IMR: Entries: 2002: October: 13 — Sunday, October 13, 2002


Zac is sleeping like a baby. For that, I envy him.

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Zac, free of most tubes and with a fluffy pillow. The speed at which kids heal is just miraculous.
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The nurses spend a quiet morning moment chatting. Now there's space for a nice rocking chair.
This morning passed in a haze. I drove back to the apartment to pick up Jen, Katie, and a giant basket of laundry, dropped Jen off at the hospital, and then drove 22 miles out to mom's house in Mililani — stopping first in town for a large Coke to keep me awake.

I ate the first real breakfast I'd had all week: bacon, eggs, toast, and another glass of Coke. Then, under emphatic orders from mom, I stretched out on the floor to sleep.

I was out for a little over four hours. I snored up a storm. And I had a strange dream in which my brother was dating a Japanese national, who turned out to be married with a young daughter. The soap opera was about to come to a messy end on the beach fronting the Pink Palace in Waikiki when Katie stepped on my foot.

When I woke up, it was 3:30 p.m., and the laundry was already done. (Mom rocks.) I'd missed a whole day of fun, as Katie had apparently churned through every toy in the house, then went out to ride her tricycle. After lapping the block with mom, they were joined on a second trip by Nathan, mom's new neighbors' two-year-old son. "He's my new boyfriend," Katie declared.

I had saimin for a late lunch, as did Katie (who had earlier rejected a bowl of Spaghetti-Os). It was quite a challenge, afterward, convincing her that she had not just had dinner, and was thus not entitled to ice cream for dessert.

Jen called from Zac's bedside with an update. They had taken just about all the equipment in his bay away, replacing the big hose and oxygen mask with soft plastic nose plugs. He was getting less and less drugs, and less and less oxygen, and more and more milk. Though he was awake more, and thus uncomfortable and fussy more, we were glad for the progress. She said he was just barely able to open his left eye a bit.

Most importantly, they took Zac out of bed for a while, and let Jen hold him. It was the contact that Jen was hungering for since we first saw Zac on Monday night, bandaged up and drowned in wires and tubes.

She said Zac might even be discharged from the PICU and put "on the floor" tomorrow.

Being downgraded was good news and bad news. Good news because he'd be that much closer to going home, but bad news because, as we've learned all too well, life at Kapi`olani Medical Center outside the care of specialists is pretty dismal. Sure, in the delivery room, or in the $1,500-a-day ICU, you're dealing with the best of the best. But the drop in quality of care, and the drop in simple courtesy and overall attitude of employees, is so huge it's maddening.

With few exceptions, I'm really going to miss everyone I've gotten to know in the PICU. I told Jen I'm definitely going to set them up with a huge vat of cookies when we get home. And she said we should add them to our Christmas card list.

With only a little while left before we'd have to head back, we opted for a for-the-heck-of-it trip to Costco.

Not surprisingly, Katie passed out during the drive there, so we just chilled out in the parking lot to let her sleep. When we finally went in, we resisted the urge to buy a stack of DVDs, leaving only with a giant bottle of cough syrup. (We'd hoped to gorge ourselves on the usual array of free food samples, but all we found was some lychee bubble tea.)

It was 5:30 p.m. before we knew it, so we loaded everything up and drove into town. We picked up mom at the hospital, then took mom out to Kalani High School where she joined the band for the night's football game against Moanalua. We then headed a little further east to Aina Haina, choosing to eat dinner at Duck Yun Chinese Restaurant.

After giving Katie her long-awaited dessert at Peacock Ice Cream (a sort of off-brand Bubbies), I took her and Jen home, then went back to the hospital.

Zac's area was indeed roomy with all the machines gone. And now, he even had a big soft pillow to rest his head on. I spent my night in a beautiful koa rocking chair, on which a brass plaque memorialized a young woman named Ashley Beth Lee (March 23, 1987 to February 13, 2001).

Dr. Moore was the attending for the night, as part of a double shift. Until Jen mentioned it during her call, I didn't realize until tonight that of all the PICU attending doctors that have cycled through since Zac was admitted, Dr. Moore is the only one I've never met, nor have we seen her personally examine Zac. And Loretta was Zac's nurse again. So I settled in to spend another night a little more vigilant than usual.

I did have a good chat with the charge nurse, Paul, though, a rugged, handsome fellow that made his scrubs look good enough for a J. Peterman catalog. (The young girl in the next bed was already quite a fan.) Paul explained how they were monitoring Zac's heart rate, and reassured me that there was very little to worry about.

Even so, I watched Zac's heart rate fluctuate, dropping to the high 50s now and then, triggering the alarm. It always came back up seconds later, fortunately. To be sure, the PICU staff reduced the amount of morphene Zac was getting, switching to Tylenol with codeine to relieve any pain.

Now and then, Zac would fuss, whimpering and occasionally crying. We got a hospital-issued pacifier for him, but he wouldn't take it. He was clearly uncomfortable, and sadly my off-key singing only barely improved his mood. He did like being patted, though, and holding onto my finger.

I was thrilled when I saw his left eye opening, watching me. It could only open a little, but wide enough to see a little of his whites. I blinked at him, and he blinked at me, until he fell asleep.

To pass the time, I watched the late-night replay of the UH-Nevada game, which went down at Aloha Stadium earlier in the evening. While I'm not usually a fan of football, I have started to pay attention to my alma mater's team as of late. And the game was a disaster for Nevada, UH pulling off big running plays, big passing plays, and three turnovers, all in the first half. It was almost funny, watching the score baloon to 42-10 in only the first quarter. I turned it off at halftime, but I presume we won.

Zac's 4:15 a.m. lab results came in picture perfect. His hemoglobin was up to 12.4, his hematocrit to 36, and if anything, his platelets — ideally between 212 and 338 — were high at 358.

Dawn's breaking as I type, and I'm craving sleep like a hardcore addict in withdrawl. Finding my vision washed out and vibrating for a while earlier tonight, I'm very much aware now that I'm no longer the invincible night-owl I once was ten years ago. As if I need anything else to look forward to about Zac's release from the PICU, he'll have a private room with a place (if not a comfortable place) for me to sleep nearby.

Mmm. Sleep.


The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is certainly looming larger for your family. Whatta relief!
Tutu Sue (October 15, 2002 9:09 AM)

Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers. You've got a lot of people praying for you! Karen (TMS mom of little boy with C/S)
Karen (October 15, 2002 9:40 AM)

{massive sigh of relief} I am *so* happy that things are starting to look up. Watch, he'll be asking for the car keys soon... (And get some sleep, dude!)
Lusus Naturae (October 15, 2002 12:28 PM)

Phew. I'm very glad it's gone as well as it appears to have(now). Continued best wishes!
Linkmeister (October 16, 2002 10:40 PM)

Way to go, Zac (and family)! One tough baby.
maggie (October 17, 2002 6:30 AM)

E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!

© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: [ PGP ] · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008