Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Max's big week continues

I got to HSC in time to give Max his noon bottle. However, the new-fangled Dr. Brown's feeding system was a little too complicated for me to figure out, so Max only got down nine ccs, less than two teaspoons. We had to hurry, too, because at 1:00 PM we left to go to Children's. This was my first ride over in the HSC van. Nurse L. came with us and played Virgil to Max's Dante; without L. Max and I would still be trapped in fifth bolgia somewhere. Children's Hospital of course is the home of the elevators that stop at floors marked "1", "1.5", "2", "2.5", "3" and "4". We were headed for "4", which might be something like the sixth storey off the ground.

At Children's, Max, L. and I met with the pediatric neurosurgeon, B., a man who stands out not just for his irrepressible optimism but also for his endearing habit of deriding his colleagues' tendency towards pessimism. B. is famous in our household for the dictum "treat the patient, not the x-ray" and for encouraging us to "bet on Max". Notwithstanding this, B. spent quite a bit of time examining Max's CT scans. He also, however, examined Max, whipping out his own tape measure to confirm the readings maintained by the HSC staff.

How positive is B? Where other doctors have described Max's ventricles as "dilated" and "abnormal", and have discussed the consequences of Max's "ventricomegaly", B., told me that Max had "generous" ventricles.

B. diagnosed Max as having "arrested" hydrocephalus. He said that he didn't see any clinical signs of high intracranial pressure. B. said that he was guided by the feel of Max's fontanel (me: "I always feel queasy palpitating the fontanel", B: "why? It's just the brain?"), something he said might make him seem old-fashioned. Far from it. What made B. seem old fashioned was the report he wrote in longhand on a form with two carbon copies. Press hard! (To be fair, this procedure seems to be standard practice as Children's; B. keeps a full array of modern computers in his office).

On the drive back, Max was fascinated by the outside world, staring at the trees, sky and sun. Once safely back inside HSC, I left Max's room and went to the family room to call Carolyn. While I was on the phone with her, one of the nurses wheeled in Max in his stroller and then left Max and me alone. To have the same privilege, Carolyn had to watch a video and pass an infant CPR test. Why did the HSC staff bend the rules for me? I suspect it might be because I am that rarest of creatures: a father visiting his child during the daytime. But more on that some other time.