Since Christmas decorations are already all around us, and the decorations outside the hospital is 12 days of Christmas, what about 12 days of PICU?
It was a very sick boy coming to the PICU 12 days ago. He had stooled out 1,5 liter of stool in 1 hour, which was the final thing that made Jacob crash. He was dehydrated, malnutrioned, and had trouble breathing. His blood pressures were off, and he couldn't keep his oxygen saturation up. He needed the PICU. They stabilized him fairly quickly, and in 24 hours he was seen by more specialties than he has ever seen in his life, and had more tests than he would typically have in a year. Everyone was on top of making Jacob feel better, and understanding what was going on.
I typically dread going to the PICU. We always say we're in the fish bowl, since there is very little privacy with the big glass doors and the nurse sitting outside his door 24/7. But there are times when the PICU is the only place for Jacob. This was one of those times. I know it sounds like a cliche, but as always the PICU team is pretty awesome. I always feel that the chance of the PICU team missing something is low due to the number of tests and labs they are running at all times. I always feel as if Jacob is in very safe hands.
Over the years, we have gotten to know every attending doctor of the PICU. This time, we also got to spend more time with the Head of the PICU. She has always been close with us, and likes to come in and chat with us when she has a few minutes. This time she really advocated for Jacob, and made sure that noone rushed him out of the PICU before Jacob and we were ready. I was very pleased with how she led her whole team when it came to Jacob's care.
The PICU nurses are simply great. You have them at your finger tips at any given time of the day. We had two nurses that we really bonded with this time around, and that will be his primary nurses in the PICU moving forward. As some of you know, I always want to have things done yesterday :- One of the nurses had always taken care of my request before I even had time to verbalize it! That works well with me.
We also got the penthouse of the PICU this time. The PICU is under construction, and the new rooms are larger, has a better bed, and the storage area for personal belongings was a big hit with me! In the old rooms, it is basically no space for your own stuff, so they pile up on the floor and in the window within a few hours. We also had a fabulous Rocky Mountain view.
Since yesterday afternoon, Jacob is now up on the regular floor! This is a step closer to going home, so it is always a step in the right direction. Having a room where we can close the door, have our own bathroom, have a bigger space for our stuff - and still keeping the mountain view made me reflect back on the PICU.
When you spend 12 days down in the PICU, you start to scan their bathroom. The PICU has now upgraded to 2 (!) bathrooms for 34 rooms. It is not a lot, and with that comes the gross factor...It can be gross. Let me just leave it at that. I make sure to always get up early, so I have a chance of being the first shower user of the day. If not, I can't even start telling you about the stuff you can find in a hospital shower! The floor is always flooded by water and hair of all colors...I think you get the picture.
The PICU family fridge...gross....The smell by everyone's leftover is a fact. If you add that someone's soup is leaking out of the plastic bag, and someone has not put on the lid of their stew, you get the picture. I have had times where food disappears as well, but that didn't happen this time. We kept our food to ourselves this time! A great plus is now that you can eat in your PICU room. Before you couldn't. That is a huge improvement, since there are very few times you do feel comfortable to leave your child when they are PICU sick.
In the PICU there is something called shift change. It is between 645-745 am and pm. Since the nurses sit in the hallways giving report on all patients, they don't want families running through the hallways at that time. You have to either leave the PICU before the shift change and stay out of the PICU or stay in your room. I often use that hour as an excuse to leave the PICU room for an hour of the day, especially in the past, when you were not allowed to eat in the room. This time around, I used the morning shift hour for a morning run around the hospital. That really helped me to get the day off to the right start. But I have also forgotten about the shift change, and been in the room desperately needing a bath room or a drink, and realizing I can't leave....
Since the space is limited, I try to only bring things for the time I stay, and then bring more the next day again. What happens is that I always, always forget something! One day I don't have any more clean underwear, no bra or the last night, I had no PJ with me :- Jacob's school t-shirt is way too big for him, which became the PJ of the night for mama. One morning, I took out the last pair of underwear from the closet, and accidently dropped it into the sink! It has a sensor on it, so before I knew it, my last pair of underwear was drenched in water!
The PICU never settles for the night. It is up and running 24/7. This means that it is hard to go to bed. All lights are still on, and Jacob's care continues around the clock. This means that it is often midnight before I hit the sack. And then there is just a matter of number of times you will wake up throughout the night as the nurse or the respiratory therapist or doctor is in the room. I also have this tendency of having to use the bathroom at night. You should see me running through half the PICU to get to the bathroom when the only thing I want to do is sleep :-
By the end of the day, we're so thankful for having the PICU when we need it. There are times where it is the only place for Jacob to be, and the medical team is top notch. But for the little things in life, I feel as I just got the biggest upgrade by moving up to the 9th floor. It isn't Hilton or Four Seasons, but I can close the door when I go to bed, I can run to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to greet anyone, and I have room to stock up on underwear!
Jacob has had a really great day today! His stool output had decreased yesterday, and today we're not even at half of that volume. If this continues, we might be talking feeds for Jacob sooner than anyone would have thought. This might also mean that we can avoid steroids, which would have been the next treatment option for Jacob. I am optimistic tonight.
And since we have a holiday around the corner,
Happy Thanksgiving to you all,