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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Finally...Some Hope

Today is Part Four in the ongoing tale of my son's (LittleDude) recent illness.  If you need to play a little catch-up, I'll link the first three parts for you:

When we left off yesterday, LittleDude had had an abdominal x-ray and an ultrasound, had spent the afternoon and evening back in the emergency room, and had gone for a CT scan.  We still didn't know what was wrong, and had just been sent to an Atlanta children's hospital in the hopes of finding out.

During this entire ordeal, I updated Facebook/Twitter via my cell phone -- I'm still in the Dark Ages with a "dumb" phone, so I didn't have internet access.  The updates I had sent up to this point were:

  • is worried. After doctor visit & trip to ER, LittleDude still not getting better. Back at doctor's office now.  4 August 11:27am
  • is back in ER w/LittleDude. We're still not sure what's wrong. Reg dr wants him admitted to hosp. Pls pray 4 us.  4 August  3:39pm

When we left that emergency room, LittleDude looked great.  He felt great.  He even talked about it.  "I come to this hospital feeling really bad and I always leave feeling really good," he declared in the parking lot.

"I know you feel good," I said, "but you're still sick and we still need to find out what's wrong."

"I know," he said as he climbed into the truck.  "I know."

The ER doctor had opted to leave the IV catheter in my son's hand in the hopes it would still be good when we got to Atlanta -- that way the poor kid didn't have to get stuck again.  LittleDude and I were both all for it.  Anything to make the process a little easier.

We made a quick stop at the house, ran through the McDonald's drive-thru so I could finally get my first meal of the day, then went straight down into Atlanta.  The hours was late, the traffic was light, and we made it in less than an hour. Still, LittleDude was asleep when we pulled up to the emergency room doors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite, and I was pretty exhausted, too.  Which made the free valet parking they provide to all ER patients that much nicer. 

We were instructed to sign in then take a seat and wait for our name to be called.  Past experience with other hospitals told me it would take a while, so I settled in for a long wait.  To my surprise, we were called within a couple minutes.  I wasn't complaining.

After my son's information was entered into the computer, we moved on to the triage nurse.  For the umpteeth time that day, I chronicled the timeline of what LittleDude had endured thus far, adding in what I'd been told earlier that day.

Not the ER, but the same shade of green
I had an amusing Damn, I'm tired moment when, while weighing my son, the nurse asked me if I thought his color was off, or if he was always that color.  I studied my child a moment, then told her he did look a little green to me.  She laughed, and told me it could be because of her walls.  I looked at the walls around me and saw for the first time they were all painted bright green.

I couldn't help but laugh at myself.  "How did I miss that?" I asked her.  "I must be even more tired than I thought."  Outwardly I was laughing it off -- inside, I was worried about my own state of mind.  How could I have not  noticed those bright green walls?  And more importantly, if I was really that tired and my son wasn't admitted that night, how the heck was I going to get us both home safely?

From there, we saw another nurse then were ushered in to waiting room #2.  This room was filled with tiny, child-sized chairs and maybe a handful of people.  A large screen on the far wall was showing the movie Toy Story 2.  I figured that was the spot we'd be sitting a long time, but I was mistaken once again.  Shortly after we went in, we were whisked away from that room and straight into an exam room.

The nurse assigned to us gave us our first bad news that night.  After trying repeatedly to flush the IV catheter the other ER had so kindly left in LittleDude's hand, she finally deemed it unusable.  She would have to remove it and put in a new one.  My son, who had already been through so much, dissolved in immediate tears.  I explained how much trouble he has, and showed her all the places he'd already been stuck.  Then gave her the speech about my child and needles and screaming.

For some reason, hospital personnel don't believe me when I give them that speech.  This nurse gave me that look, the look that says you poor, delusional, overprotective mom, and assured me it wouldn't be a problem.  She'd get it on the first try.  She did take one precaution, though.  She grabbed another nurse to help hold LittleDude down.  I reiterated the fact that he'd scream but stay perfectly still, but that wasn't believed, either.

Once again, I wasn't looking so overprotective when she had three unsuccessful attempts under her belt, my son was screaming and crying, and they were running out of spots to stick.  They give in and brought in a ringer, who did manage to get that IV into my son on the first stick.

The first doctor we saw insisted the ultrasound showed no problems and pointed out that both the vomiting and diarrhea had stopped and he wasn't running a fever.  I freely admit that I argued with this doctor at this point.  I could blame it on fatigue.  Or exhaustion.  And both would be plausible excuses.  But the truth is, I read the writing on the wall.  This doctor thought I was overreacting and my son didn't belong there.

I asked her if the ultrasound showed nothing unusual, why weren't we sent home when the original report came in?  Regardless of what she saw or read, the technician who originally read that ultrasound saw something that prompted my son's primary care physician to send him to the emergency room.  She continued to disagree.  Insisted the ultrasound showed no anomolies.  They were going to run bloodwork, but I had the distinct impression she intended to send us home.  I panicked because I knew that if that happened, LittleDude would be just fine for a few hours then would end up worse than before.  And he'd have to go through this crap all over again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Nobody came back into the room for a while, and that was just fine with me.  LittleDude clicked around on the television, found a Disney movie to watch, and soon fell asleep.  Somewhere between 2 and 3 am another doctor came into the room.  She introduced herself as my son's "admitting doctor."

Admitting doctor.  Hallelujah!

To say I was relieved would be a gross understatement.  She couldn't yet tell me what was going on with him, couldn't say why he'd been feeling so sick before and not so much then.  What she did tell me was somebody would be coming to take us to a room so we could get some rest and they'd be running a few tests the following day.  She estimated a minimum 48 hour stay.

When she left our room, I felt better.  We'd made progress.  I still didn't know why my son was so sick, but I knew we'd find out.  And I knew he'd get better.


The story continues:  In Isolation


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