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The Bug’s Story, Part II

March 29, 2010
tags: ,

You can read the first part of The Bug’s Story here.

The doctor looked at The Bug, whose skin was almost translucent at this point, and without examining her or even taking her out of the infant carrier, said “You need to walk across the street to the hospital and go to the 10th floor Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Unit.” In the interest of full disclosure, he let us know that the doctor we would see there was his wife. They were both actually pediatric hematologists/oncologists, but he had chosen private pediatrics practice when they moved to this relatively small town (which could probably only accommodate so many specialists in this area).

We got off the elevator on the 10th floor of the hospital where The Bug was born 2 months earlier, and there were several people-at least one doctor and some nurses-waiting for us. They walked us into a room right next to the nurses’ station. It had two metal cribs, a window overlooking downtown Roanoke and a built in couch that I would soon learn made a reasonably comfortable bed.

Nurses immediately started trying to get an IV in The Bug, to take some blood. It was not easy. They kept sticking her, and one of the nurses said they might have to try a vein in her head. J. walked to the window and looked out. The nurse asked me if he was okay, and I said yes, that it was just hard to watch. For some reason, I felt like I had to stay right next to her and watch what they were doing. I won’t even watch when I’m having blood taken or getting a shot, but moms have to watch. It’s part of the deal, I thought. They ended up getting an IV in The Bug’s right arm, and it would stay there for a week.

When I think about this scene now, I think that J. had a better idea of what was going on than I did, and that’s why he reacted differently. The strangest thing about all of this is that I really can’t remember what I was thinking. I don’t remember being scared, or sad, or squeamish about the blood (which I usually am). It’s bizarre to me that I can remember what I was wearing, what the weather was like, and other little details about that time but I can’t really describe my thoughts or my feelings.

Somewhere along the line, after getting some blood tests done, The Bug had a red blood cell transfusion. At some point, once The Bug was feeling a little better (the transfusion quickly improved her coloring and she perked up a bit) I decided to try and nurse her. I asked the nurse if I could climb into the crib with her – I thought that since she was attached to the tubes, we couldn’t hold her. The nurse laughed (and probably thought I was an idiot) and showed me that I could pick her up and sit in the chair next to the bed with her. The Bug still didn’t really want to eat, and I realized that I was in a lot of pain.  I hadn’t nursed, because The Bug wouldn’t eat, and need to pump. I asked a nurse if they could get me one, but then I ended up going to our house to get my pump along with a change of clothes.

They had told us that low hemoglobin meant not enough red blood cells, and that’s why she needed a transfusion. After that first procedure was over, the doctor came in and explained that The Bug’s hemoglobin was low, and that hemoglobin attaches to red blood cells in the body. Normal hemoglobin for an infant is between 9 and 13. The first blood test (on Friday afternoon) showed a count of about 5; when they took her blood the next morning at the hospital it was 3. If there are not enough red blood cells, oxygen cannot be moved properly through the body. J. and the dr. were sitting on the bench/couch/bed and I was standing, holding The Bug. I was doing that swaying dance step thing that mothers of infants do (I’ve even done it without a baby in my arms, it becomes a habit). I asked, “What happens if you don’t have enough red blood cells to move the oxygen?” The doctor looked at me, then at J. and back at me. She said “Heart Failure.” My knees buckled.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. SASSY permalink
    March 30, 2010 12:17 am

    I’m not sure I can do this again.

  2. March 31, 2010 11:41 am

    Wow, you were right…this one made me cry! But, again, I reminded myself that we KONW the outcome of this story and it is a GOOD outcome I can’t even imagine what you guys went through during that time. It is good that you are writing her story down and you may even be able to provide information to others in the same situation. Hugs to the Bug!

  3. March 31, 2010 11:42 am

    Yeah, I spelled KNOW wrong…too early for me to type!!

  4. Robin permalink
    April 7, 2010 7:42 pm

    I need to report immediately and play Barbie with her and the Bean.


  1. The Bug’s Story, Part III « The Politics of Life

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