Friday, June 4, 2010

In The Children's Ward

If I seem to have dropped out of blogging for the week there is a reason. 

In addition to the regular stuff that life brings along we seemed to have a little cold/flu bug going through the family.  My four year old, my baby, and finally I came down with a pretty unpleasant case of aches, coughs, and runny noses.  We were all pathetic...except my oldest.  She has an immune system of steel.  When we get something that wipes the whole family out she is the one who is still skipping around the house healthy.  She is my rock.  My one child who I can count on to be well and strong through whatever illnesses plagues our home.

But, this time, things were different.  On Thursday morning she was playing with the younger kids and doing things like tying furniture together with jump ropes while I dragged myself around the house.  She was happy and carefree.  All the kids were pleased to still be in their pajamas and enjoying a lazy summer morning.  Then, just before lunch she abruptly announced "my back hurts...really bad".  I told her to lay down for minute and didn't think too much of it.  Within a half hour she was curled up in a ball saying that the pain had moved to her chest and that every time she breathed it hurt.  Tears were streaming down her cheeks.  Then, suddenly, it was her abdomen too.  A fever of one hundred and two appeared out of nowhere.  She was moaning in pain and her breathing was louder and more labored than it had been only a few moments earlier.

I called her doctor and they told me that they could get her in in about a week....thanks. So, in a moment we were off to the closest emergency room.  They said she had pneumonia.  Or was it a kidney stone? Maybe some kind of pelvic infection?  Then, right in the middle of an x-ray she seemed to start feeling better.  We thought we would be back home for the evening and on antibiotics. But, after another episode we were taken in an ambulance to a bigger hospital where they admitted her to the pediatric ward to spend the night.

By the time we arrived at the second hospital she was beginning to feel better again.  She said she might want to eat and was talking to me.  I felt relieved and wondered if we really needed to be staying at the hospital for the night.  They had already given her antibiotics through her IV and she seemed much better.  Then, without warning again, she put her hands over her chest and said it hurt.  She winced and her little body went pail.  I grabbed the doctor.  Her heart rate was at a consistent 140 beats per minute.  Too high.

They didn't really seem to know what was going on.  An EKG reveiled a normal heart rhythmn but a very fast and strong pace.  I could see her heart pounding out of her chest and the veins in her neck were throbbing rapidly.  She whimpered to me that it felt like she couldn't breath.  I said a silent prayer. 
I am not a person that feels panic very often.  But at that moment something in me said that she was in real danger if we didn't help her now.  After talking with the doctors we tried a different type of pain medication and the changed her IV to a bolus (which is a rapid hydration IV).  She had been in and out of hospital rooms all day and had not had much to drink.  She asked me to read to her so I layed next to her on her hospital bed and read.  Twenty minutes later I could see the relief setting into her body.  I could see the intensity of her heart relaxing and soon I could not hear the strain of breathing anymore...only clear, soft, beautiful breaths.  It was 2:30am.  She asked me to sing to her.  And after all three verses of "I am a Child of God" she was finally asleep and peaceful.  But I still watched.  And an hour later a nurse came to check her vital signs.  Her heart rate was down to 105 (down 35 bpm)  and her fever was completely gone.  The numbers on that little rolling machine glowed in our dark room and they were the most beautiful thing I had seen in a very long time.  She was OK.  It was ok.

I fell asleep next to her and a few hours later light came streaming through our window.  She looked at me and took a deep clear breath and smiled.  She said she felt so much better.

We spent the rest of the day at the hospital waiting for them to run tests and watch for a relapse.  They ruled out every dangerous thing they could think of.  Finally, the mystified doctors said that they had concluded that she had a severe onset virus and possibly had passed a kidney stone.  They attributed the chest pain to dehydration, fever, and some type of respitory infection.  But, honestly, they admitted, it was unusual and that was their best guess and not an absolute answer.  But, she was well again and they felt confident that whatever it was it was over.

I walked down to the children's ward playroom to find some games for us to play today.  I passed children with cancer.  I passed a little boy who was being pulled down the hall in a wagon by his mom and his nurse because he was too weak to walk.  I saw a teenage boy walk slowly down the hall with his mother.  He said he was tired and he wanted to walk back to his room.  He looked pale and worn.  I thought about these kids and I tried to smile as I walked by.  I wondered how their moms will feel tonight when they go to bed.  Those beautiful strong moms that I could hear speaking so kindly in the hall. I wondered how thier hearts ache at the sight of their child suffering and the emptiness they must feel at the prospect of losing them. 

My heart was changed a little the past few days.  And tonight, I'm thinking about how I would act if I knew that tomorrow everything would change.  There are things that I wouldn't say and things that I would.  Ways that I would spend my time and ways that I wouldn't.  And I'm thinking about how we just really never know what tomorrow will bring. So hug your little ones, enjoy today. 

I am grateful.  And I'm thoroughly exhausted.  I will be back to blogging on Monday.


  1. I think I checked your blog at least twice a day this week, wondering where you were, and why you weren't blogging. I am glad to hear that she is feeling better. We are quite the pro's at Children Hospital's; with open heart surgery at three months, and seven severe pneumonia's since, a blood transfusion, and so many other things I have chosen to forget. I can honestly say that I know how you feel. Every moment seems a lifetime while they struggle to breathe, but in the end your new appreciation for life overflows to those around you. Trials become blessings. Thanks for sharing yours. Melinda

  2. Thank you Melinda. I don't have much experience with the trials of having very sick children but I have just gained a new appreciation and respect for those moms who are so brave and help their kids through those tough times over and over again. You and all the other moms who have done the same are amazing. I'm an amateur (though I admit, i hope it stays that way. I'm not hoping for more experience in that area:)

  3. I hope that you don't have to ever experience the pediatric specialist ever again. But, you do have a way with words that I never will. You are able to put feelings onto paper (or blogs as the case may be) and still have them come across as heartfelt and sincere as you feel them. That gift is a blessing that translates to any parent to help them understand the joys of being the mother of such angels, no matter what the challenges may be. Thanks again for your blog. Melinda.

  4. I am so glad she is okay Candice, that is so scary. I think your prayer was answered. Poor little thing.

  5. Thank you for the reminder to be grateful for our many blessings.