The phone rang at 4:30 this morning, never a good sign. The doctor at the other end had very bad news. Overnight, Zoe’s belly had become discolored and distended in a matter of hours, increasing in size by about 3 cm. They took an x-ray, but her x-rays since her 2nd day have all been opaque. Her clinical signs were worsening and they had two probable scenarios in mind. The first scenario is that she had a bowel perforation and liquid was spilling out into her abdominal cavity. The second scenario is that she had necrosis in part of her bowel causing her gut to die. It was also possible that it was a combination of the two. Necrosis is fatal and would take her in a matter of hours.
Because of her extremely critical state, abdominal surgery was not an option. The only thing they could do was to put a small drain in the side of her abdomen and hope that something came out. Green and brown smelly liquid would indicate a bowel perforation. If there was no drainage at all, it was likely necrosis. Jen and I consented to the drain surgery and quickly got on the road back to Baltimore from our home in Hagerstown. It would take us over an hour to get there. Halfway there, we got a call from a doctor on the surgical team. The drain was successfully in place, and instead of draining bowel-like fluid, a clear yellowish liquid came out, similar to the liquid that all of us have between our intestines that allow them to stay in place. Her abdomen went down in size considerably and her stats all came up as the pressure on her lungs and body was relieved. They don’t believe that she has a bowel perforation and the likelihood of necrosis in her bowel is much less, though not completely ruled out without being able to see into her abdomen. For now, we can live with that and continue to take things day by day.