Monday, September 7, 2009

The haunted mind

During this three-day weekend, Carolyn and I got Max to take an average of 282 ccs/day PO. This is a new record for us. What's more, it's above the average 261 ccs/day that our friend D. ("the baby whisperer") got into him during the preceding week. It's all due the remarkable surge in Max's PO interest over the past few weeks.

Carolyn, D., and a variety of therapists tried for months to get Max to show an interest in PO feeding. They tried different bottles, nipples, thickening agents, levels of lip, cheek and chin support and stimulation, times of day, positions (prone, sitting up, etc), and attempts limited to different levels of alertness ("he's sleepy! quick, get the bottle!"). As failure mounted on failure various culprits came in for blame: the ng tube, food allergies, and, most commonly, Max's hydrocephalus.

I'm no expert, but it strikes me that if it was in the power of medicine and therapy to get Max to become a better eater, it would have happened long ago. As far as I can tell, a deep and inaccessible switch in Max's brain flipped from "off" to "on".

Actually, my favorite simile is of a haunted house. Imagine that a normal kid's brain is like a 21st century house. He's getting information via internet, phone, television and he's sending out instructions on the same channels. Around birth, most of these connections to Max's brain got severed. He's been wandering around in a house with no TV, no telephone, and no internet. Every once in a while he hears spooky voices through the radio or echoing up the pipes. As time has gone on, he's come to recognize those voices as messages from organs that would normally be communicating via email. I like to imagine Max twirling the knob on his radio and suddenly, through the static, hearing his stomach. Then, by trial and error, he finds he can send messages to the stomach using Morse code and banging on a heating pipe. Painstakingly he taps out an urgent message: QUITTHROWINGUPALLTHETIMETHANKYOUMAX.