Avalon's Army of Angels
|February 21, 2009
Believe it or not...
You'll never believe where I just came home from...
Give up? Oh c'mon...give it a shot. Take a risk, see if you can guess...
If you said Children's Hospital...ding ding ding...you get the pickle! Here's the wrinkle in the
pudding though...it WASN'T with Avalon.
Nope, we've gone and branched out. We decided that Anam was feeling left out of our
Children's Hospital monopoly game, so we went and made him dreadfully ill...
Seriously though, we really did have to take him in. As I wrote earlier in the week, all the kids
had been battling the funk. I wasn't kidding on Wednesday when I said I felt like "Dead Man
Walking" - I knew my days were numbered. Sure enough, the fever hit Thursday - along with
a killer headache and mind blowing aches. No wonder Anam had been such a cling-on, if he
felt half as bad as I did on Wednesday...I'm lucky he hadn't super-glued himself to my face.
By Friday morning, my fever was gone, and I was left with the stuffy nose junk the kids had.
Anam, however, was still a raging inferno. Friday marked Day 5 of a 101-102 degree fever for
him, and Ground Zero for my tolerance of it. I knew he was in trouble, and started the
morning by calling the pediatrician for help.
After a few phone conversations back and forth with the nurses, our beloved pediatrician
proved, again, why she's so fabulous. When I said (through her nurse) that I KNEW Anam
was in trouble, she said she was calling Children's ER, telling them to expect us. Knowing me
well enough to trust my judgement means the world to me.
After quick showers, Anam and I headed in to the ER. Thank goodness I'd convinced the doc
we should go earlier, rather than waiting for later. Noon in the ER is about the best time to
avoid the multi-hour waiting room pile up.
Anam's temp on arrival was 101.4, but his heart rate was even more telling. At 145 with a
blood pressure of 96/53, there was little doubt I was right about him being dehydrated. Ask
me if that sped things up at all...
OK, in all fairness, this ER visit went pretty much the same as any other, hurry up and wait.
After seeing a resident, the attending actually did make a surprisingly fast appearance. He
felt that Anam "looked" borderline for when they would normally order fluids, but agreed to do
so based on my request, and my pediatrician's avid support of my concerns. Go Dr.
The nurse came and chose possible IV sites to place LMX on (a numbing agent) and I silently
said little "Don't be like your sister, don't be like your sister..." prayers. Well, as we all know,
prayers don't necessarily get answered the way we want them. At least, not at first glance.
As the nurse tried to insert the first IV in Anam's left hand, the vein blew instantly. I stopped
and warned her that's how his sister works. I said, "Be prepared, he may be a bad stick and
need the IV team...she always does." Of course, I'm just the mom...and couldn't possibly
know much...so you can guess what happened next.
The nurse switched to site #2, the Right side elbow bend. (I know it has a medical name...I'm
brain farting on what it is...) Sure enough, that vein blew instantly too. As I saw it go - I
pointed it out and said something about that looked exactly like his hand had. But rather than
admit defeat, the nurse said, "Well, I'm not getting any blood return, but the fluid is
pushing...so I'm going to keep going." Its not hard to picture that Anam got more and more
agitated...as he became more and more in pain. Why? Because funny enough, its not
pleasant when your vein blows and you are infiltrating. I mentioned this as a "Possibility" for
why he was becoming so upset...but it wasn't until I pointed out the large lump that was
suddenly making my 2 yo look like he had triceps of steel - that she figured out, Hey - this
kid's infiltrating! Um...yeah...that's what I was trying to say....
At that point, she kind of sheepishly looked at me and said she'd better call the IV team.
(No...really?) Of course, before she could remove the needle, she had to remove the
dressing, butterfly, and several rounds of tape she'd insisted on putting on a needle that had
never had blood return... Yes, you could say I was miffed...
The saving Grace of the event is that the IV team got there in a hot second. I don't know who
lit a fire under them, or tossed all other patients into a closet to free them up...but I was elated
they were so fast. As soon as the door opened, I recognized a nurse who had saved Avalon a
couple of times before. When I told her I recognized her and was thrilled to see her - she said
she was sorry, she didn't remember me. I told her that was perfectly fine with me - she'd
saved my daughter before, and I knew she was worth her weight in gold - that's all that
mattered. Actually, it was nice to have the chance to tell her how much we'd appreciated her
in the past. She has been one of the people who has swooped in to save what could have
been dreadful moments for Avalon...and I was grateful to have the chance to say, "Thank
In true IV team form, they got Anam on the first stick. Still not easy - but done and done, with
no more trauma. Little man got hosed though. As I was holding him down, soothing his
"Owieee...Owieeee's" during the infiltration, I promised him he deserved a good "owie" toy.
Little did I know, the ER doesn't "do" owie toys any more! Three sticks, an infiltration, and a
flu swipe...and he didn't even get a sticker! What a jip.
Oh the flu swipe is another nightmare entirely. The resident had warned me it was nasty.
When the nurse came in to ask if I would be able to hold him for it, or if I wanted her to get
someone else, I agreed to help, because I love him, and they don't. I never thought I could
hold a child while someone did something painful to them, but I quickly learned with Avalon
that I wanted her held by one of us, if at all possible. Its not that the nurses/PCAs are
extremely kind and gentle...they are. Its just that if someone has to be mean to my little
person, I want to be as close as possible, so that I'm immediately available with comfort too.
Besides, I also learned early on that the less worked up I get about something, the calmer the
child stays. So bring it on, flu stick...we can handle you....
Ack. It was stinky. No, not in the smelly sense...in the total invasion of his person sense. The
flu swipe has to be done in the sinuses - not simply the nose. It gives a whole new meaning to
the concept of "digging for gold". I swear that nurse actually rubbed Anam's brain. That thing
went so far up his little button nose, it looked like she was trying to make him into a tufted
pillow. In fairness to her, she was darn quick about it. She was in, out, and done in a split
second. Of course, the "second" was more "eon" in nature to the little guy who had his nasal
passages assaulted. He was sound asleep when the stick went in...and screaming like a punk
rocker in a vice grip when it came out. Can you imagine what went through his little mind? As
he shrieked, he gave us this pathetic look of, "What on Earth did I do to you?!" Mommy said
lots of "Sorries" for that one. (see why the no owie toy thing was so rotten?)
The results came back as Influenza type B. Great. Heap big piles of mommy guilt for not
paying for the family to get their flu vaccinations. Added to that, giant wads of aggravation
knowing we were probably all still contagious and wouldn't be able to visit hospital friends or
leave the house for several days. (sure enough, the CDC guidelines say adults are usually
contagious for 1 day before fever, and up to 5 days afterward, children for 1 day before and 7
days or longer after) Crud.
Although as bad as I felt about the influenza diagnosis, I won't lie. There was a Great Deal of
celebrating when the CBC came back. Anam's white blood cell count was low (perfectly
normal considering what he was fighting), but ALL OTHER CELL LINES WERE PERFECTLY
NORMAL. I made the resident repeat that a few times.
You see, the secret fear for all of us, had been a repeat of Avalon. Avalon was initially
diagnosed after a high fever for 5 days. We all "knew" the entire family was sick and that
statistically, the odds are highly against a sibling being diagnosed. But I know of three families
online who "beat" those odds and faced the Beast with more than one child...not to mention a
family in our hospital who is doing it right now. And as we often say on line, we already hit the
"lottery" once, don't quote statistics to us. So when the "All Clear!" came, I realized my
prayers had been answered, exactly the way I'd really wanted them to be. Anam might share
weak veins with Avalon, but he wasn't like his sister in the Giant Way that really mattered. I'll
take those life lessons any day.
After hours on ridiculously large boluses of fluid, with no "output" results, the docs admitted
that Anam had been more dehydrated than they originally thought. (no kidding...) They
moved us to the Observation Department for a 23 hour "observation", rather than admitting
him to a floor. Its a cool new unit, built adjunct to the ER, for situations exactly like ours.
Anam needed care, but not for a length of time that really needed full admission. If he hadn't
responded, they would have rolled him over to the infectious disease ward for a longer stay.
Thankfully, he responded beautifully. After a definite 13 hours of NO output (I don't know how
long it had been Thursday night since he'd wet), and over 700 cc's of fluid IN...we finally got a
little bit of a wet diaper. He still had no interest in taking anything by mouth, but as his heart
rate came down, we knew we were on the right path.
One loooong night, with zero rest for the she-has-the-flu-too mom...I convinced them to spring
us pretty early Saturday morning. The attending said he was letting us go because it was
obvious I wasn't going to mess around and not pay attention to Anam. We heme-onc moms
are pretty diligent in our attention to detail... Hence why I knew he was in far worse shape
than they thought he was.
I do have two important things to add. First, the "pokey" nurse apologized repeatedly for what
happened. She said she felt awful, and was really sorry about the infiltration. Totally
forgiven, and kudos to her for being honest and caring. She gets an A+ for being a good
human. So too does the ER doc. She came in and apologized for not realizing Anam was as
bad as he was. She said that she learned a lesson about trusting a mom's instincts. A++ for
her. The rest of the nurses, PCA's and docs we saw were equally wonderful. They were all
kind, gentle, and very sweet to little man. They were all the shining, caring people I've come
to expect at our hospital...all in complete contrast to the evil vermon doctor who damaged
Avalon... Names shall be with-held...Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldemort...
The one exception to the overwhelming positive, was the child-life worker who poked her head
in while we were still in the ER. I thought I recognized her immediately. As we spoke for a few
minutes, she verified what I had suspected. She was exactly the rotten person I thought I
recognized. She was the woman who had promised a very sick, very
tired-of-being-in-the-hospital two year old Avalon, that she would come back and play with her
and bring her a fun toy. She never showed up. Mommies remember that stuff. And funny
enough...we don't forgive it. She's lucky I prefer positive vibes around sick kids. She honestly
deserved to hear what she did to Avalon, but I chose to keep it to myself. Some day, some
how...I'll share with her on my terms. Today, was about Anam.
Before I go all Negative Nellie though, I wish to repeat how great the rest of the staff was.
They were thorough and friendly. The night nurse we had in the OBS unit should be cloned!
She was as nearly PERFECT as nurses come. Oh, and the OBS unit, itself, is lovely. By
spending time there, I believe that brings our family total up to 30 departments we've utilized
at Children's...but I'd have to do a formal count to verify that for certain. Ask me if I care that
For now, (Sunday the 22nd), Anam is home, and resting. He's still cranky and clingy, but he's
improving, no fever today. Nick feels like dreck, and Avalon is fighting an on again, off again
headache and a neck ache...so she bears watching. Ahhh...life is never dull around here.
To our grieving friends, we're sorry we couldn't join you in celebrating Mason today. He
meant a lot to us, and so do all of you. I hope the day brought you together in Joy and
Remembrance, his was a life worth celebrating.
Peace out, my friends! I'm off to find coffee and maybe eat something. (then again, maybe
|Tiny man was definitely not his
normal, bouncy self. In fact, if you
personified the word miserable - he
was it. To the left is the
|This was our room in the new Observation Unit. Its
attached to the ER, staffed by ER nurses and docs,
but functions as a unit. The room was much bigger,
with a real chair and real bed. It made "resting" (as
if Anam let that happen!) much easier.
|The was the neatest ceiling I've ever seen in a
hospital! It was a backlit photograph of the
sky. Anam loved it! It honestly looked like a
|This is a typical Children's ER room. Not sure if I've ever thought to
photograph one before.
|This is me holding the camera out to show my
"second skin". You wouldn't think this is comfy
for him, but the closer he can get to me, the
|Can you tell what Anam's opinion was about his day? :(
|February 21, 2009
Believe it or not...