Measurement by Little Numbers

More than a few visitors have been given a start as they come into Rudy’s room and see his small six-pound form surrounded by a wall of gauges and machines that resemble a smaller version of Mission Control.  This weekend I was struck by the miniscule things we’re watching for.  As we’ve been praying for his body to drain fluid, every one was encouraged by yesterday’s negative balance of 30cc over 24 hours.  I got to thinking about it and did some conversion when I realized that this converts to about two tablespoons, but its progress.  Knowing this, we got encouraging news this morning when we discovered that the negative balance was 130cc this morning (8.79 tablespoons).  Four Nephrologists (kidney specialists) have been by in the last two days as the team wants to keep a close eye on what’s happening there.  Rudy’s creatinine levels are about 5 times what they should be (2.4 vs. 0.6) but fortunately nowhere near the neighborhood where dialysis would be necessary (that’s when they go over 7.0 or so).  Keep the rain dances going as there isn’t much concern as long as he keeps peeing.  When he’s a teenager, I’m sure he’ll be really pleased to hear us tell stories of how intently we watched that little tube for signs of anything yellow.


A number of other small developments have taken place as part of the slow process of getting him past the surgery.  They removed the arterial line from his navel as they think it may give the kidneys better blood flow and make them more productive.  They tried to start another arterial line in his arm, but had difficulty getting it situated in his tiny little arms so they decided to go without it.  They have freed up both of his hands so he can wiggle them a bit.  They’d love for him to move a bit as it might stimulate the tissues and get them to release more fluid.  They started feeding him yesterday as he hasn’t gotten any protein yet from the intravenous solution he’s been getting since he was born.  Again, this can stimulate more movement.  The 1ml drip of Pedialyte yesterday afternoon was increased to 3ml overnight and at noon today they felt he was doing well enough that they started him on breast milk (which we’ve been dutifully bottling up and freezing—I can’t imagine he’ll get through it all as whatever freezer they’re putting it in has to be close to capacity and at this rate he’s only getting about 4 tablespoons a day.)  They turned down the ventilator yesterday to 12 breaths per minute just to see how he would do and haven’t had to increase it since.  He’s been breathing over it most of the time without much effort so this may be the process of phasing it out (but I don’t want to speak too soon).


It’s good to see Rudy moving about a bit more.  He still has his eyes closed most of the time, but his feet and hands wiggle regularly amidst the constant bobbing of the tubes across his chest as he breathes in and out.  This morning, as the nurse was adjusting his position, his brow got wrinkled and his veins bulged out, giving indication that he would have been hollering up a storm but for the tubes down his throat.  Certainly a pathetic site I’ll add to the list of things I pray he wouldn’t have to go through, but we see the positives for what they are—this is the first time he’s seemed able to even communicate emotion like this.


It’s hard to believe surgery was a week ago and Wednesday it will be two weeks since Rudy was born.  Trish and I have gotten into a bit of a rhythm here at the hospital and we’re usually surprised at how fast the days pass.  As you can tell, I occupy myself with learning about all the gauges and machinery here in the room.  As I’ve been known to investigate the construction of buildings we visit and apply this knowledge to my remodeling projects at home, I think Trish is concerned that I might be planning to construct an ICU in our garage (she’ll mock me until she sees that home office deduction).  My curiosity has me researching unfamiliar terms or converting metric units into tablespoons on my laptop so that I can then employ my new knowledge in the conversation the next time the doctor comes around.  I feel a bit like the tag-along little brother the doctors humor; proud to display my understanding of terms they likely learned in high school biology.


We enjoyed some time with Wilson, Max and Olivia this weekend who seem be doing as well as can be expected.  Yes, they’d love for us to be home and the good bye wasn’t easy, but it is good for them to see Rudy and perhaps glean why it’s important for us to stay with him for the time being.  We continue to be so grateful for our family and friends who are walking with us through this challenging time.  It truly is something navigable only one day at a time—before we know it, weeks pass and we can only trust it’s bringing us closer to home.


We’d appreciate your continued prayer for Trish’s dad as he came home from the hospital over the weekend, but is in significant amounts of pain.  Please pray the doctors get the right combination of meds established and Dick will begin to experience relief from the pain and comfort as he recuperates.  Also, please pray for stamina for JoAn as she cares for him at home.  It continues to be so hard to not be in Kansas with them but we are thankful for Trish’s brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Michelle, who are close by to lend a hand and for Trish’s oldest brother, Rick, who is flying to Kansas this week from Indianapolis for a five day visit.