Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Good Weekend (Followed by a Lukewarm Week)

Sam’s cardiology check-up earlier this week revealed both good news and bad news. The good news: Nothing on his heart echo has changed in the last month. This means that there have been no new growths, no extra valve leakage, nothing new to earn our concern. The bad news: Nothing on his heart echo has changed in the last month. This means that his left pulmonary artery and descending aorta are still too small, and as Sam continues to grow, they will start causing problems if they don't start growing.

The first line of attack to address this problem would be a heart catheterization to try to “pop” the artery open with a balloon. While this is a relatively minor procedure as far as heart procedures go, our doctor doesn’t feel particularly confident that it will work. The second line of attack is much more aggressive: Yet another open heart surgery to “revise” the problematic pieces of his heart. Boo. Neither Jason nor Sam nor I are willing to face this possibility yet, so we are holding onto the hope that Sam’s artery and aorta will grow in the next few months.

On the happier side of things, Sam has made a new friend, and his name is Max!

He is the very cute son of a very close friend of mine, Julie. While both Max and Julie live in San Francisco, they came out to visit us last weekend, and Sam and Max had many adventures. I’m pretty sure that Max, who is a whopping eight months old and an expert roller, is the one who inspired Sam to start rolling. Sam and Max also enjoyed taking turns whining at stoplights as they sat in their side-by-side carseats in the back (until they both fell asleep).

We took them on a walk around Washington Park, and then stopped by Waffle Bros for a little brunch. At Waffle Bros, Sam enjoyed lying on the table (I wasn’t sure what else to do with him while I ate my waffle) while Max enjoyed a little breastfeeding with Julie. It worked out pretty well until Sam kicked his foot into the Nutella on my waffle. As a man walked by us with his baby strapped up in a stroller, he remarked, “Those babies are having a good time!”

We all had a good time. Below is a picture of Sam charming Julie, as well as a picture of me giving cute Max a big kiss.

Sam misses Max, but he still has his old friends to hang out with, including our cat (who has taken up residence in Sam's pack & play). Other news? In addition to his new skill of rolling from belly to back, Sam also likes to spend his spare time babbling, blowing saliva bubbles, and, most importantly, giggling.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Blue Morning

For the first time since we’ve been home from the hospital, we had a somewhat dramatic morning. Jason woke up around 6 am to discover a blue Sam sleeping in his crib. I’m not speaking metaphorically here—Sam was not depressed but physically blue, especially around his mouth and eyes. When Jason hooked him up to the pulse-ox, he found that Sam’s oxygen saturation levels were in the 60s (as you may recall from earlier posts, Sam’s O2 level is supposed to be at least 75, preferably in the 80s).

Before you start to feel as panicked (as we did), let me assure you that right now, Sam is pink and snoring happily away in his vibrating chair. To make a long story short, we think that Sam’s upstairs oxygen equipment failed last night. He has an oxygen generator upstairs in his bedroom and a regular tank downstairs, and within 30 minutes of switching him from his upstairs to his downstairs oxygen, his sats perked up to the high 70s. Unfortunately, he was probably satting in the 60s all night, so it took him a little while to recover this morning. We called his cardiologist, and she said that as long as sats remain stable on the downstairs equipment, we don’t need to bring him in.

On the happier side of things, Sam has made some good progress this week with his oxygen (last night disregarded). For the first time, I was able to lower his oxygen yesterday to 1/8th of a liter, and his sats remained stable in the low 80s! This is significant because our doctor thinks that we if can get him to 1/8th of a liter, we may be able to increase one of his medications and take him off the oxygen altogether.

While the oxygen may not seem like a huge deal compared to everything else he’s been through, it seems to become a heavier and heavier weight each day to all three of us. It causes Sam significant nasal congestion, which upsets him and, ironically, prevents him from getting the oxygen he needs. When we suction him out daily, he screams his head off and his nose usually starts to bleed. But if we don’t suction him, his sats drop to the 60s because he can’t breathe properly. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword.

Also, while I know that Sam won’t remember any of this, I still worry about the effects of his being on a "leash." I keep thinking about how they train circus elephants by keeping them on short leashes when they’re babies; that way, when they grow up to be gigantic, they remain tractable and submissive because they don’t realize that they are actually far more powerful than the rope that tethers them. In other words, I don’t Sam to sense on any level that he is tethered. Hopefully, within the next few weeks we’ll be able to get rid of the oxygen leash, and by the time Sam figures out how to get mobile, he’ll be able to crawl as far away from the oxygen tank as he pleases.

In the meantime, here is a video Jason took two weeks ago of Sam trying to figure how to grab things. Enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello all! It's been a long time since I've posted and I feel a bit out of the groove...been too busy enjoying being a teacher on summer vacation, I guess.

Regardless, let's start here...I went to a friend's wedding this weekend and had such a good time. In their speeches, the bride and groom were so thankful for the presence of their family and friends, and I was reminded how important that can be during the significant moments of your life. So, as I have often done in the past, and will continue to do in the future, I should tell you all how thankful Kristin and I (and Sam too!) continue to be to have you all in our lives. Thank you again. And props to my friend Andy, who came to visit and brought some cyberfriends along via facebook. Pretty cool to see a note from Streeter.

Moving right along, we had a clinic visit last week with both neurology and cardiology. And I'm happy to report that both went pretty well on the whole. Neurology feels good that Sam is recovering well from his stroke. They do not feel like he should wean from his seizure meds just yet, but they are encouraged that he seems to be using his left hand (the site of his seizures) nearly as much as his right. At home we're enjoying seeing Sam become more and more coordinated. He's able to lift his head during tummy time and he's getting better at using his hands to grab things. Of course, that also means he can grab his G-tube, which I predict will be forcibly (if accidentally) removed by Mr. Sam himself within the next month.

Cardiology is also encouraged. Sam's heart echo looks improved, so we have yet again postponed the catheterization that Sam will eventually need to decide whether his left pulmonary artery is being overly compressed. At present, any compression does not seem to be affecting his clinical status, and as a rule, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So that plan is on hold for the time being. Also, we are in the process of weaning meds and finally oxygen! Hopefully by our next clinic visit (about 3-4 weeks from now) Sam will only be on 4 meds and will be ready to give up the nasal cannula in exchange for his simple, natural cuteness.

Sadly, his slated first day off the oxygen is my first day back to class with students. I won't be able to go to that clinic because I'll be in class, so I'll have to wait until after school and golf practice before I get to see his pristine little baby face. Pardon the self-indulgent whining, but Kristin and I have both been home with Sam all summer and have gotten into a pretty good rhythm. It will be hard to go back to work. And what will happen when I'm out of the house for 12-14 hours a day during golf season? I guess you could say we're apprehensive. Still the answer to the burning question: "How's Sam?" is still a good one. "All considered, he's about as well as we could hope for."

Here are some recent photos to enjoy:

Sam with "Uncle" Andy. He knew Andy was in town for a concert, so dressed in his rockin' best; check out that t-shirt!

Sam sitting in a Bumbo, learning to hold his head up and spending quality time with Wubbie.

Also quality time with daddy.

And finally, some mommy love. I mean, seriously, how cute is that kid?! It's just gross.