Friday, January 21, 2011

A Three Day, Two Night Hospital Stay is NOT a Very Good Birthday Present

Ok, so the last few days have been a bit of a blur. The craziness that has gone on in this household is just ridiculous. Let me try to explain.

Aaron had his super fantastic, totally awesome Star Wars birthday party this past Sunday. I pretty much ran myself into the ground to get it all done in time and was awake almost every morning by 4AM. But it was totally worth it because his party was great. Everyone, even the parents seemed to have a blast, and one kid even came up to me and said, “That was AWESOME!” I will post more on the party another time.

Anyway, Aaron had been sick off and on the whole week before his party. He would feel really bad with a headache and a fever, but then as soon as I would give him some Tylenol he would be back to his normal, crazy self; torturing Elyse and driving me batty. I figured that he had a weird cold that refused to give up the good fight and that he would eventually be over it.

BUT…toward the end of his party he started looking a little rough. By the time that we left he was a mess. When we got home, he pretty much draped himself across the couch and stared at the TV until it was time for bed.

Monday was a holiday, and so Mike didn’t have to work and Aaron was home from school. I was catching a cold myself and after the exhausting week of Star Wars preparations I decided that it would be a totally do nothing day and that I was going to sleep in. For the first time in a very, very long time I actually stayed in bed until 9:30 AM. When I got up, Mike was making the kids waffles and Aaron still looked like a train wreck on the couch. He was all whiny and said that if he didn’t get his waffle soon that he was going to throw up. He is always so dramatic and so I was like, “Oh Aaron, you are not.” Five seconds later he was heaving all over the couch.

Heads up…we are going to be discussing vomit for a bit so if that bothers you, skip ahead a few paragraphs. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

Mike whisked him off to the bathroom and I suited up in my hazmat gear and started to disinfect my poor couch. But when I looked at the vomit, it had all of these black pieces in it, and when I wipe it up, it smeared brown like they were clots of blood. Mike called me into the bathroom where Aaron had vomited again in the toilet and there was bright red blood in there.

I ran to the phone to call the doctor, but they had no openings until 4:15 PM. I took the appointment and went back to cleaning up the mess. But while Mike and Aaron were sitting couch, Mike noticed that Aaron was breaking out into a rash that started on his chest and was quickly spreading up his neck. I cancelled the doctor’s appointment and Mike took Aaron to the ER.

I stayed behind with Elyse so that we wouldn’t have to call Mike’s mom to come up to the house because that poor woman is ALWAYS being called for stuff and I didn’t want to bother her if we didn’t have to.

Anyway, Mike kept me posted as to what was going down in the ER via text messages and I got myself together just in case I had to get to the hospital. Just after 1:00 PM, Mike called and said that Aaron had strep throat, his blood count was low, and that on the chest x-ray his heart looked enlarged. They would run a few more tests, but there was a chance that they were going to ship him to Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital.

I put a frantic call in to Janice and as soon as she got to the house I flew to the hospital.

The drive to the hospital was the longest twenty minute drive of my entire life. Every worst case scenario flashed through my mind and I was completely sick with worry by the time that I got to the hospital. When I got there they had done an EKG and that was normal, but they were still going to do an ECHO. My poor little guy looked so little in his hospital gown, all hooked up to an IV, but he did look better than when he and Mike left for the hospital that morning. The nurses had given him a stuffed monkey to play with and at one point he leaned over to me and said, “You know Mom, we aren’t just borrowing this monkey. I get to keep it.”
A few techs showed up a little while later and performed the ECHO. Aaron was such a trooper. They said that they had performed one on another kid that day and she screamed for the entire test. Aaron just laid there and did what they said. When they were finished, they said that they couldn’t give us an official report, but that they saw nothing to be alarmed about and that everything looked good.

All the while Aaron wasn’t allowed to eat anything and he was starving. All he cared about was when could he eat. He was definitely feeling better. They got him a “liquid diet” tray which consisted of Jell-O, broth, and some Italian ice. Not exactly a gut busting meal, but it was something.

So hours went by and we finally saw his doctor again who said that they would keep him over night so that they could keep running the antibiotics and also because they still didn’t have an answer for the bleeding. They thought that maybe he had a bleeding ulcer or something and scheduled him for an upper GI the next morning.

By now it’s 4:00PM. Mike and Aaron got to the ER around 11:00 AM. A nurse came in and said that they were going to take him for a stomach x-ray and then he would be going up to his room soon. We got the x-ray, got back to the room in the ER, and waited. An hour went by and we saw no one. Aaron peed a thousand times thanks to all of the IV fluids, and another hour went by. All in all it was about four hours later that Aaron finally got to his room and out of the ER. So much for “soon” huh?

Other than wanting to eat, Aaron’s only other concern was would he get to watch TV. He thought that he had a pretty sweet set up with the big adjustable bed and a TV mounted right to the wall that only he controlled. We let him watch the Disney channel until about 11:30 PM and then we got him settled in bed, Mike and I got comfy in our hospital chairs, and we all tried to get some sleep. Let me tell you, those hospital chairs were so cozy! I just might get rid of our bed at home in exchange for a couple of those bad boys. NOT! I probably would have slept better in the coat closet.

My poor little monkey was exhausted and seemed to sleep pretty well, but for me sleeping was next to impossible. By 6:00 AM I decided to give it up and go searching for some coffee. Of course the cafeteria wasn’t open until 6:30 AM , so I headed to the vending area. Now, I was beyond stupid with sleepiness by this point; so stupid in fact that I could NOT figure out how to use the coffee machine. I inserted my money, chose which type of coffee I wanted, selected the cup size, and then hit a brick wall. All of the buttons for the additives like creamer, sugar, etc. were flashing. They each had their own level too; minimum, regular, and maximum. I was getting coffee for Mike and myself and he takes his black. I thought that maybe if I didn’t push any of the buttons and left them flashing that I would get black coffee. So the coffee comes out and it totally has cream in it. I even sipped it to make sure, and sure as shit there was creamer. So I put more money in and this time I thought, “Well, maybe “regular” means black coffee,” and so I pushed regular for all three additives. Of course this cup was even lighter than the first cup. Son of a… You have to be smarter than the machine. Come on, you can figure this out. More money in the machine…this time I said screw the black coffee and ordered myself a mocha coffee. It came out and appeared a-ok. Urgh, one more try for the black stuff. I could have given Mike the first cup, but I drank out of it remember …testing the additive content you see, and I was coming down with a cold myself so I didn't want to pass the germs. So I went with just letting all of the buttons flash AGAIN cause, you know, maybe I missed something the first time, and still it came out light. I can only imagine what the guys in the security office must have thought watching me buy FOUR cups of coffee, randomly sipping one or the other, cursing, crying, waving a fist in the air shouting, “Why God, WHY?”


I made it back to the room with two of the four coffees just in time for Aaron’s doctor to come in and give us an update. They were going to repeat his blood work and then send him off for the upper GI sometime later that morning. He felt confident to say that his heart was fine, and that his “enlarged” heart was just an artifact on the x-ray. Maybe he didn’t take a full breath before they took the picture, or he was angled slightly off. The important thing was that it was a mistake and his heart was fine. However, he still couldn’t explain the bleeding, hence the upper GI. Also, he was suspicious that the strep infection had moved into his blood because his blood culture was growing really fast. He said that there was a chance that it was just a contaminant, but that with the rate at which it was growing he was almost certain that the strep was in his blood.

The lab came in and drew the blood and we waited for results.

It seemed like almost no time went by when the doctor came back in and said that he had just gotten the blood work results back and Aaron’s blood count was completely normal. He was going to cancel the upper GI, continue to pump him full of antibiotics, and keep an eye on him. Well, why was it so low the day before you ask? Because apparently when the blood was drawn, it was taken from his IV which is standard practice for drawing from pediatric patients as to avoid additional needle sticks. The problem was that whoever drew the blood did not get all of the IV fluid out of the line first and it diluted the specimen which made it appear that his count was very low which made them think that he was bleeding somewhere when in fact he was not.

He still had a raging strep infection though so his doc wanted to keep him for one more night to keep the antibiotics flowing and because he still thought that the infection had gotten into his blood. The good news was that since he wasn’t going to have the upper GI, Aaron could finally eat. He was almost giddy and loved the idea that all you had to do was pick up the phone, place an order, and it was delivered right to you.

Aaron was a real trooper during this whole ordeal, but he was missing his sister something awful. Elyse missed Aaron too and when she got on the phone to talk to him she said, “Hi Brother. I miss you SO MUCH!” In another one of their conversations she said, “Hi Brother. How are you feeling? What are you eating up there, cheese?”

Mike stayed with Aaron the second night while I went home to spend some time with Elyse. Poor girl had been shuffled around so much over the last two days she didn’t know if she was coming or going.

I got back to the hospital by 7:00 AM the next morning and we waited to see the doc. When he finally came in he said that the blood culture turned out to be negative, thank God, and that the infection never did get into his blood. His stomach x-ray was fine too. His final diagnosis…Scarlet Fever which is a bad case of Strep Throat accompanied by a rash, fever, chills, vomiting, etc. Who gets Scarlet Fever these days? Isn’t that something from like the 1800’s?

By that afternoon Aaron was released from the hospital and reunited with his baby sister. I can’t even begin to describe how great it was to have all four of us back under one roof again. Aaron will go back to school on Monday and has a follow up appointment to see the doctor on Thursday next week. He already seems to be back to his old self for which I couldn’t be more thankful.

Thank you to Bob and Janice who helped us so much with Elyse over the last few days. Without you guys, Mike and I couldn’t have spent so much time with our sick little boy. Thanks to my Mom, Dad, Angie, Derek, and Mal for being there that first night in the ER and for all of the visits after. The gift basket that you guys sent Aaron made him smile bigger than I had seen in several days. Thanks to all of our friends that kept him in their prayers. And most importantly, thank God that my baby boy is ok. This whole ordeal has made me appreciate our little family so much more and I have absolutely no idea how families with seriously sick children deal.

I hope that that is the last we ever see of the pediatric floor of the hospital. For all of the families who are still there and for the ones whose outcome has not been so positive, you are in my prayers.