For some reason, I woke at 6:15 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. So I got up, pumped and dumped, cleaned the pump equipment and was heading into the shower at 7:15 a.m. when Mom called me. She immediately asked me if I was awake, as sometimes when she calls that early I’m still too fuzzy headed to think clearly. I told her I was, and she delivered some upsetting news.
Turns out, my Aunt had somehow left her diabetes medication out where Mr. Charm could get to it that morning. Mom was, apparently, in the kitchen cooking breakfast, and my Aunt had walked away for a moment, when she returned and saw Mr. Charm at her medicine. Two pills were missing, but since they didn’t witness him swallowing them, they spent time looking around to see if maybe he had just dropped them. They were debating on what to do, whether to test his blood sugar to see if it was affected, or to just take him to the ER. Mom didn’t want to rush him to the ER if it wasn’t necessary, as she didn’t want to compound our medical bills.
I interrupted her at some point in the story and asked “Why are you calling me? Call poison control!” Mom said that they had, and poison control informed them that one of the pills shouldn’t be a problem, but one of them would be dangerous if ingested by a toddler. So I asked her, again, why they were calling me and not on the road to the hospital already. That’s when she explained the part about not wanting to compound our medical bills unnecessarily, and I informed her that this was MR. CHARM we were talking about – of COURSE he swallowed the pills! I said to take him to the hospital NOW.
So she said OK and hung up the phone, and I woke the Geek up to tell him the news.
We came up with a quick Plan C. Mom and my Aunt were re-packing the car the day before to provide things that we would need for an extended hospital stay that we had not bought at Wal-mart. Since the SUV was not heading back to Little Rock that day, and I would be left without a car once the Geek left, we headed out of the hospital within 5 minutes of my hanging up the phone with Mom. One terribly quick trip to Wal-mart later, we were back at the hospital, the Geek was helping me unload the stuff, kissing us good-bye, and heading out the door.
While we were running that quick errand, I was on the phone with Mom as they got Mr. Charm checked in to the ER at our local hospital. I thought it wise, since they had no paperwork saying they had authorization to do anything with Mr. Charm, to be on the phone in case of any questions or permission necessary from the hospital. It was gut-wrenching to listen to him scream over the phone as his IV was put in, and to be so far away and incapable of even hugging him. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life.
His blood sugar was checked in the ER, and a normal toddlers’ blood sugar should be no lower than 80. His was 53. They admitted him to the hospital.
I got off the phone while they went through admittance, and, for lack of anything better to do, tidied up the room. I folded away my bed and re-made the one the Geek was sleeping on (it was longer, so he got it). I took a shower and got dressed in clean clothes. I ordered breakfast and ate. I twiddled my thumbs, as there was nothing I could do for Mr. Happy, nothing I could do for Mr. Charm, nothing I could do for the Geek, Mom or my Aunt…nothing I could do at all! The only thing I could think of to do was ask S, our nurse, about the medication Mr. Charm had taken. She said that individually, poison control was correct: one pill was no biggie and the other could cause problems. But taken TOGETHER, it was a much more serious situation. I thanked her, and went back into our room to fret and feel helpless.
Once they were settled into their room, I spoke with Mom again. In the background, I heard a nurse talking and I suddenly shouted “Is that L? Let me talk to her!” So Mom handed the phone to L, who just happened to be one of the nurses in charge of Mr. Happy the night he was helicoptered out to Little Rock.
I think it’s a terribly bad sign that I already know nurses at the local hospital by name and voice, and not because we’re in the same book club, but because I’ve met them in their capacity as nurses. Very bad sign, indeed.
She remembered all of us, and immediately asked how Mr. Happy was doing. I told her that he was basically stable, and that they were simply doing a process of elimination at this point. She told me she was praying for us and handed the phone back to Mom.
I let them go to pay attention to Mr. Happy’s doctor, who had just come in for a consult. They had eliminated so many things that could be wrong with him, they were left with thinking it might actually just be food allergies. His stool had tested negative for blood the day before, but sometime in the night it started testing positive again. So they were switching him from breastmilk to Nutramigen, which is the formula Mr. Charm had to take.
His latest hemoglobin and hematocrit numbers had come back, and they no longer reported him as anemic. His lungs were showing clear on some X-rays, still a little fuzzy on others, but essentially were slowly clearing up. His respiration has slowing down, too, which was a very good sign. They said that if it continued to slow down, and his O2 rate and percentage continued to drop (he was at a 5 and 100% then) they would move him to a normal room at the ITU.
So they decided to draw blood for a RAST test, which is the test they gave Mr. Charm almost 2 years ago at Children’s Hospital that told us he had an egg allergy. For Mr. Happy, they had to draw 3.5 ml of blood, which doesn’t sound or look like a lot, until you consider the size of the baby it is being taken from! I hated watching that. It was necessary, though, because they had to take him off the Nutramigen by early evening. With such a short amount of time on the breastmilk, they expected his stool to begin testing negative for blood quickly. It hadn’t. Not to mention that Mr. Happy was behaving just as fussy and irritated as he had been overnight. So they put him on Neocate, which is an elemental formula. Once on the Neocate, he immediately started calming down. He wasn’t fussy or irritated, and almost immediately his stool stopped testing positive for blood. Just. Ducky.
So, the Geek got to the hospital at home, and somehow they figured out how to get Mom on her airplane, the Geek and the SUV at the hospital, and my Aunt on her way home, and Mr. Happy and I hung out in Little Rock.
It was one helluva morning.
After Mr. Charm was admitted into the hospital at a 53 blood sugar level, he continued to weaken. Mom said he looked really bad about half an hour after they arrived. He perked up quickly, though, as they immediately put him on a glucose drip. Once they were in a regular room, they started bringing him orange juice to drink. (The medication he took could have put him into a diabetic coma if left untreated.) Mom put sugar packets into the orange juice to help speed up the raising of his blood sugar.
The Geek and I had to laugh at the irony of the situation: we don’t let Mr. Charm have ANY sugar. EVER. I have re-worked recipes to reduce or eliminate straight sugar in them. One time we got to see him on a sugar high, and it was enough to convince us that this is a child who should never have sugar at all. He makes the Tasmanian Devil (of Bugs Bunny cartoons) look tame on a normal day – on a sugar high, he reminds me of the squirrel (?) in “Over the Hedge” who was moving so fast it seemed like the whole world stood still around him when he got a taste of sugar.
And here he was, in the hospital, being pumped full of sugar to save his life.
Rule Number 1 as parents: Never Say Never.
By the time Mom left the hospital, Mr. Charm’s blood sugar was at 125. A short time later, it was at 153, and they removed the glucose drip and went back to water for him in order to let his blood sugar stabilize on its’ own. So, things were looking pretty good for Mr. Charm.
And, they were looking pretty good for Mr. Happy, too. They came to tell me that they were arranging to transfer him to the ITU, as his respiration continued to improve. He was at 30% and a rate of 4 on his O2, and breaths per minute were steadily closer to the goal of 60 per minute or less. Mr. Happy himself was looking perkier and more alert than he had been in days. Things were stressful that day, but it seemed, in the early afternoon, that things were on the upswing at last.
The Geek and Mr. Charm spent the rest of the day in the hospital wandering up and down the hallways, sometimes with Mr. Charm riding in and sometimes with him pulling a wagon, with the Geek dragging the IV stand along with him. Mr. Charm wanted to go into one room in particular that was occupied by a baby. Whenever I talked to the Geek, I could hear Mr. Charm in the background exclaim “Be-be!” (no, he’s not French, he just says Baby in a way that sounds more like Bebe). And the Geek would have to say – again – that “No, that’s not OUR baby” and they would walk on. Until he passed the room again, and the whole exchange would happen all over again. Mr. Charm is such a charmer, I constantly heard people in the background exclaiming over him. Even in the hospital, with wacky blood sugar and an IV in his arm, my son aims to charm everyone. He’s such an awesome kid.
Meanwhile, I packed up the hospital room as much as I could, and we waited until a room was available in the ITU. Finally, at 8:00 p.m., we were moved.
New room, indeed; the ITU had been given a brand new wing of the hospital. We were only the 2nd patients to ever stay in the room we were assigned. Every person who worked with us for the rest of our stay reported to me that this was their first shift in the new wing; they’d gone onto days off and returned working in a new location. (Consequently, things were a tad disorganized. I’ll expound later.)
Ever since we had arrived in the hospital, we were constantly being told “You should see the new wing! It’s like a hotel over there!” whenever I would compliment them on how nice the room was, or how comfortable the Geek and I were there. So they really built it up in our heads. And, it was nice. But I honestly kind of liked the Intermediate Care wing better. I got to know the nurses and doctors a LOT better over there, and I thought the rooms were just fine.
However, the rooms were very nice. Top of the line everything, but as far from everything else in the hospital as you could get.
For me, though, the nicest thing about the ITU was the fact that Mr. Happy had so many tubes and wires removed from him upon arrival. The electrodes attached to his chest and stomach were removed right away, which was a great relief. Now we only had to deal with the feeding tube, the O2 canula, the IV, and the pulse/ox monitor. It made it a lot easier to pick him up and love on him.
Once we got Mr. Happy settled in, the new nurse did his work and left me alone to get myself settled in. I took the opportunity, while Mr. Happy was sleeping and there wasn’t anything going on, to go for a wander around the hospital later that night to get my bearings. It’s a maze there, I tell you! I came back to the room, pumped and dumped, showered, and headed for bed.
Meanwhile, back at our local hospital, Mr. Charm had finally crashed a bit from his sugar high, and he and the Geek were attempting sleep, too.