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Monday, May 4, 2009

Den Of a Sick Kiddie

I don’t take care of myself as well as I should. I could stand to lose probably 100 pounds if I listen to my Wii Fit. When I stand on the balance board, it says, “One at a time, please.” (rim shot) Frankly, if I lost 60 pounds I’d be happy. Granted, how I lose that weight is up for debate. I don’t have a horrible diet. I usually eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast. For lunch, it’s usually something leftover, a yogurt, a diet pop, and an apple that I eat on the way home from work. Dinner is the bad meal which is either two helpings of whatever my In-Laws are cooking or something off the menu at our favorite places. Still, I only eat about half of that and keep the rest for lunch the next day. Ok, I will say that lately, we’ve been eating a bowl of ice cream in the late evening and that is bad. My problem is my sedentary lifestyle. I don’t have enough exercise to counter balance all that food. So, if I exercised more I could probably shed a few pounds before I plateau and have to change my diet. Or, I could just get the stomach flu and throw it up continuously for three days.

That’s what my toddler daughter did this past weekend. She also did it over Valentine’s Day weekend, too. It all started Thursday evening. The little one seemed fine Thursday night. She had a bout with a little diarrhea and then sat on the floor with us in the living room watching television. Then, for no reason, she started crying and drooling. Her hands pointed at her mouth as she sobbed made us think she bit her tongue. We dismissed it after she calmed down and put her to bed. Not even twenty minutes later she began crying. Usually, we would wait and see if she would just go back to sleep but she didn’t. We went in and found vomit all over her bed. We immediately feared that our little friend the flu virus had come back to town.

Now, amidst all this latest scare over the H1N1, which I refuse to call it that, to me it’s Swine Flu. Why? Most of the news outlets and the government have stayed away from this pig connotation fearing an impact on the pork industry. For me, I’m not that paranoid because I only eat cured ham. (rim shot 2). Besides the puns, it’s funny to see as this spamdemic grows, so does the graphic of the pig over the shoulder of the news anchor on television. It’s like West Nile. It started out as a regular sized mosquito, but as the epidemic grew, so did the picture. Then they started adding red eyes and fangs and a shifty disposition to the image. In any case, I didn’t worry about Swine Flu, even though I was karmically due after all my jokes and shirts involving the scare. As you do note, I did include my second and third Swine Flu based designs in this post. I have to pay the bills, you know.

Swine Flu: Know the difference

Where was I? Oh, right sick kid. So, after we gave her a bath and she managed to throw up all over herself and the tub in the process, we got her stabilized and back down for the night. Thinking this just might be food related as she had a bowl of cottage cheese at dinner, we didn’t give much thought to us catching the bug like we did in February. If so, we would have been hugging the toilet by now. I needed to go to work in the morning so I tried to go to bed while my wife stayed up with our daughter. Unfortunately, she didn’t like the idea of having a bucket put in front of her when she showed signs that she was going to vomit and would run down the hall screaming towards our bedroom. Needless to say, I got little sleep and my wife got no sleep.

Friday presented us with little comfort. While we could see that our kiddo was in no way shape or form back to her old self we didn’t have any more vomiting so we thought we were in the clear. My wife had a doctor’s appointment in the evening and opted to let our daughter take it in order to get a clearer understanding of what was going on since we were still bug free. We decided not to take any chances and took a bucket of chlorine water to all our daughter’s toys and any surfaces she may have touched.

Now, the PA suggested that if we still saw diarrhea on Saturday that we should call them. Unfortunately, they close at noon and the little one stayed in bed until 1:30. Once again, she had a blowout and her crib was soiled. We hemmed and hawed most of the day on whether to take her to the ER. We made that move the last time and she ended being poked and prodded for nothing. They did absolutely nothing for her. Finally, we noticed she had a fever and wasn’t drinking. When she did try to drink, she would dry heave. Off to the ER we went.

Usually, our child does not sit still. She runs everywhere and you have to constantly keep an eye on her when she is on a bed. However, as of late, she’s learned how to get off our bed which is considerably higher than any of our couches. She simply turns around and backs herself to the edge and lowers herself holding onto the sheets. This was all her ingenuity in figuring out. I had nothing to do with her method of descent. But here in the ER she sat squarely on the gurney and never moved. That is until they put an IV line in her to rehydrate her. She did not like that at all. They added a 750cc bag of electrolytes and drained it in an hour as well as an additional 250cc bag immediately after. They also gave her a Tylenol suppository (she wasn’t going to keep it down otherwise) when we first arrived which treated her 101.7 degree fever. They also gave her something for nausea. Now, in introducing all three of these elements to her system, the charge nurse felt it would be comforting to my daughter to have me sit on the gurney and hold her. Unfortunately, she then let loose with a huge deluge into her diaper which then made its way onto my shorts. The staff offered me a pair of blue scrubs which didn’t have a button on them, giving away the ending. I travelled home, fed our cats and changed my clothes.

After a few hours and a hundred dirty diapers. She managed to stop dry heaving and became very still. The poor thing never flinched when they did a blood draw on her opposite arm which gave the charge nurse a sense of discomfort. The decision was made to admit her and we thought we had an option on where. The ER we were at was sold to a larger health system and they no longer handled Obstetrics or Pediatrics. A hospital in the system that would take her was not even ten minutes up the road. The other option was Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. While I would normally say, go to Children’s, they had just moved into a new facility that day and the normal routes to the hospital were blocked because of the Pittsburgh Marathon taking place the following day.

I pulled the car seat from our Malibu wagon and had them attach it a stretcher for the ambulance ride to the hospital. I then went home again to pack a bag for the night and take care of other errands that we normally do each night. I packed a huge suitcase which meant one bag to worry about. It contained everything from playing cards, more diapers, more wipes, my CPAP device (Sleep Apnea), extra clothes, some reading material, and my laptop to keep in touch with some friends on Facebook that were aware of the situation.

I arrived at the hospital around 2:45AM and headed up to our room. The staff gave us a private room, which they probably do in a case like this. They also gave us a Murphy bed to go along with the chair that folded out into a bed. The little one was a little more subdued and seemed in better spirits after being rehydrated. She even wanted a bottle. We eventually got some dinner which consisted of a “Wheel of Death” sandwich for my wife and a Snicker’s bar for me. We settled in for a couple hours of sleep.

Sunday showed a marked improvement in her disposition and she managed to take in a couple bites of vanilla pudding and half of a chocolate bar square. She also drank some juice. They removed her IV drip but kept the line in and she continually want to play with the wrapping on it. After a brief nap she got a visit from both my mom and my wife’s parents. Each brought our daughter’s favorite thing, balloons. At 2:30 the doctor came in and spoke to us about everything. We were given discharge papers and home by 7:00PM. However, the fun didn’t stop there. After she went down for a nap, my wife and I caught up on all the housework we missed during our hospital stay. I scrubbed the cat litters, unpacked our suitcase and unloaded the dishwasher. She did laundry and cleaned the downstairs of our house. Our daughter woke up and then tried to nap on me, all the while complaining of a belly ache. She eventually went up the hallway and what sounded like a huge tuba being played echoed up the hallway. Her stomach ache was gone along with the integrity of the air in our upstairs hallway. After changing her she laid down on a pillow and blanket spread out on the floor of our living room. She slept for another two hours and we had trouble waking her up. We conceded that we would just put her down for the night but she awoke, asking for noodles and pop. After a bit of the Boyardee shells and some ginger ale managed to stick with her and we felt better as we only found trace amounts of diarrhea in her last diaper change before bed time.

Through all this, both my wife and myself have been able to avoid getting sick, although I am starting to feel a little nauseous but that could be sleep deprivation. While I would take the stomach flu three times over in a trade off for my daughter’s health, I remember what it was like the last time we had it and it wasn’t fun. And while I sometimes get a little perturbed at her inability to sit and play in one spot instead of running all over the place, I can’t stand seeing her as lethargic and listless as she gets when she has the flu. I’ve become a full blown parent, now. The only thing that will probably make me more nauseous will be her teenage years. I have some time to prepare, though.

Oh, and here's the other design. This one takes a little more of a stop the hype approach...
Statistically speaking, human flu kills more per year than animal based flus.
Humans: Still the leading cause of death... in everything.

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