Saturday, February 28, 2009

Article from the Hollywood Insider

Friday, February 27, 2009

Excerpt from "Rumors and Speculation":

Here' a little tid bit from of all places, Dallas, Texas. I know what you're saying, nothing noteworthy happens in Dallas, but this reporter has it on good authority that 20th Century Fox is working on an ultra-secret, mega block buster motion picture due out in 2012. My understanding is the studio has been trying to keep this particular project under wraps because its already 20 million over budget and has gone through 4 directors, and not just any directors, we're talking Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, and Tarantino.

What movie could justify this sort of controversy, to attract and then run off some of the greatest directors of our time? Well the answer appears to be wrapped up in the subject matter and the little known actor that has been chosen to play the lead role. The movie, "The very early years of Jacques Custeau" seems straight forward enough, if a little underwhelming. The actor in question, one Thomas Elliot, seems to be the root of the issues. His bizarre antics on the set and demands for extravagant perks have beguiled directors and costars alike.

No one is talking on the record, but I've been able to get some details from inside sources and exclusive shots from one of the scenes. One stage hand said that Thomas never speaks between takes, is constantly dosing off in the middle of scenes and keeps the entire crew waiting while he "takes meditation" in some sort of futuristic sleep chamber.

I tried to do some background on Thomas, but turned up more questions than answers. Thomas has no film credits to his name. I mean none. Despite that he still has a reputation that rivals the greats. George Lucas is on record as saying that he would work with Thomas in a second. "Oh, he's an actor's actor. I've heard he can be difficult, but I think I can channel him and we could do great things. If you talk to him, tell him I said that. He won't return my phone calls."

The church of Scientology has even weighed in on him. A spokesman told me that Thomas is not associated with the church in any way, but based on what he's heard, Thomas is just the kind of person they are looking for and has an open invitation to join.

One of our spies was able to sneak on the set during filming at great peril and snapped off these 3 shots.

What I think you're looking at is a scene where Thomas plays Jacques Cousteau experimenting with different scuba gear as a very young child.

In the last 2 photos, Thomas reportedly spotted our camera man. Thomas quickly covered up and was whisked off the set and our spy was run off by a team of security guards.

As I learn more, I'll be sure to update you on what promises to be one of the most intriguing characters since Michael Jackson. The movie will most likely go straight to DVD.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Breathe and grow

Thomas is doing one better than the other. Right now, despite the fact that he's doubled his weight, he's not growing as much or as quickly as the doctor would like. He's not digesting all of his food, this is probably mostly attributable to the ostemy (in case anyone has forgotten, this is the procedure to help his bowel heal). For now, they are just going to keep status quo, maybe increase the calories that are being fed to him. If things don't improve, they may have to try a different formula.

So that must mean he's breathing well, which I'm happy to say that right now he is. He's basically breathing on his own and the Si Pap is just there in case he forgets to breathe (and let's be honest, who doesn't forget that once in a while). If he continues this way, he would probably be head-gearless in a couple weeks. We shall see.

Rebecca got to hold Thomas for a couple hours today and he was right at home going to sleep and hanging out, after being crabby and fidgety before she got there. There are videos to be loaded, so I'll let you know when they are up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Second time is the charm?

Hopefully this time will stick. They pulled the tube from Thomas' mouth that was giving him air (and a target to grab and pull) and they've replaced it with that incredibly sexy looking head gear. Rebecca went up today and watched the extubation and everything went really well. So far Thomas is handling things well. He's not working as hard to breathe as the last time. I'll update if anything changes. Keep your fingers crossed.

Quick Note

I hate to have to write about this, and feel somewhat guilty since I brought this up in the first place and got people emotionally involved. Last night, the doctors and Marco's family made the decision to turn off Marco's ventilator. Rebecca found out today when she asked about him. I can't imagine how tough that was and we are both deeply sorry for Tasha and Marco Sr.

My guess is Marco just had too many things to overcome and quality of life became too big of a factor. I was afraid of this possibility, based on the body language we saw Sunday night. Its easier to ignore facts and hope for a miracle, but sometimes that's just not how it works out or how its supposed to be. I know it has reinforced for Rebecca and I how lucky we are with Thomas and how fragile things can be. I don't want to get too sappy or corny, but please take a second to appreciate those that are close to you and keep perspective on what's important.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Coolest Bed Ever!!!

Smiley faces and soccer balls. Pretty much says it all as far as I'm concerned. I now know what I wanted most of my house to look like (all of it would be too much). If only I'd been able to envision my utopia and communicate it to Rebecca before we went "traditional" with the house. Oh well, there's always the next one.

This stylish ensemble was put together by one of Thomas' ladies (nurses), who I think is a little embarrassed if she is mentioned by name on the blog, so we'll just call her nurse X.

After a weekend of grandparent love, Thomas has moved up to 2 pounds and 2 ounces. He's also been very consistently breathing room air through the ventilator, so we may be looking at the Si Pap again. If his blood gas is good in the morning, the plan is to extubate again. So we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that it sticks this time.

With all things in life, there's always downs that mix with the ups, and though all is really good with the successes of Thomas, there is still the unknown for Marco. Again, its one of those really awkward things. We're standing next to Thomas, smiling and laughing and enjoying how Thomas is doing. Next bed over, Tasha, Marco's mom, was clearly dealing with some things that no one should have to. I don't know what is going on, but Marco is clearly facing some significant challenges and we're trying to send as much positive energy as possible.

I don't honestly know what to say about this or convey what I'm feeling. Our encounters with Marco and his family are random, dependent on who shows up when. We are very lucky to be in the position we're in, but its difficult to see the sadness and uncertainty unfold right in front of us, especially since there's almost nothing we can do. Its part of life and its certainly a very common part of the NICU life. Being a nurse there is full of extremes that occur way too often. They are amazing people. Please keep Marco and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Noone ever asks about my soccer career anymore

Rebecca and I have returned from an entertaining and happy weekend. As you might remember, we traveled to Shreveport to carry Rebecca's sister around on our shoulders while the throngs of people approached her and shouted Huzzah! Its an odd Louisiana tradition for women about to get least that's what the Elgin women claim. I could not find anything to corroborate their story on Wikkipedia.

Anyway, it was a very happy occasion. As Rebecca and I made our way through the party, it occurred to me that I am no longer anything more than a publicist for Thomas. My own personal exploits and triumphs have little weight in this new world. Its all Thomas, all the time. I'm actually quite fine with that, Thomas is pretty much all I focus on (everything left over goes toward Rebecca (bonus points)) and I don't particularly care to be the center of attention anyway (unlike Leigh). So where normally I could move through a room full of people in a nifty 15 seconds on my way to the food or the bar, last night, every face lit up with recognition and every person engaged me in Thomas talk.

I think it will be amusing in the years to come, as Thomas starts making his rounds and can speak and add value, how he will handle all of these people that will know an amazing amount about him and want to pick him up and hold him.

Thank you again to all of you who asked about Thomas. Rebecca and I love and still are indebted to all of you that follow the blog and pray for Thomas.

Thomas is still doing very well. Nana and Papa looked after him all weekend and he's just hanging out, being 2 pounds and just chilling.

Friday, before Rebecca and I skipped town, we made one last visit to the NICU and had the good fortune to meet Marco's mother. It turns out Marco is a junior, his parents are Marco and Tasha. We spoke to Tasha for a good half hour. Tasha had high blood pressure, so they had to go after Marco early to protect both of them. Marco does seem to be going on a similar path to Thomas. He kicks alot and moves around just like Thomas did. Tasha seems a little overwhelmed, so hopefully we gave her some reassurance and hope for Marco. Its very early for him, but I think things are ok so far. He made it through his surgeries well, so we will continue to pray for him and hopefully will run into his parents from time to time to keep ourselves and you up to date.

We're about to head up there again, so if there's anything new, I'll let you know.

Friday, February 20, 2009

So sorry.

I want to apologize for not giving any updates this week. Each evening has just slipped away and each morning has been filled with regret and deflection of demands for more blogs. So I will do better going forward.

So, what has happened since Sunday? Thomas is now 8 and a half pounds, has a full head of hair and is eating solid food. He prefers carrots and applesauce, not too fond of anything green. He's crawling some and they have to keep the top of the isolet down because he keeps trying to get out.

OK, some of that was exaggerated. Not telling which part. The real scoop is that That there's not a lot to tell, which is really good. Thomas is sitting around 2 pounds, he's basically breathing room air through the ventilator with not alot of help from the ventilator. The effects of the trauma from last Friday have worn off and he is really active when he is awake. He's basically on cruise control. They did a neuro scan last week that he passed with flying colors. So they won't be doing another one until right before he is kicked out of the place. The plan is to slowly increase formula and calories as long as Thomas can tolerate so that he will grow. Then they will try the Si -Pap again.

I have a few videos here from last night when I held Thomas. He was great until right at the end when he decided it was time to grab his breathing tube and pull. It yanked off the tape that was holding it in place. So the second 2 videos are of Thomas getting refitted for his tube. Made him a little crabby. He's getting really strong and when he's in the mood, he can pull out any of his tubes. So he's getting swaddled alot.

Rebecca and I are going to Shreveport because her sister is throwing herself a party (she's very self-centered). Actually its her engagement party, so both of us will be away for the first time. Nana and Papa are here to babysit Thomas while we're gone, so I'll let you know how things progress.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bonus Video / New Roommate

Here's a bonus video from tonight, everybody seems to like those.

We just got back from another visit this evening, everything is going quite good in Thomasland. On the other hand, Thomas has gotten a new neighbor. I believe his name is Marco and he was born at 23 weeks and he is really small, probably smaller than Thomas was. I don't know a lot more than that about him. His parents appear to be a young couple and they have a look that I think Rebecca and I had when they come to visit.

Its kind of weird being in the NICU, because there isn't alot of privacy (especially in the new area), the isolets are about 3 feet from each other, so you kind of get an idea of what's going on, even though you really aren't supposed to know and you can't ask the nurses about anybody else. So you peek and you eavesdrop.

Anyway, it was kind of difficult standing there watching over Thomas, enjoying our time and laughing as he tried to do push ups, while right behind me, Marco's dad stood watching him. The things that the nurse was telling him were alot like the things she told us 6 weeks ago; how fragile the child is, that all we really want right now is stability, everything is going to be day to day, minute to minute. I really wanted to turn around and tell the guy that things would be fine, look at Thomas. He was almost that small, slathered in gel to protect his skin, kicking and fighting, and look at him now. But I don't know if everything is going to be ok. Its not a given. We've been so lucky with Thomas so far. There are issues and challenges still ahead, but we are really blessed so far. So, it would really be nice if you throw in a little prayer for Marco when you pray for Thomas tonight.

Thanks, Mike.

Happy Valentines Day

Well, as predicted on Friday, they took Thomas off of the Si-Pap and put Thomas back on the ventilator. An exhausted Thomas barely opened his eyes all day Friday and Saturday. Upon further examination, the doctor found that his right lung was partially collapsed, which most likely contributed to his struggles breathing on his own.

I'm happy to report that keeping him on his left side and some percussion treatment has taken care of the lung issue and Thomas is doing very well lon the ventilator. The settings are very low, very little pressure at all.

Thomas is also getting back to feisty level. Last night he showed great strength, although some short-sightedness, by pulling out his feeding tube. Kind of a cool trick that makes me proud. The feeding tube is back in place and secured a little more to hinder a repeat performance. His weight was up to over 2 pounds, but probably due to the stress of Friday, he's lost just a little weight and sits at around 1 pound 15 ounces.

After several days of forced exile due to the plague, it was nice to finally get back to see Thomas. He's really filling in and looking healthy. Its getting especially tough for Rebecca not to have Thomas at home. She's probably made the mistake of using this photo as her screen saver. When its blown up on a 19" screen, it really gets you. I keep trying to explain that in 18 years you'll want him gone as much as you want him here, but its a tough sale.

Between the ventilator issues and us wanting to make sure that Rebecca didn't catch my kooties, Rebecca hasn't got to hold Thomas much. So she will today and hopefuly I will tomorrow.

On a final note, thank you to those of you who have suggested that I should write a book. Its very flattering, but I'm not sure that periodic quips on a blog would translate to a hard back. But, I am more than willing to take pre-orders, should I ever write a book. Just send $24.95 to me, $26.95 if you're in Canada.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This is better?

Well the answer is yes and no. What you see there in the picture is Thomas breathing through a mask over his nose. Right now though, this is proving to be a little too much for him. He's taking alot of breaths and basically wearing himself out, burning up calories that he doesn't need to burn up. So, its just a little too soon for him, it appears. More than likely, they will put him back on a ventilator and let him mature a little bit more. Then we'll give it another go. Nothing to be discouraged about. My take on it is that Thomas likes having things taken care of if he can. So since he's got to lay there and can't work out or ride bikes or wrestle a bear or anything cool like that, he might as well let the machine breathe for him right now.

As for the move, Room D is not near as spacious as E was and it seems that its not much less noisy. There may be a possibility of another move. Its good thing the isolet is on wheels.
That's all for now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Moving Day

Hi everyone,

Sorry I've been AWOL, but the flu bug that got me was particularly nasty and I just now feel like I'm coming out of the haze. Hopefully tomorrow or the next day I will get to return to the NICU to see a little boy that now weighs just shy of 2 pounds. Under the new formula and measured delivery approach that the doctors have incorporated, Thomas has been slowly inching upwards. Which is the way it will be if all goes well, around an ounce a day is good growth.

So, anyway, upon my return the NICU, there should be a couple of changes a foot. First, Thomas and his roommates are getting moved to a different room. There's construction going on at the hospital and its been getting a little too noisy where they are. Second, the tentative plan right now is to extubate Thomas. That's a big fancy word, but basically means they will remove the breathing tube that runs down Thomas' throat to his lungs. That's all well and good, as long as there's a plan. And there is! They will move him to a Si-Pap (spelling is total guess work, so don't bother googling it). A Si Pap is a little mask that will go over Thomas' nose and its held there with a head gear. And basically, hopefully, Thomas will start breathing on his own. The nice thing about this is if he forgets to breathe, the machine will help him along.

So that's great progress. There's always a chance that Thomas isn't ready to tackle this breathing thing on his own, but hopefully that will outdo and overachieve. We will post some sort of video evidence of this soon.

Accomplishments this week also included an eye exam to make sure that structuraly, the eyes are developing. There's a risk of damage to the eyees when a baby is on a ventilator. Everything looks good so far. They didn't test his vision per se, that's later on, but, as you can probably tell from the videos, he tracks pretty good (follows objects like giant hands reaching into his isolet). He also had another neural scan and again there was no hemmoraging. Unless something comes up, he probably will not get another neural scan until just before he is released.

So Thomas is sliding into 6 weeks on an up beat.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rebecca's baby

Well unfortunately I got full-on sick, so while I recover and keep 10 feet away from Rebecca at all times, she has to take over the duties of full time mom and content providor for this blog. Much like the younger generation that has rejected print and is slowly choking off the newspaper industry, Rebecca has chosen a more visual form of media to provide her updates. So please enjoy 2 video blog entries from our roving reporter.



Monday, February 9, 2009

Great video of Thomas

I took this yesterday. Thomas was wide awake for at least a half hour. Just looking around and hanging out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday afternoon

I'm sitting here in the NICU, listening to Rebecca read "Little Quack" to Thomas. Its a very deep and personal journey of a duck who wrestles with the trials and tribulations of being a small duck. Kind of a coming of age story that's sure to be made into an Oscar winning movie. Unfortunately, I'm at a short distance with a mask on, it appears I've got some chest congestion that I'm trying to keep from becoming a full-blown cold.

Thomas is having his own challenges today. Dr. Quann, who is the doc in charge, called Rebecca this morning. They never just call to say hi. Despite being a whopping 1 pound, 12 ounces, Thomas is not growing as much as he needs to. They need him to grow to help his lungs develop, but he's been struggling with the milk because of the bowel issue. On top of that, he's got a lot of fluid in his lungs. They'd like to treat that with a diuretic, but that would also make him lose weight. So he needs to gain weight in order to be able to handle losing weight.

They've switched to a solution that is more easily digestible and they're giving him a constant feed of 1 cc an hour. They hope that will be effective over the next 24 hours. If not, they will try something else.

The nice thing is that when Rebecca touches or holds Thomas, his vitals are really good. When we got here, his O2 reading was taking wild swings going from 95% down to less than 50 % (which has its own special alarm) and back up again. Once Rebecca put her hands in to the isolet, the range become much less pronounced and with her holding him, its basically steady in the low 90s.
As a side note, we heard he also took a pacifier today. The nurse said, he initially didn't care for it, but after a minute, he took right to it and started chewing away. If he uses it again, we'll get a pic.

So we're going to hang out here and keep an eye on him for a while.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ups and Downs

Friday night and I'm sitting here hoping that my scratchy throat is due to the high winds in Dallas kicking up an allergy and not a symptom of a cold. I would not want to be in a position where I could not visit Thomas or have to quarantine myself from Rebecca (or would I?, I really wouldn't) either to keep her healthy. So I'm drinking orange juice and thinking good thoughts.
Thomas has had his ups and downs in the last couple days. We found out he has a hernia, which is very common in preemies. Its not hurting him, so he'll probably have surgery in a month or so, before he goes home (another scar! Probably a gun shot wound.). He's also got a hemangioma, which is kind of like a birth mark, but has to be watched, because it can cause some issues. It grew kind of quick this week, but its not a danger, so they are keeping an eye on it.

The other issue was that they had been having to increase Thomas' respirator settings this week. It turns out that because Thomas has grown a good bit, the tube they were using was too small. As he's grown, he has to work harder to get enough air out of the smaller tube. They figured it out today and made the decision to move to a bigger tube.

Unfortunately, we showed up unannounced while they were switching to a bigger tube. Never really cool when you're baby is surrounded by 4 people, huddled over him, working feverishly and you don't really know what's gong on. Another one of those routine events that as a parent, you're probably better off not seeing.

It was a traumatic experience for us. Thomas was obviously in some discomfort. I defy any of you not to be uncomfortable when a breathing tube is inserted, plus a feeding tube, which they put down his nose(gives me the chills thinking about it). He really didn't like that one at all. No parent wants to see their child in pain, even when its to make them better.

On the plus side of the experience, they let us see Thomas without the tape on his face. The other benefit was that Rebecca was there to comfort and calm Thomas down. Rebecca gave her finger for Thomas to hold and he grabbed it. He didn't let go and really seemed to relax as she talked to him. It was probably a coincidence, but several times when Rebecca looked away, Thomas would open one or both eyes and look at her and then quickly shut them when she looked back. We could have totally been imagining, but it was very funny.

As of this evening, the bigger tube seems to be working. They've gone down on the ventilator settings and he's not fidgeting, which indicates he's comfortable. He's also digesting his milk better now that they've eased up on the amount and frequency. He's taking 7 CCs every 4 hours and now weighs 1 pound, 12 ounces.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Remain calm...All is well

Wednesday evening in Belton (I believe Dallas as well) and nothing really new to report. Rebecca is in full kangaroo care mode every day now. Thomas is getting lots of attention, especially from the nurses. His personality is starting to come out a little bit and I think some of them are smitten. He's also starting to yank on his tubes, so he has to be watched constantly. I'm speculating, but this is both a good and a bad thing. Good because he's starting to use his hands and grip, and maybe even is aware that "hey, there are a bunch of tubes sticking out of my mouth. Probably pretty obvious why him pulling on them is potentially bad, the whole breathing and eating thing. So they have to swaddle him every now and then when he gets particularly feisty. Everything else is status quo, breathing is really good and they are inching back up on the milk (4 ccs every 3 hours now).

Since there isn't a lot new, I thought I'd start The List. The list is documentation of everything really cool that you missed because of your child. I think this is important for every parent to undertake. If your child has already been born, its not too late to start this. Then you keep adding to it through the years and present it to them on their 18th birthday. I believe it will serve 2 purposes: one, to instill the tiniest amount of guilt/gratitude into them (although they won't probably acknowledge it); and two, to make them really think about the importance, challenge and sacrifice it takes to be a parent. So nana and papa, I love you and I'm sorry.

The list so far:

Virginia - Virginia Tech football game
Madonna in Miami (he may have done me a solid there in retrospect)
Christmas in the Sky in Shreveport
New Year's Eve in New York
New Year's Eve in Paris
New Year's Eve in Sydney
New Year's Eve at Mike and Carolyne's (this is where we were always going to go, but the other options were wide open)
The Cotton Bowl (I mean really, did I HAVE to be there for the birth? I was just a bystander)
Disney World
Going to the Super Bowl to see the Cowboys (, that was someone else's fault)
U.S. vs. Mexico World Cup Qualifier in Columbus

I'll will continue to update the list as needed. I love you Thomas

Monday, February 2, 2009

Foot Long Hot Dog

After a month of work, Thomas is a a useful form of measurement. He is 12 inches tall and weighs about 1 pound 10 ounces (give or take, it fluctuates a bit). It has been a good weekend for the most part. He was sucking down the milk so quick, they went from 3CCs ever 3hours all the way up to 11 CCs with a caffeine shot and some extra powder to add calories all in 3 days. Unfortunately, it was a case of a little too much too soon.

Thomas couldn't keep up with all of it and stopped digesting , just letting everything pass through his system. This is not uncommon and only a minor setback, because really, he's so far along already. So today, they backed off and took him down to 4 CCs of milk every 3 hours and they are using a machine to slowly serve it to him to make sure he has time to fully digest it all.

Thomas' breathing continues to be really good, often the ventilator is down to 21% oxygen, which is what you and I breathe, and they continue to reduce the pressure on the ventilator as well.

Kangaroo care is going really well. Its kind of a good thing/bad thing thing though. Thomas really seems to be responding to us and the sound of our voices (especially Rebecca's). We are ending up spending a lot more time at the hospital. When you hold Thomas, an hour or two slip away in no time. It also makes it alot tougher to leave the hospital each time. So Rebecca and I have been devising escape plans for Thomas. I baked a file inside of a cake, but that hasn't really proved anymore useful than the rock hammer and poster that I gave to Thomas. He can't seem to grip the hammer, let alone lift it (and those nurses are watching him like a hawk). I'll keep you updated as new plans develop.

Here are a couple more videos to keep you entertained.