I Need to Sit Down

One of the individuals in the room with Micah was a well dressed man who introduced himself as Dr. Levy. He was the neonatologist, or baby doctor, for Micah. He started going into detail on what was going on with Micah and what they were doing to/with him at the moment. The bag I was carrying on my shoulder was getting heavier. The room was slowly getting hotter. My hearing started to get a little fuzzy and unfocused. I stopped really hearing what he was saying. I started feeling heavier. I set the bag down.

“I need to sit down.” I said. I got ushered over to the couch in the room and quickly took off my sweater. A very kind nurse brought me some water. If you remember from before. I don’t have the best reaction to talking about the circulatory system from a medical standpoint. This extends somewhat to medical situations and especially to IVs and tubes going into and out of a body. Seeing my son like he was and hearing all kinds of things about the heart were enough to trigger my typical response. Had I not sat down when I did, I probably would have passed out in short order. Everything came back fairly quickly. Vision, hearing, feeling. All okay. Then it was down to what was going on. My wife was mostly talking to the doctor. She’s a vet, she understands the medical stuff much better than I do. I told the doctor she was a vet so that they knew they could tell her things in technical terms. Maybe that was a little bit too forward of me, but I felt like the doctors and nurses needed to know that she was the one they needed to talk to more than me. She had a better grasp of what was happening. She was a doctor too.

To be honest I don’t remember of lot of what happened next. I know they told us things about what was going on with Micah. I know I tried to find places for the stuff we brought with us in the room, which was fairly small. The next thing I remember was meeting Micah’s nurse for that day. Later we found out she was a charge nurse normally. She was a kind lady that looked like she was in her 40s. My wife and I both sat in the couch and she crouched down and grabbed our hands. Below is not an exact transcript of what she said. It never is, I have a decent memory but not perfect (and really not that decent either). But it’s close enough.

“Micah is doing much better now than when he was brought in. When he was brought in he had one number that was very high (we would find out later that it was his lactic acid number), around 14 which is high enough to really worry us. Now he is down to 4, much better. In a range we can deal with and handle. We are going to do everything we can to help your son get better enough for the surgery (the first real notion I had that the surgery wasn’t imminent). Right now we have him intubated and sedated. Before, he was breathing so much that too much of his blood wasn’t going to his body. So we intubated him and sedated him to control his breathing. He is getting a drug called progesterone which is keeping the blood flowing from his heart to his body right now, but it is not a long term solution. He will need surgery. Right now our goal is to get him well enough to have that surgery. You guys be brave, we are with you through this, and we are here for you and for Micah.”

I misted up, my wife cried a little, it looked like the nurse misted up a little to. I honestly don’t know how the nurses in the NICU handle it. So much emotion coming in and going out of those doors every day. New parents, worried about their child, angry at the world, sick with fear, coming in every day. Seasoned parents, still worried, still angry, still sick, but hopeful, joyous, but also tired and weary. Everyday the nurses and the doctors have to be with us parents, dealing with us and our extreme emotions. I don’t think I could handle it. The technical part of the job, not so much of a big deal. It’s the emotional trauma you would have to deal with, day in and day out, that would get me.

Then it was time to leave. Micah was having a number of lines put in, a PIC line and an Art line that required that the rooms be sterile for. Meaning we had to leave, since we were definitely not sterile. I prayed a little over Micah and then we left. My dad was in the waiting room.

“Let’s get you something to eat.” He said. That was a lot of what dad did for us in those early hours. He made sure we ate. The honest truth was that worrying ourselves sick did no one any good, especially not Micah. He needed us good and strong when we finally got through this. When he finally got to wake up. When he finally got to come home. Whenever that would be.

Luckily, if we were gonna be there a long time, the pizza in the cafeteria wasn’t half bad.