Friday, January 29, 2010

Pesky little critters

Well, it's official: Bryce is sick. It all started late on Wednesday, when Logan's hourly screaming bouts kept the entire family up most of the night. Sometimes, I'll get up with him once during the night, and twice is not unheard of, but seven times for me and twice for Christie is definitely a record. It didn't take long for us to discover the problem -- on Thursday morning, Logan came downstairs and announced, "There's something in Logan's nose!"

Thirty-six hours later, we find ourselves enduring the dreaded sound of our respiratorily challenged son's piteous baby coughs. After all that we've been told about Bryce's lungs, I am not at all comfortable listening to him hack away; fortunately, he had his follow-up appointment at the NICU clinic this afternoon, so we know that his lungs are clear and his O2 saturation is 100%. Christie and I are feeling more than a little guilty since we just loosened our visitor restrictions less than two weeks ago, but I suppose we should be thankful that he's remained healthy this long. Hopefully, it's just a cold.

The good news is that the follow-up appointment went great! At the NICU clinic, they have special growth charts for very-low birth weight kids (those born weighing < 2 lbs). Today, Bryce is 14.4 lbs. and 25.75" long, which puts him in the 90th percentile for height, weight and head size! Since we know preemies (especially micro-preemies) are typically small, it's great to hear that he's leading the pack. More importantly, the doctors said that his lungs sound really good, and suggested that it might be temporary damage to his windpipe (caused by intubation) rather than damaged lungs that cause his occasional wheezing.

Bryce was also introduced to the fantastic NICU occupational therapist, who quickly discovered two important issues with his development. Due to his early arrival, Bryce learned to breathe with his shoulders scrunched up, which causes him to use only the top lobes of his lungs. She demonstrated that if she pushes gently on his shoulders to encourage him to relax them, he gets really mad. So, we now have a number of exercises that we can do to help him to loosen up his shoulders, which will hopefully lead to less labored breathing in the future.

Second, Christie pointed out a few weeks ago that Bryce's head is not symmetric: it's visibly flatter on one side. I shrugged it off, but ever since then, it has been bothering me too. Well, it turns out this is quite common in preemies; Bryce learned to favor lying on one side, and since he spent more time lying on a developing skull than most babies, his head is becoming misshapen. It might sound a little silly, but apparently his ears can become misaligned if it gets bad enough, which can lead to serious balance issues. Fortunately, the OT caught it at this stage, because if it progresses much further, they might have to put Bryce in a padded helmet for months to reshape the skull. Based on where he's at now, she said that if we're diligent about encouraging him to lie on his left side, we should be able to avoid that fate.

Illness aside, everyone agreed that he looks great, so hopefully those little white blood cells are kicking into high gear and he'll be all smiles again soon. Print this post

1 comment:

  1. I do hope Bryce is feeling better soon. It is heart wrenching to listen to them cough so much when they are so little.

    Eliza had a similar tightness in her shoulders when she was first home from the NICU. She was not a fan of having her shoulders gently pushed down, or the exercise from the OT, but I do recall that the problem righted itself after a short while with some good OT exercises (well at least I thought they were good, I suspect Eliza, and Bryce would disagree).

    Hope Bryce is on the mend soon.