Friday, September 29, 2006

Let my Woody go!

When Woody was in NICU land
Oppressed so hard, and he can't stand!

Go down Nathan
Way down in NICU land
Tell them Neonates

Today is the day. After work, I'm meeting Maggie at the hospital and we're springing him. We've been working really hard to make the house acceptable in terms of cleanliness; we have an air freshener, we've cleaned the air ducts and the rugs, and we've been maniacally cleaning every surface with Lysol (c'mere, dog!).

It's pretty comical how much a) medicine we have to give him and b) how much equipment he requires. Let's review each.

  • Pulmicort, delivered by nebulizer (we were trained on this Wednesday). 2x daily.

  • Potassium Chloride, to help keep his electrolytes up.

  • Prevacid, to keep his reflux from eroding his esophagus.

  • Diuril, diuretic #1.

  • Lasix, diuretic #2.

  • Some weird antibiotic, as a preventative measure for his kidneys.

  • Singulair, for his lungs.

I probably forgot something here.

  • Oxygen, with tubes and regulators.

  • Monitor (apnea and heartbeat).

  • Nebulizer (it's a glorified air pump).

This doesn't seem like much written out, but if you include all the normal baby stuff (the diaper bag*, the car seat, the feeding supplies), it's probably about forty pounds or so. Which is why we're getting a handicapped sticker for when we have to tote him around. Or, as certain un-PC family members may or may not have loudly proclaimed, a "cripple spot".

Needless to say, we're so very excited that I am about to explode.

*I'm trying to save up for this one, as my diaper bag, because I want a cool one. But that may be awhile.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Time to eat... alphabet soup?

Woody's release date is still tentatively set for Friday. Tentatively? It's Wednesday, you say. Yeah. Well, since Woody's little UTI was discovered last week, he's not been doing as well as he was doing before with some basic eating skills. For one, he's not been as hungry. For two, he's been having some basic puking issues. For three, he's not gaining weight as well as he was.

This might be a major issue for other kids, but I'm not that worried about it for Woody. He's always been a trooper with the feedings, and to me it's pretty easy to explain his issues: he's been on strong intravenous antibiotics, and he's been sick. Do YOU like to pig out as much as normal when you're feeling punky? I didn't think so. Besides, it's not like he's been losing weight. He's been gaining at around 8 or 9 g/kilo, and they want him to gain at 15, so his issues are really incremental as opposed to being precipitous ones. And he's now over 9 pounds, so he's quite the little chunk.

The basic issue here is that his round of antibiotics are done tonight, so we'll see how he reacts when he's not having explosive digestive issues due to the drugs. As long as he shows improvement with his feedings, he'll still get out on Friday, which is great. What's really odd there is the confusion about whether we want him then. The NP who's been following his case knew our general position, which is that we don't want him sent home unless he's going to be successful, but somewhere along the line that got confused in the translation that we didn't want him to come home for another week or so, so we've been fighting to make it clear that WE WANT HIM HOME. I want him home because I think his recent infection is due to him being in the hospital around other sick kids, and I'm just so tired of having all these other people be in positions of authority about my kid. As I told Maggie, I think the biggest issue that we're going to notice when we get him home is that we're going to realize that we're in charge of him and we don't have to ask permission to take care of our boy. I'm just so. incredibly. tired. of having a nice family moment with Maggie where we're holding him and cooing at him and then five people just barge into the room to poke him and put crap in the cupboards and otherwise just mess with us.

Today we finished the last round of training that is required before they let us have him. Memo to hospital administrators-- is it necessary to have so many acronyms and "helpful" mnemonics for everything? We've learned that when you have an ALTE (Apparent Life Threatening Event) you have to do the AAA (assess appearance and a... something) before you do the CPR, which is characterized by the ABC (Airway, Breathing, Compressions) method, and all of this is worsened by the BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia-- or if you prefer, the CLD-- chronic lung disease) that he has. But fortunately the ROP isn't related to any of that BS.

Well, time to get back into his room and try not to get irritated by every single thing that happens in this joint.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Knowing is half the battle

This is a very quick post just to update on the recent "crisis" that prevented Woody's release, that was originally scheduled for today. Woody's infection has been narrowed down (preliminarily) to a urinary tract infection, which is good news in the sense that it's one of the least serious possible infections, as well as the fact that he's had a UTI before and we know that he generally responds well to the antibiotic they give to fight it. He is on the intravenous antibiotic drip now, and his new release date appears to be closely tied to the length of time that they eventually write the order for. The consensus guess at a new date of release is a week from today. Woody will definitely be going home on a breathing monitor, too, so we'll have some extra protection from the fear that Maggie and I have had about falling asleep and missing some kind of event like the one that has delayed his release from the hospital. Thank for all of your kind words and support.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

So close, and yet so far

Late afternoon yesterday, Woody had an "episode", which basically means that he stopped breathing for some unknown reason for a while (maybe a minute, but we can't be sure, since he wasn't attached to any monitors), which freaked out everyone pretty bad. When I showed up an hour or so later, the nurse and the NP were still pretty shaken, so I knew it was kind of a big deal. The going theory as to the cause of the issue has to be something like an infection, so Woody's been put through the paces as far as diagnostics, including a blood test, urine screen, spinal tap, x-rays, and electrolyte analysis. His brief foray off of the monitors, which started on Tuesday after he passed his CR scan, is now over. In fact, when he is released he'll be sent home on home monitors, so we will know if he stops breathing.

But, perhaps needless to say, his Friday discharge is now off the table. Should he need a 7 or 10 day course of intravenous antibiotics, he will be in for at least that long. If he doesn't, he'll still be in until early next week. Maggie and I are pretty bummed about this, although I'm a bit in the angry and resentful stage of dealing with it: it just seems profoundly unfair that we still can't get Woody out of the hospital after over four months of being in there, when the Ungratefuls can just pop out a healthy baby after smoking and drinking for nine months.*

In a lot of ways I feel kind of like a baseball team that almost makes the Series, getting within a couple of outs of winning the game, and then the ace closer blows the lead in the ninth. We were doing so well! It looked like we were getting out! And here we are again, still not sure when we're getting out or what the plan was. It sucks.

Woody is, overall, going to be fine; he has no brain damage from the episode or whatever, but he's acting a little lethargic and out of it, and so he's obviously fighting something off. I'll keep you posted as to any further plans.

*Standard disclaimer about how I know that all of you parents out here are totally grateful. I'm talking about the people that beat their kids and scream at them in the grocery store aisles. You know who I mean.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The final(!) countdown

Woody's release date has been pushed back to Friday, not because of anything that he's done but more because I'm just completing my training for my new job and need to do some other training with home care issues before they'll release him. This week has been taken up so far with a whole bunch of final tests that they need to do before releasing him. Most of them are revealing no surprises-- his metabolic tests, for example, look awesome. Others are showing some trouble spots, like the fact that his bladder tends to reflux urine back into the kidneys, which isn't a problem until it causes kidney infections, which is why he's remaining on prophylactic antibiotics for the foreseeable future.

The other problem scan is the one that tracks his oxygen and breathing over the twelve hour period, because it's showing him de-satting occasionally. This seems pretty usual to me, and the de-sats aren't serious ones, but it's a problem if we're going to have him at home without the monitors (which we will). On one hand, I really just want them to clear him so we can get him home. On the other hand, I really don't want him being sent home if he's not going to be able to handle it. Put another way, I don't want his oxygen sats plummeting if I don't have a monitor or a nurse there to help me deal with it.

The nurses are pretty sure though that the real issue is just that we need to find the appropriate oxygen flow rate to leave him on. We're talking about a difference between a flow rate of .01 and .012 and stuff like that, too; not a big difference, but we need to get to the right amount before they clear him.

I know that even parents of 'normal' kids are anxious about bringing home a baby and not breaking them, but imagine how Maggie and I feel with bringing him home, since he's been in the hospital for the last 130 days with professional care there constantly. What if he pulls out his cannula when we're asleep? These are the things that just make us freak out. But we're still so, so, so excited.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The days are numbered

Woody "accidentally"* pulled out his feeding tube last night, and since then he's been taking every one of his meals by bottle. This is a pretty impressive feat, considering that he was barely able to figure out how to properly suck a week ago, and it's only been a few days that he's been able to work on a whole bottle's worth of food, since he would get tired out.

Moreover, as of today he's been put on an "ad lib" feeding schedule, so he'll tell the nurses when he eats, to better simulate it for when he goes home. Which leads me to the other point... Woody's going home this week. Yes, we were told today that it was probably going to be Thursday that he gets released. He has to run through a variety of tests, but as long as he passes, and we don't think that he'll have any trouble with them, he's coming home. We are very excited and very freaked out by this. We are frantically assembling everything that we need, but it's hard to say whether we have enough diapers (no), clothing (probably), sleeping accoutrements (maybe?), and money (yipe) to be able to handle having Woody actually living at home with us.

Anyway, I've been thinking about how the long strange life at the hospital, the one that began with a bad case of heartburn last May, is coming to an end. Since I'm not sure I ever exactly related what happened, I'll go ahead and do it now.

Ever since we found out that Maggie was pregnant (January), we had been watching the pregnancy like hawks both because Maggie's just plumbed a little different from other girls and also because we had a miscarriage in 2004 that was, as any couple that's ever had one can tell you, a really hard experience. Our OB/GYN (Dr. C) has gravitas and dignity, and impressed us with his declarations of "anything you've ever heard of that can go wrong with a pregnancy, I've seen it TWICE" and similar exhortations of his level of experience. We visited him A LOT during the pregnancy, and there were many things that we were concerned about, although what wound up happening was something different, of course.

Anyway, my sister Valerie is the baby of the family, and was my training course for how to deal with small children, and she graduated from college (Mars Hill) in May. Such a momentous occasion required that I show up and support her, but Maggie didn't really want to have to fly in her delicate condition, so she stayed behind. I regret to admit that she had been complaining for a few weeks about terrible heartburn, and that I had told her things like "every pregnant woman gets heartburn" and "my mom drank Riopan by the bottle when she was pregnant with Val" and basically had tried to tell her to suck it up. I was only in North Carolina for three days or so, but each day I called Maggie and made sympathetic noises as she complained about her horrible heartburn.

The day I got back I got picked up at the airport by Maggie's sister Krista, and immediately got a call from Maggie, who told me that she was lying on the floor of her work, in tears, so I went straight to her office and picked her up, and then I took her home and tried to take care of her. Sometime around 11 that evening, after she started puking, I was finally convinced that we were past the point of me being able to deal with this heartburn issue and I took her to the hospital. Maggie was well past the point of complaining, and was moaning with such ferocity that she got herself a shot of straight morphine into the buttocks, which made her feel a lot better. Our first stroke of really good fortune was that Dr. C just happened to be at the hospital that night, and ordered a few tests to see what was going on. He later told me that he didn't think there was any chance that the liver function test could possibly show anything, but that he had ordered it to make sure that all bases were covered. It showed Maggie had HELLP syndrome, and the rest has been pretty well documented here. Of course Dr. C told me that "I've never seen a case of HELLP this early in pregnancy!" So much for experience, I guess. Woody is also his earliest surviving delivery, in something like 40 years of practice.

Anyway, the point of this story, should it be said that I have one, is that time seems a world away, and yet I've been coming to this same hospital just about every single day since then, and the idea that this routine is going to end by this time next week is bewildering and exciting. Nurse S asked if I am planning on keeping up the Woodyblog, and I definitely am-- but the timing will probably change. I think it's going to go to a regular but less frequent posting schedule. As many have noted, I've been updating much less recently, and I might as well just embrace my lessening time to do such things. I'll figure out when the schedule works for me and let you know. I know there are a lot of Woodyholics out there that love to check in every week or a few times a week or in some cases a few times a day, and we won't forget about that.

*I would have no reason to doubt Nurse S's contention that this was an accident, although the fact that she suspected that he was going to do this a few hours before the alleged event leads me to think that maybe it wasn't.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

End of the beginning

Maggie managed to make it over for rounds today, and was talking with the doctors and nurses about Woody's recovery and when he'll be going home. She made the seemingly reasonable request to get a two weeks notice on a discharge, so that she can deal with work schedules and other things like that. "Two weeks?!" snorted the neonatologist. "He could be home in four days."

When Maggie relayed this story to me over lunch today, I nearly defecated in my pants. I mean, I knew he was getting better quick, but I didn't know it was that fast. And it turns out that the four days figure is a bit hyperbolic. After all, he already has next week's eye exam scheduled (Tuesday), so it isn't happening before then. And he does still have a number of lab tests and things that have to happen before they let him go, and Maggie and I need to be certified in CPR and oxygen management, and I don't know when I'll be able to do that, considering that I'm just in the first week of a new job* and getting time off for anything is pretty much verboten at this point in time, but we'll manage.

We're absolutely stoked, though, because it was only about five weeks ago that the doctors told us that he was definitely going to need a trach, and probably was going to need a gastric tube, and neither of those is going to be happening. Woody is definitely our kid, in the sense that he sure is figuring the feeding thing out well. His oxygen needs are still steadily decreasing. He's now down to between .08 and .09 l/m for the oxygen, which is not that much, all things considering. We'll have to get him scheduled for the hernia operation, next spring, but now we're thinking about how much we wanted to get out of here, and how much we're going to miss some aspects of the NICU. Well, those aspects that are Woody's nurses, really. We've really come to love his nurses, especially his primaries, and I just don't know exactly what we're going to do without their amazing care and warmth around him.

The rest of the hospital employees, of course, can just go jump in a lake (this is a joke). And I'm sure that we've made some friendships and relationships with some of the caregivers that will survive our (long) hospital stay, and I'm looking forward to bringing Woody back over the months and years ahead to show everyone how awesome he's doing.

*Having had enough of firm practice, I started a job recently at a large legal support business in the southern Twin Cities, which will be especially perfect once we move to Hastings later this fall.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Everything must change

After the bulk of the Summer of Woody™, which has felt like it moved at a snail's pace, the autumn has come on like the speeding of a freight train. Woody's condition continues to rapidly improve, and he's beginning to resolve his issues one by one in a way that suggests he may be home far before we're ready for him. Let's address these one at a time.

  • Item: Woody's status has now been downgraded from "intensive" to "convalescent". This means that he only has to be checked for his blood pressure once a day, and means that he's de-prioritized a bit for nursing care. But it also means that he's closer to getting sent home.

  • Item: Woody's swallow study, done yesterday, shows that his reflux is actually a lot better than they thought, and with a little thickener, he doesn't aspirate at all. This means that he got his first full bottle today, and will continue to get one feeding per every four by bottle, until he's strong enough to increase the amount of food he takes by mouth.

  • Item: Woody has been taken off his sodium supplements, because his electrolytes are normal now.

  • Item: Woody's eyes look like they're healing up, and it looks like he's not going to need any surgery to get over his ROP.

  • Item: Woody's lungs are healing up, and his blood gases are still really good, even though he's on the low pressure cannula.

Despite how well he's doing, I still can find some things to complain about around here. Last week, I was uploading some pictures on the fourth floor of Unnamed Hospital, and I realized I had run out of the parking passes I had been buying every week (five for $15). The cashier is literally about a quarter mile away, so I asked the person at the help desk if I could buy the parking passes there. She replied "we only have the $1 passes. If you're here over a month your social worker can get you the coupon to let you buy them." Oh, my social worker could, could she?

Of course, my social worker has been completely absent, except for showing up with uncanny precision on the worst possible days. The last time I saw her was the day that we heard that Woody was getting reintubated after Extubation I, and I was emotional and not up to talking to her. She looked at me with sad, condescending eyes and asked if I wanted to talk, and I just couldn't do it. Similarly, I had seen her during the PIE crisis early on, and she wanted to talk about my feelings or some crap like that*, and I just had no time or strength for it. So when I learned that I had spent well over a hundred bucks more than necessary just on parking, my rage was ignited. Why does it make sense to talk about my feelings when it would be far more useful to just help me deal with a real-world issue? What the hell, social worker.

Anyway, I'm just trying to deal with what's going on with Woody and my new job, and coping with the growing realization that he's going to be home a lot sooner than we can be ready for. Then what will we do?

*Of course, Woody's granddad Hobbs was a social worker while I was growing up; I can't really get into the idea that we're the sort of people that need a social worker.

Friday, September 08, 2006

End of the visits

Jared goes home tomorrow, and this will end our string of visitors that seems like it's been going for about three weeks. We've seen my friend Jeff, who came out from Washington; Woody's aunt Krista, visiting from San Francisco; Woody's Granddad and Mimi Hobbs; and Jared. Visits are so outstanding, although despite the fun they do tend to mess with your schedule a bit.*

Visitors come in a lot of different types too. For instance, when my dad and Sherri visit, they stay in a hotel and pretty much try to just fit into what we'd ordinarily be doing (except that they insist on taking us out to dinner, which we grudgingly agree to). Jeff was like (as always) a chipmunk on speed, wanting to see everything, do everything, sleep little, and always out to keep moving. Jared is like a molasses spill in February, moving little, having little gumption, but ... uh... very sticky (sorry, that analogy just completely petered out on me).

Each type of guest has their merits, and I have enjoyed seeing everybody tremendously, but now that Jared's leaving the new routine is about to hit us in the face. For the last few weeks I've been off work before my new job starts, which happens on Monday. Woody's going to be home soon, we think, where soon potentially means in a month or maybe less (!). That means that normalcy as we know it is about to change, again.

Despite the fear I have about taking care of the peanut, I'm really excited to get him home, because he's such a little snuggly kid and he completely loves being held and loved on. The nurses have started doing things like taking him out of his crib for a few hours at a time and sitting him in a little chair on the floor at the door of his room. He sits there and tends to fuss, but then people come up and see how cute he is and talk to him, and that keeps him interested. I can tell right now he's a complete attention hog, and it's pretty cute.

We're still so excited about his progress, and everything looks great. He had a gas today of 55 CO2! (that's really good).

*A lot.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Closer to out

Woody's stint on the high-flow nasal cannula ended today, as he was placed on the LOW-flow cannula, which is basically a little tube that connects straight into the oxygen nozzle at his cribside. This is another milestone in a big month of milestones for him. The decision was made when he got turned down to 1 (liter) on the high-flow, and a quick series of calculations determined that he was actually getting about the same oxygen on that setting that he would be on the low-flow. Now we're dealing with different stats on the oxygen percentages, too. Even on the high-flow, we were still dealing with the same oxygen percentage figure that we were comfortable with from the ventilator; that is, speaking of oxygen given to him as a mixture with room air. Woody's needs were in the 30-40% realm before going to the low-flow (remember that 21% is room air); now we speak only of the liters per minute of the oxygen, because since it's so low of a flow, the oxygen is basically mixed with room air by the baby (and forgive the oversimplification). Woody's sitting right now at .12 l/m (liter per minute), and is satting just fine. I am so impressed.

How impressed? I was talking with Nurse J, and she told me that the most oxygen she's ever seen a baby go home on is .3 l/m, which is almost three times what Woody's on right now. Which is another shocking sign that Woody's getting close to coming out. Now the big obstacle is the feeding, and when the speech therapist was in earlier she noted that Woody was having a little bit of trouble with the swallowing, and because the worry was that milk was getting to his lungs, we can't take any chances with that. So Woody gets a 'swallow study' on Monday, which will involve him drinking some milk laced with barium, and then swallowing in front of an x-ray. It should be great fun.

The swallow study is one of four of the big tests that he needs to pass before getting out of here-- that I know of. The others* are:

  • The 24-hour readout, where his monitors are all tied to a computer that records every beat of his heart, every breath, and his blood oxygen saturation. If he displays apnea or bradycardia spells, or otherwise shows too much volatility, he won't be sent home

  • The kidney backflow test, where they catheterize him, inject a little dye into his bladder, and make sure he's not getting any backflow of urine into his kidneys.

  • The breathing study, where he gets hooked up for a period of a few hours to a sophisticated monitor that tracks his breathing and looks for 'immature breathing patterns'. If he has them, he needs to be kept longer.

Somehow I suspect that these will not be the only tests, but these are the ones I know about. It's fun, but scary, to be thinking about what it's going to take to get him home.

*I forget the actual medical names for these tests. I'll be more precise as they get closer.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Birthday 2 of 3

One thing that's odd about having a super-duper-extra-tiny-micropreemie is that I anticipate having people ask "how old is he?" and me not knowing exactly what to say. As of today, Woody's officially term, but he's also 119 days old, just shy of four months, so what way to address the issue? One way to think of it is to consider his term day his second birthday, so that if it's just some random schmoe asking about his developmental age, I can reference his age relative to the sixth of September.

Of course, a kid is going to love having an extra birthday to kick around, especially if we make anything resembling a big deal of it. But in terms of personal meaningfulness, there is a third 'birthday' or something like it that is, if not looming, at least is ever-present in our thoughts. When we bring him home after this long and arduous ordeal, we will have a real event to celebrate, and I imagine that it will be another birthday-like thing for at least a few years after. But maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself yet.

Woody's continuing to do very well. He got turned down to 1 on his high-flow cannula today, and may go to low-flow as early as later this week. His eye exam showed a couple of spots of stage 3 ROP, for the first time, but there's no "plus disease" or any of the factors that call for immediate surgery, so he's still dodging that bullet for the time being.

I had a delightful conversation this afternoon with a pulmonologist, who was a key perpetrator of the ugly intervention session in early August. Faithful Woodyholics will recall that is where two doctors and an NP sat us down in a conference room, made Maggie and Grandma Stiffler cry, and told us that he wasn't going to be able to handle another extubation attempt and that we should just face facts and prepare for the trach. This doctor cheerfully ate crow, declaring that sometimes babies can just totally fool him, and that Woody didn't even sound like the same baby now. "I love being wrong, when they turn out like this." My only regret was that Maggie wasn't there to hear him say it.

All remains well, and we are still very happy with how he's doing.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Big week, big month.

Mea culpas first, correction second, update third.

As noted before, it's getting harder and harder to justify the time necessary to post updates, as when I'm at the hospital I want to play with Woody and interact and hold him. Beyond that, Maggie and I have had so many visitors over the last couple of weeks (Jeff two weeks ago, Krista last week, Jared this week, my dad and Sherri last weekend) that other time that I might spend getting caught up on updates got spent visiting with people in, as the kids say, meatspace.* Oh, and Saturday night I went and camped out to get an early start for some absolutely intensely amazing trout fishing. Which was worth it.

Correction: Nurse S brought to my attention that I was misinformed last week about Woody's age. He is not the oldest child or oldest boy in the unit. He is #4 currently and the #2 boy. The oldest boy is Child Named After The Last Name Of Local Hockey Star, who is older than Woody by 2 days.

The update: Let's start with statistics, shall we? Woody is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 3550 grams, or 7 pounds 14 ounces, for those who talk American. He had his first blood gas in a week this morning, which revealed that his PCO2 is down to 58, and his bicarb is inching down to 31. These scores are awesome. He's also starting to come down on the high-flow cannula pressure, so in other words he's getting less and less pressure support for his lungs, making them do more work, especially on the inhale. Woody was on a pressure of 7 liters/minute on the CPAP; when he went to the cannula he was on 4, and he went to 3 and is going down to 2 today. Since he's going down on the air forced down his windpipe, that means that we can work on the eating thing. So at 2 o'clock today he gets to try eating out of a bottle for the first time. We are trying to temper our expectations, but it's still a big deal.

In other news, Woody's official adjusted due date is... tomorrow, so he'll be full term then. He'll be 120 days old later this week, which means he gets his next round of immunizations. And he gets his kidneys re-imaged later today, so we'll see if they have done good things recovering from his earlier hydronephrosis.

All looks very well in all facets of his life, and we're just as happy as could be possible about his health. He's very smart and bright-eyed, and it's so much fun to see his brain starting to develop and work, and seeing him get a little better at small things like controlling his muscle movement and coordinating his eyes and stuff like that. He's been on a major roll for the last month, and that's been great because as preemies get close to term their brain develops and it's important to be able to work on developmental issues instead of putting that off to keep their vitals stable. Thanks for your interest and care.

*As opposed to 'cyberspace', see.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Autumn of the Summer of Woody

Well, it's September now, meaning that the cool air is coming to Minnesota, and the heat waves that seemed to punctuate the dark days of the Summer of Woody are now a near statistical improbability here. This may not be true in Oklahoma, from where my dad and Sherri (have we settled on the title Mimi for her? I think so) just arrived for a visit. The Sooner State, where I grew up, is still plagued with hot air through September many years and sometimes into October, and that doesn't even count that generated by the football commentators as they ponder another scandal at OU featuring ill-gotten gains by star players and Big Red Sports Cars, which was mostly known back when I was growing up as the place you went to see foreign sports cars, and never seemed to actually sell many.

Woody's recovery over the last month has truly been impressive to watch. He just seems to get stronger every day, even as I brace myself for some kind of obstacle to get thrown in his way. Truth be told, his most challenging part of most days now is whether he's going to dislodge his nasal cannula. Maggie and I were in his room much of the afternoon, and while he was a little cranky, neither of us really thought that his fussiness had anything to do with an infection or wet lungs or anything, it started to feel a little ... normal, like that babies get cranky sometimes for nothing more serious than a case of constipation.

I find it harder and harder to justify the time needed to go out to the lounge and update the blog, even though I still want to point out his milestones and challenges if for no other reason than for my own records. He's just getting so interesting, as he looks around at things with his bright blue eyes and trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Part of the problem the last couple of days is that Woody has just not wanted to go to sleep at all. Apparently he stayed up all night last night. Maggie and I ran into a very weary Nurse C on our way into the hospital at 8 this morning, and she was remarking about how active he was all night long. So we expected him to be really sleepy all day today, but that just didn't happen at all either. While he's awake and interactive, it nearly kills us (especially Maggie) to leave him at all. We wonder how long until we can really bond with him, taking over all the cares necessary. And we feel a little guilty every time we leave the hospital to do something fun, because we know that if he was any other small child we wouldn't be doing that.

I can feel the challenges of the summer fading to some really repetitive and mundane ones: how long until we get to keep him? How long will this feeding issue take to resolve? Is the guilt we feel every night leaving him in the hospital worse than the imminent loss of our sleep, or the lack of chances to ever do anything social after he comes home? And can the Sooners overcome the loss of Rhett to conquer the Big XII, if not the nation?