Friday, October 15, 2004

Come on, without....

In comments to the "Ask Me Questions" post (which, by the way, is still active -- ask me questions, people!), Simon asks to hear more about the "new addition". Assuming he's talking about little Quinn, I aim to please, so here's what's up. (This isn't an entirely happy post, by the way.)

To go back to the beginning, what happened is that in either the latter stages of my wife's pregnancy or during the birth process, the oxygen levels in Quinn's blood became compromised. The blood gases taken from the blood in the umbilical cord right at birth were very low, and as I sat beside my wife during the C-section, I looked over to the table to where the docs and nurses were cleaning Quinn up, and I saw something that I knew I should not see: they were intubating him. Minutes later they whisked him upstairs to the NICU. When next we spoke to a doctor, nearly two hours later, we were informed that the level of oxygen was sufficiently low that there was certain to be organ damage in Quinn's body. The good news was that every organ in the human body, save one, has the ability to heal and regenerate in the event of such an injury. The bad news was that the one organ without the ability to regenerate is the brain.

We then suffered through a long period of uncertainty (which has, in many ways, not yet ended). Quinn spent a total of nearly six weeks in the hospital. During the first week, he was on a ventilator machine; two early attempts to extract the breathing tube ended in collapsed lungs. Luckily, the last attempt to extubate proved permanent (save for the brief period when he was re-intubated for surgery -- more on that below), but his EEG and MRI suggested significant abnormality of brain function. The doctors believed that he was likely to suffer significant disability later in life, including cerebral palsy and likely mental retardation.

One by one, Quinn's organs healed -- first his kidneys, then his lungs. His breathing was sufficiently strong that he was off the respirator for good. The problem now was in his secretions of mucus and saliva, because he didn't seem to have any ability to swallow at all. The worry now was that he would need to have a G-tube in his stomach for feeding, and a tracheostomy for breathing. Luckily, he began to swallow, so he never had to have the trache, but he still doesn't have a strong enough gag reflex or "suckling instinct" to feed normally. So he went into another hospital, this time for surgery to put in a G-tube.

This surgery went very well, and his recovery from this was, if anything, quicker than the doctors expected. A week after the operation, we were allowed to bring Quinn home. Now we feed him through his G-tube every four hours, and life is adjusting to a rhythm that doesn't involve hospitals and monitors and alarms and complete lack of privacy. He still has a boatload of doctor appointments in the future, with a number of different specialists. But he's home, and he's ours.

The latest medical news comes from a neurologist, who examined little Quinn yesterday and said that we can be "cautiously optimistic" that any future disability will be "mild". Quinn does see and hear, although we don't know how well yet. His body and muscles tend to be very stiff, but he's progressed in that regard (for example, he no longer clutches his hands in an incredibly-tight fist). He lifts his head, looks around, and seems to be figuring out that crying gets him attention. That last is, in itself, a particularly hoped-for development. Quinn did not cry at all until he was nearly five weeks old. Now he has a full-throated cry, and in all honesty, I have not yet tired of hearing it. (Unlike his older sister, whose cry drove me crazy at about Day Five.)

So there we are, with more doctor visits in store. A repeat EEG -- his third -- is scheduled, and it still feels weird to pour his feedings into a tube in his stomach. But again, he's home and he's ours.

By the way, I posted news about Quinn's arrival to the message forums over at Bright Weavings (the official site for Guy Gavriel Kay, and one whose message forums are home to a very fine community of GGK fans and generally intelligent people), and in the course of the resulting thread (to which GGK himself posted) some enterprising soul came up with this response. Yeah, that song's been on my mind a lot lately, but not quite in this version. I'll take it, most gratefully.

And I'll close now with yet another annoying photo of the little guy, in the arms of the follically-blessed writer-in-residence in our home. No, it's not really my intention to turn Byzantium's Shores into a goofy photoblog about an infant, but hey, it's not my intention to not do so, either. And besides, that's why the blog scrolls.

Onward and upward!

No comments: