Maxie's Jaundice

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Maxie was born on a Thursday - October 7, 2010.  We stayed in the hospital with him until Saturday.  We went to our first doctor's appointment on Monday. Max looked too yellow to the pediatrician (even though he looked perfect to me).  Our pediatrician told us to go immediately to Verdugo Hills Hospital to get his blood drawn to confirm that his bilirubin was high.  We waited in a dark and dingy waiting room with an old coughing man and several other diseased looking patients.  I worried Maxie would catch something.  They brought him into a room to draw his blood.  To do this on an infant, they take a razor blade to the baby's foot, cut it, and then use a little dropper to collect the blood.  The woman who was doing this to Max, must have cut his foot 5 times before she got enough blood.  I was just sitting there watching her cut up my baby's feet.  It felt like she was cutting my heart with a razor blade.  They told us that it would take an hour for the results so we decided to sit in the car, away from the sick people, a place where I could nurse Max more easily.  As we sat in the car, Max got really lethargic and I started to panic.  He was just a sleepy baby but he was a little sweaty and his eyes kept rolling backwards and I was crying and saying "Maxie, please wake up baby!".  Finally, the call from the hospital with the test results.  We needed to take Max immediately to the Pediatric Unit at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.  So, we drove there and rushed up to the Pediatric floor.  The doctors there brought Max into an examining room and checked his eyes and his heart rate and who knows what else.  They also drew more blood.  I was stunned.  More blood?  They decided to keep Max overnight and brought us into a storage room for hospital chairs and furniture and said to us that they would just keep us here until they could get us a regular room (I walked down the hall, there were plenty of empty rooms).  A nurse wheeled in an incubator, they put little goggles on Max and then they put him inside.  After about an hour of them coming in, looking at him and then walking out, I peered in and saw that Maxie was shaking.  Looked like he was shivering.  I called a nurse to come in and told her that Max looked cold.  "No", she said, "the incubator keeps him warm."  I put my hands inside and felt his little arm and it was ice cold.  I turned around and glared at her and said, "my baby is freezing".  "Impossible", she said.  I said "Well, something isn't right!" The nurse called one of the doctors into the storage room and he started to explain to me how the incubator works and then I saw the nurse go around the back and PLUG THE INCUBATOR INTO THE WALL!  It wasn't even plugged in.  So, I called her out on it and she said, "Oh, that isn't the main plug, that is just one of the plugs".  That was the moment that I realized that even though I am not a doctor, my son's medical safety was in my hands.  As the evening wore on and I saw that there were PLENTY of empty rooms still, I approached a nurse and asked if there was any possibility to get a private room.  She said it would be fine as long as we would be ready to move at a moment's notice if someone with a more dire condition came in.  Of course that would be fine.  I did not sleep more than five minutes in a row that night.  I kept checking on Max to make sure he was still breathing and not shivering.  The nurses came in every couple of hours and re cut his foot and check on the blood.  The lights in the room didn't shut off either and there we were, under the bright fluorescents all night.  They were worried that he wasn't getting enough milk so I also was pumping as much as I could every couple of hours, which wasn't much because my milk had only come in a day or two before.  During one of the middle of the night visits, 2 nurses worked on getting a blood sample from Max.  They must have cut him 10 times.  Ted's teeth were clenched and his eyes were narrow and he finally said LOUDLY, "PLEASE stop.  I mean, what is going on?  Why is this so hard?  Do you really need to cut him so many times?"  The next day, a new crew came in, Max's bilirubin number started dropping and by 5 pm, we were cleared to go.  By the time we left, I had my first taste of Post-traumatic stress disorder.  I was frazzled and anxious about the whole experience for months afterwards. A few days before Max died, I was giving him a bath.  I remember thinking to myself how finally that horror had dissipated in my mind.  Then, I actually thought to myself how lucky we were that Max was so healthy and had been SO healthy ever since that experience.  I was sure that we wouldn't have to sleep in another hospital until the next time we were there to deliver Max's brother or sister.  I had NO idea how bad a hospital experience could really be.  I had NO concept of PTSD.  I had no indication that in just a few days Max's life would be over and that I would be missing him for all of the rest of my days.


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