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Friday, October 1, 2010

Back to the ER

Welcome to Post Three of LittleDude's Hospital Adventure.  The first and second posts in this saga are here and here.

When we left off yesterday, we were on an upswing.  Our family physician had sent us to the ER where LittleDude was treated for dehydration.  LittleDude was feeling better and things were looking good.

Tuesday arrived, and things were still looking good.  We'd ventured into cracker territory for food with no adverse reactions.  LittleDude had awakened that morning with a very mild fever that was so low it might not have even qualified as a fever.  At any rate, I was starting to plan on a Wednesday start of school for my son.

I made a little chicken noodle soup for him that afternoon, and tanked him up on water and Gatorade.  No matter what, I would not let him dehydrate again.  He seemed to be handling everything okay -- no vomiting, no diarrhea, and a non-fever fever.  I dared to breathe a sigh of relief, and even went to bed that night feeling pretty good.

Little did I know...

2:30am arrived with my husband shaking me awake.  "Where's the vomiting medicine?" he asked me.  I struggled to blink the sleep from my eyes and process the question I was being asked.

"Medicine," I mumbled.  "Cabinet."

My husband disappeared from the room, but returned again just seconds later.  By that time, I'd managed to sit up, but I was still confused.  Why was he looking for the nausea meds?

"How do I use it?" he asked, little brown pill bottle in his hand.

"You're supposed to give it to him at the first sign of nausea."  At that point, his questions finally clicked in my head.  "Why?  Is he not feeling well again?"

"He's throwing up."

Crap, I thought.  Crap.  Crap.  Crap.  "I don't know if it'll work after he's throwing up.  We were supposed to give it before the vomiting started."

"It's worth a try," he said over his shoulder as he left the room.

I still wasn't fully conscious, but I managed to get out of the bed and to my kids' bathroom without running into anything.  Believe me, that's quite a feat, as I've been known to randomly slam into walls.  Especially when tired.  SoundGuy spotted me.

"Go back to bed," he said.  "I've got this."

I don't remember what happened next, but I must have stumbled back to the bed.  The next thing I knew, it was morning and the sun was coming up.  LittleDude was asleep and the house was quiet.  I crept into his room to check on him.  The vomit bucket was within his reach, but empty.  Maybe it's over, I thought.  I kissed his forehead and left as soundlessly as I could.

It wasn't.  Over, that is.

A couple hours later, LittleDude was up and seemed to be feeling okay despite the night he'd had.  Together, we decided not to attempt any food; we'd stick with water and Gatorade.  We started with just a little water and the antibiotics the ER doctor gave us on Monday.

Bad idea.

The moment that stuff hit his stomach, it came right back up.  And up.  And up.  How could 4 ounces of water and a couple tablespoons of medicine take so long to come back up?  My poor child was on the floor in front of the toilet in the downstairs half bath.  I ran up to his room and grabbed his bucket, then tried to get him up to his bed.  If he had to go through the pain of heaving up his insides, at least he could do it comfortably in his bed.

It wasn't to be, though.  He got as far as the bottom stair in the foyer and could make it no further.  At this point, I was beyond worried.  I was so far past concerned it was but a speck in the rearview mirror.  I'd sped right past those things and was firmly in the realm of scared.  Terrified.  What was wrong with my child?

This wasn't good.  This couldn't be good.  Why did he keep getting sick?  What was going on?  I called the doctor again.

Initially, I was told our primary care physician was to be in surgery all morning, but they could get us in that afternoon.  Whatever.  I took the appointment.  In the meantime, I'd just sit over my son and fret.  Seriously -- this kid couldn't even keep water down.

Maybe twenty minutes passed before my phone rang, the doctor's office number appearing in the caller ID.  The doctor had come out of surgery early and he wanted to see my son immediately.  No argument from me.  I got my son dressed, grabbed the bucket, and we went to the doctor's office again.

This time, LittleDude fell asleep on the examination table before the doctor even came into the room.  We had to wake him up, and it wasn't easy.  More reason for me to worry.  The abdominal pain was still there, still in the same place, and the doctor was very concerned.  This time, he got his x-ray, and what he saw prompted him to send us for an ultrasound of LittleDude's gall bladder.  He couldn't tell for sure from the x-ray, but thought it might be enlarged.  We were sent to a diagnostic center in the next county and told to wait there for the results.

LittleDude didn't vomit again for the rest of the day, but it could have been because there was nothing left in his body.  After what I'd seen that morning, I found myself wondering if he even still had a stomach.  My son was tired, a little listless, but otherwise seemed okay.  We had the ultrasound done, and when the results came back, our doctor sent us back to the ER.

"I want him evaluated for admission," he'd said.  "We need to find out what's going on."

On the way, I called SoundGuy and updated him, not there was much to tell.  We'd had an x-ray, and ultrasound, and were going to the hospital ER.  I promised to call with any new developments.

First thing they did at the hospital was put another IV in.  My son hates needles.  I know, many people do.  But needles don't seem to be to fond of my son, either.  On Monday, it took them four tries and three different spots before they finally managed to get that needle into my child.  When the nurse and her student came to put the new one in, I warned her.

"His veins dislike IVs as much as he does," I said, "and he's a screamer, but he will stay perfectly still for you."

She smiled at me like I was out of my mind and assured me they'd be just fine.  Fifteen minutes later she wasn't smiling anymore, and the student had given up.  They did finally get one in, and it happened just like I'd warned.  It took a while to find a good vein that didn't run and hide as soon as the needle approached his skin, and he'd screamed like a banshee, but he stayed perfectly still. 

We spent the rest of the day in that ER.  Thank goodness each bed had it's own tiny television -- that little idiot box kept my kid from going completely stir crazy since he was trapped in the bed the entire day.

The ER doc looked at LittleDude, listened to what he'd gone through over the past five days, looked over the meds he was taking (I'd learned after the last ER visit and had packed up everything he takes and brought it all with us), and after consulting with the pediatrician on call, ordered a CT scan.

Apparently, when those results came back, there was quite a bit more consulting going on before a verdict finally came to us sometime after 9pm.  They had no idea what was going on.  It seemed all my kid's symptoms indicated different things, and each negated the other.  The ER doc told me the pediatrician said, "There's too much going on with this kid, and I'm afraid he might need a higher level of care than we're equipped to give."

Not very promising, is it?

From there, they'd called a pediatrician at one of Atlanta's children's hospitals who suggested maybe they should just hydrate my son then send him home and see what happens.  Thankfully, this ER doctor wasn't willing to do that.  Even though he didn't know what was going on, he was certain my child was sick, and he wanted him seen.  That night.   I'm extremely grateful to that doctor for not being willing to take no for an answer.

At that point, he said LittleDude was being transferred to a children's hospital in Atlanta.  Together, we decided my son would be more comfortable and at ease traveling in my vehicle, so I was allowed to take him myself as long as I promised to take him that night.  And so, with paperwork and a CT scan disc in hand, we left one ER, only to head for another.


The story continues:  Finally...Some Hope


Tess Harrison said...

So so scary! I can only imagine what you guys were going through and thinking. What an awful thing to have to go through. How is LittleDude doing these days? Still doing well I hope.

Lynn said...

I think of that entire couple weeks, this was probably the scariest time for me. There were a couple hiccups in the hospital too, but this was the worst.

He is still doing well, thanks for asking. I'm still afraid to pull him off the low fat diet, even though almost two months have passed (the doctor recommended a low fat diet for 2-3 weeks). I let him have a little fat, but I pick and choose where it comes from.

Lisa Hardt said...

Oh, Lynn!! Your poor boy!!! (And poor you!) I'm so glad things are on the up and up. I would have been a mess!

Lynn said...

Thanks, Lisa. I was a mess inside, but you know how it is. I couldn't let on how scared I was, not in front of my son. I had to stay strong in order to keep his spirits up. The breakdowns would come. Later. When nobody was around to see.

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