A nephrologist is a physician who has been trained in the diagnosis and management of kidney disease, by regulating blood pressure, regulating electrolytes, balancing fluids in the body, and administering dialysis. Nephrologists treat many different kidney disorders including acid-base disorders, electrolyte disorders, nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), hypertension (high blood pressure), acute kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. Nephrology is a subspecialty of internal medicine. In the United States, after medical school nephrologists complete a three year residency in internal medicine followed by a two year (or longer) fellowship in nephrology.
While many micro-preemies get released from the NICU with a list of specialists, we were part of the lucky few that didn't. No pulmonologist, cardiologist, no issues that couldn't be addressed by our pediatrician.
Until now. In two months and 1 day we will celebrate 7 years outside the NICU. Oddly enough, 7 years ago today Gavin was recovering from a blood borne staph infection, fighting to get off the vent, and being administered doses of a medication that could have impacted his kidneys (but that was completely necessary to help his heart and avoid surgery).
Gavin's blood pressure checks have continued to run high at school. We have officially been referred to nephrology. It's hitting me really hard. I don't know why. We've been extremely lucky with Gavin's health and avoiding many long term issues that accompany being born 3 months too early.
I guess maybe I'd thought we were safe. That there was nothing else that could touch us. I'd let my guard down, started seeing him as a normal kid, didn't really worry about lifelong issues anymore. I feel blindsided. And I'm mad at myself for not being on top of the blood pressure readings, and not knowing that they were high in the past, and not knowing that preemies were at risk for high blood pressure. Preemie mom guilt is a nasty beast to shoulder. And it's hitting me pretty hard today. I'm not usually much of a crier - but it's rainy and gloomy out and I catch myself tearing up frequently.
I know it's probably nothing. And I know if it's something - even a big something, we'll get through it like we've gotten through everything.
But for today I'll wallow. And take the afternoon off for some shopping therapy. That always seems to help.