One Step Closer

Ilias underwent his mictie cystogram this afternoon, somewhat later than planned, because of a miscommunication somewhere between the children’s ward and the radiology department.

Upon arrival in Radiology and the removal of Ilias’ nappy, the radiologist was surprised to find that a catheter had not yet been placed. After a brief exchange with our nurse, we left with Ilias and made our way to the department where this unfortunate adventure had all begun last Wednesday afternoon. There, two nurses soon appeared and proceeded to insert a catheter into Ilias’ bladder via his tiny penis, an experience that was as gruelling for me as it was for my little boy. Easy to say, I know, as someone who had only to watch, not actually have it done to him, but the experience caused me quite some distress. There’s no experience that compares to the agony of watching your child in pain and being unable to help.

Back in Radiology, the mictie cystogram itself was much less of an ordeal. Sarah and I donned lead overcoats to protect us from the radiation — no such luck for Ilias, of course — and he was hooked up to the bag of contrast fluid, which was then slowly pumped into his bladder.

Sarah and I watched on the screen, as the fluid diffused to fill Ilias’ tiny bladder, colouring it black in the process. The liquid itself had no colour, but whatever it contained showed up black on the screen.

To my inexpert eye, the fluid appeared to remain entirely within the bladder, but I’m not a doctor, so we waited for the end of the procedure. With all of the necessary x-rays taken, the balloon holding the catheter in place was deflated and Ilias began to pee, causing the catheter to be ejected from his body, which denoted the end of the procedure.

We had expected to have to wait until the evening for the results of the test, but they were so unambiguous that we were immediately informed that nothing unusual had been found. The relief and happiness I felt at hearing this news is the greatest I have felt since Ilias was born, almost four weeks ago. I can’t describe how elated I felt.

We returned to the children’s ward and, within half an hour or so, the paediatric nephrologist turned up to discuss the results of the examination.

It was good news, obviously, and meant that, at this point, his infection could be attributed to sheer bad luck. Exactly how it occurred, we’ll never know, but we’re told it almost certainly occurred internally, in the bowel or possibly via the bloodstream, but almost certainly not via a nappy full of excrement, as I had originally thought.

This isn’t quite the ‘all clear’, however. We’re told that the original infection carries a risk of permanent kidney damage, which could lead to a lifelong dependency on medicine against high blood pressure. We won’t be able to establish whether this is the case, however, for a further six months, at which time the nephrologist wants us to come back for a nuclear examination, which involves injecting radioactive liquid into the body and observing how it clings to the kidneys. You can imagine how eager we are to inject radioactive material into our son’s body, can’t you?

Ilias’ infusion needle failed this morning. Rather than place another needle in his body, he has instead been switched over to oral antibiotics. The danger with these is that he becomes sick with diarrhoea or vomits some or all of it out. If that doesn’t happen, there’s a good chance that Ilias will be discharged from hospital Tuesday afternoon, but we’re not counting out chickens until they actually hatch.

Eloïse and Lucas have gone to bed this evening for the sixth night without their mother. Before this derailment of our lives, they had never spent a night apart from her, or even in a different room. They both miss Sarah and Ilias very much, but are proving very resilient in the circumstances. Eloïse tells me she misses Ilias the most, because she has known him only a short amount of time.

Indeed, it’s pitiful that Ilias has now spent a quarter of his short time on earth in residence at the hospital. What a way to start out your life, pricked like a pincushion, pumped full of antibiotics and with a pipe rammed down your pisser. Having a thermometer stuck up your arse several times a day is almost light relief by comparison!

His first three weeks at home now seem distant, overwhelmed by the drama of the last few days and the deep impressions made by his new surroundings, invasive medical treatment and the fears and concerns that have beset us.

My two visits a day to the hospital are now part of the daily rhythm of life. I feel as if I’ve been making that same journey for weeks. Today, I actually only went once, because I stayed from 11:45 to 18:15, so there didn’t seem to be much point in going back.

Tomorrow, Eloïse, Lucas, Sarah’s folks and I will head to the hospital after lunch; possibly for the last time. We hope to hear in the course of the afternoon that we can take Ilias home. I don’t dare focus on it, just in case there’s a setback that prevents it from happening, but I hope that the family won’t have to spend another night apart.

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