ER visit

Hospital Stay, Part 2

{part 1}

I didn’t leave the hospital for five days.  I stayed in that tiny room, with monitors constantly beeping and IV drips being changed every 30-120 minutes, and I thought I was going to lose my mind.  Sibby had a sling around her arm to keep her from bending it, which could have popped out the IV.  The sling weighed her arm down and made it awkward to pick her up or cradle her comfortably.  She had cords running out of this and also an oximeter cord attached to her toe. Both of these set off alarms if pinched or crimped.  The first day I didn’t have any clothes she could wear that would work with these restrictions, so she just stayed wrapped up in a blanket.  It wasn’t until the afternoon of the second day when a kind nurse took pity on me and held her while she sent me down to the cafeteria to get some lunch.  While I was gone she pulled a sleeveless onesie out of the hospital stash and carefully dressed her

IMG_8501

Sibby ran a fever the first 48 hours we were there.  They kept her on round the clock Tylenol and it would immediately bring her fever down, but by the end of the second hour, it would start to creep up again.  This fever, as well as the sling on her arm to keep her IV place, and her malaise, kept her irritable the entire time we were in there.  After that initial nap in her hospital jail/crib, she did not sleep anywhere but in my arms.  This meant that I only slept when N came to visit, in between taking care of things at home, and interruptions from the doctor and nurses.  On top of that, I was very worried about her and had good reason to be.

The first information we received on our first morning there said that something had shown up in the spinal tap.  Added to this, the nurses said they’d never seen something come back this quickly from the lab (normally it takes 24-48 hours for a culture to appear), so either the bacteria was growing very quickly or there was a lot of it.  They tried to reassure me that Sibby was on harsh antibiotics that should take care of whatever was growing in her, but we wouldn’t know what it was or the extent of it for another day.

I hastily googled meningitis and sepsis and stopped when I read, “the number one cause of death in infants.”

My family and friends sent Bible verses and prayers and they literally gave me a thread to hang onto.  When I looked in the mirror at the end of the first day, I was horrified at how puffy and bloodshot my eyes were, a combination of crying all day and sleeping so little.

By the end of the first day, they moved us to a corner room with its own shower and an actual hospital bed for me to sleep in, throwing in as an aside that we would probably be there a while.

As soon as the lab said they saw something, it was determined we would not be there for 48 hours as is standard protocol, but now our stay looked to be a 5-7 day minimum.  My parents, who had literally just moved to Nashville, offered to make the drive up to keep the girls and relieve N’s parents who had weekend plans and company coming in.

I woke up, or more accurately, arrived at the second day of the stay and couldn’t believe I had gone an entire day without seeing or talking to my older girls.  It made me sad to think about and scared at how quickly life can turn.  I prayed we would receive good news from the pediatrician that day.

And good news we did. As it turned out, the bacteria the lab had initially reported was not bacteria, just a stain in the slide. The way they had communicated it had been faulty, however, so the mistake wasn’t detected until this point.  More good news: nothing had shown up in any of the cultures at the 24 hour mark.  This meant that we had a 75% chance of nothing growing in there, period, but would know more at the 48 hour mark.

Thankfully N was with me when we got this news and we were able to rejoice together.  I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest.  Though Sibby was still noticeably sick and with fever, it didn’t seem as serious as what we were first told.

We were still under watch and care for another 24 hours and a no visitor order was placed as well as everyone who entered the room had to wear masks, save for N and I.   We were also told this could just be a virus but the administrations of antibiotics would continue until we could get clear labs at 48 hours.

The next day, the doctor made his rounds and began with, “well we have some bad news. Something did show up today. ”  As it turns out, it was actually three things that had shown up.  Two strains of bacteria in the urine and one in the blood.  The irony being that the spinal fluid, which had scared us initially, was perfectly clear.

Once again my heart plummeted with fear.  We still didn’t know what we were fighting but he reassured us the antibiotics she was on should be nearly all-encompassing, (as it wouldn’t be until the following day when we would have the actual name of the strands and a recommendation from the lab on which specific AB we would need to treat them).  He didn’t seem worried, just puzzled and sympathetic.  But, by getting this info, we had just bought ourselves another 3-5 days in this 16’x’16’ room.

Following this new diagnosis, they had to repeat the blood draw and catheter.  They would send these new tests to the lab and watch them for bacterial growth.  If they came back clear then that would mean the antibiotics did their job and we would also be in the clear.  However, once again, it would be another 24 hours before the first reading and 48 before we would be given an adequate reading to make a good judgement call.

I tried to stay on top of my emotions but the fear crept back in.  I also began to back peddle and piece things together.  Like when her belly seemed to bother her and I had been massaging it, trying to release the gas, when in reality, she probably had a UTI.  No wonder my touch made her scream even harder.  However, a UTI seemed fairly benign and simple enough to treat.  Although, with her having one this young, did that mean she was going to be prone to them the rest of her life?

The blood infection seemed even more scary.  They said two of the bacteria were the same so whatever had been in her urine had quickly spread to her blood.  Had we not brought her in when we did…well I couldn’t bring myself to finish the thought.

And the thought of being imprisoned with no sleep, little food, and a fussy baby, well that was the stuff torture chambers are made of.

I was also aching to see the older girls.  It had now been 48+ hours since I had seen them and I’d only been able to have a short conversation with them since being in there.  Even though I knew they were in good hands, I worried about their peace of mind with all of this transition.

So we pressed on, begging for healing and as quickly as possible.  At this point, our Florida trip also came into jeopardy as we were supposed to leave Wednesday and if we were going to be in here as long as they said, we would definitely not be able to do that.  Selfishly, it felt really unfair to think after all of this, we may not get our time to rest and recuperate on vacation.

IMG_8528

I encountered a lot of different nursing personalities during this stay, and there was one who took mercy in the early morning hours of this day.  She propped me up in bed, padded me with pillows, and put Sibby on my chest, suggesting we could sleep together like this.  Although I had done this at home, I was nervous to try this in the hospital for fear they would shame me and put even more fears in my head.  I was able to relax that night and actually get a few hours of sleep in between the changing of IV bags and regular fever checks.

It was also on this day that we began to see her fever drop.  We were able to go much longer in between Tylenol doses and her fever stayed at a reasonable level. That was a comfort that things were turning around.

On the morning of day four, the doctor came in for his daily rounds.  He told us the new labs came back clear at 24 hours and we had names for the bacteria present in the old ones.  None of them seemed super scary and possibly could have even been contaminants (to which he said it was fairly unlucky that we would have that happen to two different samples.)  Things were starting to become more clear and our path to exiting this place was starting to open up.

On day 5, we also got word that they came back clear at 48 hours.  This was fantastic news and now we just had to finish her round of antibiotics to be released.  We didn’t know if the doctor would release us Monday or the following day, but we both prayed for Monday as it would give us one day to get ready for our trip.  Also, while in the hospital, we found out N was offered the job in Nashville.  So while we needed to pack up for our trip, we also needed to get our house ready for the market.

I could not have been more excited when, as I geared myself up for another lonely, delirious night in the hospital with no sleep, the on duty nurse came into the room and said we’d gotten the all clear to go home.  I could not get my phone out fast enough to call N.

“Come pick me up, we’re going home!”

It took about another hour of finishing the IV, packing up, taking out the IV (immediate relief from S), and wheeling everything out to the car, but we were finally free and on the road to recovery (and home).

IMG_8554

I still don’t have many answers for this small, but very scary window of Sibby’s life.  I still don’t know what made her so sick, how it actually started (UTI? blood? or just a virus?), I don’t know how close to death she came, or what would have happened if we hadn’t gone in.  This isn’t a story I like to think about too often as it still leaves me with lingering negative emotions, both in remembering the long hours spent in the hospital, and also the fear that came over me while I was in there.  As I said at the beginning of the story, I and our friends and family, literally begged God to spare her life.  He did.  I don’t know why or how, but He did.

And now, because of this great story at the very beginning of her life, she will always bear witness to His mercy.

-smk

 

Hospital Stay, Part 1

In the very scary, early morning hours of June 16, 2016, I found myself in the hospital with a very sick baby, begging God to spare her life.

He did.

IMG_8496

This is how it started.

June 15, 2016 began as an unusually nice day.  N had taken the girls down to Nashville for two days (interviews) and I was home alone with the baby. This meant I was able to get extra sleep and stay on her schedule rather than trying to fit her into mine & the older girls’.  While the rest of our family was driving home that day, Sibby and I went for a walk, took a nap, and worked a bit.  It was laid back and nice.

They arrived home around 5pm.  I had just gotten Sibs up from her nap and was feeding her when the girls came bursting upstairs to find us.  They showed me all of the new trinkets they had accumulated at Grampy and Granny’s house and were full of stories.  MG paused a moment to comment that Sibby seemed fussy.  While I didn’t want to admit it aloud, I had noticed it too; the only time she seemed happy was when she was nursing.  The rest of the time she seemed agitated and uncomfortable. I retraced my steps that day and thought maybe since I’d had some cabbage and raw vegetables for lunch, it was upsetting her stomach.  I also noticed she seemed a bit warm, but chalked it up to her just waking up from a nap.  I rocked her and shushed her, hoping it would pass and kissed her forehead every once in a while to see if the heat remained.

We moved about the rest of our evening, me tending to the baby, somewhat puzzled by her new constant neediness and also trying to help the girls reintegrate into the house.  After getting the older two down to bed, N and i stayed up to watch a show. I had gotten Sibby to sleep during it but she woke up to eat again before (what I hoped would be)  a long stretch of sleep at night.

As I sat in the green rocker upstairs, the same one I have nursed and rocked down all of my babies in, I heard the clock chime 11pm. N gave me a sheepish look.  “Wake me up when you need me.”, he said. I was already sleepy and beginning to become discouraged as Sibby was now fighting sleep and I hoped she wouldn’t keep me up too late as I was starting to hit a wall.

As the hour stretched on and the sleep did not, I decided to move downstairs to watch tv. I was nodding off in the rocker and needed something new to distract me and help me keep my eyes open.  It seemed that all of my normal tricks to soothe her and get her to sleep weren’t working.  She also seemed really uncomfortable too; her back was arched and legs drawn up and her belly felt really tight.  I’ve never experienced colic before, but suddenly I found myself wondering if this is what I was dealing with.

When she reached the point of crying that had turned into a painful cry (really high pitched and almost screaming), I pulled out my phone and began looking up symptoms of colic.  Everything seemed to be lining up; she was three weeks old (perfect timing for the beginning of it), I had eaten a lot of dairy and raw vegetables that day (cursing myself for it), and the way she was acting, it seemed like she had trapped gas or her stomach was bothering her.  Plus, she could not be soothed.  She also still felt warm, but once again that was written off as a symptom of so much crying and it being a humid summer evening.

I spent time rearranging her in my arms, trying to get her to fall asleep, and also trying to keep myself engaged and awake.  I watched the clock, and looked at literally every five minutes.  I told myself I would give N until 5am, which seemed like a somewhat decent request, before asking him to step in for a bit to relieve me.

As 2am, 3am, and 4am rounded, I grew more and more tired and also more worried.  If this is what colic was, how would I function for the next weeks and months until it resolved?  I also thought it was strange that whenever I would “bicycle her legs”, or massage her tummy to try and help relieve the pain, it seemed to throw her into even more pain. I watched the clock tick slowly by, in 5 minute increments, trying not to sink into delirium.

Finally at 4:30am, desperation won out. She had only slept maybe half an hour and had even refused the last time I tried to feed her. I woke up N, who heard us coming from a ways off.  He leapt out of bed and grabbed her from my arms, shooing me away. But I stopped him, “I’m starting to get worried about her.” I confessed, “She’s been like this all night.  I can’t soothe her….And she’s stopped nursing.”

“Just let me take a try.” he said, “you go get some rest”, sensing the exhaustion in my face, I’m sure.

Instead I pressed, “Will you go get the thermometer?  I think she may have a fever but I’m not sure.”

We both watched as he tried the thermometer, several different ways.  Sometimes it would pick up a fever, other times it wouldn’t. Still unsure what to do, but starting to grow ever more panicky, I said, “I think I’m just going to call the doctor.”

At 4:30am, if you want to reach the pediatrician, first you have to call the hospital and have them page the doctor on call.  Then you have to leave your name and number and wait for them to call you back.  They warned me it could be up to an hour at this time of night and to not miss the call because they likely won’t call you back if you do.

N encouraged me to go to bed while I waited and he would babysit my phone and the baby for me.  Reluctantly, but also very eagerly, I climbed into bed.  Not a minute later, N came in my room with the phone, the doctor waiting to speak to me.

Confession: I hate these moments.  I feel embarrassed and silly and vulnerable all at the same time.  I want them to say there is nothing wrong but I don’t want to put them to work for absolutely nothing.  I’ve never called and they’ve said, “oh don’t worry about that, it’s nothing.”  There’s always a seed of doubt planted, even if it’s minor.

I attempted to describe the symptoms, being careful to add pertinent details like her age and irritability.  He did seem worried but said there was no way we could get an accurate temperature at her age without doing it rectally.  “What if I don’t have a rectal thermometer?” I said.  “Well if you suspect she has a fever, you should bring her in.  With any baby younger than 4 weeks, we admit them to the hospital if they have a fever.  It’s pretty serious.”

I got off the phone and relayed the information to N.  All along, during the worst of the morning hours, I had already considered this scenario.  I knew what I had to do, despite it being the last thing I wanted to do.  I had to take her in.  N couldn’t do it because I was exclusively breastfeeding her.  And he couldn’t come with me because that would involve waking up the other two.  We could call a friend, but who would be available at this hour?  And the closest family was over an hour away.

So despite not sleeping all night, and only getting broken chunks the day before that, I strapped her in her car seat and prayed she wouldn’t scream the whole way.  I got in our car in the cloak of darkness and prayed for our lives that I would be able to make it without any serious consequences due to my extreme fatigue….

Considering how our night had gone, I was pleasantly surprised when Sibby seemed to calm a bit in her car seat and we rode in silence to the hospital. As I drove through the country roads, I fretted over jumping deer, and my reaction time, and her state.

As I neared the hospital, I worried about being by myself with a babe in a scary part of town at such a dark hour.  I was shaken up, scared, and off.

N had given me good directions on how to park and get in quickly and safely.  Once again, I was unsure of what we would encounter in the waiting room and hoped they wouldn’t keep us waiting hours, as some of my friends had done at this hospital before, me trying to keep her from screaming the entire time, trying not to let the lack of sleep overcome me.  But as soon as I wheeled up, they took one look at us, questioned me on her age and symptoms, and we found ourselves in triage.

Within minutes, the ER doctor on call was introducing himself and explaining that because they had gotten a temperature of 100.7, they were going to be doing four tests: a blood draw, a urine culture via catheter, a chest x-ray, and a spinal tap.  Plus, he said, there was no way around it, they would be admitting her due to the fever and her age (less than 4 weeks old).

My head began spinning and my eyes welled up.  Their immediacy made me worry even more and my heart squeezed at the thought of what these tests would put her through.

Or at least, I thought I knew.  I didn’t think about how tiny her veins were and how they would have to put a tourniquet on her arm for many minutes before they would even be able to find a vein.  They would miss this vein and have to call in a pediatric specialist to do it, as well as insert her IV.  The catheter also took several tries and more agonizing minutes of screams where I could only lean down and whisper in her ear for comfort.

Next I carried her down the hall as another nurse wheeled her IV bag and I placed her on a cold table for a chest x-ray.  It felt like abandonment to leave her on that table, all alone, as she cried pitifully, me behind the protective concrete wall.

The nurses tried to comfort me and asked a lot of questions, but I didn’t want to talk.  I was too frazzled and worried and frightened and was constantly on the verge of tears.  They kept reassuring me that I did the right thing by bringing her in, but all that made me think of was how I almost didn’t.

The spinal tap was last and performed by the doctor.  He asked me if I wanted to be in the room, reassuring me it was okay if I didn’t.  I didn’t see any reason it would be worse than what she’d already gone through and opted to definitely stay.

We all had to wear masks as he turned her on her side and, once again, stuck a needle in her baby soft skin.

Finally, it was all over and I could pick her up and hold her close again.  She ate (an encouraging sign since she had refused the last one) and then passed into a deep sleep in my arms.  I carried her, as gently as I could with the IV poking out of her arm, up to the third floor and laid her in a little crib. The kind nurse on duty encouraged me to sleep in the pull out bed beside her.  It was about 7:30am and things back at home were just now starting to stir to life.

IMG_8505

N was making breakfast for the girls, while making a last minute game plan for the rest of the day.  He called his parents, who dropped everything and drove an hour north to relieve him.

He, in turn, was able to come to the hospital and be with me.

{to be continued…}

-smk

{part 2}

Another eventful night at the ER

Well when I pictured a mad dash to the hospital in the middle of a May night, I certainly didn’t envision bringing my eldest along.

afterlight

Unfortunately, she was the patient this time, not myself.

Yesterday started as a busy but good day.  MG and I ended it at a friend’s house, watching some children from small group so that the adults could help paint at a new house for one of the couples.

The kids were all playing on an indoor Little Tykes slide and MG was enjoying going down over and over.  We were only about 10 minutes away from leaving when I turned my vision away from the slide to finish a conversation with my friend.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see MG tumble and roll off of the slide onto her shoulder.  It was one of those things that happened so fast, I’m not sure if I’m making the memory up or if  I actually witnessed it.  What I do vividly remember, however, is the distinct look of pain that crossed her face as she lay there stunned on the floor.

She’s no crier when it comes to spills and falls (N and I think it’s more of an embarrassment thing than a pain thing), but I knew instantly this was different.

afterlight(5)

Like a good certified First Aid citizen, I quickly assessed the situation before I picked her up.  She instantly clasped her hand to her neck as the sobs took over.  In between hyperventilating breaths, she kept saying that she wanted to go home, and I attempted to get her to calm down and relax before we made our exit.  I called N on the way home (who was finishing up painting), and let him know that a trip to the ER might be in our near future.

At home, I was able to get her distracted and we attempted to evaluate her.  She was able to fully move her arm but showed some discomfort when reaching out.  There was no swelling though, and I was able to press all over her neck, shoulder, and arm and she never winced or cried out.  At that point, we figured it had to be a bruise and decided we would see how the rest of the night went before taking her in in the morning.

With the help of some Motrin, she was able to fall asleep, but about every two hours she woke up, miserable and crying out in pain.   Poor baby :(.

At 4am, we decided that she was only getting worse and we’d better just take her in and see what they could do for her.

afterlight(2)

I do have to say, that was the calmest ride to the ER I’ve ever had.  Maybe because I’m an old pro now 🙂 but probably because I wasn’t worried about a high fever or some kind of mysterious ailment.  I knew exactly what was wrong and that they could help us.

She also perked up in the car for the first time since the accident.  “I sick today, Mommy.  I need the doctor.”  And when we pulled in the lot, “I get sticker?!!??” (she walked away with 5)

afterlight(4)

Fortunately,  no bloody nor dismembered patients were waiting in the lobby and we were seen right away.

It did take a little sticker bribery, but she was able to point out to the doctor the exact point that was in pain on her shoulder.

afterlight(3)

A quick x-ray confirmed what we all were thinking: collarbone fracture.

photo (2)

photo(1)

The good news is that it should heal on its own in the next week or so.

The bad news is that she has to wear a sling and not jump, climb, or fall until it is completely healed.

The doctor, being a dad of 4 himself, wants her to be seen by a pediatric bone specialist next week to make sure it heals up nicely.  As he put it–she is a female and will want to wear tank tops in the future.  (but if it doesn’t, at least she and Daddy will have matching clavicles :))

Thanks to all who have checked in, prayed for her comfort and healing, and to a sweet friend who brought over a little “get well” gift for MG (and one for me too!)  And to my in-laws who are bringing over dinner tonight.  There’s nothing like a little accident to make you feel loved.

photo (3)

Poor thing has happily worn her “special swing“, but has been in a lot of pain since last night.  We’re all hoping for a little more peaceful sleep tonight.

afterlight(1)

And that the fashion accessory will be gone before Mayby arrives. (is it bad that one of  my first thoughts at the scene of the accident was “oh no my child is going to be wearing a neckbrace when she meets her sister for the first time?”)

And that the next late night trip to the hospital is the one we’ve all been looking forward too.

And that Mayby stays in there for a little bit longer.  Big Sis is going to need full use of both limbs, afterall, to hold her 🙂

Midnight (-opposite word of-)Mayhem

If you had said the words “emergency room” to me prior to the early morning of March 14, 2012, I would have envisioned the following:

-a waiting room full of people in various states of traumatic pain & at least one victim of a severe bleeding accident; possibly with a severed limb
-doctors and nurses yelling orders to each other in moments of haste “we’re losing this one!”
-screaming babies and children with panicky parents waiting for hours in the middle of the night to be seen
-+something dramatic similar to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  Except, I don’t watch GA because even televised trauma makes me squeamish.

This is most certainly NOT what I envisioned:

My two sweethearts rocking gently in a quiet room.

Here’s how it started:
MG slept restlessly on the night of March 13.  Every time I went in to check on her, she felt a little warm, but I didn’t think anything of it.  You must know by now that she’s been teething so I wrote it off as another night for the tortuous molars.  By 8am, she was unmistakeably  awake and when I went in to retrieve her, noticed that she felt quite warm.  103 degree fever.  Ugh.  I gave her some Tyelenol (that’s been banned, remember? or has it?? I wish they would make up their minds) Advil and felt it was a good sign when she swallowed some applesauce for breakfast and played quietly with her toys.

Poor thing became less and less herself as the day wore on.  I finally phoned the doctor while she took a morning nap.  “Try to keep her comfortable and hydrated”.  She had been drinking fine, so I kept an eye on her.  We continued the meds, but her fever never dropped below 101.

She didn’t want to be put down the rest of the day.  My back was starting to kill me.  When Daddy came home, he scooped her up and rocked her to sleep for an afternoon nap. 

The night progressed slowly with our poor, lethargic sicky.  There was another frantic call to the doc when she began to turn blue and started shaking uncontrollably. This was followed by another spike in fever.  We watched her closely and were worried to put her to bed, but the doctor said that was exactly what she needed to fight this: rest.

I was finally ready to crawl into bed around 11pm after checking her like 15579815380 times, but the last time I checked on her, I just had a funny feeling. Call it Mother’s intuition. She was breathing hard and heavy, almost as if she’d been working out.  The doctor received another call and when I held the phone up to MG’s airway, she said, It’s time to take her in.”  In fifteen seconds, she’d inhaled 15 times. 

I woke up my tired sleepers and we piled in the car.  Fortunately, the closest ER is like a second from our house…but to say I was apprehensive was an understatement.

Halfway to the entrance, Daddy says, “Oh, I left something in the car, you go on ahead and take her inside.”  What, and wait in line behind the screaming gunshot victim?  No thanks.

But lo and behold:  inside it was quiet.  And calm.  There were ZERO patients in the waiting room…or lack thereof.   The Ice Queen receptionist DID nearly throw me off my already weak game, but Sugar Daddy-I-can-charm-anyone-into-a-smile melted her cool heart quickly.  The nurses oohed and aahed over our pitiful baby as they weighed her and poked and prodded her with about every instrument imaginable.  She really only cried when they swabbed her throat-via-her-nose for the RSV test.   The rest of the time, she spent taking turns between Mama’s, no Daddy’s, no Mama’s laps.  She just couldn’t get comfortable and she would reach out with both arms to the empty-lapped parent, “will you try it for awhile??”. 

Next up was a trip to the torture chamber AKA chest x-ray.  She only hollered a little and Daddy stayed right by her side the whole time.

I, in the meantime, stayed on high-alert for drama.  At some point, there was a crazy nurse commotion in the hallway,
Nurse: “Sir, SIR, you can’t walk around without shoes.”
Shoeless Man: “Uhh…I can’t??”
Nurse: “You cannot be barefoot.”
Shoeless Man: “But I left my shoes at home.” 

Shoeless Man: “Do you have some slippers I can borrow?”

Suffice it say, I was glad we missed the entrance with whomever cause Shoeless Man to walk out of his house, drive (illegally), span the asphalt, and pace the tiled hallways sans footwear.  Must have been pretty traumatic.

Finally, after about an hour’s wait, a dozing Daddy, and an exhausted little family, they confirmed she had strep + an upper respiratory infection.  One  Rx for amoxicillan later and we were being discharged.  

I have to say, my first experience at the ER was quite the learning experience.  Calm and drama-free (minus Shoeless Man, of course)?  Quick and easy?  It almost makes me think I could do this again someday.  Almost.  Maybe even by myself…if I had to.

The only thing I’ll do differently next time is just remember to throw an extra pair of slippers in my bag.  Afterall, you just never know what you’re going to see there.
Photobucket