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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hooray for Staph!?

Here’s a short post because we’re both very exhausted from today. Following yesterday’s news and setback, we were looking for any sort of good news from the NICU today. I called at 9:00 AM, before I left for my Sys Admin midterm. Jean told me that he was still stable from the overnight and comfortable on the ventilator. Unfortunately, none of his lab results had shown any signs of infection yet.
At 1:00 PM, we called again and talked to Dr. Theresa Murray, the attending fellow this month in the NICU. She told us more or less the same thing, Jeffrey was stable, and the ventilator was doing the bare minimum amount of work required to keep him breathing consistently. And hey, he even gained an ounce overnight!
When we came in to visit at 5:00, Dr. Murray asked to speak with us. She told us that, although it was rare with preemies that make it to 29 weeks, Jeffrey had developed an intraventricular hemorrhage in his brain. They found it this afternoon on a head ultrasound. His is a grade 2, and that means that there is little risk for further complications. They will monitor him very closely to see if his head swells at all this week and do a follow up ultrasound in seven days. They’re not sure when the bleed began – it could have been caused during birth, or could have been triggered by an infection. If it stays at a level 2, then within a week or two it will clot up and dissolve. It if progresses, there may be some surgical interventions that they can do to prevent permanent damage. Such a case would put him at higher risk for developmental complications and cerebral palsy.
Just as we were about to head home for the night, Jeffrey’s nurse Betty Vetter stopped us to let us know that the labs called and they found an infection. We immediately went to talk to Dr. Murray, and she confirmed that the lab cultures found Staphylococcus in his samples. They need to confirm which type: epidermidis or aureus. The later is more serious and harder to treat. However, this is good news because both can be treated by antibiotics very successfully. She said that this is a likely candidate for the cause of his lethargy yesterday, and it’s possible that the IVH is just there, and not causing any problems at all.
When is a staph infection a good thing? When it’s not a brain bleed.
We’re making friends with some of the other parents in the NICU, including a father of twins who’s been there for 51 days with 77 more to go. They’ve been very uplifting with their tales of endurance. Many of them have already been through the same highs and lows we’re taking, and it’s reassuring to hear how they’ve coped. Least of all, it’s forced the cold reality upon me that it’s an intensive care unit for a reason.  


Sue said...

Brian, thanks for updating. I know you're tired and worried, and your blog entries are really appreciated! Rest assured, Jeff has a LOT of "cheerleaders" out here routing for him.

ArthurDent said...

Jeffery looked like a very strong little guy this weekend. I'm sure he'll fight off this new menace with the help of his new friend Mr. Antibody.

Connie said...

It's good to know that they know what to treat Jeff for now...hopefully the 3 of you will be back on the fun part of the roller coaster! There are tons of us out here praying for the 3 of you and wishing you all the best!
P.S. hope the test went well.