Friday, January 25, 2008

the lowdown

So, I owe everyone an apology. Apparently the use of "Rock Bottom" sent a lot of people into a fit of worry. I'm really sorry. I didn't explain the situation or the feelings very well. Sometimes it's all a little too overwhelming to digest - let alone express.

Here's the lowdown . . .

Eliot has now had a blood infection for eight days. She started to get better earlier this week, but then progressively got worse during the last few days. Three cultures of her blood all came back positive with the same bacteria - a staph infection that fortunately, is not too aggressive. We were optimistic seven days ago because the doctors said that this particular germ is treated very quickly and easily with antibiotics. Every night the doctors and nurses would assure us that we would see Eliot turn around tomorrow. "Tomorrow she'll feel and look better. Tomorrow her CRP levels will be lower. Tomorrow, tomorrow, . . ." Instead, we would get the early morning phone call that "today" didn't look good either.

So, here's what has transpired over the last few days:

Preemies get a PICC (pick) line placed when they are first admitted to the NICU - a tiny tube they feed through the vein until it reaches one of the main veins in the body. Because this vein is stronger than the little veins in the arm or hand, they can put a good amount of meds or nutrition into it without it infultrating or blowing.

The doctors were suspicious that Ellie's PICC line was contaminated and that it was continuously releasing bacteria into her blood. They removed the line on Tuesday night, but in doing so, they released yet another bunch of germs that had made a home on the line into her system. They believe now that this final release of bacteria kept her CRP levels elevated into this morning.

Because the infection was being stubborn, and no one was 100% certain yet that the PICC line was the source of infection, the doctor suggested a spinal tap to test for spinal meningitis. Now . . . take any normally sane, normally rational post-partum woman with two babies who have had a crappy first month of existence in the NICU, and throw the words - "spinal tap" and "meningitis" in front of her face. I guarantee "Rock Bottom" will be the first place she will go.

The spinal tap was performed on Thursday morning. True to form, Ellie was amazingly strong. (If you put a stethoscope on Owen's chest, he starts to cry.) While we won't receive the results from the culture of her spinal fluid for 48 hours, we did receive her white blood cell count a few hours later. The doctor said anything below 10 would show normal spinal fluid; Eliot's was 1. This low white blood cell count is a preliminary indication that there is less of a chance that her spinal fluid has been infected. We'll take that small piece of good news - thank you very much.

For now, it's just a wait-and-hope-and see. Mike and I are hanging in, and trying to be as courageous as Ellie. So, while rock bottom freaked out some of you faint at hearts, there is one truly wonderful thing about it: there's only one place to go from here. And lemme tell ya, we are going to enjoy our ride back up.


Tillmanator said...

I am really praying for you, Mike and the babies. I am confident that things will clear up real soon. Keep being strong. Make sure you have someone you trust to share those hard times with. Are you in contact with a religious leader for prayer?

darragh said...

Kerrieann and Mike plus the Little Ones,

Our prayers and love are with you.
Your loving arms and hearts are holding the four of you up to the light.
You are the strongest family I have ever had the gift of knowing.
Auntie Darragh + Uncle Dave

Anonymous said...

No apologies warranted. Your sharing your ups and downs is a gift to us.
Your strength is an inspiration, your blog a treasure. Thank you. The collective thoughts and prayers of many are with the four of you as the road turns, trust this is a comfort to you.