Motherhood is a series of comedic failures and surprising successes mod podged together with so much love it makes your heart hurt sometimes. Am I right? Of course I’m right, I don’t know why I ask that question. I certainly learned never to ask Red that question earlier in our marriage. Ah..marriage.
Anyway I’m here to report about my first emergency hospital experience as a mother. I should preface this by telling you that I am fully aware Johnny was probably going to need medical attention in his life, he’s a juice fueled adrenaline junkie (apparently). It’s is, in fact, a wonder that I have not been to the ER sooner than now for all sorts of breaks, sprains and bumps. I pray often throughout the day that God will keep His angels ever so close to my son to pad sharp edges, miraculously make the ground softer as he repeatedly takes tumble after dare devil tumble, and cover him in a suit of bateria slaughtering armor as he tastes every toy in his classroom.
Monday night was the beginning of it all. I had come home from work marveling at how ‘out of the groove’ I had gotten over my gluttonous, slothful Christmas break and picked John up from Yaya’s. On our drive home he was calling Poppy on his ‘phone’ and singing Tulsa Time (yet again) when he stopped suddenly. I glanced in the rear view just in time to catch a confused face and the beginnings of a gut volcano eruption.
“Whoa dude! Johnny do you….whoa!!” Perhaps not the best response but puke was pouring out of this poor kid faster than he could catch his breath. Got home, got Johnny inside and yanked the dripping car seat out the car making a mental note to burn it later that night. From that point on Johnny ralphed pretty reliably every 20 minutes. When he ran out of stuff to spew he would heave up air on the same scheduled intervals. Every attempt to hydrate him resulted in a change of clothes for us both and another load of towels. My mom-brain began to worry that this was not an average ‘kid’s sometime puke’ episode. So I made a phone call…to my sister. Hey, my kid might be two but I’m still a first timer here and I call mom’s with more experience than me when I get in a pickle. Lil Sista is slightly more OCD and skitzy than I am (yeah, that’s like saying there’s an office higher than the president or something more delicious than nachos) and her advice sounded something like…
“Rush him to the ER right now Erin, seriously. Children in third world countries die from stuff like this, he needs medical attention immediately.”
I reminded Lil Sista of all the times she made me rush to the ER with her and her babies at 4am only to be told that they merely had a bad case of gas. Undeterred she implored me to stop being passive aggressive with her and take care of my kid. So I hung up with her and called Yaya. Then I called the nurse hotline on the back of my insurance card. All gave me the same advice: get to the hospital. Mind you this entire time I’m changing clothes repeatedly, mopping up puke with my makeshift towel-foot mop and holding my monster sized, ralphing man child…I was nearing frazzled. Enter Red, home from work. He wondered if maybe Johnny had fallen earlier that day and might have hit his head. So we called a brilliant athletic trainer friend of ours (love you, Jen) and had her take us through a few steps to asses for a concussion. Nope, not a head injury.
I told Red we had to go to the hospital. He concurred, even though he’d been working since 5am and the championship game was on (I have to say here that Red is the best husband and father, truly wonderful). We rush to Cook Children’s downtown where Yaya is waiting for us already, park the car and walk into what looks like the kids version of the DMV on a bad day. The place was packed. Red and I exchanged a look of “this will be a much longer night than expected” and signed in. I made an earnest and heartfelt plea to the young triage nurse on behalf of my vomit soaked sweatshirt that I hoped would bump us up in line a bit…no dice.
“Well I hope you have a mop handy, bro.” That probably didn’t help our case either. Maybe if I’d asked him to hold John for a minute… Anyway during our three hour wait I was puked on 7 times. During one of the episodes Johnny expelled an entire 20 ounce sprite into my lap. At least we had managed to clear a corner of the waiting room for ourselves. Bonus.
Once back Johnny and I were given clothes from the nurses (they probably didn’t want to smell us any more) and we finally got to see a doctor. They tested him for everything; Flu, pneumonia, e-coli…everything. They even took x-rays at one point. During all these tests Johnny thought it would be a hoot to start…farting. I’m being very serious when I tell you that it was by far the most foul, toxic smelling stuff I’ve ever smelled. And I live with a former college strength coach who considers such things a competitive sport! We opened doors, made makeshift fans and felt it necessary to explain to every passerby that our little angel had a ‘tummy issue’.
As time passed Johnny was getting worse and worse. I was really getting scared for him. His eyes had sunken in and dark circles appeared. He was loopy and lethargic… Hours felt like years as we waited for the doctor to come back with an answer. At this point Red had gone to the car to try and nap since he had to be up at 4:30am. Orders came for Johnny to be put on an IV so as to rehydrate him. Watching that process, as he cried and I tried to distract him from what was going on, was one of the most awful mommy-moments I’ve had. I wanted to cry, and I did after it was all over and Yaya could sit with him long enough for me to escape to the solitude of a bathroom. Upon my return I was told Johnny was not a fan of the IV and had pulled it out of his hand…so it needed to be redone. He is is father’s child.
Around 2am the doctor appeared and said she was pretty sure Johnny had contracted a heinous, malicious intestinal virus created by a demon from Hell (emphasis added). Since he had not shown improvement we were being admitted. Yaya left to take Red home so he could get to work and Johnny and I were taken to a quarantined, private room. They weren’t sure which virus he had and they had to minimize the risk of contagion so we were off by ourselves ( I was not upset with that little perk). By 4 am we were hooked up to more fluids and were being carefully taken care of by some of the BEST people. These nurses and nurse practitioners must have been called to this profession as they were such happy servants and so willing to answer every little need…even one that included a Rainbow Popsicle. Johnny began to have the runs and his nurse insisted on changing and cleaning him for me. I think she could tell how tired I was.
We stayed in the hospital until Johnny was able to drink liquids and not propel them across the room. I was really, really ready to go home and began to campaign for a discharge. Hospitals are wonderful but it can be difficult to rest with all the hustle and testing of vitals and check ins. He had improved enough that the doctor let us go home on the condition that we would return immediately if Johnny showed any sign of digressing. I promised I would as I feverishly gathered our stuff and scribbled my name of a few pieces of paper (discharge papers…and perhaps a napkin, I dunno).
Once home Johnny did spike a fever and wasn’t drinking for a while. He fell asleep and his fever broke so I watched him carefully. He awoke 14 hours later in a great mood asking for ‘littlemens’ (m&m’s) and juice,which he can’t have so I made him a sparkling pedialite instead.
Everything seems to be back to normal now. My car smells like the inside of a dead warthog…