Monday, January 25, 2010

A milestone I was hoping wouldn't happen until he was much older

I've always been very lucky with regard to my health - never been seriously ill, broken a bone or been seriously injured...until I had kids. Prior to getting pregnant with my first child, I think I'd been to an ER all of once in my life. Then, I had Jack - contracted a serious blood infection following his birth and spent 10 days in the hospital. Fortunately - I had good health insurance and good doctors, and after a slew of antibiotics, I was no worse for the wear and was able to get on with my new life as a parent.

We have been lucky with our kids health too, and this is not something we take for granted. We are grateful every day for their health, especially as we know that not every child has that gift.

Last month, our lucky streak was broken as we had to admit Benny to the hospital for 3 days of IV antibiotics and a minor surgical procedure to treat an MRSA infection. Basically, he had an abscess that we had been treating , under the care of a doctor, for several days before determining that the infection was spreading and the meds just couldn't keep up. I knew that an ER visit to drain the infected site was a possibility, but when the doctor said she wanted to admit him for several days of IV meds, I was pretty shaken.

So I called my mom and cried...just for a bit...then I drove to the hospital's entrance and in we went.

We were admitted on a Thursday evening - the nurses in the pediatric wing were awesome. Benny was given the cutest little hospital gown, and he trotted around his room with his diapered tushie hanging out for a bit, until it was time to insert the IV. Oye.

I knew it would be tough - but it was worse than I imagined. Benny's chub + tiny veins = 3 separate attempts (and more than 3 sticks) to get the IV in the first time. I held him the first time, my husband took the 2nd and 3rd sessions. Once it was in, he was tethered on a 3 foot leash that meant he could be in the crib or our laps...that was it...for 3 days.

I have to say, he did amazingly well, considering the circumstances. Most of the time, he was in a good mood, happy to play ball, push the fart button on his Farley Farts book (hysterical) or just hang out in our laps. He's a little flirt and charmed the pants off the nurses and techs.

My friends Marci, Jen and Chris immediately leaped into action when they heard what was going on. Marci brought coffee and toys the first night (including the fart book), and showed up with breakfast on Friday. She stayed with Benny and I prior to the surgery, which was awesome as Michael was stuck at work and didn't make it to the hospital until mid-way through the procedure.

It is hard for me to write about the pre-op period. Benny hadn't been allowed to eat since midnight, so by the time the late morning procedure time rolled around, he was done. In the pre-op area, he was hysterical - screaming, thrashing, totally inconsolable...for an hour. He was so out of his mind that I'm not sure he could even see me any more. I was so pissed at the nurses who were ignoring us, effing around trying to figure out his weight (after weighing him), and at the assistant surgeon who was late (I know he probably wasn't just running late, but had been at another hospital, but I was still mad - I needed a villain to blame at that point). I was crying right along with Benny. Marci was in the waiting room and Michael wasn't there yet - fortunately one of the nurses saw what was happening (Benny was fighting me tooth and nail) and got him some Versed to try to calm him down. It didn't work, but at least she tried.

Once they took him from me, I ended up sobbing in the waiting room for a bit before pulling it together. Michael had been in contact with Marci so he knew where to find us.

The surgeon came out really quickly and let us know that the procedure went really well and that the nurses were just trying to start a new IV (he had blown out his first one during the pre-op fit). After an hour, the anesthesiologist came out to explain that while the procedure took all of 10 minutes, the new IV took an hour, so Benny was under a lot longer than we had expected. Fortunately, he was fine and we were allowed to see him.

Benny under anesthesia was actually funny - he was half conscious...would pop his head up and say "mama!" and then conk out again. The staff thought he was adorable - and I had to agree. But mostly I was just glad to hold my baby and know that the worst was over.

Once I knew he was in good hands in recovery with his daddy, I rushed home to shower, then met Marci, Jen and Chris back at the hospital. They brought us lunch and kept us company for a while - again, awesome.

After that, things were pretty uneventful. Benny was on IV antibiotics to fight the infection. The culture that had been growing for 5 days finally confirmed that it was MRSA, and also told us which meds it was susceptible to. (Don't get me started on how long the culture took - I know from my work that there are rapid PCR tests for MRSA that can provide results in an hour, but the technology isn't available at our hospital, apparently. Argh.) This meant they could finally give him exactly the drugs that he needed to fight the infection, rather than just the broad spectrum antibiotics that he had been on (which turned out to be the wrong meds for his type of infection - double Argh!).

The new IV was in his arm (previous one had been in his foot) and to protect it, they had put a stabilizer on him, which meant it looked like he had a cast. As they say, kids are adaptable - he managed to work his hand free from the tape so he could sort of use it, and regularly clocked whomever was holding him in the head with his arm/weapon.

One of the things that bothered me the most about the hospital visit, once I knew he was not in any real danger (aside from the anesthesia, which I wasn't thrilled about but had to be done), was the potential length of stay. We had been given a variety of potential discharge times - everything from one to four days. Not knowing stuff like that makes me crazy, so I tried not to think about it. Fortunately, he was discharged on Saturday evening, which was earlier than we were hoping for.

It was awesome to have him home again.

While all this was going on, Jack was being shuffled around a bit. My parents took him Thursday night and Friday until Michael got home from the hospital that evening. Michael's parents drove up from San Diego and hung out with Jack during the day, and then, once we knew Benny was being discharged, I came home while Michael stayed to handle the exit.

I hadn't seen Jack since Thursday morning, which was really tough for me. I had spoken to him, and he knew what was happening, but didn't seem all that concerned. He was napping when I got home, and when I went in to wake him up, he burst into tears and said he had gotten tired of waiting for me in the living room (?). I cried too. It was clear that the situation had been tougher on him than he had been letting on.

I started this blog post a couple of weeks ago, right after all this happened, but wasn't really able to finish it. I think I wasn't ready to think about it all, but I knew I wanted to capture what had happened.

At this point, we are all doing really well. Benny is off his antibiotics and doing great, and Jack is too. I'm glad this is behind us, and would like to avoid another such milestone happening any time soon!

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