What a milestone day! Miss Elise Diane Olsen came off all respiratory support!!!! No more nasal cannula. Her lungs are proving to us that they are ready to handle “this breathing thing” on their own. Wow! I find myself pinching my arm to make sure I am actually typing the above statement and not dreaming. Inch by Inch…we are getting there!
Of course today was beyond exciting. We couldn’t wait to get to the NICU and start kissing Elise’s lips…something we’ve never been able to do because a breathing apparatus has always stood in the way.
However, in a weird way, taking off the nasal cannula was a little nerve-wracking as well. There was no more “turning her up” or “giving her a little more support.” Of course the nasal cannula was on stand-by all day today (and probably tomorrow) since we are in the trial period, but the time has finally arrive for her to show us what she’s got. She has to keep her oxygen level at 92% or higher to be considered ‘successful with no support.’ At 91% an alarm sounds that tells the nurse she is de-satting. A slight dip down is not worrisome. It becomes alarming if Elise would continue to keep her oxygen level in the low 90s or high 80s.
Another reason I was nervous that they were removing the nasal cannula today was because the eye doctor always comes on Thursdays. He uses a big black piece of equipment that keeps her eyes open so he can look in and examine her retinas. Regardless of a person’s age or size, this would piss off any human being. Sure enough, Elise likes to fight the eye doctor with the best of preemies. A nurse holds Elise’s arms down while she screams bloody murder. I worried about how Elise would handle the eye doctor drama today with no respiratory support. When she got so worked up during the eye examine, would they have to quickly put a mask on her to give her some breathing support?
No fear…sure enough, she sailed through! She impressed everyone, especially her momma and daddy. The best part? The eye doctor said he has decided to move Elise to every other Thursday appointments because she continues to improve with every examination. Yeah!
Our trial period with no respiratory support continued to go well until about 5:00 when Elise started to show signs that she was de-satting and not bouncing right back up. She kept her oxygen level around 89-91%. The alarm had nurses and doctors studying her monitor screen, while it had momma and daddy worried that nasal cannula was about to go back on our daughter’s face. We left for dinner around 6:00 with the thinking that when we returned for our night cap, there was a strong chance Elise would be back on oxygen. If she indeed would have to go back on it, it was highly likely that she would be coming home on oxygen.
At dinner I expressed my worry and downright frustration about this. When a person gets to a point when they ‘can see the light’ within walking distance, it’s hard not to get frustrated with the slightest setbacks. G and I talked in length about how we will adapt at home if she does come home with oxygen. Certainly NOT something we will wish for, but something we will accept if our hardworking lady needs it.
After dinner we headed back to the hospital. Again, we thought Elise would probably be back on cannula. Sure enough, the night nurse said Elise had kept her oxygen between 97-100% since shift change. Amy, the nurse, was very promising and helped me feel much stronger. Hearing her say, “I think Elise will do great with this new change,” meant everything to me. It was much easier to head home after seeing Elise in the high 90s and hearing the positivity from Amy.
|On the scale with a double chin...that's our girl!|
I think I’m also overly tense this week because our doctor is brand new to Elise. Unfortunately, every 16 weeks, the NICU doctors rotate floors and patient assignments. We’ve worked so close with Dr. Ben Saad, Dr. Pyle, and Dr. Maylock for our entire NICU stay. This week, two new doctors were introduced to Elise. These doctors have had Elise on nightshift sometimes, but it’s incomparable to being the day doctor that calls all the shots and communicates with family. Although I understand hospital policies, such as doctor rotations, it still isn’t comforting when a doctor has to learn about Elise after we’ve spent three and a half months with other doctors that know her inside and out at this point. Fortunately for us, the new doctor, Dr. Tauscher, is very nice and knowledgeable. He listens to family members and leans on the nurses before he makes big decisions because he knows family members and nurses are the constants in Elise’s care. It will take sometime to get to know him like we know the other doctors, but we certainly will try. We loved hearing Dr. Tauscher say, “I’ve been instructed by Dr. Ben Saad to follow the plan in place for his little girl, Elise.” It’s nice to know the doctors get territorial over their patients and their families because we certainly get territorial over them.
We continue to pray that Elise will soar! It’s all up to her now.....wait, hasn't it always been?
G & J & E