Not my story to tell, but my motivation to be a doctor

1996, I was a seventh grader at Ponca City Middle School…  I was more worried about making the cheerleading squad, gymnastics, basketball, softball, and boys than planning on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  Well one woman in my family was pregnant, planning her future with her husband, and making plans for the beautiful little boy that they were expecting to arrive in June. Who knew that was happened to Megan, Curtis, and her new addition to their family would not only change their lives forever, but it would impact my life so much that it intrigued me to want to become a physician, and now on days when I do not want to go on with studying and just think it is time to call it quits Trenton’s story is the thing that keeps me going. At a rough point in the fall semester I e-mailed my cousin about what all went on with her pregnancy and because we were studying embryology, and I knew that my cousin had survived against odds that I am still being taught are almost impossible.  I know this is not my story to tell, but this is something that sits in the back of my head every day while I focus on becoming a doctor.

 Here is Megan, Curtis, and Trenton’s amazing life inspiring story in Megan’s words:

I don’t remember a lot of what went on the first week Trenton was born, most of my “memories” come from Curtis and our parents.  But I took lots of notes throughout his hospitalization on what was happening to Trenton.  I can look through them or ask Curtis and our parents if need be.  And I do have SOME of the HUGE amount of hospital records from Children’s Hospital.

In the attached file are the pictures of Trenton from the birth announcement we sent out.  This top picture is of Trenton 2-3 days after he was born.  In this picture he weighs 12 oz. and is 11.5 inches long.  That is my hand in the picture.  The bottom picture is taken on his first birthday.  He weighed a whopping 18 lbs. 13 oz. and was 27.5 inches long.

Trenton was born 18 weeks early or at approximately 22 weeks gestation.  We THOUGHT we were further along than 22 weeks…my OBGYN and I calculated around 23-24 weeks.  But after Trenton was born, it was obvious that he was “younger” than the estimated 23-24 weeks.  His APGAR scores were dismal (I have those scores if you need them), and his eyes were still fused.  We were told that the eyes open at 25 weeks.  Which after he was born his eyes did open around 3 weeks later.  Any way you look at it in 1996 he was not viable, we were told he was going to die, or that he had a one in a million chance of surviving.  And IF he did survive he would most likely have horrible birth defects.

At birth Trenton weighed in at 1lb exactly and was 11.5 inches long.  As best as I can describe it his skin was translucent.   I am PROBABLY the only mother alive who will willingly say I had one UGLY baby!  LOL    If you make a “U” shape with your hand his head would fit into that.  His leg was the length of my pointer finger.  He was just unbelievably tiny.

We were not allowed to touch him for the longest time.  His poor little skin would tear if you stroked him.  We did get to hold him much earlier than what the physicians wanted, but only because they thought he wasn’t going to make it.  He lived on a table under a heating lamp for the first month and a half of his life.  His blanket was made out of Saran Wrap (which I still have).  It helped to keep him moisturized.  When he gained A LITTLE weight they moved him to an isolette.

Trenton was VERY sensitive to any type of noise.  When you were by his “bedside” you had to whisper.  Any type of noise would make his heart rate and O2 level drop.   Which if you have ever been in a NICU…it is noisy…alarms are constantly going off.   My mom and sister made him a blanket to drape the isolette to help keep the noise down.

Once his umbilical cord dried up and they couldn’t use that as a means of administering medication, they put in a PICC line.  Still to this day you can see where the tape that wrapped around his upper arm tore away skin and muscle.  He has a “crater” in that part of his arm.  He has MANY MANY scars all over his body.  The worst are his groin area, and feet.

We were told that probably one of the reasons he lived was because his urine output was so good.   I can’t remember exactly when it was but he got a severe yeast infection.  They had to do a spinal tap because they thought it might have infected the spinal fluid ( I think that was the reason for the spinal tap…have to check my notes.).  And because of all the urine and the yeast infection I say he circumcised himself.  But what happened is the foreskin split down the penis and grew together on the underneath side..  We later had that excess skin removed when he was about 2 years old.  The collection of urine on his skin was a big problem because he was too tiny to wear a diaper…they don’t make them that small…and because his skin was so thin.

Ventilators….this was horribly scary.  The physicians at Children’s (now OU) tried every ventilator they had…and none of them were working for Trenton.  They told me that they had one last machine to try, but that it was in storage and had not been used for YEARS.  I might have the name/type of ventilator in my notes…but off the top of my head I don’t remember.  Anyway…they dragged it out of storage and tried it out….obviously it worked.

Trenton developed BPD.  He had apnea.  And I am sure many other things I can’t remember.

Hydrocephalus….Trenton had a Grade Three head bleed.  They watched it very closely, but never had to put a shunt in.

Eyes…. Trenton has ROP.  He was about 2 months old when he had his first of many eye surgeries.  Dr. Mark Scott preformed a laser surgery to stop the growth of vessels in his eyes.  His retina was in danger of detaching.   He now has horrible vision…but he can see.  He has little to no peripheral vision.  He has already had cataract surgery in both eyes (at age 7yrs.).  And has had many Strabismus surgeries, the last was 2 years ago.    With everything Trenton had to go through, I would say having poor vision isn’t too small a price to pay.

I remember us giving the hospital permission to put Trenton on a study regarding O2 and his eyes.  I don’t know the specifics on what was done…just that he was a participant in the study.

While in the NICU he got an infection of salmonella.  One of the nurses tested positive for it.  He was a sick little baby with it.

When Trenton finally got to come home he was on Apnea monitors and constant O2.  He came home earlier than what the physicians anticipated for a couple of reasons….one he was doing well, and two he was the least “sick” baby in the NICU/nursery…and they were full and need the bed space.

Trenton was born February 11, 1996 and came home at the end of May,  his due date was June 3, 1996…not too bad!

It was the most terrifying time of my life.  Thank God most parents don’t have to go through this, but for those of us who have, we get to see what is going on inside a pregnant woman’s body….. what an amazing journey it is… the development of a human life.

Please let me know if you need or want any further information.   I think that Trenton is my own little miracle…and I thank God daily for the medical staff at Children’s Hospital in OKC.  If people can learn from Trenton’s struggle for survival I am all for it.

My mother babysat Trenton for a good many years after he was born. It is funny to think about him rolling around the house in his walker, especially now from the developmental standpoint of information that I have learned.  This was 15 years ago, medicine changes daily. Medicine advances daily in what it knows about the physiology of our bodies and about ways to help it.

I spent a good amount of my time in preparation for coming to medical school shadowing neonatologist in the NICU at OUHSC Pediatric Hospital in Oklahoma City, OK and learned many, many things as well witnessed many happy endings, as well as sad endings from the doctors side of the story. Even if I do not become a neonatologist I know that being a doctor in Oklahoma, whether it be in a big city or in the middle of rural Oklahoma, I will have impact on people’s health, wellness, lives, and families.

I also know that medicine is not 100% to thank for Trenton being with us today, but the abilities of the physicians and medicine that God has given us were the reasons that he is here, and I thank God that he has blessed me with the drive, knowledge, and ability to become a physician that can help lives be changed.

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