Our first ER visit of 2013, January 9th. This has to be some sort of record.
As you may know our family has been waging war against a cold virus of some sort. Well, despite my best battle strategies, the enemy virus decided to play dirty and take the game to a whole new level; landing us in the pediatrician’s office on Monday, the ER on Wednesday and the next two days in the children’s hospital. The battleground? My daughter’s left tonsil.
I still have no idea how or why a tonsil abscesses but they can and do and it can be dangerous. When you start hearing things like “potential airway obstruction” and “nasty infection” you don’t play around.
So, after six hours in the ER we were on our way via ambulance to the children’s hospital for whatever procedure the ENT doc determined best. Despite the condition of her tonsil, a CT scan, and being bored after six hours – SIX HOURS – of waiting (I won’t elaborate on the 5 1/2 hours of Disney tween shows I am still trying to purge from my collective conscience) this was all a big adventure for my daughter. She was a little bit scared but asked great questions and was reassured by the wonderful ER staff who took the time to answer each of them and respect her need to know what was happening with her body. I was very proud of her and let her take the reins a little as I listened to her ask some very mature and appropriate questions. Okay, there were a few questions like “Will my voice always sound like this? ‘Cause it’s kinda’ cool!” but all-in-all, she was right on track.
Most of our wait was due to locating a bed at one of the area children’s hospitals and then getting the ambulance ride scheduled. Ahhh, the ambulance ride, a highlight for Sara, but nothing I would like to repeat anytime soon or ever. The paramedic was professional and nice but shared a little too much of his own tonsil stories and how he still has to gargle with Listerine to keep them from “flaring up”. Vote number one for tonsil removal as I tried to imagine a lifetime of gargling with Listerine as my daughter’s fate.
We arrived at the Children’s Hospital very late Wednesday night and were settled in by Susan who would be Sara’s nurse on the night shift. I was pleased to find that the hospital felt a lot less like a hospital than it could have. With a “room service” type menu (which Sara thought was awesome – even though she couldn’t eat), lots of movies to choose from on the TV, a cafeteria open until 2:30 am, all the coffee I could ever want and a pull-out bed for me in her room. They did everything they could to make us as comfortable as possible; including bringing me a much-needed toothbrush.
The next day, after consulting with the doctor, it was determined that the best course of action was to remove both tonsils. The doctor gave us a couple of options but was supportive of our decision to ensure that she would never have to go through this again and that she would avoid a future dependent on Listerene.
Her surgery went well and she wasn’t in nearly as much pain as I thought she would be afterward. After one more night in the hospital, we were cleared to head home the next day (yesterday) to recover and enjoy lots of Jello, Popsicles and sorbet – contrary to popular belief, ice cream is not part of the recommended diet. Sara is doing great. I am wiped out but relieved and happy to be home.
We certainly don’t wish or choose for things like this to happen, but when they do there is always a silver lining to be found. There is always something to be learned. Always something to be thankful for. Always a blessing.
What have I learned …
My daughter is growing up and is not a little girl anymore. Out of this experience I have gained a new respect for her as I watched her handle herself with maturity and confidence. She was brave. She was assertive. She was trusting. These are qualities she has had to work hard to find after the trauma and hurt she suffered in her past. She is overcoming and she is strong.
Always listen to your mother’s instinct; that gut feeling that tells you to act. I truly believe it is a prompting from the Holy Spirit. Worry, fretting and fear are not what I’m talking about – those are never of God. I’m talking about the intuition that tells you something is not right and you need to do something about it. Listen to it. Seek out health care professional who respect and value that intuition as well. Walk away from those who don’t or those who treat you in a condescending or dismissive manner. You are MOM (or dad) and you know your kid.
What I have been reminded of …
God is in every detail of our lives. Fear set in when Sara was in pre-op awaiting surgery. It was the first time I really saw her get scared. She had been anxious here and there but now she was scared. As she cried, I took her hand and her dad and I prayed with her. She stopped crying and her breathing relaxed as she was filled with the assurance that even though we could not go into the OR with her, she would not be alone.
What I am thankful for …
My God who is in the details.
My husband. Who is always there and gets us through whatever comes.
The amazing people God has placed in my life. Friends who were there to take my boys at a moments notice and knew just which magazines to bring me.
I am also thankful for the funny moments, because in our world – no matter what – there are always funny moments. When Sara was looking over the patient “room service” menu and says “LOOK mommy, they have cocktails!” I got excited for a moment but then reason caught up and I realized that what they really have is “fruit cocktail”.
When my friend Tracy (who had Nathan) sent me this text: “I just had to share a Nathan chuckle. He asked for another cookie (yes, I gave him one, that’s probably why he loves me!) … anyway he had already had a bag of popcorn so I told him he would have to wait because he couldn’t possibly be hungry. He said ‘ok, can I eat a banana while I wait to be hungry?'” I so needed to hear from that funny little boy just then.
I am thankful for my daughter’s wonderful teacher who came by yesterday afternoon to visit with her, drop of her make-up work and give her the cards her friends and classmates made for her. She felt very loved and missed and was grinning from ear-to-ear. I have to share what her friend Madison wrote as it is so adorable (11-year-old girl dramatic but adorable) … “Wow, I never knew how much you meant to me until you were gone! I realized you were always there for me. You are someone I can fall back on. I realized I love you.” I am thankful to know my daughter has such sweet friends.
I am thankful to be home now and have this latest “adventure” behind us. I am exhausted but relieved as I see my daughter sitting and doing her make-up homework healthy and healing and only down a couple of tonsils. That two days in the hospital with my child has really made me think about the parents and kids that face terrifying diagnoses, hospitals, ambulances, ERs, doctors, IVs, needles, procedures, tests, fear and uncertainty every day. We are blessed to be healthy.
I am also blessed to have had this opportunity to bond with my daughter. Things are not always easy for her and I and we butt heads … A LOT. As crazy as it sounds, two days in a small hospital room together was very good for us. Next time we need a bonding moment though and I reminder of how much we really mean to each other, I’m hoping we can just get pedicures.
A few special post-tonsil ordeal thanks …
Thanks to Tracy and Eileen for each taking a “Brewer Boy” so their mom and dad could be with their sister without worry, knowing they were being loved and cared for.
Thanks to all of the friends and family who offered their support and prayers through a multitude of texts, phone calls and Facebook messages.
Thanks to the Gilbert Hospital ER staff for the excellent care. I hope we never need an ER again, but if we do it will be yours.
Thanks to the staff at Cardons Children’s Medical Center, especially our night nurse Susan who made Sara feel very special and Dr. Page who advised and informed but also listened.