Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Numbers...

Every once in a while someone will ask me why I've named my blog "ROOM 235." Hopefully, this will help explain it...

Numbers. I've never been a numbers guy, never really gave them much thought one way or the other. But over the course of the last 23 days I've learned numbers can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Numbers like 17, 235, 15,12, 160, 87, 65/45, and 23 all became to mean everything in my Granddaughter's world. Emily was born 17 weeks premature on November 12th.and was transferred to “room 235” of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Stormont-Vail Hospital. This was also the day my journey through her world of numbers began.

Good morning Emily, I'm your Grandpa. I know, I'm kind of big and probably a little scary looking but you'll get used to me. Hey, look at those numbers on the ventilator. The nurses tell me 15 is excellent for your oxygen level. And that the vent setting doesn't get much better than a 12. I know it's been a pretty rough first day for you, so I'm not going to stay too long. You be a good girl and mind the nurses, I'll see you in the morning. And remember that Grandpa loves you.

And so our daily routine began. We talked about the adventures we were going to have once she got to come home. First and foremost I explained she was going to have to put on some weight. At 1lb., 4oz., it was going to be hard for her to ride a bike. I offered to start bringing her chocolate chip cookies and pop. While Emily thought it was a good idea, the nurses didn't think so. We talked about her first day of school, about the fishing trips we were going to take. She was really excited about going 4-wheeling in the mountains of Colorado.

I told her how lucky she was to have two Grandmothers Linda and Debbie that loved her so much. We talked about her aunts, uncles, and cousins. I warned her about the stupid cats and dogs she'd meet. I even warned her about staying away from boys. I'm not sure, but I think I saw her blushing after this conversation. But mostly, she liked hearing about her Mommy and Daddy.
Over the next few days I learned about the other numbers on the monitor above her bed. The top one was her heart rate. I learned that 160 was a very good number indeed. And that 87 indicated how much oxygen was in her blood. The 65/45 was the blood pressure.

All day and night long the doctors and nurses watched these numbers. They made adjustments to the machines or medications according to what the numbers told them. They were very up front with us from the beginning. Some days were pretty good. Others were pretty bad, it all depended on the numbers. The nurses referred to this as the roller coaster ride.

Monday December 4th was an exceptionally good day. Emily's numbers were even better that they had been the previous weekend. She was finally able to open her eyes for the first time. They were the biggest, most beautiful, brown eyes I had ever seen. We talked about riding the train at Gage park. I blew her a kiss, told her Grandpa loved her, and assured her I'd see her in the morning.

Sometime around 9:00 Monday night the hospital called. Emily had taken a turn for the worse, and we needed to get there as soon as we could. It was the numbers, the 15and 12 had turned into 101 and 40. The 160 was now a 50. The 87 was somewhere around 35 now, and the blood pressure that once read a steady 65/45 wasn't even registering anymore. They told us her system was shutting down, she was dying, and didn't think she'd be able to hang on for much more than 3 or 4 more hours.

Ultimately the numbers did get the best of her, but Emily did beat the 3 and the 4. She was able to hang on another 24 hours. And in doing so we were all able to say our goodbyes. I'm not sure what the others said to her. For me, I just held her tiny hand, kissed her on the forehead and told her I understood that she had to go, I promised I'd never forget her, and told her to remember that Grandpa loved her.

We had Emily with us for 23 days, 4 hours, and 42 minutes. And for that I'll always be grateful.

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  1. bless her heart. and bless you all, she's probably your guardian angel, now.



  2. Some would say Emily is in a better place. I say, "Not so fast, my friend". I think she would be in a great place in her Grandpa Kevin's arms. Ask my Grandson Daniel, he'll tell you that you're a pretty great guy. You and Daniel and the chickens were my favorite images from the family reunion.

  3. I can also verify Daniel had a blast feeding the chickens. He also was NOT ready to go home as he was having a ton of fun. Daniel was ready to become Luke's permanent helping hand.

  4. Ah, the chickens. That was a fun day. We'll have to do it again. Luke just got a rooster last weekend and he spends most of his time crowing and strutting around. I'm sure Daniel would get a lick out of him.

    Just so you guys know. The reason I re-posted this story this week is because I've asked my friend, Cat to design a new banner for my blog. I thought it would be a good idea for her to know the story behind the name.

    So, sometime in the next few weeks this blog will have a new look. And believe me, Cat does really good work.

  5. Thank you, and bless you for your thoughts.
    Just yesterday, a friend learned of his son's death.
    The young man had been killed in a motorcycle accident and his body was not discovered until a week after.
    Losing a child or grandchild must be the most difficult event of any person's life.
    Thank you again for your blog.
    Michael Morrison

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Michael. Yeah, it probably is the worst thing a person can ever go through.

    But, what do you do? At first, you just want to just curl up in the fetal position and die yourself. But it doesn't work that way.

    I have learned over and over again that time has a way of helping you deal with most things that life can throw at you.

  7. Well. I came here because my maided name is McGinty. But I am sitting here crying over this tale... of love and hope and grief and loss. You are a gfited writer.. and I am so sorry you have such a story to tell.

    THank you for sharing this...


  8. Thanks for the kind words, Amanda. And I really love the way you described it, too. A tale of "love and hope and grief and loss." You nailed it.

    That's exactly the way it was, "the roller coaster ride."

    You say your maiden name is, McGinty. I'm sure it's a long shot but maybe we're related. Like maybe we're brother and sister from different mothers in a different life.

    Or maybe not. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and feel free to do so anytime...

  9. Man that makes me tear up every time I read that.