It is Dustin again, and I haven't updated this blog in right about four days now. If you have been reading this regularly, you have come to either learn deal with or dread my wordiness. So, I have decided to keep the updates simple and divide it into just two sections: pre-discharge and post-discharge. I will get to post-discharge in another post. For right now, we are going to look at the remainder of time spent at VUMC and then talk about our return home. I hope you enjoy, and above all I hope God is glorified through Madison's story!
I remember arriving to VUMC as scheduled early Tuesday morning, and we stayed with Madison until around lunchtime. We were visited by a lactation specialist who said one of the most important things to remember during this time is that mom gets ample sleep and fluids. So, I convinced Mandy to return the Hospital Hospitality House (HHH - the room VUMC set up for us to stay in Nashville) for some lunch and a nap. We told our nurse we would return for Madison's three o'clock feeding. Sometime around 1:30, while Mandy was sleeping, I received a call from Madison's attending physician that the NICU had decided to release her to a general family room so that we could stay with her overnight. I decided not to wake Mandy and just tell her when she was scheduled to wake up. Her alarm buzzed at 2:30, and upon hearing the news, she began packing smaller bags for us to stay overnight at the hospital. While she was doing that, I went and explained to the HHH caretaker on-call that VUMC was encouraging us to stay overnight at the hospital, but that didn't guarantee a Wednesday discharge. He graciously allowed us to keep the room through the night at HHH even though we weren't going to sleep there. Madison had been moved to what I called the Penthouse Suite, room 7312 on the top floor, living the high-life. It was nice to be in this the big family room, and there was a large sofa that was to pull out into a bed for Mandy and me to sleep in together (or so we thought).
We had learned since the hospital had re-admitted Madison to the seventh floor, we could remain their until her discharge. Knowing this, I had decided to return to HHH to pack everything, clean up, and follow the after hours check-out procedures. After about twenty minutes of organizing and cleaning, my parents arrived to help me finish the job and pick up some of the heavier items, because I am still not supposed to lift anything heavy (remember the fridge and TV?). We finished, and I hugged and kissed them goodbye to return to the Penthouse. Little did I know what the immediate future held...
Remember me mentioning the pull out sofa sleeper sofa bed? Well, my parents had actually helped pull out he sofa before meeting me at HHH, and my mother (God love her) saw an immediate problem (I guess once you are a mommy, you will allows be a mommy!!). That sleeper sofa was actually a twin size slab of cement covered in an inch of foam. You see, before moving to the Penthouse, our nurses told us they would arrange for me to have a pull out cot of some sort. They knew of my recent surgeries and assured us it would all be taken handled. After seeing the true size of the sleeping apparatus, my mother approached a nurses aid to rectify the situation. The aid graciously told my mom that was all they could provide because of fire code regulations and that if push came to shove, Mandy could climb up into the crib and sleep with Madison. Hearing my parents tell me all this at HHH was hard to comprehend, but I got it after returning to the Penthouse myself. Most of you all know me... I am pretty much a big teddy bear all of the time. However, I don't shy away from some friendly confrontation every now and again. So, after assessing the situation myself, I decided to go talk to someone. I found the same aid my mom had spoken to and began my angle to rearrange our circumstances. I got the same story as mom that cots are allowed in different parts of the hospital but not on our floor. At one point, I actually laughed in her face when she told me that that pull out cushion was "a queen size bed." I am not a small man, and I could barely get the left half of my body settled on this wonderful pull out apparatus... cushion... bed... queen size temperpedic... I have rarely laughed at someone to their face, but I did it. I laughed at her, to her face, and she knew it. I actually had to give up the offensive for a minute to go collect myself because I was really laughing to hard to think.
FUNNY TWIST TIME!!!
I stumbled back into the room and recounted everything to Mandy. At the end of my story, you would have thought she had been indwelt my beelzebulb himself. I saw horns grow out of Mandy's head and steam leave her ears. She said "OH NO!!! I'll be right back and we'll get this taken care of..." I was literally scared for whoever she landed on, because they didn't know what was coming. We later had a laugh about this, because Mandy had confessed that (hormones and all) she entered the flesh in .0125 seconds and was about to unleash on someone (it is funny retyping this, because I am replaying this in my mind's eye). As soon as Mandy opened the door, in walked our regular nurse and the charge nurse (the nurse in charge of the floor - hence charge nurse). They walked in very coolly and said "I hear we have some sleeping arrangement issues." Mandy should have just looked at the them and said "sure do, here's your sign." After some vigorous negotiations, they decided to switch Madison's mini-bed for a bassinet and roll in a hospital bed for Mandy to sleep in. We agreed, Mandy's blood pressure returned to acceptable human levels, and we decided it was time to find something on television to watch. Everything was corrected, and the Rawls family was finally able to spend their first night as a family under one roof. All in all, it was pretty special.
Madison had a great night, sleeping most of it. The doctor came to visit early in the a.m. She told us she would like to see Madison have two more good feeds, and then we would be able to be discharged in the early afternoon. In those final hours, we must have seen at least a half a dozen different people all specializing in some area pertaining to Madison's Spina Bifida. In between those drop in visits, we tried to catch as many short naps as possible. At the end of it all, I think I remember us pulling out of VUMC's parking garage right around 3:30 pm. I will admit it felt good.
We treating ourselves to a McDonald's Frappe and headed for my parents house in Brentwood for some dinner and family time. Everybody and anybody who couldn't or didn't visit Madison in the hospital was at my parents house that night. I warned everybody long before dinner started that we planned to leave by 7:30 so that we could return to our home. The funny part was we began saying our goodbyes at 7:00, and we didn't pull out of the driveway until until about 7:50. Every time we inched closer to the door to leave, the crowd moved along with us. I think I might have hugged everybody bye about three times a piece. Funny, but if there is one thing our immediate and extended family does well, it is we take care of our own.
Altogether, we had spent nine days away from home and eight of those were at VUMC and HHH. We were ready for our home, our stuff, and our mattress.
Home sweet home here we come!!!