Tag Archives: Oakland Children’s Hospital

Another Hospital Stay, Part 2


by Lillian Csernica on August 1, 2015

I’ve been MIA because I’ve spent most of the past ten days at the hospital with Michael, and most of those days in the ICU.

The Baclofen pump replacement went well.  No redness, swelling, etc. at the incision site.  No problems in the Recovery room.

Then matters started to get complicated.  Instead of sending Michael to the Surgical floor, somebody in his or her infinite wisdom sent him to the Rehab floor.  The reasoning?  The staff on the Surgical floor weren’t as familiar with the Ketogenic Diet, and besides, the kids with Baclofen pumps all go to the Rehab floor.

Michael developed an infection.  Other bad things happened, but let me just say his left lung took a hit.  That’s his most vulnerable area.  His breathing was compromised, and sure enough, it looked like pneumonia.  I don’t want to hear the P-word.  That has been Michael’s #1 enemy for most of his life.

After two days on the Rehab floor, I had a polite, even-tempered, but very firm hissy fit.  Michael needed more aggressive care.  He should be sent to the ICU immediately.  The charge nurse agreed with me and called the ICU.  One of their attending physicians came to evaluate Michael.  The doctor asked me a few key questions about Michael’s history, then told the team of Pediatric M.D.s on the Rehab floor Michael did indeed need to be in the ICU.

This is why I work so hard to be calm and polite when I’m dealing with the medics.  I know when to get angry, and I know when to panic.  I also know how to make these feelings clear without actually taking them out on people such as the R.N.s who are always busting their butts, or the respiratory therapists, or the other People Who Aren’t Doctors.  Oakland Children’s Hospital is a teaching hospital, so there are teams of residents under the supervision of the attending physicians.  They do things a certain way in teaching hospitals, and that’s important to bear in mind.  I really liked the Pediatric residents who took care of Michael.  He’s just a complicated guy and needed what can be done better in the ICU.

Two days ago Michael’s kidneys and liver shut down.  Chris and I were living in absolute terror that Michael would need a liver transplant.  The liver specialist explained the whole evaluation process to us, the waiting list, the length of the surgery, and even what would happen if Michael rejected the transplant or was considered a bad transplant risk.  He would not survive more than a week.

I don’t EVER want to have this kind of conversation with a doctor again.

The good news is Michael is on dialysis right now and that’s helping matters.  His breathing is much better, with less equipment strapped to his face to help him breathe.  The kidneys and liver are amazing organs capable of considerable recovery.  Michael seems to be on his way to getting over all this, but we still have to be cautious.  Another infection, another fever, and all this progress would be lost.

I want to say a loud public thank you to my parish priest, Archpriest Basil Rhodes of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Saratoga, CA.  He called a number of priests who reside in or near Oakland.  Fr. Ninos Oshaana was the first to arrive.  He said a molieben over Michael and anointed him with Holy Unction.  Fr. Ninos moved so quickly he got there before Michael was taken into surgery for the implantation of the dialysis catheter.  God bless you, Fr. Ninos!

I go back to the hospital tomorrow, suitcase in hand, to stay there or at the Family House nearby until Michael comes home.  Please keep us in your prayers.

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Filed under Baclofen pump, Depression, doctors, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Family, frustration, hospital, mother, Special needs, specialists, surgery, worry, Writing

Another Hospital Stay


by Lillian Csernica on July 20, 2015

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Michael has surgery on Wednesday morning.  Bright and early, and when I say early I mean I’ll be up at 3 a.m. prepping him for the 5 a.m. departure to the Oakland Children’s Hospital.  The anesthesiologist wants him to have a breathing treatment before we bring him in, along with his regular meds.  Wrestling my poor boy into his percussive therapy vest at that hour will be hard on both of us.

Then we board our van for the long drive.  Caffeine will be essential.  Given my sleep patterns, I will probably just skip my insomnia meds and go for the long haul.  I’ve pulled overnighters before for Michael’s sake.  The fight-or-flight response brought on by seeing the medics wheel Michael away on the gurney should be good for a few solid hours of jittery alertness.  Yes, I’ve been through this with Michael before, and no, I’m not really worried because our surgeon is the best, but Things Happen.  Only fools tell themselves nothing could possibly go wrong and really believe that.

We’ve been told recovery time for this procedure is three to five days.  That’s what they tell everybody.  My husband is not thrilled about this, because our lives are planned very carefully on a day to day basis.  Nursing schedules, what John might be doing, what appointments my husband, my sister, or I might have.  I’m really hoping we get to come home by the weekend so Michael can recuperate in his familiar surroundings with all of his comforts.

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And this time, I’m going to positively ENGRAVE our name and address on Michael’s enteral feeding pump.  During one of our many hospital stays, the staff at that particular hospital sent our pump equipment home with some other patient.  We raised hell about that, believe me.  The hospital had to send a courier after the patient and parents to recover our equipment and deliver theirs.  Different model pumps make a world of difference, especially when the particular formula for the food is different.  The formula for Michael’s food tends to thicken up once it’s mixed.  That means the tube size on the feeding bag and the related equipment inside the pump had better be matched to the viscosity of the formula.  Otherwise the pump jams, the alarm goes off, and Michael doesn’t get fed.

Can you tell I’m already on edge?

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Filed under Baclofen pump, doctors, Family, hospital, surgery