Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A trip to the apnea/pulmonary clinic

Carolyn took Max for a long-scheduled visit to the apnea/pulmonary care clinic at Children's today; this is one of the many specialists that Max is seeing. For the most part, Max put on his usual charm offensive. However, Max has a disconcerting habit of crying if he sees another child crying. For a long time we thought he was just copying his older brother, but having seen him around other babies, Carolyn confirms that he seems to pick up their distress via baby telegraph. Needless to say, there are plenty of unhappy children at Children's.

The monitor to which we attach Max every night has been recording his breathing and heart patterns, as well as any alarms, time between the alarm and its reset, and other indicators of parental diligence. We initially viewed the monitor with suspicion because we knew it would eventually disgorge all of our secrets to the pulmonary care team, but then we forgot about it.

I'm happy to say that the pulmonary care team read the monitor's memory and gave us high marks for consistent use. They also told us that the few times the alarm went off were false positives: Max's heart or breathing patterns may have tripped the alarm, but they weren't real episodes of bradycardia, tachycardia or apnea. As a hospital baby, Max has always slept peacefully through any manner of noises, including his monitor's alarm. Had Carolyn and I been hooked up to monitors over the past couple of months, however, they would have told a different story. There's nothing quite like being catapulted out of Lethe's sweet embrace by a klaxon announcing that your child needs emergency care.

The pulmonary/apnea team tried to talk us out of continued use of the monitor. After all, they said, Max has gone 43 days at home without an incident. We, however, aren't so sanguine. Max hasn't had an episode..yet. I was surprised to hear that we had been home for 43 days. I don't know if it feels like just a single day or an eternity, but there's something nice and concrete about the number: 43 days.

Max is suffering from what Carolyn calls the "family cold." We've all got it to some degree or another. Dark theories abound regarding who among us brought in the infection. For political reasons, we've decided to blame the only member of the family who can't talk, although we don't have a theory where Max might have gotten it. To some extent, Max's cold symptoms made his lung function appear temporarily worse. Nonetheless, the pulmonary team doubled his dose of diuretic in order to keep his lungs clear of fluid. We go back in a month for a further checkup.