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the eric update - day 9: the rollercoaster

eric was "throwing" more alarms than usual today. mostly apnea ( forgetting to breath ) and bradycardia ( slowing of the heart rate ). while completely normal, it can still get tiring to sit, staring at the monitor, with a hand ready to rub his back or the bottom of his foot to jumpstart his breathing, if the alarms start. last evening he had 6 apnea/bradycardia incidents alone and he had 8 more over the night. typically, he might have 3 or 4 in an entire day - so the rate has definately increased.

when micropreems are having trouble breathing it means, at best, that they are getting tired and at worst something else is going on, such a systemic infection ( in this particular case, it's probably not a generalized infection, since they didn't see an elevated white blood count in his latest labs ). in either case, you'll often see a range of systems start to work less efficiently as things start to slow down. and when that happens, the nicu nurses have to do many unpleasant things to your baby while you watch. this is the sad part of their job and they are all the more heroic for doing it day in and day out.

the nurses are going to put him back on CPAP full time, since the nasal cannula takes a little more work on his part and if they need to start "bagging him" ( ventilating him manually with a small bag like you might see on the tv program 'ER' ), then it's possible that they might put him back on the oscillating vent. i don't even think they'd call it a set back, but rather he's just telling us that he's tired and would like us to take over for awhile while he recoups.

another sign that he's getting tired came when they suctioned the contents of his stomach and found 1.5 cc's of undigested colestrum. they are giving him 0.5 cc of colestrum every 2 hours, so clearly his digestion has slowed. if the food sticks around for too long then a condition known as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) can set in quickly, as the blood supply to his bowels is decreased or interrupted. under those conditions, hypoxia ( lack of oxygen in the tissue) can kill or damage the cells in the bowel wall, eventually leading to perforation and peritonitis ( infection of the abdominal cavity ). advanced NEC is something you don't ever want to see, since it requires very difficult bowel surgery, so they'll be watching him closely.

so, in the end, today was quite demanding and typical of the rollercoaster that a 24 weeker can put you on; and when juxtaposed against what happened yesterday, today was a great reminder that one needs to focus on enjoying each moment for what it is.

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7/13/2004 07:15:00 PM 2 comments


It sounds like the NICU staff are WONDERFUL. They are totally on top of things and, yet they are sensitive to parents. It must be a tough job to do what they do. You're all in our thoughts as you ride this rollercoaster. I think you'll find eventually that this Cork Screw will soon turn into the Tilt a Whirl and end up more like a Carousel. ;)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:41 AM  

He is in my prayers all day and all night. We are so happy that he is getting the best of care there. Keep living each moment forward and keeping positive thoughts in your hearts. Postivie energy brings positive results. SS

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:47 PM  

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