February 21, 2011

Next Up: The Eyes

While I wouldn't characterize our situation as even remotely lucky, we are fortunate in that we live so close to the hospital. Whereas we're only a few minutes away, there are families with babies here who have to travel 40 minutes or more one way. I can't imagine the logistical hurdles that have to be overcome for that kind of commute commitment, to say nothing of the extra emotional burden.

Zoey has been on preemie cruise control, so to speak, for about the last week or so. Her numbers have been steady and she's been putting on weight to the tune of an ounce or more each day. The NICU is probably one of the only places on earth where doubling your weight is considered a milestone worthy of celebration. If I doubled my weight in less than two months, I'd be an object of derision--although at the rate I've been eating fast food lately, it's not entirely beyond the realm of possibility.

Ah, but in the NICU, you're never far from the next screeching "BUT," he wrote, giggling.

BUT, tomorrow morning will be Zoey's first Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) test, for which doctors and nurses alike have been bracing us. As if a test to determine eye development and possible blindness isn't jarring enough, the test itself can be extremely irritating for preemies. Not that being poked and prodded in the eyes as an adult is considered a theme park ride but, for preemies, the experience can be downright exhausting, and the reaction to the eye drops can cause Zoey's current steady numbers to fluctuate. Also, feedings will be suspended for at least three hours, which would make even me a bit grumpy. Regardless, my wife and I are planning on being on hand first thing in the morning when they administer the drops.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how awesome the nurses and doctors have been through all this. My wife is much better with all their names and faces, owing primarily to her spending much more time in the NICU than me. I, on the other hand, have become an expert on NickJr programming and conjuring meals for our toddler boy. I'm also one of the world's foremost practitioners of the art of smelling a dirty diaper from five rooms away.

The nurses are the NICU's rotating miracle workers. They adjust drug and O2 levels throughout the day and conduct regular cares with enviable professionalism and skill. Each nurse has her own subtle different ways of conducting their daily duties, and it's become impossible for my wife and me not choose our "favorites." They're all excellent, of course, but some nurses just have personalities and ways of doing things we naturally prefer over others. Yeah, we're preferential jerks like that.

The doctors, too, have all been great, although I've admittedly avoided too much interation with them, owing to a certain level of "trigger shyness" when remembering Finn's constantly grim prognosis updates. There's a part of me that has tended to err on the side of "ignorance is bliss" when it comes to talking to the doctors after those horrible first few days.

Here's hoping Zoey takes tomorrow's ROP test in stride. It sucks requiring her to endure something new when she's just now seemingly figured out this whole NICU experience.

UPDATE: The geek in me wants to add "THE EYES, BOO! GO FOR THE EYES!" But, I won't go all Minsc on you.

Posted by Ryan at February 21, 2011 06:06 PM | TrackBack

Thats the thing about nurses I just love, and why I'm so particular to dating them.

They are just the most loving, caring, genuine people you will ever meet. They handle challenge in stride, and they've chosen a career that will always be hard on them.

I've been through more than my share of hardship in the 25 years I've been alive, and I can tell you this. What you're going through now is your life and your marriages greatest challenge. When you finally see the storm pass NOTHING will ever seem as challenging, hard or downright saddening as these days are. Your strength of will, character and marriage will be forged into the finest steel.

Posted by: Andrew Medina at February 21, 2011 07:31 PM

Once I know you better I'll share my life's story. Its something I don't disclose to very many, as it tends to change their perception of me for good.

Posted by: Andrew Medina at February 21, 2011 07:32 PM

I'll pray all goes well tomorrow. I'm so sorry you don't have people around to help out more. Hang in there.

Posted by: Beth at February 21, 2011 07:49 PM

Andrew, I'm admittedly intrigued.

Beth, thanks for the kind words. I'm glad things are going well with you and Noah Maxx.

Posted by: Ryan at February 21, 2011 08:15 PM

"...one of the world's foremost practitioners of the art of smelling a dirty diaper from five rooms away."

Whereas most father are quite adept at avoiding smelling a dirty diaper from even a foot away. Kudos on the behavior modification, forced though it is...

Posted by: SteveG at February 22, 2011 08:12 AM
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