Better Safe than Sorry?

After a day and a half of no puking, I thought we were on the upside of the sickness. I started both kids on Probiotics and was ready to embrace healthiness. Just after awaking on Tuesday morning, it was back. K (who’s 5) was sick again. I called work, her school and E’s daycare to let them know we wouldn’t be there and waited for 8:30 am to roll around to call the pediatrician. Our doctor doesn’t work on Tuesdays so we were scheduled with another doctor in the office and headed over after two long hours of waiting for our appointment and another two episodes of upset stomach. Her inner ear was red and swollen (after being diagnosed 3 weeks prior with an ear infection and completed antibiotic regimen) so he prescribed antibiotic injections (since she was repeatedly vomiting) with the instructions to go to the ER if her stomach continued to hurt. In rare instances her symptoms have indicated appendicitis. He gave us anti-nausea medication and scheduled a follow up for the next morning.

A team of two nurses came in with a tray of needles and Band-Aids ready to inject. K was a little freaked out but handled it like a champ. She is such a brave girl and has a seemingly high pain tolerance which makes judging her symptoms even harder for me. She yelled “Ouch” at the nurses with intent as her brother looked on wide eyed. Once it was over, she was happy again and ready for her lollipop (they look forward to doctor’s appointments for this reason).

After a long afternoon nap, she was acting very lethargic and complaining of stomach pain. She wouldn’t let me touch her belly, didn’t want to get out of bed and declined a short walk to the garden to look for ladybugs (this was my ultimate test since she LOVES looking for lady bugs and their larvae). Worried about the possibility of appendicitis, I took her to the ER. Wonderful friends of ours took my little boy and we headed over around 7:30 pm. After checking in and giving her brief history, we waited. And we waited. Then we had a cup of peppermint tea. And played with the stickers and coloring sheet they provided. Finally, she was called back. We were lead throughout the ER, back onto the “patio” where makeshift stations were made with rolling beds and small dividers. They had gotten really busy as ambulances continued to roll in. The little girl to the right of us got staples in her head after falling onto a shopping cart at home. They didn’t speak English but the nurse translated so we got to hear the story followed by the little girl’s wails. Hearing a child cry is painful. When it is your own, it is heartbreaking. Some tears don’t faze me. I know my kid’s cries and the real ones hurt. The elderly lady to the left was admitted and taken upstairs to a room. K looked up to the rooms across the courtyard that were lit up and said, “I wish I could have a coffee. And a room with a TV.” Then she started singing about the Tweety bird Band-Aids she was removing from her earlier injections. I wondered if I really should have brought her in. The nurse warned us it would be awhile. Thankfully she wasn’t throwing up and not writhing in pain.

A long time later, the doctor came over and I recapped her symptoms and history. He ordered blood work and an ultrasound. As Kaila was verbally freaking out about the thought of having her blood drawn, a lady with salt and pepper braids rolled up in her wheel chair with one leg bandaged up and started up a conversation with K. She had tubes going into a contraption in the back of her wheel chair which apparently drained her blood and then replenished it. She’d been there since November and had multiple surgeries. They talked about Nascar, tattoos, dogs, and dreams she had of a boy she used to take care of who passed away and came to send her messages. A little heavy conversation to have with a five year old, but she said talking to K her made her night and she hadn’t smiled in a long time. I guess we were there for a reason.

Time passed by and we were finally rolled to ultrasound. Everyone was kind, gentle and friendly making our experience bearable if not entertaining at times. The ultrasound tech, Lindsay looked all through K’s belly and couldn’t find the appendix (good sign- they usually only see it if it’s inflamed) and answered my questions about what we were seeing. Her stomach looked like an underwater seascape with gushes and movements like currents through seaweed. She came upon an area that looked like pebbles (or boulders based on perspective) on the ocean floor and took a few images. Once she thoroughly examined her entire abdomen, she said she wanted to have the radiologist come in to take a look. I don’t have a vast medical background but I know when a radiologist is called in to take a look it isn’t a good thing. She was very sweet and reassuring and said that what appeared to be stones were swollen lymph nodes. She didn’t have great concern but they took multiple images and then sent us back for blood work. As we were waiting for the nurse to come “pick us up” and roll K back to the ER, her tummy was hurting and she dramatically said, “I want my life back!” We’d been there for three and a half hours and she wanted to go home.

Back in the ER, she went pee to give a urine sample, and then the nurses came to draw blood. Armed with stickers and a playful male nurse, she was hesitant but allowed the needle without any major restraint. They left an IV in after drawing blood which was later used for a bag of fluids. The fluid dosage was a 40 minute procedure, enough time for the blood work to be processed. It was about ten minutes to midnight when it began. About ¾ of the way through the IV injection, the doctor returned to review K’s lab work and discuss the ultrasound. Other than signs of dehydration, slightly low iron, and decreased liver function everything was okay. Her white blood cell count was fine and there were no obvious signs of major infection. He said the swollen lymph nodes could be a result of viral infection and related to the vomiting. We were given the okay to be released with a prescription for Zofran once her fluids were complete and to follow up with our pediatrician in the morning. K finally fell asleep just after midnight with the glaring lights over head, only to be woken up an hour later to go home. I am thankful it wasn’t appendicitis (we watched Madeline on Netflix before leaving to be prepared just in case) and now we have a baseline to work from. I’m hoping this was the worst and we can go back to embracing healthiness. I’m not one to rush to the doctor, especially the ER but when it could be something big, I’d rather be safe than sorry.


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