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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Addicted to Resurrection

Jesus said, I am making all things new.

The privilege of working right down in the nitty gritty of that is pretty astonishing. The last couple of weeks I've seen it up close. Baby L, whom I've written about before, is now able to rest in her mother's arms and feed. Almost anyplace within a thousand miles she'd been born would have meant a lifespan of about one minute for her, but now she's edging towards the possibility of discharge. Her mother thanks you for your prayers, and said we could show her smile.

This week it was baby H. His mother arrived as a transfer from another hospital with a hemoglobin of 5 (that's almost too low to survive) and a blood pressure of 60/24 (that's also just a shade from demise), bleeding profusely, her life and her baby's draining out of a placenta in the wrong position. Our OB team rushed her to the theatre and our Paeds team received the baby whose heart still beat, but he was limp and blue. I found him being resuscitated, and spent the next two days and one night basically within a few yards of his cot. There is something very intimate about intubating a baby's trachea, putting an intravenous line into the umbilical vein, listening, watching, examining, calculating drips and fluids and meds, fiddling with our ancient ventilators, watching the monitors. And texting Dr. Erika our 6-month short-term neonatologist, about thirty times, because this baby was as sick as they come and way beyond my expertise. With great advice from Erika though and every medical therapy we could muster he's dramatically improved. Not out of the woods, or even out of the ICU, but not dead either and definitely trending towards recovery.

I am thankful to be a paediatrician. But that night I got a little taste of Family Medicine as I pulled for not just one ICU bed but two, to save the mother as well as the baby. As I struggled with his poor lungs and low blood pressure, I kept looking at his mom's numbers too. She's out of the ICU now and well on the way to being healed. She and her husband are small farmers with no margin for disaster. We will end up once again paying for a good portion of Baby H's care from our emergency Needy Children's Fund. Both babies were vigorous in their own ways, fighters, with little eyes that flutter open and just LOOK at you as you're trying to help them, faces that grimace in a soundless cry around the endotracheal tube, legs that kick. It's hard NOT to keep struggling for a baby that looks at you like that.

In Mel Gibson's movie about Jesus' passion, the all-things-new quote is placed on the walk to the cross. Which is an important juxtaposition, one that I tend to gloss over. Resurrection comes at a cost. For Jesus, the real maker of all things new, his life. For us, his apprentices, mere inconveniences like a bit of lost sleep, or discouragement, or mistakes, or weariness. Perhaps that is necessary, because this resurrecting business could become addictive.

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