Sunday, June 05, 2005

Let's Just Not Do That Again

First of all, thank you for the lovely, caring comments. They were the first thing I read when surfacing, Sunday. Extra big hugs to Lioness, who keeps haunting and leaving comments (I, too, am a comments ho) and Zoomie, my beloved and favorite cousin, who has a semi-secret job and lives in England with his amazing wife, my favorite cousin-in-law, and their gorgeous and divine girls. Believe me, England is first on the list for "real travel". Just need to get the kids old enough to make the flight without becoming orphans and for Charles to get up the gumption to get on such a flight. I am working on the English beer angle. Look for us in a few years. Then, who knows, I hear Portugal is nice...

Second of all, Colin is fine, just amazingly fine. Damn but kids heal fast.

So, here is the tale:

It all starts Thursday morning. A typical Thursday. I am not at work, therefore I rise and jump into the first task, the getting of The Boy out of the door to the bus on time. He is on the couch, sipping some hot chocolate, watching something of marginal value, like Tiny Planets, while I get his usual breakfast of cinnamon toast, some hard boiled egg, and fruit ready. He is not one for gastronomic variance and has this essentially every single morning, with pear or banana for the fruit, the wild and crazy guy.

I stick my head around the corner to light a fire under him to get his clothes on and get to the table, when he says his stomach hurts. Hurts bad enough to not want to go to school. As he is fond of school and adores his teacher, the fabulous Mrs B, even though he looked well, I decided to believe him and keep him home. Well, after an hour or less, he was bouncing around, ate some breakfast, and was complaining his sister was trying to take some of the hordes of Star Wars figures he had herded from his bedroom to his basecamp of The Big Chair in the living room. Yeah. He's really sick. He sure played me for the sucker. Keeping to the If You're Home Sick rules, he was allowed quiet toys and TV or movies but no video or computer games. He started bugging me to play, further confirming my suspicions that I had been had. I held firm and considered taking him in to school after lunch.

At lunch, he said he was not terribly hungry but could he have some pears and crackers. I smelled a rat and leaned over to give him a kiss before intending to tell him that, no, he could eat a nice healthy lunch, but I would make the pear part of such a lunch, and nearly blistered my lips on the heat of his forehead.

Shit. 103.something-high.

OK, no going to school. Pears and crackers it is, with a side of ibuprofen. I feel like a real jerk, and put in a new movie, noting the slight cough, which reassures me that it is just some virus. The fever doesn't throw me as he does the high fever a few times a year, and with the standard crud, it is gone in a couple of days and responds to medication. He still looks good. He takes a nap. Of his own volition. His fever is down with the meds. He gets up and goes to his room and takes a second nap. More meds as his fever is back up. He refuses dinner but drinks juice. He goes to bed and looks fine. Still only a slight cough, the brief spell of belly pain from the morning has not recurred.

At 10 pm, as I am dragging my sniffly self off to bed, he starts to cry the Sick Kid cry. It is very heart rending and pitiful and gets you there in a hurry. He is burning up at 104 and has thrown up all over himself. He vomits again and again. He can not keep down the medication. After 2 hours of this, his temp comes down on its own and he lies in bed with me, under the ceiling fan. The stomach pains have returned, at first for brief periods, say a minute or so a few times an hour, then escalating over an hour or so, but still resolving. His belly is tender all over but quite soft. I fret. I don't bother to call the on-call pediatrician as I know full well they will tell me to take him in to the ER. I am still hoping it is something viral or some strange strep throat without the throat pain (yes, it happens and fairly frequently in kids: high fever and stomach pain with no throat pain). Appendicitis crossed my mind with the first hint of stomach ache that morning but the fever went against it. Now between 10 pm and 3 am, I revisited the "Is This Appendicitis?" theme with every second thought. I also really didn't want to drag him the 40 minutes in the car to our ER if it could wait a few hours till morning and I could take him into the clinic first thing and get it seen to with minimal fuss and wait.

15 minutes later, we were on the road, Charles at home with Sara. 3 minutes into the drive, he says he is all better, no pain, feels just fine. Grrrrrrr. It is 3am. Gritting my teeth, I say that we are still going in to the hospital, just to make sure. Yeah, completely over reactive parent here. I start muttering my night's mantra, what I always beat patients who come to see me over the head with: The best case scenario is that the ER finds nothing wrong and it is a wasted visit. The best case scenario...

Thankfully, the ER is not very busy at almost 4am and within 10 minutes he is through triage, has a dose of ibuprofen which he is keeping down, insurance and other info given, 2 bracelets on hs arm, and the nurse has already assessed him and is making him comfortable before getting the doctor. The ER doc, who is competent and gentle but sans personality, at least at this time of morning, comes in, examines him, listens to me, listens to Colin jabber away, as he looks great, swabs his throat for strep (see, told you!) and orders the blood and x-rays.

Poor kiddo. The blood is drawn easily, he works hard at being brave, he keeps falling asleep and I have to wake him, which is comically hard to do. Several times he is so sleepy he loses understanding of basic things like how to stand and what his back is. He walks without difficulty or pain to the bathroom (appendicitis should be very painful with walking). He snores loudly as though congested.

The labs come back with a white blood cell count (the infection police) elevated at appendicitis levels (highish but not horribly high, with lots of immature cells in the bloodstream, known as a "left shift"). His belly films show air-fluid levels on the right, also consistent with appendicitis although not by any means diagnostic. He remains pain free and afebrile and sleepy. I start to feel like I did the right thing. An IV is placed (more bravery). A CT (Cat scan) is ordered and he is commanded to drink 3 glasses of contrast dye in red Kool-Aid. He manages to get less than 10% in. Can't blame him, the stuff tastes like gasoline. They take him to the scan any way. I stand there in a lead apron, my second of the day, and we crack jokes. He likes the CT as it is like a ride. I review the scan with the radiologist and we both agree that it is inconclusive. Maybe that squiggle there is his appendix. Maybe it is poop. Maybe it is not either but a confluence of things. Maybe it is an alien having tea and toast. Let's hope it is not the latter. I really don't feel like dealing with the tabloids, although doing the chat show circuit would be lucrative.

Finally, my favorite surgeon is called down. He examines Mr Giggly. He discusses the results. He rolls his eyes at the 3 nearly full cups of gasoline-mixed-with-Kool-Aid. He says that even if the CT were completely normal, he is concerned enough to take him straight to the operating room and yank that puppy out. Actually, as he is very professional and dignified, he says, "Remove his appendix." He has one case he must do first, as that person is already prepped and in the room but it is a fairly short gall bladder case. Turns out it takes longer for the damn paperwork and all to be done and my favorite surgeon is waiting on him to come up rather than the other way around. The pediatrician on call comes in and gives his blessing.

In the pre-op holding area, he is given a choice of Beanie Babies. He chooses the leopard and names him "Tiger". The anesthesiologist arrives and does his thing, admires Tiger and notes that the tag says his name is "Freckles". Colin is delighted with the name Freckles and re-christens him. Then it is time to go in for surgery and I lose it, sobbing as he is wheeled away. I don't think he notices, thank God. Really didn't want to do that. Realize that it is about noon and I have not eaten since dinner and not slept since the previous night. May have something with my inability to not hold it together. Charles gets me pulled together and we trudge down to the cafeteria where we both order the inexplicable grilled sandwich, which turns out to be roast beef with processed swiss cheese on very garlic bread. Odd but not horrible, but then I love garlic with a passion. I also award myself a piece of lemon pie and devour it in large bites. I do not share.

Back up to the tense waiting area with a soap opera blaring from the TV. Only about 45 minutes start to finish, Dr B, the surgeon, comes out to let us know all was a success, they did it easily with the laparoscope, so he has 3 small incisions rather than one larger one and will not have to heal any abdominal musculature. The appendix is in the hands of the pathologist, or at least in a jar of formalin sitting with all the other bits of humans waiting to be in the hands of the pathologist, but it looked inflamed and he is glad it is out. We are too. Unspeakably glad.

Back up to wait in his room on the kids' ward for them to bring him up. That was actually the hardest wait although it was only about 30 minutes. He looks wan and exhausted and is a bit cranky, but otherwise great. His incisions are glued shut, so no stitches to remove and he can bathe. He has received 6 stickers in his travails and asks for them immediately. Priorities. He is allowed clear liquids and is allowed up for short walks. He recovers quickly and is allowed to go home the next day, after lunch. Once home, he transforms from pitiful to vital and is suddenly pain free and not tired at all.

So that is that.

He is a little sore but bouncy. He is eating normally. He has bathed and is no longer stinky. He is making silly 6-year-old-boy jokes, revolving around burping and farting and the word "poop". He has to be reminded to take it easy. He helped me harvest the first of the strawberries and ate almost all of them. He is eating all his "healthy food" so he will heal. He is also eating Pop-Tarts, frosted, of course. Because, well, he deserves them.

And now, the burning question: What the hell does one of his stickers mean? It is a drawing of a grinning green snake with red polka dots slithering across a background of dollar bills with some dollar signs thrown in. I guessed: Your doctor is a snake and is only in it for the money, which you will be hemorrhaging as a result of your hospital visit (the red spots represent the hemorrhages). Any other ideas?

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mazel Tov! You've passed your parental boards with flying colors! You are allowed to keep the children you already have, and to have more, should you so desire. Seriously though, well done.

As for the grinning snake on a field of dollars resplendent sticker, I haven't a clue. I was born before semi-sticky adhesives, so my only experience was with adhesive tape, that white stuff that took off the outer layer of skin and left black gooey stuff behind once you finally took it off to wash. Does the snake resemble any cable cartoon characters?

1:00 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Oy, much, much relief! YEY! Since he's not Chinese he isn't likely to miss it right? I am very happy it all went smoothly, no muscle wall involvement, no big ugly scar, no pain, no long recovery. You two OTOH have probably aged 10 years which, according to that test, puts you at what, 26? I'm also grateful you're a dr bcs that way we get all the juicy details - please tell me you DID photograph it. Anyone would.

Charles, yoohooo! Portugal IS nice. Don't make me come and get you. Don't make me call you Jeff. Let Dr. Sexy Wife sedate you, I hear Xylazine is, er, lovely, and the hallucinations should be experienced by every mammal at least once.

Dahling, HAUNTING? What am I, a spectre? Nearly-Headless Lioness, who had two very ghastly Immunology and Bacteriology exams and will now chill a bit bfr she contemplates having to re-do them in September among much crying.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Anon- Thanks for the pat on the back. I think parenthood is just one loooong process of second guessing and doubting yourself. I suspect it never stops. Good thing they are cute and occasionally give you lovely grubby things, like one of his hospital stickers to wear with pride on you t-shirt. The snake does not resemble any character that I know, but admittedly that knowledge is limited. Thanks.

L- I didn't have a camara with me or I likely would have and sent it to you. The nurse took a picture of the little ghost-boy soon after surgery, which they gave to us (it was in his chart for identification purposes. He also wore an ankle alarm, so no one could steal him. They could do worse as who wouldn't want a kid whom they wouldn't need to worry about the appendix in.

I have started in on Charles as we really need to go back to Portland next summer and see everyone (we are trying to go every 3 years) and have started murmuring sweet benzodiazepines in his ear at night. Poor guy. Oh, horrors, bacteriology and immunology. I will start the prayers in your direction as I am now able to back off on Colin's front. I feel I have aged a bit, as has Charles, but he still did not gain a single gray hair and looks 10 YEARS YOUNGER than stated age. Bastard. Kisses.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Cagey said...

WOW. I was gone over the weekend and am just catching up on everyone.

You poor thing! Glad the little guy is going to be fine.

Hang in there. Beer will make it better!

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To those Piffle-fans who addressed me in the previous Piffle, just let me say that Ole Dad out-ranked you an got a phone call from each parent. [Sorry that we had to take Charle's over the machine.]

Twisted humor is how Dad and the girls deal with things. A bit of laffter tends to communicate our real feelings better that any other way--you gotta be one of us to understand.

To put our weekend into perspective, our brother-in-law, Pete, is being prepped for double bypass surgery. Cool, as this may finally get him off cigarettes and onto the treadmill. Lesson, my dears?!?!?

A neat thing about blogs is meeting Piffle's friends. Bad thing is not seeing you in person. Lioness sounds worth knowing. I taught with a Portugese woman for 5 years and just adore her. (Relax, she is 5 months younger than Piffle. Sorry, we get them next summer, but hope to see local Piffle-heads when they arrive--still love Stacy.

RF

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Kismet said...

So glad all went well. Good for you for trusting your instincts!
~K!

2:01 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

What a relief everything went well!!! So scary.

Very interesting to get the blow-by-blow from your doctory point of view, too. Just goes to show that these things are not always cut and dried. So weird that he didn't seem to be in a lot of pain--but a good thing, of course.

So do they put the stickers on the glued-shut incision? Since St. Elsewhere went off the air fifteen or so years ago, I have not been able to keep up with the latest medical innovations.

5:41 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I am somewhat disappointed (but not much) that you did not take pictures. I'm a scrapbooker but can't handle the gory stuff too much. Please tell me you at least saved the bracelets so you can scrapbook them.

I am really glad that he is doing well and bounced back well from the surgery.

As for Portugal, go. Go now. You deserve the vacation. That was the best vacation I have ever had. And I really, really want to go back/live there part of the year. Maybe when I am rich. It could happen.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Cagey- Thanks. See what you have to look forward to? A beer and a bath did do wonders, until 1am when Sara decided to wake and need to sleep with me. Not that I minded, just wish she wanted to sleep vertically rather than horizontally.

Dad- Don't worry, I think everyone here is aware that sarcasm runs in the family. Sorry to hear about Pete.

Kismet- Thanks. As you well know, having been there and done that and still doing it all.

Rozanne- Hahaha! If they had put the stickers on the incisions, he would be wearing them until he was 43. The Boy does love his stickers. It is hard enough to get him to part with a band-aid. I have taken to using the plain tan ones if they need changing and saving the character ones for little stuff.

Dana- You know, after living my childhood as a saver of everything, I am now a brutal discarder. The bands went in the trash. I don't scrapbook and can't be bothered to keep a journal. Part of the reason for the blog, aside from keeping all our distant family in the loop and finding all you lovely friends in the computer, is to keep track of events as I also tend to forget things quickly. Here I have an incentive to write. And, yes, I dearly feel the need for a vacation, just won't happen this year. Limited time. I will be taking days when my Dad and Cathy come in a few weeks, time when my Mother-in-law goes back to the West Coast for a few weeks in August (she cares for the kids when I am at work) and the rest around the holidays unless used for kid sick days (I have no sick days, all comes out of vacation time). While money is not tight, we are still paying off the move and renovation stuff from last year. We live far enough from where we work and find where we live so lovely and relaxing, it is like living the vacation (but with housework). Meantime, "chats" with Johnny provide it's own exotic, seaside, urban flair.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Stacy Moe said...

Oh, Diana, checked in for more of your entertaining writing and a chuckle, and lo and behold- ER drama. I'm glad Colin is okay. It is quite amazing how well the little scooters heal, but it is frickin' scary when the are SO sick. Allie has a tendency to be as limp as a wet noodle and develop purplish-black circles under her eyes when she is sick, and it always freaks me out. However, she bounces back quickly and with 24 hours she's dancing around the house wanting some oreos, and I am left to wonder, what was I freaking out about?

Give Colin an extra hug, or maybe now that he's a big 6 yr. old I need to make a new post after I get the latest poop jokes from Allie.

Freakish that Charles is not aging, I thought for sure having the kids would do it-

Love to you and fam and I hope you're getting some well deserved rest!

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Gerah said...

Wow. And I thought teething and a fever was bad.

This parenting stuff can be quite a roller coaster, eh?

The snake sticker is absolutely creepy. Makes me thing of some illuminati-symbolism. Who knows.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Stacy- If Alison has any good poop jokes, send them on. I will tell them to Colin and blame it on his friend, Alex. Hoping to see you guys next summer (again, assuming I can get Charles on a plane) and you can judge if he has aged much. He is still Charles the Fashion God with the I Dream Of Genie sweats. At least he has to wear a tie to work most days, so looks sharp then.

Gerah- Yeah. puts it all in perspective. I am hoping it is some sort of Chinese zodiac year-of-the-snake and prophesizing lots of financial success in his future.

8:17 AM  

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