Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's okay to laugh

Maggie's always had borderline high blood pressure, which is a bit of a concern primarily because of family history (her dad (Grandpa Jerry) died of a heart attack in 2000). A few years ago, though, she started running, culminating in the amazing performance she put on last November, running the New York Marathon. She lost a lot of weight, brought her blood pressure way down into the normal ranges, and generally got very healthy going into the pregnancy. The effort she put out to get in shape and healthy really highlights how sucky it was that her pregnancy was so difficult, because she did every thing right and it still didn't make any difference. All this is to simply give background to a silly inside joke.

Auntie Krista, prior to last year, worked on a blood pressure study at the U, and was trained in taking blood pressure. Because Maggie was concerned about preeclampsia and pregnancy induced hypertension (and especially because, for a reason that wound up having nothing to do with what wound up forcing the emergency c-section, she had been ordered to stop running and most exercise), she took Maggie's blood pressure regularly. During these blood pressure check sessions, we would try to joke around and relax Maggie, because being nervous about a blood pressure test has the perversely predictable result of increasing one's blood pressure. A term that stuck from these sessions was the idea that something could be maddening enough to force one's blood pressure to "one-eighty over preeclampsia", which for whatever reason became very funny to us.

Of course, Maggie did wind up getting preeclampsia, which was one of the two complications that forced the c-section on May 12. I remember visiting Maggie with Krista in the hospital early on in this process where we had a conversation, punctuated with nervous laughter, about whether it was okay to joke about blood pressure of 180 over preeclampsia any more. The answer was and is clearly **yes**.

I've thought about this a lot since then, because it is very true that when one is going through a tense and difficult time, even one as difficult as grieving the loss of someone you care deeply about, the time can't always be spent being morose, gloomy, or focused on the trying subject at hand. Even in the days after Grandpa Jerry's death, for example, I remember us laughing a lot at all kinds of silly things, like remembering his habit of going to Sam's Club for, say, a jar of pickles and coming back with a set of tires. It's been the same here, and a very therapeutic thing for us has been to laugh about what we worry about. So yeah, the lactation consultants make us crazy, but that doesn't mean I can't make fun of Maggie by calling her "Milky McPumpsalot" when she goes to nurse her mechanical child. It's what you gotta do to stay sane.

Woody continues to gain weight and generally do well, and recover from his recent setbacks on the vent. His settings are back up to last week's levels on the pressure guarantee functions, but this is not as important generally as the tidal volume levels, which have not changed. He is also showing some signs of breathing on his own a little more regularly, which is good, although not near the levels yet where we can consider a timetable of making an attempt to get him off the vent. We'll be watching that carefully, because if he isn't close to that point in a few weeks then we may have to consider the possibility of Woody getting a tracheostomy, lest he get complications related to having his tube in his throat too long (and allowing him to improve his development in other areas, like learning how to suckle). One of the complications I'm referring to is the oddly named "floppy trachea." If that isn't something you can joke about, I am not sure what is.


At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Grammie said...

I think Maggie's preparation for the pregnancy did make a difference. Maybe the extraordinary good health she worked so hard to achieve was the very thing that saved Woody. Imagine how much smaller and weaker he could have been if his mama had not been able to overachieve during the 5 months he was inside. I say, "Hats off to Maggie!"


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