I learned a new term in the ICN this morning: “toaster head.” If you know a preemie or have had a preemie you might be familiar with the preemie-ness of preemies—the long head and skinny-around-the-eyes look that most preemies have for a short time once they leave the ICN. David’s nurse put him on his back after his noontime meal today. She said she likes to help alleviate “toaster head” whenever possible. Toaster head? My son is suffering from toaster head? Is that like electric shock? Will he lose his hair and eyeballs?
Premature babies, especially those like David who require extra ventilator support for extended amounts of time, have to sleep on their sides with their heads either facing to the left or to the right. Rarely are they able to sleep on their backs, because it takes a bit of engineering to rig up an apparatus to keep the breathing tube in place. That means their heads grow long and thin and somewhat flat, like a piece of toast. And the shape sticks for some time after they are discharged.
To save him from the na-na-na-boo-boos on the playground, David is undergoing his first treatment for toaster head. (Someone should make a cartoon out of this. You could call it, “Mr. Toaster Head and the Incubator Adventures.”)
Frankly, I think he looks more like Mr. Potato Head. And Mr. Potato Head is cool.
It was nice to hear today’s diagnosis spoken as a full term. Everything else has been spoken as an acronym, or, more aptly, spoken as preterm language, because it’s never carried out. It’s like texting, doctor edition: because of David’s RDS (respiratory distress syndrome) he is now suffering from BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia) and with all the PIPs and PEEPs and XYZs he will eventually need to be tested for ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) because the O2 and BPM going to his brain could cause vision loss.
What I have just told you is all ATS (a true scenario). But for today, we’re not going to stress over it. David has toaster head and they’re going to try to treat it. But what’s even better news, he’s wearing clothes! Yes. His bilirubin is cleared out, his IV has been removed, so with fewer cords and no need for a tan, he can wear clothes now.
Be sure, he’ll be modeling a few gift outfits in the coming posts.
Overall, we have had a few “good” days, and we’re riding on them. As soon as David comes off this ventilator the days could get rocky again. But for now, he’s 30 weeks and rounding out 3 pounds. That is to say, he’s doing the most he can as best he can, so that’s a good boy.
Xs and Os,
J & G & MTH (Mr. Toaster Head)