wednesday. Tomas happened. He was fascinated by the cars all around him. Every time one would pass by the window he would kick and scream with a JOY that almost popped him out of his carseat; and I laughed. Right there in the middle of six lanes of traffic moving at a snails pace, we laughed and laughed and laughed. A tuck would roll up and he would explode in shouts of sheer delight. Oh my word how much fun we had. And thats it really, that's the big fat secret to our lives. He brings us joy beyond measure.


  1. Oh my - have they given you a complimentary nursing degree yet?! :)

  2. Yep,there is that ever present smile again!Lights up the world and makes your navigating the traffic a bit easier.

    None of this sounds simple or easy.On the contrary.Difficult and frustrating and I know very overwhelming.You do an amazing job of balancing the many twists and turns and some how,through I think your inspiring faith,manage to keep your packed full vehicle from crashing into the median!

    Sending love and prayers for us all and I am really loving the bone marrow results.Nice sigh of relief there to say the least.

  3. And he brings such joy to others as well!

  4. I do not know Tomas personally, however he has changed my life! I used to think that God brings people into our lives for a reason but know I KNOW He does! I have been introduced to Tomas thru a friend, and I follow his progress pretty much daily or as close as I can. My husband drives a semi, and I have talked so much about Tomas, that now when my husband calls home, he too ask about him!

    I cannot begin to imagine the challenges that the parents and family of these special children face. I think you would be really easy to pick out of a crowd because you are super-human, but you are disguised well, you look just like regular people.

    I guess I just want all of you to know and especially Tomas awesome mom, that you and your blog have changed me forever. I have a respect for others now that I have never had. I have an appreciation for the "everyday" things, that I have never had. I think above all else, I have a deeper appreciation, and desire for, no just tomorrow, but for the very next second. Thru this have given me something that no one else could have given me...A love and appreciation of the world of blessings that I have been given in this life! And for that alone...I am so thankful for you, the amazing mother of Tomas! You my dear are a gift from my precious Lord!

    And Mr Tomas, you are a life changing little guy! I am so very thankful that the Lord has blessed my life with you! And your smile, oh that smile!