A Quiet Day

I’ve been enjoying a quiet morning here sitting with Rudy.  Actually it’s now already afternoon—time kind of mashes together during this process.  Yesterday evening I crashed.  I think the unique patterns of sleep and stress caught up with me a bit.  So, I stretched out on the chair bed at the back of Rudy’s room and checked out.  Even with all the lights on and people coming regularly and having discussions about his condition, there’s a rhythmic hum from all the equipment that fades it all together and makes for a bit of sensory deprivation.


Rudy progressed well in the wake of his chest closure yesterday morning and the team has continued the ongoing balancing process making sure that blood is getting evenly distributed throughout the body, that the blood gases stay in check, that heart and breath rates are where they should be, that liquids are draining properly…so many details monitored by so many gauges and switches.  I think I count ten different lines going into his body and two coming out.  Throw in the harness of breathing tubes and the various wires to monitor heart rate, temperatures and oxygen saturation and it’s a very involved rigging.  I’ve noticed the nurses regularly give attention to this, rerouting lines here and there and relabeling all the lines at both ends to make sure there’s no question what’s what.


This morning when we came in they had removed the headband that was monitoring fluid levels in his brain so I’m looking at a nice broad expanse of forehead.  It’s got a nice warm color, but I hope there’s a chance he’ll get a bit of a wash today as I can see some tape residue from the band and he looks a bit like a middle-aged man whose comb-over is beyond help at the end of a humid day.  The team has said a few times that “he’s negative” which is actually positive (we’ve learned to not get immediately panicked by anything we hear).  They track all of the fluid going into his body through all these tubes and then subtract how much is coming out.  If the number is negative, that’s good as it means the kidneys and other functions are performing and he isn’t retaining liquid anywhere, though looking at his little body with his long skinny arms and legs don’t give much evidence of places he would store it.


He needed a transfusion this morning as there was concern about where his blood levels were headed.  His oxygen saturation was getting down into the low 70s so among other measures they increased his blood volume.  The green number reads in the upper 80s now so that’s a good thing.  This falls again among the many things the team does proactively to make sure balance is maintained and we continue to be grateful that his condition hasn’t taken a turn such that they need to chase after something. 


Rudy’s opening his eyes wide and is looking around quite a bit today when he isn’t sleeping and every now and again starts to gnaw and try to suck on the breathing tube.  They’ve got the ventilator turned down to 16 breaths per minute, but he’s getting around 45 which means that he’s breathing on his own over the ventilator.  They may try to remove the ventilator as early as tomorrow, but I have to keep reminding myself that, as encouraging as progress is, this isn’t a race of any kind.  Just now they rolled Rudy’s head right up and now his eyes are wide open and he’s really putting those eyes through their paces—we’ll post the picture shortly.


We just took a quick lunch break and while we were gone the number of tubes was decreased by one as they took out the chest tube that was draining fluid from his incision.  Nurse Cheryl gave him some happy medicine and he’s sleeping comfortably now.  So now there’s one less piece of equipment at the foot of the bed.  Over the last several days, I’ve had good time to contemplate the Oasis Dry Suction Infant/Pediatric Chest Drain manufactured by the Atrium Corporation.  The team would regularly come in to check the tube and how much fluid was going into the reservoir over time.  Eventually the flow lessened to the point where it’s not necessary anymore, so that’s the milestone for the day.  In my time of contemplation, it did strike me as odd that in addition to all the medical language and the measurement gauge on the chest drain was a prominent cartoon of two polar bears fishing on a small tropical islet complete with coconut palm.  Not sure what they have to do with the device’s purpose or if some marketing team testing graphics decided that this would be a more saleable design than bunny rabbits or balloons.  I was intrigued enough to ask Dr. Harrison (the attending) when he came by yesterday.  He admitted that in all his years here he has never noticed the fishing bears on the chest pump, but felt that they looked more like regular brown bears.  Totally unhelpful.  Why are they white then?  Why would they be in tropical latitudes?  Why would they be fishing with bamboo poles and bobbers instead of their paws?  For the first time I saw a member of the crack UCLA team stumped and I suspect he’ll think twice before offering his usual “Do you have any questions?” at the conclusion of his visits.


So, we’re grateful for the peace of this day.  The kids check in regularly by phone and we are so grateful for Oma and Opa as well as the La Patera school community embracing them.  We’re making plans for them to come visit this weekend and stay the night.  Trish is on the other side of Rudy’s bed addressing birth announcements and I would suspect will have them in the mail by the weekend.  After arriving in the room this morning, she divulged to me that she wished she brought along her Swiffer as the smudges on the floor are really bugging her.  I’m wondering if a stop on the Psychiatric Unit downstairs might be in order…


33 thoughts on “A Quiet Day

  1. Rolf & Trish,
    Your post today had me laughing instead of crying for a change! I’m soooo glad that Rudy’s doing well enough that you have nothing better to do than wonder about fishing polar bears and smudges on the floor!

  2. Trish, You are too much giiirl. Wanting to clean the hospital! Rolf, you might want to check and see if they can slip just a drop of the paralytic medicine into Trish’s mega-supergulp soda and let her chill out just a wee bit. 🙂 Sounds like the little guy is on a good healing track. Continueing to pray for you all. Ciao for now, Kelly

  3. Rolf and Trish – I have been out of the loop lately and a lot has happened! I am so glad to catch up via this blog and glad for your experience of being surrounded by family & friends.

    Welcome to the world, Rudy. I look forward to meeting you.

  4. Trish & Rolf,

    Fun to read your update. In the background at my house are the happy voices of Max and Olivia and my kids practicing the Tall Ships songs. I will email you some pictures from our fun afternoon later today. We are having fun loving your kids here today!


  5. Dear Rolf and Trish: My heart is overwhelmed–I am so glad that you have such a strong circle of family and friends. And I am glad that the Lord gave you both the gift of laughter. Rudy is beautiful. It is good that the surgery is past and that he is healing quickly. The parrots are still eating their sprouts.

    Much love: Jackie

  6. Trish and Rolf,
    Go Rudy! He has the Geyling strength and spirit! I am thinking or you daily and sending healing energy your way.

  7. Rolf,

    Since your insurance is covering everything, I say go for a “twofer” and have Trish drop by that psych unit for a little tune-up. The fact that I am looking at our wrapped Christmas presents from your family sitting on my coffee table right now testifies that there should be some “adjustments” made. Medical marijuana may do the trick…..Just kidding, Trish – there is no one like you and your legend continues to grow!

    Good to laugh with ya’all again.

    Bob and Kathy

  8. Rolf and Trish,

    I just wanted you to know that the Fehn family has been lifting you all up in prayer.

    Your blog is inspirational – I love how you find moments of levity in the midst of the seriousness. Wishing you all of Christ’s abundant love –


  9. Trish, I tried to put a limeade in the mail today but it didn’t pass the “fragile, liquid, perishable” test, so I drank it for you. The kids are so thrilled with the view of Rudy’s eyes. They want to know what color they are – they look dark in the photo.

    Rolf, I think one that ponders polar bears might need a stop downstairs himself…. Love you both!

  10. Wow. I think sleep deprivation may be the diagnosis or Rolf hit his head. Though I would agree that medical companies do use odd marketing schemes. Thanks Trish for being diligent on the birth announcements. We now have a sleepless night planned to get Ariana’s done. I expect our Valentine’s to arrive before Halloween. I am amazed that in a hospital ICU Trish could find something NOT clean. Trish, let’s do a little test. How does this picture make you feel? http://www.swiffer.com/swiffer/en_US/home.do

    We love you!!! We are so happy that you are getting some good time with Rudy.

  11. I am so glad to be laughing for change. though i might add there are still tears in my eyes . . . Just Happy tears instead of sad ones . . . Love you guys! Continually praying for you all, Rudy, and Gpa Dick. Tori is thankful to God for Rudy and for Rudy’s surgery now . . . Oh the mind boggling mind processes of my 3 year old!

  12. Love, love to you all. I pray nightly for your family. Your writing is awesome; we all feel a part of little Rudy’s life. Donna

  13. Dear Rolf and Trish,

    I called your house earlier this week and spoke to your mother, Rolf. I think I called on the day of Rudy’s surgery not even knowing that Rudy had already been born! Wow, so much has happened. I have just read your entire blog. My heart is with you. You are amazing people. Thank you for putting down your thoughts and prayer requests. We are praying for you.

    I called to let you know that we have an extra room in our house. I know you know lots of people here in L.A., but, if you or any visiting family or friends needs a place to stay, you can call us. Will you, Trish, eventually need a place to stay on the Westside as you stay on to take care of Rudy or can you continue in the guest cottage at the hospital?

    Our prayers are with you, and Rudy and your kids at home.

    With love,

    Michele and Family

  14. wonderful little pieces of progress….things moving in the right direction. just think of that swiffer as a coping mechanism, like addressing the birth announcements; it’s what Trish does while you’re pondering polar bears 🙂
    or keeping the rest of us up to date! so neat that the kids can come and be with you overnight and see their baby brother!

    love and blessings….Linda

  15. I have caught up on your posts, weeping mostly, and, today, laughing. Once I became a parent I could never again hear stories like this with anything like distance. But, then, that is a good thing. As you well know, you have a community surrounding you and your little ones. Peace.

  16. My sister sent me your blog site, and I have been praying for you all! Rudy is really something!! But I can see he comes by it naturally.

    I can’t wait to get to SBA and meet you all. Just know there are many of us out here you don’t know that are praying and pulling for Rudy. You know, just because his heart isn’t “normal” doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly strong. That boy is going to be something special, you just wait and see!

    Much love and many prayers to all of you!

  17. Thanks so much for your detailed reports. I shared your good news at a Fuller faculty committee meeting yesterday as a praise/prayer and everyone marveled at God’s goodness–it was such a lift for our spirits.

    We’re with you,


  18. Friday morning and I came home to sleep last night.
    Dad Dad settled down yesterday and was sound asleep when Steve checked on him last night after Jonathan’s band concert (percussion section and loving it).

    Our guys are tough! God is good! Excellent medical teams are a blessing! And we have powerful prayer warriors at work. Aren’t we blessed?

  19. Thank you Rolf for sharing. I love to read what you and Trish write. I know you are sharing from your heart and we are allowed a glimpse into your world there at UCLA. You and Trish are on a a marathon run right now with hills and valleys. Hang in there and do get your rest also. Our prayer is that you will continually know God’s presence there with you. God Bless you

  20. Rolfy & Trish,

    Susanna and I are praying for y’all and Rudy. Thanks for your blog and keeping us to date with things. I’m sorry we have been so out of the loop of what is going on. I’ll leave you a voicemail later on this week. God Bless.

  21. Rolf-you should take up writing as your next career-you really have a gift. So glad Rudy is doing so well and that Trish hasn’t changed a bit! God is so good. You are blessed. We are blessed for having you as friends. Love, Brent and Judy

  22. I am so loving all the information on the hospital!! I am thinking Rudy needs a polar bear costume for Halloween! Keep on being happy, prayers go without saying. Hooray for less tubes!!

  23. I’m so glad that the kids are doing well. And what a picture it is of God’s community at work!
    Love love love the comment about the swiffer! I often want to tape them to my kids feet so that they can dust while they play!

  24. Rolf…no doubt the doctors have ever had someone like you checking out the equipment, names and logos! Oh well! Now they know. Did we laugh! Praise the Lord for the good progress in little Tudy. He is a littl doll for sure. We will pray that he will just gobbe when it comes time to suck! Trish…just hold that little foot and let them clean the floor! Hope the kids have a wonderful weekend with you. Will they get to see their little brother? What a great God we have and how tenderly close He holds this little one. Love you much and deeply. In our prayers! Faye and Don

  25. Thank you for your entries! We can better pray when we know what is going on in your heads/lives. We will try to get to the bottom of the polar bear issue. Is it a statement on global warming? Political correctness? An appeal to Inuits not to burn fossil fuels or else….? Thanks for our thank-you gifts, Trish, re: the auction work. You are amazing in so many ways. Love you!

  26. Thank you for the beautifully written updates on Rudy’s progress. Our doctors & nurses here at Kwajalein Hospital in the Marshall Islands are following along daily with much interest, love & support for Rudy’s path to wellness. Our prayer groups on island send their messages to God daily on Rudy’s behalf. Continued good healing for Rudy and for your entire family. With love,
    Katie Naretto’s Nana

    Katie is a classmate of Olivia’s at La Patera School first grade.

  27. Hi Rudy, Trish and Rolf:

    Thank you for sharing your loving words with all of us, even though this is most certainly a journey for your family and for Rudy, I am bless to be a part. My mom is Kitty Larsen, and I am a nurse in our children’s hospital in Salt Lake City – Primary Children’s Medical Center. I have worked in the PICU, and taken loving, and attentive, intuitive care of babies just like Rudy. One of my very best friends coordinates the ‘fetal heart clinic’ where moms/dads are given the news of their babies heart defect. We see also care for many patients with HLHS.

    I want you both to know that the detail you share helps me notice things from a different perpsective. You have openned my eyes to observations I have not made before – since my focus so often has been on the patient – ! Maybe it would help to give mom’s (and Dad’s) swiffers to clean their childs floor!

    You are on my mind, and in my heart – I hope for the best for Rudy, both of you, and your children and extended friends/family. Thank you for sharing, and may you be blessed in every moment by the time you have with that precious little man!!!


  28. Hi Rolf,
    Your observations and questions about the bears fishing with bamboo poles on a tropical island reminded Rich of a conversation you initiated years ago up at the OAKS. You commented on the WaxieCare 5000 that was used up there in the shower areas. You said, “So what exactly is WaxieCare 5000? You can wash your hair with it. You can use it as soap. You can brush your teeth with it. What IS WaxieCare 5000?”
    We’re so glad that somebody, you, is asking the hard questions of life.
    Lots of love from Rich and Lori

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