It has literally been two full days of hell. No matter how hard you prepare yourself for that precipice, it doesn’t really help you cope with it at all. Yesterday, I entered the NICU to hear about Bradycardias, issues with vitals, overall illness only to be briefed by a very young resident that Olivia could possibly have a Necrotizing Enterocolitis infection (known affectionately as NEC–prounounced NECK). As the day wore on, her belly appeared progressively darker and distended. By evening, her primary PM nurse was visibly concerned, but continued cheerfully to allay any fears we may have. We were told to go home, have a good cry and a stiff drink. I went home and asked to be spooned in an effort to sleep. By morning, x-rays had shown no perforations of the bowel and her white blood cell count had gone down. Her vitals had been extremely stable. I was relieved.
Enter today where we sat through rounds and the team cheerfully concurred that no NEC infection appeared to be present, but they would watch her gut for further signs. The attending physician came in later to state the opposite, that she believes a NEC infection to be present. Further x-rays were ordered, a consultation with a neonatal surgeon was scheduled and an ultrasound to press further into what is bothering her gut requested. The alarms in my head went off yet again. I barreled through it pacing the NICU as the doctors read the x-rays and we waited for a reading on the ultrasound results.
X-rays showed no visible perforation of the bowel, nor did the ultrasound. The neonatal physician concurred it looks like NEC, but also that there appear to be no perforations of the bowel. For the time being, Olivia is being treated with a new set of antibiotics, a blood transfusion and will be monitored closely. Feedings have been stopped, probably for the next 14 days as the antibiotics run their course. X-rays will be taken again later tonight and the late night phone calls to the NICU will again commence. Her vitals remain steady, the oxygen level needed from the respirator remains amazingly low for a 24 weeker. All of these are positive signs for Olivia.
I cannot express how scary this is for all of us, yet we remain hopeful and optimistic that Olivia’s strength and perseverance will pull her through yet again. I have not yet told Mike, but I promised Olivia that if she gets through this and later requests a pony, we will oblige. Start saving Mr. Aparicio.