Day +47: Outpatient Daze

Note: A bit of a cute picture round-up today, I had a few more inpatient pictures to get up before we move on.

Where to begin? So much has happened the past few days it seems like. It feels very similar to our first experience of leaving the hospital to care for Zoe for obvious reasons, however things are much more complicated this time around. We’re managing her IV pumps, oral meds, blood draws and cap/dressing changes now.

Hats handmade and given to the kids, most of whom lose their hair

Our first night out was a whirlwind. We left the hospital, headed to our apartment a short distance away, and began unpacking all of our things. We were scheduled for an outpatient nurse to come check on us and supervise our first night’s medical routines, but she arrived 4 hours earlier than we had been expecting, almost immediately after we arrived home. Add to it that we were exhausted and she was, well, a bit of a Drill Sergeant, and the evening was bumpier than it could have been.

We had just been lying down for a nap, Zoe was asleep, Maya was asleep, and Michelle and I wanted nothing more than to sleep — when the knock came. Grizzly, our dog, was still here at that point, and he got up to see who was there. Before I could get the door fully open, I heard, “is that a dog I hear?!”. Uh oh.

“Yes, but he’s friendly,” I said. “He’s going to have to go away,” she replies. So I shut the door, shuffle Grizzly off to a bedroom and return. No big deal.

We gather into the (only) central room to get acquainted. She asks us where our supplies are, and we explain that we haven’t had a chance to get to the store to buy a storage chest, we were expecting her later, so they’re still boxed up. This is met with what I can only describe as disdain. Clearly we have failed already.

We’re told that they would never schedule a visit as late as we’d been expecting, which is probably true. Unfortunately it doesn’t change what we were told, and not knowing better we’re now firmly confused as to where we should be.

We start to lay out our supplies on the table to make sure we have everything, when suddenly Maya comes charging in from the other room “flying” (she’s a big Tinkerbell fan) in her fairy costume, and bumps something that was left on a chair onto the floor.

“You’re going to have to control her! Do you have any Grandparents?! Can you call someone?”

Were I quicker with the wit, I would have explained that we keep them in the pantry nearby for just such emergencies, which seemed to be the expectation. Instead I replied that, yes, we do have my parents nearby and yes, I can call them. God help us if we hadn’t had someone nearby on call, who knows what might have come of our toddler.

Our gear all laid out, we begin to prep. It’s painful, and bumpy, and even though we have had training with demonstration gear we haven’t actually drawn the medicine before, so it takes a little learning. Each mistake is met with a look of disapproval as, though she sees us making it, she allows it to continue. In one case she pointed to a small puddle of medicine on the table mistakenly over-primed from the tubing, glanced at Michelle, and made a remark to the effect of, “now you know”. I am glad there were no sharp objects close by at the point, I fear we would have been needing a new nurse (I kid!).

By the end of the approximately 3 hour visit, we have prepped the IV nutrition and lipids, injected vitamins into them, started 3 timed medications through Zoe’s lines, flushed the lines repeatedly with saline consuming roughly 30 alcohol wipe packets, and given her her two direct slow-injection medicines. I would estimate we also shortened our lives by a month, give or take, just based on the stress. But who’s counting.

Zoe with her primary nurse.

Thankfully Zoe and Maya slept well that first night, and our two subsequent visits have been performed by patient, sane nursing staff who helped us get comfortable with the process of caring for a child fresh out of the hospital. Grizzly has not been “sent to live on a farm”, but has been packed off just the same to our actual home with his Grandad, who is the one who has been doting on him the most these past months anyway. I was sad to see him go, but he is much happier with a yard and his familiar sleeping spots.

We made it through the weekend, veering from one crisis to the next. We would begin a treatment (nervously, fearing any moment we’d cross a wire and blow up our baby) then realize we needed to do something else immediately after and swerve to that. Each night we collapsed on the couch, exhausted, nevertheless happy to be together once again, stressful as it was.

Zoe's new onesie, compliments of her primary nurse.

Each day has gotten better and we’re slowly creating a new schedule of duties to manage things. The important thing is that Zoe is doing great and Maya is happy to have us both back again. Soon we’ll be old pro’s at these new things, and the stress will dissipate.

Zoe’s labs have been good, she has not yet needed cell growth factor again (GCSF), nor has she needed platelets, blood products, or minerals. It’s astounding, we would absolutely have expected her to need them these first few days. She has also begun to drink her milk again very happily — she seems just as thrilled to be eating as we are to see it.

7 thoughts on “Day +47: Outpatient Daze

  1. Hi Evan,

    I am sorry but I laughed through this post.
    I’ve been in a similiar situation, with the drill sergeants sister in NJ. You will be old pro’s with all this stuff soon.

    Stay well and make sure you order some more alcohol wipes.

  2. So happy to hear you are all together again.
    As Andrea commented she was sorry that she laughed so did I. It sounds like you are beginning to get the hang of things!

    Each day will get easier and easier and just when you get the hang of it, the process will be over. Take care and we love you!

    I loved the pictures!!!

    Love,

    Gail

  3. GO ZOE!!!!! We are so proud of all of you. I understand what you mean by drill sergent nurses. You do realize that Zoe is no longer just your baby girl, right? See as we have learned ourselves, she is loved by so many that she has become our baby girl as well. It might sound strange but when a client at the salon I work at said that same thing to me I actually felt comforted. Zoe is such a strong little girl. I love to read your updates and see the great pictures and videos. See I can only upload pictures to Maya’s carepages, not sure how to do the video thing. LOL! we pray that Zoe continues to knock it out of the park. Always inour hearts.

    Much love ,
    Shana, Kris & Maya Gordon

  4. Oh, I sure do know THAT nursing archetype :(. Thanks for the reminder of what it’s like on the other side of that behavior.

    You are a great team and she’s getting better every day. You’re almost halfway to day 100. Mara

  5. i am very happy for your baby . GOD save her for you . i hope she will be better and better . also , i want to tell you that , my baby Nadine is died for not make the operation in EGYPT , so i hope all the best for your baby .

  6. Sameh,

    I’m terribly sorry to hear about Nadine.

    I had hoped that we would hear good news, I am very sad to hear she was not able to get a transplant in time.

    Our thoughts are with your family.

    Evan

  7. Well, in my opinion, it is Nurse Ratchett who has to go. Off with her head!

    Meanwhile I am in awe of your patience, persistence and stamina. I know you must be beyond exhaustion at this point. Please continue to take as good care of yourselves as you can.

    I remain in quiet vigil and continue to send positive energy your way.

    Love, Cindy

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