Here is one for the record books, folks. First, Jamie and I need to say that we have been stunned and amazed by everyone who has been following Hazel's story. We went from about 21 hits a day on this blog to about 1,800 hits per day. We have prayer circles going for us in Peru, South Africa, the UK, Japan, Mexico and of course all over the States. A convent in New Jersey, a church in Tuscon, and people in just about every state have been pulling for my kiddo. We have been receiving packages of books, stuffed animals, blankets, balloons, flowers, and toys here at the hospital from people we don't know. We have been contacted by reporters wanting to tell Hazel's story and to help us educate other parents about the dangers of these batteries. Today, a nurse from the Emergency Department here at Children's Hospital came up into our room. She said that a friend of hers had sent her the link to Hazel's blog, and she recognized the johnny that Hazel as wearing as belonging to this hospital! She came up to meet her and to give us A Light In the Attic. When I spoke to Hazel's pediatrician, he had already heard the update on her condition from some of his other patients who had been following the story. It's all so incredible! It just goes to show that once you're a mama, you're every ones mama and all babies are your baby. I feel like there are thousands of mamas in the world, holding Hazel as if she were one of their own. What a lucky girl...
So, it is only now, that Hazel is out of the woods that we have been told how serious her condition actually was. Not that we thought it wasn't serious to begin with, but we thankfully were not told how close to Death's Door she truly was. When we came into the ER here at Children's, and for our first couple of days here, Hazel had an infection in her chest around her heart and lungs called mediastinitis that according to our surgeon, kills half of all people who develop it. We also were only recently told that she had microtears in her esophagus so that it was open to her chest cavity. When I think back to the condition she was in when we came into the hospital here, it terrifies me. I don't think I realized how close we were to the end. Her heart rate was in the 200's, she was on fire and so lethargic that it was difficult to rouse her at all. The surgeon told me about a four-year old boy who had a AAA stuck up his nose for four days, and he lost his whole nose. He said that if you just hold a battery in your fist for a few hours that it will damage the tissue because batteries are designed to leak. After it is removed, the electrical current is still damaging the tissue for some time, with no way to stop it.
So, once the battery was removed from Hazels esophagus, the most severely damaged portion was where the battery was resting. It formed something called an esophageal diverticulum, or an outpouching of the tissue. (Google it to see tons of gross pictures.) This tissue is very thin and delicate and can easily result in a rupture of the esophagus or perforation. The problems that can result from something like that are legion, as one can easily imagine.
The part of this whole thing that is so miraculous is that not only did she come back from the brink of death several times, but her recovery from her injuries since being extubated is truly extraordinary. When Hazel had her extubation/bronchoscopy procedure the other day, the surgeon decided to not look in her esophagus because of how fragile it was, but also because he would not expect to see much change in only one week. He thought that they might go check it out in a month or so to see that things were starting to heal up properly. So today Hazel had her barium swallow to make sure that the microtears had repaired so that she might try to eat from a bottle. You can imagine all of our shock and surprise to hear that not only had the micro tears healed as expected, but that there was no evidence of any esophageal diverticulum. After just over one week, The worst of and most precarious of Hazel's injuries appears to be gone. Incredible, no?
So, Jamie and I aren't really the religious types. We don't have what some might call a "strong faith in god", but one thing I have always believed in is the power of prayer, the strength in numbers, the ability for thought to change human lives. Jamie is starting to come around now, too. After seeing the recovery she has made observable in her behavior and also now on film, I think he might be of the mind that there is something out there, whether you call it god or collective unconscious or something else. Someone was looking out for Hazel; an angel, a spirit, god, mama-love, the brilliant science that saved her, the medical professionals that worked so hard on her behalf. Whatever it is, it worked.
But the thing that makes me pause here is this; there are thousands of kiddos in this hospital just as beautiful and funny and loved as Hazel. There have been just as many prayers and healthy vibes and meditations and healing thoughts for them, but not all of them have been as lucky as us. We have been unfortunate enough to see the deaths of a few kiddos since we have been here in PICU and we have seen people's babies pass on. Just as I am writing this, someone called a code and all of the docs went running down the hall to another room. It breaks my heart that right now someone is as scared as I was when Hazel stopped breathing. I don't understand why we were saved and other babies weren't. I will never understand it and I refuse to have it be be something simply brushed off as "God's Will". It just isn't fair and my heart breaks for them. I wish I could still be ignorant about this whole little PICU world here. We were here for ten nights, but there are families here for weeks and months. Families that come here every month and stay for long, long periods.
Anyway, I just don't think it's fair. Jamie and Hazel and I are so blessed, so thankful and so lucky to have each other for another day, but I can't help but think about the rest.
I can't thank you all enough for caring as much as you do about my baby.