Never a Dull Day

Well, we headed into the hospital for our routine blood draw for CBC and vitals, and ended up in there an extra 3 hours.

Typically the way the blood draw works is this: the nurse flushes her Broviac line with Heparin to prevent coagulating, and then with part of a syringe of saline. Once the saline is in, they start to draw back on the plunger and see if any staining happens, meaning blood is in the line and ready to be drawn. That’s the goal.

Instead, we often end up pushing an entire syringe of saline in, then go through a dance where Michelle or I move Zoe’s limbs up and down, pumping her like a little old fashioned water well, or roll her over and around trying to find a position where the blood will enter the line.

This isn’t the way it should be, but we have just learned to deal with it. She’s very small and so is her line.

Today, we did exactly that, except there was no staining in the saline, no matter what we tried. The nurse proceeded to push a 2nd syringe of saline in, and still nothing showed. She pumped the syringe for awhile, and then one of us pulled Zoe’s shirt back, Michelle I think, because she noticed some liquid. Turns out the saline was escaping the line and Zoe now had a huge bubble of fluid boiling up under her skin just above the Broviac.

Now, we’ve come to have a decent level of calm in these visits, but this was a real challenge. The lump was really big and quite startling. It was a reminder of how quickly something can happen and upend our sense of calm, potentially putting us back in the hospital unexpectedly.

My first thought was not pretty — I was a little irritable at the amount of saline pushed in so quickly — but I’ve learned to restrain myself a little to wait and see how the doctors react before reacting too strongly myself. We stopped the attempted blood draw, got the doctor in, and had a look. Her first remark when she saw my face was, “oh don’t worry it’ll be reabsorbed, she’ll be ok”. I would have liked to see my face just before she said that, I’m sure it was priceless.

Soon we were settled in a room waiting for the surgeon to come take a look. When he arrived an hour later the bump had disappeared, the fluid absorbed. He reassured us that the Broviac issue was  not something to be terribly concerned about, but that we would want to put in a new line. It’s necessary not only for easier blood draws, but for administration of Zoe’s VP-16 chemotherapy.

This line was no longer needed, however. So what do we do? Pull it out. Right there on the little exam table, let’s yank out the direct line into her heart that took a 2hour procedure and anesthesia to put in!

I would never have been cut out for medicine, I realize now. There is an old wives tale about fathers passed out on the floor of the hospital whenever there is blood, and I’ve begun to wonder if it’s not a wives’ tale so much as a cautionary story.

The removal went fine, of course, the surgeon was not concerned and I’m sure he pulls tubes out of babies hearts all day long, but boy it was a little nerve wracking on our end. He held a bandage over the hole in her chest for a few moments, announced it was all set, and they applied the new dressing. Apparently it closes so quickly there is not need to worry about blood leakage or other problems. What a relief!

We’re on track for another long day on Thursday, Zoe will get her LP, her new Broviac, and a four hour drip of VP-16.

Vitals for the day:

  • WBC: 2.4
  • RBC: 3.0
  • Hemo: 9.0
  • Platelets: 613
  • Sodium: 132 (a little low still)
  • Creatinine: .1 (normal is .3-.7, this is a marker for kidney function and the doctor felt it was fine)

9 thoughts on “Never a Dull Day

  1. Evan, thank you so much for this blog. I have not met you, but I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle at Stella’s birthday party Saturday. I am filled with admiration for the way your family is handling an extremely difficult period in your lives. We are thinking about Zoe and praying for her. Your blog is an excellent way for people who care to keep up with how things are going. It is certainly one of the best written blogs that I have seen, and you do a wonderful job of capsulizing the medical situations. My compliments.

  2. Evan, I second everything David has said. We feel involved in your journey through your eloquent descriptions of emotional highs and lows. I hope that writing gives you some comfort and lets you know you have many, many people traveling this road with you and Michelle.

  3. Thank you everyone for your kind words.

    I just wanted to reply to be sure you all know that we do read your comments each day, and we very much appreciate the interest and support.

  4. After getting Michelle’s message today about the line problem, I’m relieved to see that they pulled it and will put in a new line on Thursday. That way, it is a scheduled procedure rather than having been an unscheduled one today, which can be so much more trying. Evan, this certainly helped me realize that pulling out a line, which is such a simple thing for those of us who do it, is not at all simple for those in attendance. I hope your and Michelle’s adrenaline levels are back to normal – or whatever passes for normal these days :). May Tuesday and Wednesday be calm, peaceful, and totally boring so you can rest up for Thursday’s marathon. Love, Mara

  5. Dear Evan and Michelle,

    Thought you would like to know that I am getting regular requests for updates on Zoe.

    Zoe has become a matter for real concern and prayers to the many people who got to know Larry and Sandra well during their stay in Greece.

    Please rest assured that we are thinking of you all

  6. Evan,
    That calmness you describe there has always been one of your outstanding traits. Its got to be insane to able to do it under those circumstances, however.

    Zoe looks wonderful and happy in the new photo. babies seem so resilient, its wonderful that they can hold onto joy so well and let the other stuff go. Thank god the brain works that way.

    Wishing you two the best,

  7. I love looking at Zoe’s pictures. She still has a smile even though she is going through so much. I know your feeling of panic you were feeling when they began removing the line. I went through some of those same feelings when they tried to remove my line and Zoe is so little and does not understand all that is happening.

    Hopefully when you return on Thursday things will be alot smoother and no unexpected things will occur. We continue to pray for you all!

    Take care! God will give you the strength to endure!



  8. Our hearts go out to you and your family. Be assured that you are all under the protection of God and His Holy Spirit. Courage and patience we pray for you.

    Cindy and Bill

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