By The Numbers

98582827495: the number of people in line at the Starbucks at Sick Kids today.

189: the number of days before I need to see my cardiologist again.

99: the highest my oxygen saturation levels were at today (does anyone else remember when we were happy when it was 77?)

30: the number of seconds it takes for the technician to actually do an ECG.

10: the number of minutes it takes the technician to set up the ECG.

 

5: the number of minutes I had to sit in the chest x-ray tube for them to see that my heart and lungs look amazing.

2: the number of naps I got woken up from today so that people could poke and prod at me.

1: the number of lungs I have that are strong enough to do the work of 2 regular working lungs.

 

Just saying, it’s been a pretty amazing day.

 

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Rubber Ball Life

If I have learned one thing in my short but dramatic life, it’s that life really does work like a rubber ball – it bounces up and down between happy things and sad things before you can even realize what’s going on.  I know the mom’s are wishing lately that there would either be a few more happy things or even just that the sad things would be spaced out a little more so they could at least take a breath in between bounces.

I had a new dog.  His name was Otis and he was tiny like me, and funny like me and almost as adorable as me.  Mama C was really sad about Ellie not being around anymore so Mommy decided to surprise her and found a new puppy for us.  Otis came home to us on the Friday night after Ellie went away and we had a really good weekend.  But then by Monday he was really sick and the veterinarian told the mom’s that he had something called Parvo, which is very contagious in puppies and means that they can’t live anymore.  So, the mom’s had to put him down like Ellie, because by the end he was too sick to even move.  The mom’s were surprised at how fast it happened and felt really bad that they weren’t able to do anything else, but knew that it was for the best.  Either way, I miss my friend Otis.  I actually really liked him – he was very gentle with me (after the first day when he used my foot as a chew toy) and he just scampered around the house making everyone laugh.  Poor Otis.

So, that was the sad thing.  The problem was it was just one more sad thing on top of a whole lot of other sad things in a short period.  Between Grandma dying, me having seizures, Ellie dying and then Otis dying, it has been a hard 6 weeks for the mom’s.  Mama C decided that it was time for a little reality break so she’s off on vacation for the next two whole weeks! We’re just waiting for my new cousin, Baby Ollie to be born and then we’ll go to Grandpa’s house in Frankford and spend some downtime just hanging out in his nice house by the water.

But there have been good things happening too! The smiley happy me that made an appearance two weeks ago seems to be sticking around.  All day long I’m just happy to just sit, bounce my feet all around and smile these big huge smiles.  I’m giggling more and now I can’t stop talking.  A lot of the times I’m just playing with different noises but the mom’s have caught me babbling a little bit too.  Everyone who comes over: Janet (my vision worker), my OT Kristin and Kathy and Barb from Surrey Place (Infant Development and Speech and Language) say that it’s like being around an entirely new kid.  They’re amazed at how much I’ve changed in just a few short weeks and they’re so happy that I’m learning new things all of the time.  And I LOVE seeing people.  I’m not even shy a little bit.  This weekend my cousin Alex and her boyfriend Aaron came to visit and I was so happy to just play and smile with them, but it doesn’t seem to matter who’s looking at me, I just want to show them how happy I am.  I don’t really care about toys or stuff, but I love the people in my life so very much.

And it seems to all be because the new medication the doctor’s put me on for my seizures seems to be working so very very well.  I haven’t had a single seizure in almost 3 weeks and my brain is definitly not feeling as fuzzy as it was before.  You can tell just by looking at me that I’m feeling so much better.  The doctor’s were really happy at how well I responded to the medication and were happy that I didn’t have to go onto the other one.  They were even able to give the mom’s a baseline for my development, which made them happy because a) it’s been a long time since anyone has been able to do that and b) they weren’t too far off the mark themselves.  The neurologist says that I’ve developed to about a 4 – 6 month old baby, which at first seems not so good (seeing as I’m 14 months), but is actually pretty amazing, seeing as my brain was pretty much re-set in July.  It’s almost like I have 2 birthday’s to count from.  I have my December birthday which is my actual age, but then I have my brain birthday which is July and would make me 7 months old.  So the mom’s are really really happy with how far I’ve come since I was that little baby in the PICU that wasn’t moving at all, couldn’t see light and couldn’t breathe on her own.  When you put it that way, I’m pretty amazed myself.

 

Come closer, I have a secret….

I wasn’t always this big you know? I started out pretty tiny – 1.78kg to be exact (that’s 3.9 pounds).  But over the last year, I have grown bigger and stronger with every day and every week and every month.  And now, today is my first birthday and even though there were some sad times and scary times, I think that my life is pretty amazing and I’m happy to be sharing my first birthday with all of you.

 

A Day in the Life

Today marks my 60th day in the hospital.  I’ve come to realize that this is a really long time because even my favourite nurse, Shelly (who comes to visit and play with me whenever she’s working, even when she’s not my nurse) has told me that I really need to go home and not come back for a long time.  She says that I can visit whenever I want when I come to clinic, but that I should really get a life outside of the atrium walls.

But the thing is, my life here, minus all the poking and prodding, isn’t really so bad.  I know, in all my rambling, that it can seem like we’re not having a lot of fun and sometimes that true, but most days I’m actually feeling really well and we try and keep me as entertained as possible.

Most mornings I like to wake up around 6:30am.  I like this the best because it’s just before the nurse changeover happens, so unless something is wrong, a nurse won’t come in and bug me until at least 8am and probably closer to 8:30am.  This means that I get some serious snuggle time with the mom who has spent the night with me.  We like to sit in the rocking chair, hook up my Ng tube for some breakfast and watch tv together.  Since it takes me an hour and a half to eat, it’s a really nice way to spend the first part of my morning.  If it’s Mama C who’s stayed with me, right after breakfast means that it’s time to clean up before the day nurse comes to check my vitals.  We either have a quick bath or just a wash down before the dreaded hair time begins.  My hair has gotten very very long and since I’ve decided to take up permanent residence here, the mom’s haven’t been able to get it cut.  It also gets tangled very easily if we leave it down, so while I scream and scream, Mama C works out the tangles and then puts it my pigtails.  They’re very cute (I’ve seen the pictures) but I’ll be happy when the bottom layer is a little longer so that we can do something else.  Then the day nurse comes in, fawns over me for a bit (if I’m feeling happy, I’ll totally throw them some smiles so that they think I’m extra cute) and then I get weighed and all checked out.  By that time, I’m totally exhausted and I usually settle down for a bit of a catnap.  Mama C says that I sleep much MUCH better at home, but because I spend so much time in my bed here, short ones are okay.

When I wake up, the doctors are usually coming around to tell the mom’s and dad’s how their kids are doing.  This is Mama C’s favourite part of the day.  She says that sometimes the doctors use bigger words with each other then when they’re explaining stuff to the mom’s one on one, so she listens carefully to understand what’s really going on (and not the dumbed down version).   This is the part of the day that goes by the fastest, because the doctor’s all come back again after rounds to actually check on how I’m doing and make plans for what they’re going to do with me next.   At some point in all of this madness, the mom’s get out my seat and we work on drinking from the bottle so that my tummy can be nice and empty before my OT Lisa comes in the afternoon.  Spending time with Lisa is my absolute favourite time of the day.  She gets out the big mat and spreads my toys all around and we just get to play! She brings toys that light up and toys that make noise and she puts on music and we sing and bounce.  I’m so tired when we’re done that sometimes I fall asleep right in the middle of the exercises and Lisa and the mom’s laugh at me.  I think when we leave here, I’m going to miss her the most.

The rest of the day is a little quieter.  The mom’s and I spend some time cuddling and playing.  Today Mommy had me playing with her on the mat and we both ended up falling asleep right on the floor! Mama C was already having a nap on the bed, so we had a nice family sleep all together.  When the one mom goes home for the night, then we start to settle down.  We eat dinner and play quietly until I start to drift off.  Sadly, the night nurse always seems to come in to her check on me just as I’m about to fall asleep or just as I drifted off, so normally I wake back up again for a little bit.  Mostly the mom’s leave me alone at that point, because if they hang out at my bedside, I think that it’s time to play again and I start smiling at them and they can’t help but get sucked back in.

Around and Around and Around

I know that we’ve laughed at what a trickster I am before, but it really is true.  In order for me to get to go home, cardiology wanted to make sure that everything about my heart and lungs were working fine.  They were a little concerned about some of my earlier test results and wanted to do another Echo to see if I had pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure, but between my lungs and my heart, not like the normal blood pressure).  So, yesterday morning I got to put on my pretty (and comfy) scrubs and I got wheeled down to the Echo lab, where Mama C and I saw Jane (who was my nurse the first time that Mama C and Mommy came for an echo with me before my first overnight visit) who came over to make sure we were all okay because she had heard about my arrest.  My nurse for yesterday was Rita, who was really kind and made sure I got weight and height checked (5.13kg and 63cm) and then she gave me some medication to make me sleepy (because it’s easier to get a clear picture if I’m sleeping) and I drifted off for a really great nap.

Mama C, on the other hand, hung out beside me until it was over.  She says that she knew something wasn’t right because the radiologist walked away and went right to the phone to call someone.  It turns out that he was calling my cardiologist because there was something a little surprising happening inside of me.  My cardiologist came downstairs right away to talk to Mama C and explained what was going on.  The heart is made up of 4 chambers: the left and right atrium and the left and right ventricles.  The blood moves between the atrium and ventricles through tiny doors that open and close when the heart beats.  It turns out that I have a blood clot that is right on the door between my right atrium and ventricle and it`s only being held in place by a little thin arm.  This is dangerous because every time the door opens and closes, it puts pressure on that thin arm and it increases the chances of the clot coming lose and moving to my lungs (that`s called a pulmonary embolism and it`s really bad).  So, they`ve loaded me up with blood thinners to decrease the work my heart has to do and the goal is that the longer the clot doesn`t move, the more likely that it won`t move – that hopefully it will calcify and stay exactly where it is.  The good(ish) news is that it`s possible that this is what caused my cardiac arrest in the first place – maybe a small piece of is got dislodged earlier – so they`ve scheduled an MRI for Tuesday, to look at my heart and my brain more closely to see if they can figure out if there was damage done earlier.  But for now, the doctor`s have hooked me back up to the heart and oxygen monitors and are constantly checking the level of blood thinners in my system so that they can keep me safe.  When my cardiologist came upstairs to explain everything to Mommy (because Mama C wasn`t sure she could explain it as well as an actual doctor) she said that while they`ve seen this happen before, it`s actually really rare, which mostly made the mom`s laugh because of course I`m going to develop the thing that`s rare – I do every single time!

It also means that my nurses are coming in to check on me way more often, which isn`t so bad because they all think that I`m so adorable – especially with my pigtails.  One nurse took one look at me and said that I looked like Boo from Monsters Inc and then she called me that all night long.  I`m lucky their so nice to me, because I can certainly be quite cranky – I really don`t like getting my blood pressure taken and I scream horribly when they come to do bloodwork.  But most of the time I try and be extra charming to make up for the times that I`m not such a great patient.