Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26 - Dear Nicholas Sparks (Guest Bloggers John and Alicia O'Malley)

Dear Mr. Sparks,

My husband and I had been married for 3 years when we decided to have a baby. When I went to the Dr. I found out that I was 5 weeks pregnant. I came home and told my husband, John, and he was on cloud nine from then on. This was in December. In January and February everything was great.

On March the 31th, my OB Dr., Dr. Woodford did an ultrasound and we found out it was a boy. One of the technicians pushed record on the VCR to record the ultrasound. We just couldn't wait till we got home to watch the video. As soon as we got in the house, I went straight over to the VCR, put the tape in and pushed play. When I pushed play there was nothing there but a blank tape. We took the tape out and made sure the tape was ok and it was. Then we made sure our VCR was working right and it was. I decided to call over to the Dr.'s office to tell them about the ultrasound not taping. The nurse who answered the phone, asked me if I wanted to come back the next week for another ultrasound and I said yes. I went back the next week and one of the technicians did the ultrasound and after about 5 minutes, she said "I'll be back in just a second, I have to go get Dr. Woodford." I was starting to worry then. They came back in and Dr. Woodford finished the ultrasound. He didn't say anything until he was done. After he is done, he tells me there is something wrong. He explained it as a "Bubble" in his chest cavity. That's when I start crying. He takes me to his office to talk about what he saw. That was when he mentioned he wanted to send me to a specialist in Birmingham. He called while I was still there and set me up an appointment with The Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine.

I went to Birmingham for the first time on April the 13th. There are 4 main Dr.'s in this division. Dr. Brumfield, Dr. Wenstrom, Dr. Owen, and Dr. Davis. Dr. Brumfield was the first Dr. I saw and when she did an ultrasound, she found fluid in his right chest cavity and it looked to be pushing his heart a little. That day they did blood work and an Amniocentesis. Before we left, she set me up an appointment with a Pediatric Cardiologist. We went back to Birmingham April the 22nd, Dr. Brumfield said all the test came back fine. She mentioned that they might have to go inside me and through him into his chest area and remove the fluid. When we left there we went to see the heart Dr., he said the fluid has pushed his heart just a little. On April the 29th, we went back to Birmingham and saw Dr. Owen. The fluid was still there and said he would like to remove the fluid, if we would give him the permission. Of course we did. He stuck a very long needle through me and into Jonathan, and removed the fluid. Dr. Owen could not get all the fluid, because Jonathan moved on him. The Dr. got about 80% of the fluid out. He sent the fluid to Children's Hospital for testing. We went back the next week and Dr. Wenstrom, did the ultrasound. Everything seems to be the same, no more fluid has come back. We had to go back to Birmingham May the 25th. Dr. Owen did an ultrasound and he said it looks to be an abnormal mass of tissue, where the fluid was. He then suggested we go see a Pediatric Surgeon, Dr. Keith Georgeson John and I went and saw Dr. Georgeson on June the 23rd. He said he thought that it could be a tumor on his right lung and insisted on me getting steroids. He did say he would be the one who would do the surgery, and that he would be in Children's Hospital for a while.

On July the 18th, I was not feeling very good and John decided to take me to the hospital, here at home. When we get to Eliza Coffee Memorial (ECM) Hospital, one of the nurses in Labor and Delivery checked to see if I had dilated and I had. I was 3. When I got home that night I went straight to bed. I woke up still not feeling good and so I called Dr. Woodford, he told me to come on in to see him. John goes with me and we find out that I'm dilated to 3 1/2. Dr. Woodford leaves the room and comes back and says that I need to go on to Birmingham. We finally get to UAB, Labor and Delivery, the Dr.'s there check me and I'm still 3 1/2. I had to stay over night. When I left the hospital the next day, I went back to see Dr. Owen, he suggested that if I had a place to stay in Birmingham, that I really needed to stay there. The Dr.'s, John and I did not want me to go into labor at home, because they are not able to care for certain things, and I did not want to worry about him being med flied to Children's Hospital in Birmingham and me still be in the hospital at home. So this is when I call Sue Paul, with the Homewood Church of Christ. The church has some apartments available for people who need a place to stay while they are being treated at the hospitals in Birmingham. Luckily, she had one available and we went straight over to the apartments and met with her and signed the papers on it. John' supervisor is the one who told us about the apartments and he called and got us on a waiting list long before.

I had to stay in Birmingham, while John came back home and worked, because he was trying to save his vacation time for when the baby was to come. My dad and mom took turns staying with me during the week and John would come back on Friday after work. That was really hard not having him there with me, but we survived. On July the 29th, I had to go see Dr. Brumfield, she did another test to see if his lungs were good enough to born and if so, they could induce me on Friday, the next day. Dr. Brumfield, said she would call me in the morning, and let me know whether to come to the hospital. She called around 7:05 AM on Friday morning and said be at the hospital at 8:00, we're going to induce today.

John, my mother, and I were at UABI Jefferson Tower, Labor and Delivery at 7:50 AM. The nurse I had induced my labor about 9:30 and the Epidural was given around 2:30 PM. Jonathan Michael, arrived at 5:01 P.M. on Friday, July the 30th of 1999. I did not get to hold him because he was immediately taken to NICU. He was 6 lbs. and 13 1/2 oz. He was able to breathe on his own, but his carbon dioxide was starting to increase a little after 7 hours and that's when they decided to put him on a ventilator. when I was able, my nurse took me down there to see him. He was transported to Children's Hospital the next morning. John went to Children's right when they said that they were going with him. As soon as they arrived at Children's, the Dr.'s did chest x-rays and that's when they found out Jonathan had a Diaphragmatic Hernia. The Dr.'s go and tell John about it. After he found out everything he needed to know, he came back to the hospital where I was at.

When John walks into the room, I see the look on his face and I knew something was very wrong. His eyes start to water and then I start crying, and I said, John, what's wrong with our son. He then tells me he was born with CDH. I did not know anything about CDH at that time. John goes on telling me all about it and everything else. I was asking all kinds of questions, like "Is our son going to live?", "What can the Dr.'s do for him?'. John said they would explain everything later. That afternoon I was able to leave the hospital for a while and go see him at Children's Hospital. The first time I saw him in NICU I cried and I cried, because it hurt so bad to see him that way. He was paralyzed and seemed so helpless. I would stay there with him until it was closing time for NICU and then I would come back when it was time for them to reopen. I would go back to the apartment when the unit would close at 10:30pm. He was on 34% oxygen and the ventilator.

The surgery was scheduled for Monday, August 2nd, but had to be put off, because Jonathan, had yellow jaundice. The surgery was on Thursday, August the 5th. Dr. Georgeson and his team did the surgery and Jonathan came out just fine. The Dr.'s were very impressed with him. He was taken off the ventilator on August the 5th and the oxygen the next day. That was the first time we got to hold him and it felt wonderful. John and I took turns with him and we just kept snapping pictures, one right after the other. Before we went home that night, we got to dress him. He was in NICU for 12 days. The nurses were excellent while he was in NICU. Jonathan went to SCU on August the 11th that afternoon. The next day I tried to bottle feed for the first time and he didn't like it to well. Around 6:00 pm that afternoon he went to x-ray and got the NG tube.

On Friday, Dr. Georgeson said we would go home the next weekend. He came in on Saturday morning and was so impressed with his progress, he said we could go home on Monday. That afternoon Jonathan got sent to a room, so we could get used to being alone with him and learn the monitors and everything else. His daytime nurse was terrible. When she would give him his medicines in his feeding tube, she would inject it so fast that they would back up in his stomach. Then he would throw it up. That's when he had to go back on oxygen. He cried and screamed for 24 hours because he didn't feel good. The Dr.'s decided to put in a smaller feeding tube, because the other tube almost filled his right nostril.

Jonathan got to come home on August the 23th. He is still on oxygen (1/8 liter), and still has the feeding tube in. I stop the feedings once a day or 4 hours and then I bottle feed him. He's not taking much at all, but that's a start. John and I are trying to ween him off the oxygen. I thank God everyday for my beautiful son, Jonathan. We really believe that God had something to do with my ultrasound tape messing up that day. I am very glad to be his mother.

Written by Jonathan’s parents, John and Alicia O'Malley (Alabama)

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