The Pumps

Earlier this afternoon, Ahna, Liam, and I were watching a movie (Taking Woodstock – two stars…just not enough story in the film to carry it) and I realized after about a hour that I sort of forgot that we were in the hospital. It was quiet, the lights were low, the snow was falling…we were lost in the moment. As I realized this, I looked over at Ahna and smiled to myself. Then I saw the blinking lights just out of focus – and it all came rushing back. The noises in the hallway returned, the TV got smaller, the chair more uncomfortable.

When the pumps are powered and doing their business, they have this image that looks like a needle, with three lights that move directionally to show you that the pumps are working and the medicine is moving. These relatively small machines are responsible for giving Liam all of his medication…they use the same syringe that you are used to seeing, but they have an attachment that allows the pump to give the medicine at a very precise rate and a very precise amount. The only inconvenience that these normally create is that Liam is permanently connected; and therefore they must travel everywhere with us – from a little move in the room to a trip down the hallway.

However, these are also the hands-down winners of the ‘Most Annoying Thing In The Room’ award. The beeping noise that they make is unmistakable and reminds us each day that machines don’t know the difference between night and day. There are three primary times that the alarms sound on these things…the first is when the medicine is near empty: it will go off two times then stop. Due to this, we have become conditioned to let the alarm sound twice to see if this is the reason (lately we can actually tell you exactly when this will go off as Liam is getting a single dose of medicine only twice a day – the rest of the time he is on a steady drip). The second example of the alarm is the next logical one after the first: when the medicine is done. In this case, the alarm sounds until someone turns it off. And finally, the other primary reason for the beeping noise is if there is pressure increasing in the line….this alarm goes off all the time and all hours of the day – but is 99% of the time a false alarm. No legit reason, no understanding for why. It just does. And I can tell you from weeks of personal experience, when the alarm sounds for either the #2 or #3 reasons (since both sound continuously until someone turns them off), the nurses are either tending to another patient or on break. They are never just sitting at the desk and readily available…take it to the bank.

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