We’ve been ruled safely out of the woods from Big Man’s prematurity for a long time. The wounds are still there, scars now. The memories return at will. But he’s healthy, “normal”, active, growing up like any other kid. Here’s the thing…..I can’t help but feel we haven’t dodged the bullet. There’s a shoe out there yet, waiting to drop; a shoe we may not feel for years yet.
Preemies go through a ton of tests while in the NICU, and are given a multitude of medications, steroids, antibiotics, lipids. Those things were necessary to keep him alive and thriving. Since his birth, he’s had more x-rays than I can count. Even since coming home from the NICU, he’s had probably a dozen x-rays…on his lungs every time he had pneumonia or they thought he might have pneumonia; on his spine a few times because he has a mild curve they’ve been following a few years; on his hand when he broke a finger; on his hand again today to determine his bone-age; on his abdomen and chest when he swallowed a picture hanger (a story for another day). He had regular ultrasounds in the NICU, mostly of his head to determine if he had any brain bleeds, and then to watch the bleed he did develop.
When he was a baby and toddler, he had so many ear infections, and as I said above, developed pneumonia frequently. He’s done so many rounds of antibiotics. He fought a staph infection when he was just three weeks old. That takes heavy antibiotics.
Here’s my deal – what does this mean for him in the very long run? Do I really care? He is here, alive and thriving, after all. Trust me, I know I’m borrowing trouble, and most of the time, I can keep these worries at bay. But some days, like today, it makes me anxious. I can’t stop thinking about it, the very-long-term effects of his very-premature birth. His doctors have always done what was necessary for his health, livelihood, and well-being. We did our due-diligence given the information available at the time. We trusted his doctors, not implicitly because we’d learned the hard way doctors are not infallible, but given their level of training combined with our research.
Today, he had a bone-age scan because he’d fallen off his own growth curve. He’s under one percentile for body mass index. He’s under the 5th percentile for weight, under 15% for height. He’s fourteen, and there’s concern because he hasn’t had that big growth spurt you’d expect a teenage boy to have had at this point. The bone age scan gave us good news. His bone age is nearly two years behind his chronological age. This is very good news, and it’s genetic, nothing to do with his prematurity. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when his doctor emailed the results. We still have to go to the endocrinologist, but I’m not expecting anything out of that, given today’s outcome. Just having to go to Children’s brought these concerns back to the surface. What will any of this mean for him over the course of his life? What will the very-long-term outcome be as a result of his infancy and early years?
Someone please give me a virtual smack upside the head, and remind me to enjoy what we have, rather than worrying about what may, or may not be.