Most of Charlie’s nurses in the NICU are young enough to be my children but every once in a while we get one of the old-timers who’ve been at Cedars for the past 25 years. I can always tell when we have an older nurse even before I lay eyes on them because I hear their Baby Boomer-era Charlie references. One nurse calls our son “Choo Choo Charlie” which always causes me to sing that ubiquitous jingle from my childhood:
Today one of the nurses kept saying “Sorry, Charlie!” for no apparent reason until I realized she was mimicking the old Starkist commercial in which Charlie the Tuna tries to show how classy he is in his suicidal quest to have the Starkist corporation kill him for their canned tuna. But they keep refusing him because they “don’t want tunas with good taste, they want tunas that taste good.” Oy, what kind of sick mind came up with that gem? Don Draper?
You can tell things are going well with Charlie this week since I’m focusing on such banalities. We’re finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and even the never-give-a-definitive-answer neonatologists are starting to talk about Charlie’s departure which, God-willing, will be in about a month or so. Maybe less if infections stay away and he continues to take bottles as well he did today. He went from 5 cc yesterday to a whopping 45 cc today and they were able to stop all of his other IV fluids except the antibiotics he’s still on. I realized today how much medical jargon I’ve picked up over the past 116 days when the nurse was testing some levels in Charlie’s blood and I heard myself asking, “Is that for the Amikacin or the Vancomycin? Are they compatible with his lipids and TPN?” As we get closer to leaving we’ll have a better idea of which medications we’ll have to keep giving Charlie, if he’ll need to come home with oxygen, and what treatments he’ll need to continue. A new world awaits us, with plenty of its own challenges, but unlike a few weeks ago when I was feeling fearful about ever leaving the safety of the NICU, now I can’t wait to get home.
We had such a great day with Charlie. This morning it was so quiet in his bay I made the comment, “boy, you can hear a pin drop in this place.” The NICU nurses, no strangers to the Evil Eye, reeled back in horror at my statement. Sure enough, within hours the bay seemed like a sweeps month episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” One poor baby near Charlie was having major problems and apparently was so fragile he couldn’t be moved to an operating room. Suddenly the bay was filled with surgeons, nurses, screens, and equipment. Then, with great apologies, all of the parents were asked to leave, quite a rare occurrence. I went back tonight and I still couldn’t get in the bay, the surgery was still going on and they said it would last many more hours. The last time I saw such bustling and dour faces in that room was on April 27th when they were working on our son Oliver. My heart goes out to the family of this baby. I can so relate to what those parents are going through right now and I pray that the baby makes it. I know that Charlie, safely in his incubator (and about to go back to a crib) is sending his positive thoughts to his friend and neighbor.