February 16: 9.8 kg (21 pounds, 10 ounces), 33 inches
Three weeks' change: +200 grams (8 ounces), + 0 inches
Net change: +2100 grams (67 ounces = 4 pounds, 3 ounces), +4 inches
So we're still moving along...a slower pace, but still gaining, which is better than we did last fall. For the next couple of weeks, she will be likely to have gained about her coming home weight (from the NICU at 5 1/2 weeks past her due date) since we got the feeding tube in July. I don't remember exactly how much she weighed when we brought her home, but it was somewhere around 4 1/2 pounds.
Two weeks ago, we had an appointment with the GI doc. I'm not sure if I mentioned it on here or not, but we changed her reflux med from Zantac to Prevacid about a month ago. We didn't go to the doctor then; it was all done over the phone and Vandy's messaging system. I spoke only to a nurse but ASSUMED that she was actually talking to the doctor, or at least that the doctor was at least aware enough of the situation since he was the one (again, I assumed) was writing the prescription.
Silly me. When he asked how everything was and I launched into how the new med wasn't really helping (b/c she was still vomiting), he stopped me as he looked back over her chart again...because he didn't even know that we had switched meds. When I mentioned it, he thought our regular pediatrician had done it because HE DIDN'T WRITE THE PRESCRIPTION. He had no idea that I had even had a minor battle with the nurses to get anything changed. What. The. F. Since then, I've pulled up the electronic copy of the prescription (via the aforementioned messaging system, which is really handy), and it was NOT written by a doctor. I can't tell if the prescriber was a nurse practitioner or a just another nurse b/c it's written in some secret code (something like "written by XXXX in accordance with policy #78431598713.1").
Let me be clear. I love nurses. I love nurse practitioners. I have nothing against them, and would have no problem seeing one myself (with the exception of OB care since I'm in the major leagues there). I would be happy to send my sweet husband to an NP. The NICU NP's saved Becca's life on a regular basis. I'm a fan.
BUT - I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if a child has specialists from NINE (9) different departments, maybe, just maybe, that patient needs to be treated by the full medical doctor who knows her and her history. Call me crazy. I'm quite sure whoever I was speaking with did not take the time to read Becca's entire medical history or her chart. I know how long it takes STAR panel (the medical charting software they use) to load her chart because I often have to make awkward small talk with the providers while they wait. So maybe, just maybe, when I send a message to the doctor about a significant part of my daughter's medical care and well-being, that doctor should at least lay eyes on the message, consult with the nurse, etc, even if he is too busy to actually take the time to call me himself (which, mind you, several of our doctors do). But our doc did not even KNOW that we were having issues.
You can guess how blunt I'm going to be in the message I'm sending them tonight. "PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT DR. MOULTEN SEES THIS MESSAGES PERSONALLY AND RESPONDS TO ME DIRECTLY." At least I'll say "please," right?
Wow, I'm more upset about this encounter than I had realized. Thanks for you patience with my blog therapy. :)
Still, even with the less-than-stellar communication and complete lack of teamwork, the medicine switch hasn't been a horrible thing. But it's still not working. This week, Becca has thrown up 4 times. That's maybe an improvement, but it's still way too much. Yes, she's still gaining weight, which is the first difficulty with the vomiting (the sheer loss of calories), but she is still vomiting a lot. And I think it's starting to have a psychological effect on her. I think I've told you that she makes Baby Rosie throw up occasionally, and the other day she told me that Elmo was crying because he was sad because he had thrown up, and then she had to carry him around and comfort him for several minutes or "he" would start crying again. As if there is already enough going on in her life to give her an eating disorder. That's just pitiful.
So here's what we did: the nurse had started us on 7.5 mg of Prevacid twice a day, and Dr. Moulten upped it to 15 mg twice a day. Prevacid is a stronger medicine than Zantac, and the doctor (unlike the nurse - I specifically asked her) was able to explain how it might actually help reduce the vomiting. Zantac basically just reduces the pH in your stomach so you don't have as much acid floating around. Prevacid (and Prilosec as well, I believe) actually shut off the acid-producing pump in your stomach by blocking the receptors that tell it when there is food in the stomach, starting it up. It still produces some acid, but not nearly as much. And less acid in the stomach makes for a healthier esophageal sphincter. (That's the muscle band at the top of the stomach that opens and closes to let food in - and vomit out). If the sphincter is inflamed (which Becca's is), it is looser, so it's easier for things to pop back up. That's why she is way more likely to vomit when she gets choked up on something - once the reflex is triggered, there's really not much to stop the contents of her stomach from making their reappearance (much like my innards when I was pregnant). I'm also guessing that the fact that she had a tube running through the sphincter and into her stomach for 18 weeks of her life, including 5 of them when she was a past-term infant, hasn't exactly helped to strengthen its muscles. We don't actually see much textbook reflux (or at least we didn't in her tests), but when she gags (which happens frequently, given her sensory and feeding issues), you better get out of the way (unless you are SuperMom or SuperDad, who run TO the puke, which is what makes us Super).
So - the Prevacid should help get the sphincter healthier and keep food down. But like I said, she's still puking. And here's the ironic part - 3 of the past 4 vomits have been triggered by her choking on her Prevacid quick-dissolve tablet. I know that either Prevacid or Prilosec is availing in a liquid form because I have friends whose infants have taken it, but apparently TennCare won't pay to have medicines compounded into liquids anymore, so we may be stuck with the puke pill that is supposed to stop the puking. Awesome.
I think the next step is for me to send a polite-yet-firm message to the office requesting to speak with Dr. Moulten himself. I think (because he told me this would possibly happen) that he's going to add the Zantac back in and see if together they can settle her little tummy down.
And then we've got to get back into feeding therapy. Yes, we took a little (3 week) hiatus. Long story short, we are switching therapists, not because of any particular issues but because of insurance changes, etc. Once we get all the paperwork in, Becca will start getting feeding therapy AT school, which is awesome because it means that they can actually do part of the session in the classroom during snack or lunch, so she'll have her peers around to help encourage her. (And it's also awesome because it's done during school hours so we don't have to take an entire morning to trek 80 miles round-trip to Vandy every Friday - woot!) Both of her former feeding therapists have been happy with her actual chewing, but I think there are some issues there. There's the gagging, but we're also noticing (because we get to see her meals multiple times) that she's swallowing a lot of things whole. She threw up in the bath tonight (got choked on some water) and started playing with the mini pepperonis. Niiiice.
I'll keep you posted. If I had known GI issues were going to be so much trouble, maybe we wouldn't have added them to the cadre of doctors this summer. Ha - if only it worked that way, right? :)
p.s. John took down the crib tonight. We had left it up in her room in case the switch to the big girl bed didn't go so well. She never needed it - and now there's no going back!