This past week we've spent in the CV ICU has been one of the longest of my life. In so many ways, going for a shift at the hospital is like taking care of Samuel at home. I'm changing diapers, trying to nurse, soothing him when he cries, and trying to entertain him. It's harder to do with the challenge of not being able to scoop him up whenever I want or walking him around to calm him down. But, for the most part, he's just acting like a normal baby. Except for the whole wires sticking out of his chest: don't pull on them, don't pull on them, be careful, BE CAREFUL!
Getting him out of bed to nurse, especially after our little episode yesterday, is an exercise in faith and prayer. Everyone reassures me that it's okay to hold him and to move him adjust while we are nursing. But. I'm so nervous I'm going to inadvertently yank something out of him, that will subsequently lead to a nurse yanking him out of my arms and running down the hall.
(That's not exactly what would happen since he's not 100% dependent upon the pacemaker and has an underlying rythm that would buy them enough time to get his heart paced in another way if the wires came out.)
Travis had to work tonight, so I took the afternoon/evening shift. We had a better nurse today, so that made our day so much easier. Nursing is still a challenge, but we continue to try for every feeding that I'm there. We'll figure this out. He already does so much better than he did before the surgery. Once we are home and he's not so fragile, I think it will just get better and better.
Samuel had another stable day until about 9:30 tonight. They had made no changes to his pacemaker settings, his heart continued to sound great, and he's eating well. If it weren't for the need of the pacemaker, we truly would be at home by now. His scar is even looking like it's beginning to heal.
After night rounds, I had Samuel in my lap again, trying to nurse, when his heart rate dropped like it had before. I paged a nurse and a couple of people came into the room. While they were waiting for the nurse practitioner to get there, they switched his pacemaker box to the back up one that is by his bed at all times. By the time the NP arrived, his heart rate seemed to be going back up and appeared to be pacing again. They got a new back up, marked his original one as bad, and left us alone again. We got him back into bed after he finished eating, and I tried to get my own heart rate to slow back down.
However, about 10 minutes later, his heart rate dropped again. The nurses came back in and they ended up having to turn his voltage back up again. We'd gone from 5 post-op, to 9 at the first adjustment, to 16 tonight, before they got it stabilized again. Because his little pacemaker box is only capable of so much, they also had to wheel an external pacemaker machine to stand guard outside our door in case they needed a higher current than was possible with the little portable box that he's been using.
They got him settled back down fairly quickly. I, however, wasn't sure I could leave his side. The last hour had taken it's toll on me and I was a mess. I hadn't planned on staying the night, but I wasn't comfortable leaving. I got Sam to go to sleep and tried to settle in on the couch there. After about an hour, the NP came in to check on him and encouraged me go home. He reassured me that Samuel was stable, that even if the pacemaker completely went kaput, he would have plenty of time to get something else in place before he was in danger.
Exhaustion finally won and I left about midnight. I have a feeling we are getting this pacemaker sooner, rather than later.