Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Alex's Visit to the ER




Saturday, August 2nd Alex visited the ER for the first time. The story starts like this.

Thursday we flew to Baltimore to visit both Joby's and my family. We stayed with his Aunt Shirley but the trip was packed around my sister's new daughter's baptism on Sunday. Thursday we spent the evening with his side of the family and Friday we planned to go visit my sister. On the way there that morning I called her to tell her we were on our way and she told me that she was monitoring Sophia's temperature because she was sick and Sharon might have to take her to the hospital. Kind of scary so we still decided to still visit but to steer clear of the baby for fear of adding to her body's fight against whatever ailed her. She is only 6 weeks old so a high temperature is an automatic hospitalization, spinal tap and series of blood work. It was hard though since that was our first day meeting her and we couldn't hold her.

Halfway through the day I noticed Alex was very warm. I decided to take his temperature because he had just gotten over an ear infection and since Sophia was sick I wanted to make sure he wasn't (not that I thought he would get sick from Sophia in a matter of a few hours). His temp was 102.3 so I put in a call to our pediatrician's office to talk to her nurse. I knew our doctor was also out of town that weekend and didn't want to bother her yet. Victoria told me that if Alex's temperature went over 103 to call Dr. Chally. Well later that evening after the long ride home from Sharon's to Aunt Shirley's I checked his temperature again. It was 103.3. I immediately called the doctor. She told us to do the usual alternating of Motrin and Tylenol all night and if he wasn't acting funny, vomiting or diarrhea then I didn't have to take him to the ER that night. If he was still sick in the morning then take him. Apparently Friday night is the worst night to go to the ER. I have no idea why.

The next morning Alex still had a temp of 102.7. And I was getting really anxious. So to put my mind at ease I decided to take him in even though it wasn't over 103. I didn't want him to have an ear infection, knowing we were flying again. And I didn't want him to be sick the next day for Sophia's baptism. So Aunt Shirley and I loaded him up and set off for a walk-in-clinic that in theory was only 6 miles from her house. Well after driving in the direction of the clinic and not finding it anywhere, we put the address in to her GPS... and discovered a car shop and some houses. Well the story continues (by the way I was driving because right before we left Aunt Shirley couldn't find her glasses.) and Aunt Shirley's cell phone dies. We used mine to call back and forth to the house where cousin Nathan looked on the maps for us for a place to take Alex. He even called the next walk-in-clinic to find out how long the wait would be. It turns out that in rural America there are NOT very many health clinics around. We drove for about an hour before finding a Patient First clinic. Luckily Alex slept the whole ride.

When we got there Alex was burning up. And he let us know about it. We were several people down on the waiting list but his wails had nurses and doctors all peaking in to the waiting area to see me rocking and swaying with him, apologizing to all the people around us. We got bumped to the front of the pack after I answered "Yes" to the question "Is the baby the patient?" The lady in registration even rushed that process telling us to worry about paying the co-pay later. They all couldn't have been nicer to us.

Needless to say Alex's temperature was now a cool 103.8 and that alarmed me. They ran his blood work and took a strep test (which we found out later in the ER was completely unnecessary because children under 4 apparently don't get strep throat). Later the doctor came in and told us that Alex didn't have an ear infection but his white blood cell count was 27.5 and a normal range is 5-10. He felt that it was high enough to warrant us going to an ER immediately to see an actual pediatrician. Thankfully the ER was directly across the street and the clinic called ahead so we didn't have to wait there either.

When we got to the ER I was very happy to see that they had an actual Pediatric ER wing and we wouldn't have to wait for all the adult broken legs and everything. We were hustled in and I had to watch them draw blood from his tiny little arm while I held him down. Then they put in an IV line and wrapped his arm on a board with some red sticky tape stuff so he wouldn't pull the line. It looked like he had a broken arm. They also did a urinary catheter to get a urine sample. Ouch!! His temperature there was 102.9 so the Motrin and Tylenol cocktail at the clinic was kicking in. He was also laughing and smiling up a storm in the ER - which made Shirley and I laugh at the 180 degree turn from two hours earlier when we arrived at the clinic when he was screaming in pain. Despite the arm brace which he hated, he was acting completely normal - himself - at this point, only crying when they drew blood or poked him - or when he needed to fall asleep.

An hour or so later the pediatrician told us his white blood cell count on their machine was actually 29 and she was concerned because he wasn't acting sick - but he was definitely sick. To top that off one of the blood work tests came back abnormal but she couldn't tell me what the test actually tested. So that prompted her to call the lab technicians, to no avail, then to two other pediatricians on the upper levels of the hospital. No one could answer her. How scary is that? The hospital orders a standard blood test on all children under one year of age but no one knows what it is or why they run in. Then when the results come back abnormal...?

So the pediatrician (her name was Dr. Julia Roselli by the way - anyone who goes to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Horford (sp?) County north of Baltimore County in Maryland - she was great!) told me she was willing to let us leave the hospital if I gave her my word that we would return the next day so we could look at the blood and urine cultures and to make sure a doctor "laid eyes" on Alex to see if there were any changes. Well that made me nearly cry because the next day was Sophia's baptism. But we worked it out to go late in the day after Sophia's special day. So we left with Alex having a shot of antibiotics "just in case" and no idea how much we were going to owe the hospital for our day's adventure. "We'll bill you."

The next day we spent a wonderful morning and early afternoon with my family and then packed up the kids again for a 1 hour ride back to the hospital. We were happy to see a nurse-tech who remembered us from the day before and had very little wait. This time it was a bit more interesting as Brandon was with us and we had to entertain him. I was also glad Joby was getting to see where we spent a ridiculous amount of time the day before. Luckily Dr. Roselli also arrived for her shift while we were still there and came right in to see us. That made me feel really good.

The good news on Sunday is that Alex's white blood cell count was down to 18. But nothing grew in his cultures so we still had a "fever of unknown origin" - the official diagnosis from the day before. So we got another shot of antibiotics and left with instructions to call the next day to get the final lab results. On Monday - nothing grew in the cultures. So our pediatrician thinks it was a nasty, nasty virus. The scary thing is our doctor told me that after Dr. Roselli said there were so many viruses going around . And then today I found out my sister's doctor said the same thing to her last week. So scary the things we don't know about but try to protect our children from.

So I also have to add that throughout this entire ordeal my pediatrician - Dr. Jennifer Chally was amazing!! She was on her own vacation but was on the phone with me more times then I can remember. I read her all our lab results, gave her updates. She called me to check on Alex. I adore her, seriously. I am so happy and lucky to have her as our children's doctor. I'll take Alex in next week to see her and get another blood cell count. Right now Alex is back to normal on the outside and we think on the inside too. No more fevers and he's our happy, steam-rolling baby again. He's so cute!

Also a big, fat thank you to all my amazing, amazing family and friends for checking on me & Joby, texting, calling, emailing, etc, etc. You are the best and I adore you all.

And finally - to Aunt Shirley - Thank you for spending 9 hours with me and Alex in the hospital and car. It was great to spend that time with you - even in that situation!
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1 comment:

Allison said...

Wow...how STRESSFUL! I'm glad all is good now. You are right - for such a serious condition (virus, or whatever it was) he sure does look like a happy bouncy baby!


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