Monday, June 12, 2006

The squeaky wheel

I am an empathetic person. I try to imagine what the other guys are thinking, walk a mile in their moccasins and all that jazz. I know that it must be really irritating for the nurses and support staff to deal with a guy like me sometimes, who wants to know what all the settings on the life support equipment are, who gets snippy if I detect a note of condescension in an explanation of a medical condition, or who sometimes demands to talk to managers if I am unhappy with the care or the procedures that are happening with Woody. "That guy doesn't know how busy we are," might be a comment made as I go off on another tirade.

And I'm sure that's true-- the NICU has been absolutely swamped with new arrivals, and without some advance notice I have no doubt that the same number of nurses have to watch over all the babies whether they're critical or not. But none of the foregoing seems to excuse a situation where my child is getting substandard care, as I see it. A baby born at 23 weeks 2 days is highly critical, even four weeks+ into his stay at the NICU, and assigning a nurse to watch him, watch a kid next door (who requires every-other hour feedings while being held), and backing up another nurse's two kids (while that other nurse is at lunch!) is utterly ridiculous. Add that to the fact that the general order that came down the pike after my last round of complaining about 'grouping cares' for Woody seemed to be roundly ignored this morning, leading to a stream of Woody Harassment procedures*, and when I get back to the hospital tonight I am likely to be on the proverbial warpath.

The care grouping thing is the item most likely to cause me to descend into a flurry of spittle-flecked invective. I have done this before, thankyouverymuch, and after complaining mightily to three consecutive nurse practitioners last week, a discernible difference was achieved-- for a while. It is absolutely not a coincidence to me that Woody is more unstable, requires more oxygen, and needs more sedative drugs after several hours of near-constant "cares".

All that being said, I do recognize that they were probably just having a hard morning, and Woody appears to not be any the worse for wear. His weight gain has appeared to slow down a little, so despite the fact that they said he was up to 'full feedings' last Friday they are actually going up another cc of milk per feeding today, so he is now '11q2' in the NICU argot (11 ccs every 2 hours). Moreover, they are supplementing his milk with some calcium and most likely giving him some protein as well. No word whether it's going to be in shake form.

Maggie's milk production continues to inch up, and she is certainly able to meet his needs for milk in terms of the volume she's producing. I have had to give her pep talks and reassure her on a daily basis since the lactation "expert" struck last week, which continues to make me slightly crazy. I have told her that this fear of low production (known to the Germans as "die Pümpenangst") is normal and not to worry about it, as she's doing great. It remains to be seen if she'll believe me at some point.

*Rumor has it that several shadowy groups have arisen to ensure that Woody is taken care of properly and with as little bothering as possible. Reference here has been made to the "HHW" group. I am aware of a smaller group known as the "People Against Poking Woody Unnecessarily" (PAPWU). The hospital should probably most be afraid of the "Woody Hobbs Order Of Preventing and Ameliorating Stressful Situations" (WHOOPASS). I hear they can get real mean.

**Followup to the aside at the end of this post, where I accused Auntie Krista of denying that the flu is a respiratory disease. She loudly has protested, using some spittle-flecked invective of her own (well, I'm supposing she did, although she is in San Francisco/Oakland and I can't really see her spittle from here). The truth is that while we've argued about what her exact point was when this started, her position now can be distilled to the basic statement that "there is no such thing as phlegm balls". That being said, she's still wrong, wrong, wrong. There is so.


At 4:40 PM, Blogger frykitty said...

re: der Pü, I think that's going to be die Pümpenangst. I suspect der Pümpenangst is something entirely different.


At 4:58 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Of course, the umlaut was included to be funny. I know enough German to know that such a word would not actually have one.

BUT! This is the really messed up part. I just went to Google and found out that THERE REALLY IS SUCH A TERM.

And, oh yeah, it's totally feminine. No, really. I'm changing it in the post.

At 5:56 PM, Blogger frykitty said...

I wasn't really correcting you. I was making a slightly off-color joke about a word I figured didn't exist. xoxGoob.xox

At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Sherri said...

Steve and I are commemorating Woody's first month on the outside today.

I'm sure for you and Maggie, it feels like you've lived years in this last month. We feel great respect and admiration for how you've both coped with this cataclysmic launch into parenthood, and we're thrilled that Woody's progress is so positive and hopeful.

Congratulations to all three of you!
Love, Sherri and Dad

At 4:18 AM, Anonymous jared said...

As I like to say: The youngest is always the strongest. I love ya 'drow. You've a leg up on yer sibling(s) boy.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous neuharth said...

Sign me up for that WHOOPASS group. I think I kind find my sunglasses, black suit, black shirt, and black tie in a relatively short period of time.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Bill Hooker said...

Hang in there with the troublemaking and the agitating, N. A parent who advocates strongly for their child makes a huge difference. For all their care and competence, medical staff can only do so much, and sadly there are always a minority who are not so much with the caring and the competent.

Personal example: I can walk only because my mother refused to accept the initial verdict that I never would, and went and found a physical therapist who know how to correct the (actually quite mild) deformity with which I was born. There is now absolutely no evidence of the initial problem -- but the surgeons wanted to cut my damn feet off!

Even if you do make yourself unpopular with a few members of hospital staff, the good ones know how valuable parental advocacy can be and will back you. The bottom line is Woody's health, and screw anyone who doesn't see that.


(Did you know? With the umlaut, "Pümpenangst" would be pronounced pretty close to "Pimpin' Angst". It's hard out here for a preemie...)


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