NICU - Aaron spent twelve days in the Meritcare’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after he was born. He was transferred there within 3 hours of his birth.
Respiratory Distress Syndrome – Aaron was born at 37 weeks after a fast descent delivery. Upon delivery he started to labor while breathing and was given oxygen. When examined later by the pediatrician it was decided that Aaron be transferred to the NICU. I had only held him for 10 minutes. Chris only got to hold him while carrying him to the nursery.
Surfactant – A natural soapy (fatty) substance found in mature lungs. It acts as a lubricant in the lungs to help them expand more easily and to keep the air sacs from collapsing. Artificial surfactant is occasionally given to premature babies until they are able to make their own. Aaron was given 3-4 does of this to help his lungs.
Ativan – Used to help sedate baby if needed. Aaron received this a bit while he was on the ventilator so he wouldn’t fight the tube.
CPAP and Nasal Canula – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – A small amount of continuous pressure provided by a ventilator to help keep lung sacs open while the baby breathes on their own. The baby does all the breathing on their own and the CPAP machine supports each of the baby’s breaths. Aaron was initially placed on the CPAP, but did not do well, so they moved him to the ventilator. Once he was extubated and off the ventilator he was put on oxygen through a nasal canula. He struggled on just the oxygen and was placed back on the CPAP for a few days till he could breathe better on his own.
Ventilator – A machine that provides oxygen and pressure to open air sacs of the lungs and gives a certain number of breaths every minute to help the baby breathe. Aaron was intubated at about 2 am the morning after his birth and remained on the ventilator for 4 days.
Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) – An IV solution given to babies who cannot get enough nutrition eating normally. TPN fluids contain sugar, salts, electrolytes, minerals and vitamins that your child needs to grow and heal. Aaron was on this for at least a week, till he was able to tolerate all his feedings. He received breast milk when he was able to through a feeding tube in his mouth, then one through his nose. The nasal tube was taken out the day before he was brought home. He had started eating well and gaining weight.
Torticollis – At about 3 months we noticed Aaron only liked to look to his right. We began repositioning him and keeping the interesting things to his left. At 4 months he was diagnosed with torticollis or wryneck, which is the tightening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, and was sent to physical therapy.
Plagiocephaly – Aaron also developed a case of Plagiocephaly meaning oblique head. The back right side of his head had flattened due to the torticollis and a combination of being slightly preterm and on a ventilator and CPAP while in the NICU.
Cranial Cap – Dr Klava decided that Aaron had a football shaped head rather than a Charlie Brown. He prescribed helmet therapy and Aaron was fitted for a Cranial Cap. They made a casting of his head, and from the negative made him his plastic helmet, which he has been wearing for 22 hours a day since October 1st. The helmet provides gentle pressure on the areas of Aaron’s head that have grown, allowing for growth on the right side that is flat. We are generally attempting to reshape his head. We were denied coverage for Aarons helmet when we initially submitted for coverage. BSBC felt that head circumference and hair growth would either resolve or cover the plagiocephaly. A letter from Dr Klava claiming medical necessity was also met with denial. I had asked Shanna his PT for a letter for my appeal packet. Somehow it was sent to BCBS and they reviewed it and decided to pay. Of the $2,360 we don’t owe a cent!
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