Thursday, February 3, 2011


(Playing with waves, Golden Gardens Park, Seattle, WA)

On the morning of January 3, the attending physician came into Giovanni's room with two residents and an intern.  They all sat across from me as the attending explained that Giovanni's morning xray showed that his right lung was worse.  She believed he needed surgery.

Antonio had already left to go see our other children, but I needed to make a decision right away.  I, of course, told her to please get the surgeon to assess the xrays, and then I explained I needed to know upfront about certain details because with three other children I needed to start coordinating things.  So without any drama or tears on my part (by God's grace), the Attending explained:

Giovanni would need a drainage tube.  He would probably be in the hospital for two to three weeks at the very least, perhaps as long as four to six weeks.  He would then need home health care because they would need to continue the IV antibiotics for probably a total of six weeks.

I asked her if she knew that the antibiotics would work.  She assured me they would, and if they didn't they would try different kinds until they found something that would kill the bacteria that had invaded Giovanni's lungs.

We looked each other in they eye briefly.  I told her that pneumonia kills babies and toddlers.  She said, "Yes they do.  But your son won't die."

There was a beat of silence, and I knew she was offering me all she could do.  I knew though that ultimately Giovanni's life was in God's hands.  There were too many stories in the news of resistant bacteria and of toddlers dying from pneumonia.  But I knew the attending would do everything she could to make sure Giovanni had the best odds and the best care.

The surgeon arrived just an hour later.  He popped in and said he didn't think Giovanni needed surgery.  He thought we needed to give the antibiotic more time, and that the xrays weren't serious enough.  Giovanni didn't look as though the pneumonia was affecting him that much, and the surgeon was sure that this was a sign of Giovanni being robust enough that he would fight off the pneumonia without needing a drain tube.  He thought in a few days the pneumonia would be cleared up enough for us to go home.  However, he would order a CT Scan of Giovanni's lungs just to be sure.

He never said it outright, but he insinuated that the attending had overreacted.  It was frustrating to not have a firm diagnosis, that doctors still seemed to be knocking opinions back and forth like tennis balls, but it was wonderful news that Giovanni may only need a few days in the hospital, not a few weeks

I called Antonio with the latest news.  A CT Scan was needed to get a better look at Giovanni's lungs, but in all probability he would recover with antibiotics.  I didn't have long on the phone because the technician arrived quickly to take us to radiology.  I prayed and praised silently as we were wheeled down the halls.

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