I'm hoping that this brain dump will alleviate my headache. God its been a long couple of days. We went back to Children's yesterday for a PFT to check Drew's lung function post-steroid and to determine if he would need IV antibiotics. I knew that the steroids weren't working, but held out hope that we wouldn't need IV's. He blew a 77 this time, down again. We went from 92 in March, to 85 in early June, to 79 two weeks ago and we're now down to 77. The mystery of it all is that he remains symptom-less. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what could possibly be wrong since this is completely uncharacteristic of an "exacerbation" for Drew. I have an exacerbation score sheet for godsake and it's telling me that he is not having an exacerbation, despite lung function that continues to drop lower and lower. All of this thought and wonder and worry culminated in the parking lot of Home Depot on Sunday where I sat crying because I couldn't find a paint color for my living room. My cure for grief is action, and so despite being mentally and physically exhausted, I decided that we needed to paint the house. So we did. (I finally found the right paint color and we got that all taken care of on Sunday, in case you were wondering).
We had talked to Drew's doctor over the weekend about our plan for if his numbers were still low, and had scheduled an appointment to have a PICC placed at 10am on Monday, something that we could easily cancel if his numbers were miraculously up. They weren't, and so at 7:45 on Monday morning we knew our plan. We had discussed what medications we would use, the dosing schedule, the plan for the PICC placement - no sedation, just a small dose of Ativan to keep him calm (next time i'm asking for a dose for me too) - and we were set. A wonderful friend who is going to make a wonderful doctor someday soon met us at the hospital to keep us company and better understand the patient and family experience of care through this process. I was so grateful to have her with us when the first hiccup of the day happened.
Drew was scheduled for his PICC at 10am, and I was to pick up his dose of Ativan at the hospital pharmacy that morning. When we arrived at 7:30, I realized that that pharmacy didn't open until 9am, no problem. After we got the results of the PFT and knew that the PICC was a go, we went down to radiology to register for the PICC procedure and were quickly ushered back to an isolation waiting room, something I request the moment we step foot into the hospital. For me, there is always a fear of a[nother] hospital acquired drug resistant infection, so I take extra steps to ensure his safety and my comfort with it. The issue I have with these so-called "isolation rooms" is that there is no indication of when it's been cleaned. I don't know who was in it before me, whether it's been cleaned, if it will be cleaned when I leave it, or anything at all about its cleanliness. I do not trust blindly, especially when it comes to Drew and germs. Can't we put a sign on the door to indicate that the room is clean? Anyway, we got called right up to interventional radiology so they could use an ultrasound machine to identify a good place in his arm to put the PICC and then mark it and add numbing cream. The nurse then took us back to the isolation room - the one we had been in, the one that I had closed the door to before we went upstairs for a moment but when we returned the door had been opened, the one I had no indication of having remained ours and no one elses while we were gone for 20 minutes - to wait for the pharmacy to open so we could get his dose of Ativan before starting the procedure. She told me to have the receptionist page her when we got the medication and were ready, as it looked likely that they could take us early.
So at 9am, I left my friend with Drew in the isolation room to run over to the pharmacy to pick up the medication, only they didn't have it. Did I screw up? Was I supposed to have gotten it from CVS on my way in? I had her call CVS to see if they had it and could transfer the prescription, but they didn't have it either. His doctor had emailed me yesterday to say she had called it in, and I was able to pick of the other anti-nausea medicine, but the Ativan was nowhere to be found. I called up to clinic and had the receptionist page the nurse who was covering for our nurse who is on vacation. She told me she would page Drew's doctor, who is in clinic seeing patients, to have her call down a new prescription as soon as possible. At 9:40, forty minutes after having arrived in the pharmacy to pick up this order and delaying the process of getting a PICC, something that was suggested by my husband that perhaps I try without the Ativan so as to not delay the placement of the PICC any longer, the pharmacy got the order and gave me the med. I was livid. I was livid not because of the mix up, though I don't know what happened to the first order, but because I was already exhausted - mentally and emotionally, trying to prepare myself and Drew and our family for what life will be like for the next two weeks with running IVs from home, with no swimming, with no sweating, with lots of interruptions from pharmacies and home care nurses and extra appointments and a rigid schedule of medication infusions - and now I had to become the detective and problem solver of a problem that I had no part in creating. Sure, I could have walked away and we could have done the PICC without the Ativan, but to help him, if even just a little, relax and feel a tiny bit more at ease about the whole process was worth the work. The longer it took to get the medicine, the more my stress levels rose. He was waiting, nervously, without me in a room with a friend of mine he only kind of knows while I asked and waited and tried to decide which direction to go. Thankfully I stayed and got the medicine, because the PICC placement didn't go as planned - 6 sticks, two blown PICCs and finally a successful placement later and we were all set. Without the Ativan, this would have been suffering. Avoidable, minimizable suffering that has a lasting impact on a kid who already has more to deal with than most adults will in their lifetime. I will always request Ativan, not because he needs it, but because he deserves it.
Following the PICC placement procedure, we went back up to clinic to meet with the homecare nurse for the first doses of the medication. We always do this at the hospital in case there is a reaction. IV's are no joke, and its better to be safe than sorry. Our nurse was lovely and we chatted while I answered a flurry of text messages from concerned friends and family members. Drew happily colored and played on his iPod until the first two infusions were done, and we were on our way home by 3pm. To think of this as a short day was a bit ironic given that we had arrived at 7:30am, but sometimes these days can last for 12 or 15 hours, so this felt short. It felt short anyway until we got home. Then it hit me like a brick wall. We had made it, I could exhale, and the stress of the unknown from the past several weeks started to show up in my horrible back pain, throbbing headache, and exhausted mind. I laid on the couch for the next many hours, my husband putting the kids to bed, and then finally went to bed myself after hooking him up to his nighttime dose of Meropenum. I woke up today feeling awful. My head hurts. My everything hurts. I don't know if its harder this time because he's more aware of what's happening and in addition to managing my own stress and anxiety about everything I'm also trying to minimize his? Is it because the rest of the family sees this as unfair and I feel responsibility to help manage expectation and disappointments and frustrations? I don't know. I do know that in a day or two we will find our groove, everyone will have accepted our temporary routine. Forgive our messy house and scattered minds and shitty attitudes for the next two weeks. It's sort of like survival mode over here, for all of us. We so greatly appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers, and will keep you updated on all things happening here in crazytown.