Monday, April 23, 2012

Grayson's Hospitlization Part 2: The PICU

So when we last left off, we were being wheeled up to the PICU on a gurney.  Once we got to the doors of the PICU, we were informed that we could not be in the PICU while they were admitting him and we had to wait in the waiting room until someone came to get us.  They said it should be around 10 or 15 minutes.  At that point I had to get off the stretcher and lay him on it to be wheeled back.  It was so sad and scary to see my tiny 19 day old laying on a stretcher by himself and not being able to be with him.  At this point we didn't know what he might look like when we saw him again because we still did not know whether they would have to intubate him or not.  They opened the big double doors and wheeled him away and we went into the PICU waiting room.  It was so surreal.  This is the first time that I really  let my guard down and let the enormity of what had happened over the past two hours sink in.  I just sat in a chair and cried and cried.  Some nice family member of someone who had a child in the PICU brought me some tissues and the receptionist for the PICU came out and asked if we needed anything or wanted some privacy.  Obviously, every family that was sitting in that waiting room had been in the exact same place that I was and could relate to what I was going through, but it is a bit like being in a cage.  You can tell that you are being watched and it is human nature to wonder what has happened to send you to the PICU, lord knows I wondered that about every face I saw in there.  The receptionist took us back to the family counseling room and told us that she would let them know we were in there.  Once in the family room I calmed down considerably, but then I realized what room I was in.  In my mind, the family counseling room might as well be called the room they take you to to tell you your baby is going to die.  I didn't think that that was going to happen, but it still freaked me out and I wanted to get out of there as quickly as I possibly could.

After we had been in there for about 20 minutes, I sent Stephen out to find out why they hadn't come back to get us and when we would get to see him.  After he left, a social worker from the PICU happened to walk by and see that the door was opened.  She poked her head in and asked what I was doing and if I had a child in the PICU.  I told her that my newborn was in the process of being admitted and I had sent Stephen to figure out what was going on.  I am so glad that she stopped in the room because she was able to tell us about the PICU and what to expect.  I will admit I was really nervous.  I had obviously been in the NICU before but I was scared about what I would see in the PICU.  In the NICU, you obviously know that there are critically ill babies in there, but the most you hear is the sound of a newborn crying.  The PICU is a whole different ball of wax.  Your 19 day old could be across the walkway from a 19 year old who is next to a 9 year old etc.  Let me promise you this, a 9 year old or 5 year old or whatever age is very aware of pain and being scared and the sound of them screaming and crying was more than I could handle.  I will never forget what that sounds likes and I hope I never have to hear it again.

The social worker explained how the PICU worked and told us to just focus on our baby and to not look around at the other babies too much because that would make it too hard.  Of course, again it is human nature and of course as soon as you step through those doors you are staring at every other child in there and wondering what is wrong with them and what their story is.  The PICU at Children's is one big open room and there are beds and cribs lined up in rows with curtains in that can be pulled in between them, so you see and hear everything that is going on around you.  Very unsettling.  After the social worker had explained everything to us, she said that she would take us back to see Grayson.  We walked through the PICU doors and rounded the corner and the first thing I saw was my dad standing there.  It was such a tremendous relief to know that he had been there with him while we were not there.  My dad didn't realize that we were not allowed in with him during admission so he just walked right in and they pointed him to his bed.  That is the miracle of the white coat.  If I ever have a child in the hospital again, I am going to borrow a white coat because you get to go wherever you want to go, no questions asked.

When we got back to Grayson's bedside he was like a new baby.  He was resting much more comfortably and was breathing easy enough that he could even suck on a paci.  He was still very sick, but it was evident that we had avoided intubation.  Such a relief.  The had him on 30% oxygen and he really seemed to bounce back well.  We met with the doctors and our nurse and then we just sat at his bedside.  Since the PICU is an open unit, you can not sleep in there with your child.  There was one glider bedside and then they pulled up an office chair for Stephen to sit in.  Stephen and I sat down and started to process everything that had just happened and started notifying people of what was going on.  Eventually, I needed to pump and Grayson was doing so well, that I went downstairs to the lactation room on the ground floor.  After I was done, I was getting out of the elevator when I saw Stephen walking out of the PICU with all of our stuff.  I was confused because the PICU wasn't supposed to close visiting hours for another hour.  It turns out that while I was gone a baby had coded in the PICU.  Not only did they obviously shut the unit down, but it just so happens that the crash cart was apparently located directly behind Stephen's chair.  He said one minute he was just playing on the iPad and the next thing he knew half of the PICU staff was flying over to his chair to try and get the crash cart out.  Stephen was definitely pretty traumatized from that experience.  Luckily the baby pulled through, obviously it was not something you want to witness.

Since the PICU was closed, we went home to see Perron for a few minutes and  clean up and get bags together.  The plan was that I would sleep in the chair next to Grayson and Stephen would stay until the 10:30 PICU closure and go home and come back in the morning.  Well, we got back to the hospital and he was doing so well they were talking about moving him to the regular floor the next day.  We were obviously thrilled and could not wait to get out of there.  The PICU was very crowded when we were admitted and they had to move beds around to make room for us.  Well, at around 9:30 that night they had a 5 year old that had to be intubated in the ER and they needed a space in the PICU.  Grayson was doing so well that they decided that we would be the lucky ones that got to move to a floor.  We were so happy that he was doing so well and so happy to be on the floor in much more comfortable accommodations.  We were smug enough at that point to think that our journey would continue to be easy and short, but boy were we wrong.  The doctor's that would be taking over Grayson's care came up to process the transfer and we were in our room at around 10:30.  Just in time for bed!

When we were admitted if you had told me that we would be there another almost two weeks, I would never have believed you.  The PICU holds 19 total children.  If you had told me on that Monday morning that my newborn would have been one of the 19 sickest children out of the hundreds of children that are in that hospital, I would have laughed in your face.  Things change quickly and our family is blessed beyond measure.  In those few hours in the PICU,  Stephen and I saw things that no parent should ever have to see and witnessed the silent heartache of 18 other families.  It is one thing to know that there are really sick kids out there as an abstract concept.  It is a totally different thing to see them with your own eyes.  Pray for the families that spend their lives up there and the incredible doctor's and nurse's who take care of them.

I will pick back up with the remainder of our stay on the floor in the next post.

1 comment:

  1. The PICU is a horrible place! Isabelle was there for a week and I saw and heard things that I will never in my life forget. Glad he is doing better!