Charlie, Part 5
I have a love/hate relationship with the word stable.
I understand that in hospital terms and to the doctors and nurses, being stable or actually becoming stable is a good thing.
To me it is neither good nor bad. How can it be? Your not healthy, but your not dying.
Your just stable.
When I was on bed rest if I was on the tenth floor I was considered in critical condition. If I was lucky enough to be moved down to the fifth floor I was then found to be "stable." Every single morning when the team of doctors would come into the room to do their morning "check in's" the phrase "we are thrilled your still stable" was repeated over and over.
I was not home but I was not on the tenth floor, I was just
But this time when Jill walked in to tell me that Charlie had been stabilized, the word was music to my ears.
The chain of events that led to Jill taking the elevator down to see me would soon be revealed to me and a man named Dr. Wong would not only become my new hero but a name that will live on forever in the Holmstead and Checketts households. When my dad and Carras walked into the NICU all they saw was a team of doctors around Charlie's incubator (never a good sign). Their were cardiologist, respiratory specialists, echo teams, nurses and pediatric doctors. They had ruled out the idea that it could be his heart, which was of course good news to all, but what was causing Charlie to have such difficulty breathing?
The Blessing was given. Then....
Cue Dr. Wong.
"He needs Nitric Oxide" he told the team very calmly.
No one questioned him. They just went to work.
Without an actual echo, without the x ray results back, Dr. Wong made a prediction. His prediction was spot on.
Immediately after the nitric oxide was administered, Charlie's O2 sats shot up.
Charlie came back. Charlie was stable.
"But" Jill said. "He's sick Katie. Charlie is sick."
You see in the NICU there are preemie babies, and then there are the others..."the sick babies" as the medical staff refers to them. There are even floors to differentiate between the two. The eighth floor is for the preemie babies and the seventh floor is for the sick babies. Charlie was now both and making his way to the seventh floor.
Jill explained that while Charlie was stabilized the x ray was reviewed and showed that his lungs were not receiving the proper blood that they needed to function normally. Charlie was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hyper Tension, a condition that primarily exits in babies who are full term, NOT preemies, which is why the team could not find the problem earlier. It had not been a front runner or a likely problem.
Charlie was now battling two life threading situations. One being that he was a preemie with underdeveloped lungs, and two his lungs were sick.
Jill told us that a doctor would be down to see us soon to tell us more. She then looked at me and said
"I am so sorry Katie."
She did not say he was going to be ok, she did not tell me to take a breath, she just quietly and very matter of factly told me the situation and then said that she was "sorry."
My parents frantically began texting the family and Carras just held my hand. Our heads were spinning and our hearts were heavy. I felt grateful that he was alive, but I was far away from him, and knew nothing about what the future held. I only knew that the battle we thought we were facing of having a preemie baby just got much more serious.
Charlie's pediatrician walked in moments later. He was a kind and very gentle man who looked like Harrison Ford. Dr. Bateman would later come to mean very much to me. As he spoke to us of Charlie's diagnosis, I heard nothing but the words
"For the next three to four days, it is going to be touch and go."
Wait. What did he just say?
Touch and go? I thought for a moment...what does that mean? I repeated the words over and over in my head. Touch and go...touch and go.
Dr. Bateman assured us that everything was being done to save our son. He also assured us that we could not be at a better hospital. And then he said something I will never forget. As he was leaving he turned to me and said
"oh and Mrs. Holmstead, just so you know, they don't have Nitric Oxide at Stamford Hospital."
The truth hit me. Had Charlie not decided to come on December 13th, 2010. Had Charlie decided to wait one more day, the transfer would have happened and Charlie would have been born at Stamford hospital where there was no Nitric Oxide, the medicine that saved Charlie's life and no Dr. Wong, the man that saved Charlie's life.
I had never in my entire life felt more divinely watched over then that moment.
While Carras and I quietly comforted each other, my mom stepped out of the room. Once again, I was helpless still unable to move my legs. As I watched her leave the room I thought about how strong she was. I knew that what she really wanted to do was collapse in the fetal position and cry, but off she went to make plans for the girls, as always helping my little family.
While she was gone, I wondered....
How in the world am I going to get through the next "three to four days."
Moments later, my mom walked back in.
"Your bother is on his way Kates. He is taking the all night flight tonight and will be here in the morning."
Spencer, my older brother was coming to my rescue.