A Couple of Viruses

C got sprung from the hospital late this morning. He is sort of a basket case because duh. But he is on the mend.

Right before he got the IV yesterday a nurse threw an orange hospital gown on the bed for him. The temporary ID placed on his ankle had orange on it and I was already on edge (yes, I have a thing. A phobia as it were, about orange). I looked the nurse right in the eye and asked her for another color. I apologized, explained I knew it was crazy, but I couldn’t bear to touch my kid if he was wearing an orange hospital gown. I did not share that I knew something terrible would happen if he wore it. She was so cool about the whole thing. But very early on I felt uneasy about our hospital trip.

The boring medical details. Sorry, it’s relevant this time: he got some fancy nose swab that identifies exactly what viruses a person is rocking. The stomach bug that landed him in the hospital New Years Eve is out of his system, but he currently has two viruses, both RSV and corona. One of them is pretty mild in adults and severe in kids under two. They both are cold viruses and the colds can lead to respiratory problems. He’s got a wicked cough and his lungs were sounding a little fuzzy. According to the Family Practice nurse practitioner’s reading of the x-ray performed on C he had pneumonia. Last night after he’d had a course of intravenous antibiotics he got another set of x-rays at the hospital. The upshot is he certainly doesn’t have bacterial pneumonia. The films at the hospital looked clear. They said he might have viral pneumonia (x-rays aren’t conclusive), he might have viral bronchitis, they aren’t really sure. The attending today told us if he’d seen our boy in a clinic he would have treated him at home rather than hospitalizing.

My heart sank. Did we do the wrong thing by brining him back? Hospitalizing opens him up to so many other risks. There was a flu outbreak on our floor. C and I have had our flu shots (and we got Z one today), but some of the kids who had the flu in the hospital also had the vaccine. I explained to the attending (Who was not at all being an ass–in fact he gave us his cell phone number and told us to call him if anything happened on the drive home. Can you fucking believe that?) that the nurse practitioner said the same thing-but she said she was concerned about the many problems he’d had over the last month and that we were getting ready for a long car ride, so she thought we should be safe rather than sorry. He said he totally got her reasoning.

But I don’t know. I don’t know. The attending, who we immediately trusted and who spend a lot of time with us making us comfortable didn’t know. The Nurse Practitioner didn’t know the correct course of treatment, but made a judgement call based on what she did know.

Sometimes things are cut and dry. On Monday C had a stomach bug. He needed IV fluids. He wouldn’t pee even after he’d tons of fluids. He needed to be admitted overnight. They still don’t know why he wouldn’t pee for so long, they don’t know exactly what made him sick-they didn’t do  the nose swab that time.

The medical professionals we’ve dealt with to a person have been trustworthy, informative, and kind. But I’m still getting used to the fact that they are not gods. They don’t know everything. They might never know exactly what is going on with my kid or what the right thing to do is. I guess this might be obvious to most parents, but with my crippling fear of authority comes an assumption that authority knows everything always. I have a sick kid? They will fix it. They will agree with what is wrong with him. They will make everything better.

I need to grow up for the sake of my boys. Doctors are not gods. Medicine is as much as an art and guessing game is it is a science. But now I’m playing the guessing game myself. Should we have kept C home? Should we have insisted on a x-ray in the emergency department before being admitted? Did we do more harm than good by bringing him to the hospital?

Z and I are exhausted. Classes start a week from Monday and Z really needs to get back to Syracuse. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since the wonderful trip to the Bed and Breakfast a couple of weeks ago. More than anything we want C to be well. I am terrified this latest trip might make him worse by exposing him to something worse. I know the hospital staff take precautions not to spread illness. But I’m still second guessing myself. Three and a half years into this parenting gig and I am constantly reminded I have no fucking clue as to what I’m doing. Most of the time it isn’t big stuff. But when it is the big stuff, when the health of my child is involved it is terrifying. I want to do right by him. I want to protect him.

I guess the best way to do that is to accept that there won’t always be easy answers.  The professionals won’t always know what is wrong or what the right course of action is. Getting hung up on the fact that it isn’t fair that we can’t magically discover what is wrong with our kids is stunted and ridiculous. Yes, perhaps it is time to grow up.

Maybe it was a mistake to admit him to the hospital. Maybe it wasn’t. But we did the best we could. He is getting better. And now we need to get to sleep so we can start the drive home tomorrow.

A morning nap after a pretty sleepless night for all of us. 

Friends back home starting teasing us that we were making the whole thing up to get out of being in the cold because there were never doctors in the pictures and Z is a former set designer who now teaches furniture and interior design. They insisted he just whipped up the scenery…This was the view from our door to prove we actually were in a children’s hospital.

Grandpa looked after C while Z and I packed. And he wrote a sweet note for C and Grandma.

The two Ts spent a ton of time together. I love that they are pals. Some special bedtime hugs.
*Sorry if there are a ton of typos and grammer mistakes. I just need to get to bed in order to face the long drive home.  

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I Can’t Make This Shit Up

Ok. Ok. Ok. I know. This is supposed to be a Mommy blog/mental health struggles blog/parenting blog/gross bodily functions blog/I’m a self involved ass and I have a blog blog. It is not supposed to be a moment by moment recap of the minutia of our family health blog.

And yet.

It’s getting hard to be philosophical and relaxed about this healthcare shit. The details don’t matter-when C started coughing, when he spiked a fever, when he threw up in the middle of the night after a particularly nasty bout of said cough. We were at my folk’s family practice this morning on the advice of our pediatrician office back home. They did a chest x-ray and we were told he has pneumonia. So we are back in Augusta at the Children’s Hospital. C was admitted a few hours ago and we are in a different room on the same floor with the same attending physician. Which is cool, a friendly face never hurts.

I called our doc’s office on the way here and left a message on the nurse hotline and our very awesome doc was kind enough to call us back herself. If you live in Syracuse and have a kid, for the love of god go to Brighten Hill Pediatrics. They are the shit. The upshot is our doc, the nurse practitioner who C saw this morning, the folks in the Pediatric ER, the folks in the hospital proper have all told us that C is going to be fine. He is totally going to be fine. We are doing the right thing by having him seen, he is going to be fine.

It has been a royally shitty week. The Cordano-Leonard healthcare saga doesn’t make for the most scintillating reading, but haven’t we gone over the fact that I’m a selfish ass? Writing about what scares the hell out of me helps. And I have the admittedly grandiose notion that if I write about something that is hard for me maybe someday someone who is going through the same thing might come across this (not sure how that would actually happen, but why quibble with details) and be helped just a tiny bit.

So. If that mythical person who is going through this someday does find this here is what I have to say:

I know how your feel. I’m sorry your kid is sick. I promise I get it. Let me tell you what, this week has been scary, this week has been awful, we just want our sweet son to be healthy. But so many people have told us that something incredibly similar has happened to them and everything eventually works out. On Monday the nurse I spoke to from our practice before heading into the hospital the first time told me that one year she spent Christmas day in the ER with her 10 month old who had croup. A friend on facebook shared her family was hit with a stomach bug last New Years and then got lice. Our neighbor texted that her youngest was horribly ill on a family trip to Hawaii years ago and it took them ages to get home. Hell, even one of the doc’s at this hospital told us her son had the exact same weird reaction to the chicken pox vaccine. And it seems everyone in the world was sick over the holidays this year. So this stuff happens. It helps to know it happens to everyone. We all have our war story of how the plague ruined some holiday when we were far from home. And knowing my friends and loved ones have been there and gotten through their shitty story makes me feel safer. It makes me feel like maybe things actually will be ok. You know what? You and your kid are going to be ok, too. Promise.

Sweet C back in the ER. This is the first picture where he looks just like my Daddy. 

He was pretty pissed about the back-of-the-hand IV.
Grumpy baby and weepy Mama. I cannot handle him getting poked. Was sent out of the room when the nurses came in to do the IV and was crying pretty heavily in the hallway. The ER Attending happened to be standing there and told me there was a valium salt lick in the waiting room. How I wish she wasn’t kidding.
Daddy doing a work call while C snoozed once we were settled in our accommodations for this evening.
Hey friends and family? Thank you. Thanks for reaching out and texting or messaging or emailing or calling and letting us know you are there. Thanks for offering to help. To those close by, thanks for helping. Thanks for being in our lives. You have cheered us up tremendously over the last week. We know this shit isn’t life or death, but it has blown big time. We are run down and feel like garbage, and not to get to gross and sappy, but your love and friendship has meant a great deal. 

….And Happy Fucking New Year’s

At my parent’s family practice office yesterday I filled out new patient forms for myself and suddenly realized it would probably be the last time I wrote ’12 as the year, which was kind of cool. I was diagnosed with another sinus infection, and trudged off to the pharmacy with a prescription for nose spray. The older boys were out with my dad and sister. Back at home the younger boys, Z, and my mom were my lunch companions. Before we ate Z told me he was bushed and planned on going to bed right after the boys went down for the night. Because you just stop giving a shit about New Year’s when you have young kids and know you will be up at 5:30am no matter what.

Things get a big blurry after that. C started vomiting and having diarrhea. I was on the phone with our pediatrician’s office back home at one point. The practice rocks and has a nurse hotline. The nurse who was helping me was so kind. I brought her up to speed with C’s health-he has had a rough December-and she said, “Oh! You are on the vacation from hell! I’m so sorry, but don’t feel alone-we have all been there.” She was so supportive and gave great information, but the upshot was if the kid didn’t pee we had to take him in to be seen. And being seen on New Years Evening meant taking him to a pediatric ER. And the closest pediatric ER to my folk’s home is an hour and a half away in Augusta, GA.

By 4pm it was clear that we were going to Augusta. We got here at 6. They pushed fluids via IV for hours and my sweet little man who hadn’t had a wet diaper since 5:30am just wouldn’t pee and the diarrhea got worse and worse. They decided to admit us just before midnight and got us up to the room around 2am. Z and C were cuddled up asleep by 2:30am. I was a wired, frightened, anxious mess. At least I remembered I have chill pills for moments like these. I finally fell asleep at 3:30….and C was up at 5:30. Because Z was right. No matter what happens on New Years Eve your kids will wake at 5:30 in the morning. I think it’s actually a law. And I did end up scribbling ’12 a bunch more times when I met with the billing person at the ER. What’s the old saying? When you make plans for the future god laughs at you? I guess it is true even if that future is less than 24 hours away.

Our sweet, brave little trooper is fine. Or he will be fine. He’s just had a terrible month health-wise. Chicken pox vaccine (we’ll come back to that in a minute), ear infection, staph infection on a pox mark on his nose, eye infection, several high fevers, diarrhea, vomiting. Happy December! Turns out a small percentage of kids who get the chicken pox vaccine have an eruption of the pox marks. They get around 50 rather than 100-300 the kids who actually get the illness have. C didn’t technically have Chicken Pox, but there was a minuscule chance he could have infected someone who hadn’t had it. Um, like my dad. Who we’ve been staying with. Do not get me started on how guilty I feel about that. It was our first adverse reaction to a vaccination. The only really bad part was that initial pox mark got a staph infection. It’s on the side of his nose and he scratched it. And I’ve got to say the whole thing has been a bummer, but it in no way swayed me from believing in the imperative nature of vaccinations to protect our population.

A concept that I’ve read about on-line that is supported by many anti-vaccination folks is the belief in following the “natural course of life” when it comes to childhood illness. I’ve got to say I don’t get it. If I followed the “natural course of life” when it came to my health my boys wouldn’t have a mother. Now, I recognize I’m often prone to hyperbole, but not in this case. If the retained placenta had not been removed 5 days after T was born I would have eventually hemorrhaged and died. Already the amount of blood I was losing was impressive. And if the doctors hadn’t treated me to stop the actual hemorrhage that happened after C was born I would have died. As it was I lost more than a liter of blood in about 10 or 15 minutes. In both cases I was grateful for invasive western medicine. If we get pregnant again (which isn’t going to happen) my doc assured me that preventative steps will be taken to make sure my uterus does what it is supposed to after the baby comes out.

In my mind “natural course of life” leads to a lot of dead people. If that is the decision you make for your family it’s one thing, but when we are talking about communicable disease we are not talking about one family. That unvaccinated child who becomes ill can infect other children who are not protected because of age, or a compromised immune system that precludes them from receiving a vaccine. Herd immunity works. We all need to participate.

So yes, I’m in the hospital with my amazing and wonderful 16 month old. The Chicken Pox thing is a small piece of the puzzle of why we are here. It certainly wasn’t the driving factor, but even if it was I would still make sure he received it. The last two days have sucked balls. I’ve cried a lot. My sweet boy has cried a lot. But this is fixable. He is going to be fine even if we have to spend another night here (and we might-the earliest we’ll be out is this evening, if the diarrhea doesn’t get figured out we’re definitely here till tomorrow morning at least). I’m grateful to our access to steller medical care (seriously, if you find yourself in Augusta, GA with a critically ill kid I can’t say enough good things about this place), I’m grateful to western medicine, I’m grateful to my folks and sister who are caring for T. I miss him so much right now, but I don’t have to worry about him. I’m grateful for my partner in crime who is taking a much need nap with our sweet little baby right now. This might have not been the best New Years Eve of our marriage, but we spent it together. And all things considered I still feel incredibly lucky.

Sad sweet boy before he had explosive diarrhea all over the fetching green hospital gown.

Yellow gown, IV fluids, feeling like utter shit.

He finally peed! A little early morning reading. 

Much needed Daddy cuddles and naps. 

Z truthfully informed me this morning that he loves me, but I look like hell. He doesn’t look so hot himself. But I figure that all you folks who went out and partied last night also aren’t at your best this morning. So how different were our nights anyway?