Saturday, November 20, 2004

We're here on a quiet Saturday in the NICU, where outside it is anything but quiet as Hawkeye fans stream into Kinnick Stadium to watch the game against Wisconsin. It's easy to feel disconnected up here as we look down on the tailgaters and black-and-gold clad faithful, but enough of the real world seeps in to keep us sane, and it actually helps to be isolated because it keeps all of our focus on Will.

He is doing OK today; still dealing with breathing issues, but holding his own for the most part. We are constantly reminded that even at times when he seems calm and peaceful, he is "critically ill" in the words of the doctors as they go on rounds. For so long, our main concern was watching his oxygen levels, but now as other problems surface, we have even more numbers to watch. How is his CO2 level? What is his pH? How about his potassium, glucose, sodium and electrolyte levels? There are targets for each of these, and when he slips above or below those ranges, the doctors take action.

It is frustrating, because he can seem content until they come in to undertake some aggressive treatment that seems to upset him, and not until they are done do we realize that they simply anticipated the fall off and were actually taking steps to reverse the trend before it got dangerous. Last night was an example of that. He seemed fine; then they came in and scared the heck out of us with some extreme treatments that seemed to make him worse. But once they explained how dire things could be if they let him continue a slide that was only visible through readings of his CO2 levels, their frantic nature made sense, borne out by his quick recovery. Will continues to let us know how unstable he is as his system makes minute-to-minute changes that require significant alterations to his care. So far they have been able to react to each of these instances and get him back to a more stable state. We just hold on here by his side, cherishing the quiet moments, hoping they will continue.


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