When Micah was seven days old, the resident at UK Children’s Hospital told us she was transferring him to Cincinnati Children’s. In UK’s PICU (pediatric intensive care), they operated in-house. They shut down the entire unit to visitors, including parents, and performed surgeries right in the child’s room. When they were prepping Micah for transfer, we were told that they were breaking the rules to sneak us in the back to see him before transport despite an operation being in progress. You might be tempted to think that was considerate of them, but really they were concerned that he might die during the trip. Tears trickled down my face as I looked at my infant covered with tubes and wires, but the resident in the corner sobbed as she watched.
Later that same evening at CCHMC, a team of specialists wanted to put Micah on dialysis. His ammonia levels were so high that nothing else would clean his blood. The problem was that he was technically too small for their smallest dialysis machine. It would remove too much blood from his body. They had a plan to add extra blood to minimize the risk, but the risk was great. We signed the papers anyway. The other option was to watch him die without trying anything.
Risk is something that has gone hand-in-hand with Micah’s life. I’ve watched him with bated breath for eleven years. His runny nose affects his behavior. A low fever starts a sick day protocol and murmured prayers as I stress clean. A simple stomach bug lands him in the ER for fluids. Risk is inherent in him being alive. Not just him, but all of us, though often to a lesser degree.