That Call…

I write b2b and b2c health content in the office and provide private duty nursing care for medically fragile infants in foster care in my home. Here is the story of one of our Angels and a glimpse at my work as a Independent nurse provider. (Names have been changed or avoided to protect identity)

The call from the special medical placement social worker almost always starts the same way, “Hi Mary, there is a baby that might be a good match for your family…. would you like to hear more?” The last such call was not any different.

Sara was a 6-month-old little girl who had been in the children’s hospital for 2 months prior to the call. She had suffered non-accidental trauma, which is a nice way to describe physical abuse and violence inflicted by an adult. She had suffered brain damage from abusive head trauma, multiple fractured ribs, a fractured femur, and a lacerated liver. She was severely malnourished and very underweight. She had spent 3 weeks in the intensive care unit and 4 weeks in acute rehab. She was finally ready to be discharged from the hospital after 2 head surgeries to evacuate fluid and several abdominal surgeries. She had hydrocephalus. She had Incision wounds on her scalp that needed daily cleaning and dressing. She had lost almost all milestones expected for a child her age. Sara could no longer sit independently or support her head upright. Her head was large in comparison to the rest of her small body. She could no longer suck on a bottle and was dependent on gastric tube (G-tube) for nutrition. Sara was behind on her vaccines. Her recovery would require an intense, well-coordinated rehab program involving several specialists and therapists including neurologists, gastrologists, and rehab medicine.

The social worker attempted to summarize the story of 6 months old Baby Sara. I knew little Sara had to come to our home 2 minutes into the call. I knew she was a perfect match for our family, so I answered affirmatively. Sara needed a loving home, and I knew that my family and I could provide that for her. She needed many cuddles and long hugs, she needed structure, she needed love. Most importantly, she needed a nurse who understands the dynamics of a complex health care system. A nurse who understands child trauma and the effects of child abuse to overall health and specifically to mental health. She needed a nurse who could advocate for her health needs and follow through with recommendations from specialists. Her recovery was going to be a long road with potential twists and turns.

Before the trauma, Sara was developing like any other healthy baby. She was sitting independently, bubbling, giggling, and starting to crawl. She was even successfully feeding from a bottle.

After Sara was born, she was discharged to her father. The mother had tested positive for drugs throughout the pregnancy. The father did not have a stable home and was staying in a motel. An altercation between the parents led to violence and Sara was removed from the unsafe environment and placed with an aunt as a foster mother. Sara’s abuse happened while in this first foster placement with a relative.

The last year has been marked with countless specialty care appointments with neurosurgery, gastrology, rehab medicine. After many hours of therapy and a lot of love, Sarah is now an adorable toddler, cruising along furniture, bubbling simple words, and singing along “the wheels on the bus go round and round”. She can drink from a bottle and feed from a spoon. Her G-tube was finally discontinued on1/10/22. This was a huge milestone! The prognosis for reunification with her biological family is not good so she is up for adoption. My family has been so blessed to watch a child make it through serious abuse and injury. It has taken the support of my incredible family, a team of passionate doctors, coordination with the department of family and children services social workers, therapists and Sarah’s beautiful spirit and sheer will to live. I would not have life any differently!


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