Tag Archives: blood

That Time We Went To The Hospital…

These last two weeks have seemed a little like a single long day that wouldn’t quit!  As parents of a child with cancer, we have been carefully prepared to be ready at a moments’ notice to pack and run…and pack and run again, but this has been extraordinary even for us.  When I think through “moment by moment“, I never expect each new moment to be totally different from the last, but that’s exactly what this two-week day seemed to hold.

It all started as we commuted to the hospital for five straight days of all-day chemo infusions [insert comments and mutterings about traffic here] .  We were mercifully able to be home on Saturday, but on Sunday, our best layed plans for “normal” and “rest” were blown to smithereens as soon as I heard the words “Come quick! Chase is bleeding!” and realized that one lumen on his central line had torn.  …so, back to the hospital we went.

A lumen repair kit...aka: needle salvation

A lumen repair kit…aka: needle salvation

Sidenote: we often tell hospital staff “It’s Chase.”…as in “Yes, we know this rarely ever happens, but….it’s Chase.”

Back to the story… in true “It’s Chase” form, Chase’s line tear was in an area for which they had no repair parts, so after hours in the ER and the vascular access team weaving what can only be described as a sterile burrito (comprised of alcohol wipes, gauze and tegaderms) around the line -to protect from the errant bacteria-, we were discharged.  Until Tuesday.  When we went back in for blood and platelet transfusions and the line repair.  We left that same night and managed to stay out until…Wednesday night.  A whole 24 hours.  At which point, Chase hit his chemo nadir (when the chemo is at it’s strongest point), spiked a fever, and after sitting in the ER until 2:30AM, were re-admitted to the hospital.

We were hoping to go home fever-free sometime on Thursday when the newly repaired central line malfunctioned (see: more blood everywhere) and so we didn’t leave until Friday night.  I should also note that we’ve become very close with the vascular access team.  On Friday night, the stability of the line was still somewhat in question, but with nobody finding anything decisively wrong, Thursday’s blood experience was chalked up to a freakish incident of nature and we were discharged with the niggling thought that the line would only ever show it’s cards once we left the hospital…and got home…and tried to rest.  …which did indeed turn out to be the case.

The malfunctioning repair

The malfunctioning repair

On Saturday night, about an hour into Chase’s infusion, I realized his IV fluids were running down the front of his shirt, so after a brief moment of parental freak-out, I calmly put my eyeballs back into their sockets and we went back to the hospital.  Triage in the emergency room lasted so long that by the time the doctors came to look at the line, they declared everything dry and in need of testing.  After an hour or more of testing, it turned out that the line was leaking, so around our favorite admitting hour (2:30am, for those of you just joining us), we were again given a room with the promise of surgery consults in the morning.

Without a doubt, the worst part of the loss of a central line is the need for peripheral IVs (the kind they stick in your hand or arm).  For Chase, that usually means three to five people holding him down and the collapse of at least one vein from his terrifying struggle to escape the needle.  If you were questioning why we’d put up with a central line and all it’s drama in the first place, don’t miss this… The reason we put up with and even love the central line is because it saves Chase from needles.  Medical staff can draw blood and administer any medication or chemo through this line – without ever touching his body.

Proudly displaying his IV - "You should see the other guy!"

Proudly displaying his IV – “You should see the other guys!”

It took four people and two tries, but they finally got an IV in Chase’s hand.  And that concludes the events that led to Chase going into surgery on Sunday afternoon and getting a new central line.

Which summarily ended our two-week long day.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Moment by ever-changing moment.

The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Sleeping peacefully in pre-op moments before he was taken back to the OR

Sleeping peacefully in pre-op moments before he was taken back to the OR

Of Blood and Hearts and Snowflakes

In the hours following Chase’s surgery, scans showed that there were some areas of fluid around his brains – pockets, if you will. I regularly flash back to those uncertain hours and the sick, tight feeling in my stomach as we waited and wondered if he would need to go back into surgery.
Those hours resolved in the same day with a second scan that showed no change and it was determined that the fluid could be watched and waited on as Chase moved forward in stable condition.
Chase -as we well know- continues in stable condition, but the January scans (when we received such good news) revealed that these pockets of fluid have changed: now, there is blood in them.
I won’t even begin to write on a technical level about things like “hematoma” that I don’t even completely understand, but I will reiterate this: Chase is stable. If there was an immediate or emergent quality to this issue, we would see marked changes in him.
Chase will, however, be having a repeat scan in a couple of weeks and will be meeting with his neurosurgeon to determine a plan of action. …a plan that I pray will in no way involve booking an operating room.
The wondering and the waiting. The watching anxiously and exchanging worried looks over his head any time he slurs a word or loses his balance. All of it tempts me to despair and curse the cancer…to throw up my hands and scream “This will never be done! This will never be better! There is no end to this awful disease!”
And yet…
In the middle of this past week, we learned that a little girl who shares our hospital lost her battle with cancer. Her name is Anna. She was 11. Somewhere, her family sits forever changed – doubtlessly reliving the awful moments when they were told that the chemo had done irreparable damage and the very hours were numbered.
I grieve for Anna’s family, yet I am truly thankful for her life’s reminder that I still hold a living and breathing child in my arms and that each second of life is a precious gift.
The day Anna died, I stood looking out the window over the bleak landscape and as I stood, snow began to fall. As I watched the flakes in the air, I was reminded that there is a sovereign God who crafted and knows each design of each flake that touches the earth and he knows Anna’s heart and Chase’s brain and all the whys and wherefores that I don’t and may never know or understand.
I want to tie this all together neatly… The blood pockets in a damaged brain, the chemo-ridden heart that stopped a too short life, the snow that fell and the insight with it. I don’t believe there is a neat or tidy way to wrap these hideous and beautiful things, but this …

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 (New Living Translation)

Moment by moment.

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