My God, people. Having a sick kid is the WORST THING EVER.
You see, yesterday Lucy woke up kind of fussy. Well, she sort of wailed when we picked her up, or fed her, or changed her diaper. We figured it was probably gas. We went to church and she slept like a champ in the Moby wrap. But she was acting not like herself.. I gave her a nice bath and she cried through it. This is the girl who learned to smile especially FOR the bath. Then she was a little too sleepy to eat. Lucy hasn't missed a meal since the minute she was born! That's when I needed to get the big guns out. Hello, Mr. Rectal Thermometer. Meet Lucy's poo factory. 102.8 degrees. Are you kidding? Where's that nurse line number?
The nurse, Phyllis, suggested we get her checked out right away because fevers in infants can be symptoms of very serious illnesses, yadda, yadda. I was adequately freaked out, because someone in the medical profession had said "serious illness" and "emergency room" to me in regards to my progeny. We left right away and went to Swedish Hospital in Ballard because it's close and convenient.
I figured that when we went to the regular hospital ER, they'd take her temperature, give us something for a low grade fever and send us on our way to cuddle our little princess back to feeling like herself! Whee! Here's me with my sunshine-and-rainbows expectations!!
Except that when we got there the ER doctor spewed words like "tests". And not only that word but adjectives that go with like "blood" and "urine" and "chest x-ray" and "SPINAL TAP" (except, I think he used the more mild term "lumbar puncture").
You just don't say these words to me.
They put a catheter in my little muffin to collect some urine. She didn't mind that one too much. And then they sent a phlebotomist to collect some blood. This twelve year old meekly creeped around the door into our room and explained that she was going to draw blood. After 17 hours of poking and prodding and heating hands and feet and using a mini tourniquet she made by cutting a regular sized blue rubber tourniquet in half the long way and the short way on EVERY appendage looking for a vein, she gave up and said she'd send someone else. Thank God! Stop torturing my child!
The chest x-ray was just as bad. The Bubba held her in contorted positions so the tech could get a good shot of her chest as she inhaled. Lucy hated it, and of course we had to take 46 different tries to get a good shot. Ok, it was only 3, but it seemed like 46.
Then the twelve year old lab girl came back sheepishly pushing her little tray and said she'd take blood from Lucy's heel instead of a vein for some of the tests and then someone from the OB floor would come down and get blood from a vein for the blood count type tests. I really wanted to wait and just have the ONE blood draw, but my Bubba was anxious to leave the ER (we had been there about 3 hours already!) and told the teen tech to go ahead so we could count on results in a shorter time span.
At this point, I will admit to you, confess to you, that I am a weenie. I cannot STAND to hear Lucy cry - every one of my cells zings into discomfort at the first sounds of crying. Worse, doctor-y things like needles, blood draw tubes, catheters, etc. are not my favorite things either. Combine these, and I am a worthless presence in the room with Lucy while these tests are being done. Granted, had my Bubba not been there, I would have had no problem stepping up, I'm just glad I didn't have to. I cried in the corner most of the time while I listened to Lucy screaming and the Bubba saying "You're doing a good job, Lucy!"
AT one point, my Bubba sang "Lucy Rose, we'll take you home, ..." to the tune of John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads. Yeah. He's awesome.
The OB phlebotomist finally showed up and both Bubba and I had to help restrain Lucy because she was an absolute ham-fisted clown. She had heat packs and tourniquets and whatnot galore as well, but this one was more couragous with the needle. She poked the needle in after the requisite 83 hours of poking and tying and warming and flicking and stroking and pinching. But didn't get a vein until approximately 106 hours of Lucy's crying pain later, and even then she only got some fraction of the minimum required sample for the tests. I think the B*$%! word crossed my lips at one point. But thank Jesus, she took the small sample and said they'd do what they could with it and left my sweet Lu Bugga Boo in peace.
Then came the spinal tap conversation. It went something like "Blah, blah, blah, routine test for babies this young with fever, blah, blah, blah." My reaction was something like "f&$%# that idea." Let me add here that she did not have a fever in the ER at all (but the nurse took her temperature with a forehead thermometer thingy. God knows if that is even semi-accurate...), and since all the other tests came back normal or negative, I was starting to think maybe my thermometer at home was playing a dirty, expensive trick on me - one that it would soon regret. The doctor also mentioned wanting to admit her at Swedish First Hill for observation. I figured, there's not much that they're going to do that I'm not going to do at home.
So we went home promising to give Lucy some ibuprofen and to call our pediatrician in the morning for a follow up.
I was up every - oh- 20 minutes or so over the night checking to see if Lucy was developing any other symptoms and checking her temperature rectally every time I changed her diaper. 101.3, 102.7, 100.4. This sucks.
Our pediatrician (whom I LOVE) minced no words in telling us to get to Children's and get a spinal. I cried, and she reassured me that she wouldn't order something like this on a whim.
So here we are.
I would rather have major surgery once a week than to have to see Lucy go through some of the tests she went through today. They repeated the tests from the ER yesterday and added some new ones. I ranked them in order of discomfort 1 being low and 4 being high:
1. Urine sample. Unfortunately, Lucy had just finished peeing in her diaper when the nurses decided to get the catheter out. They had to leave it in until her little body could make more urine. But, generally not too painful.
2. IV/Blood draw. I will never take Lucy to the regular ER again. Until she's about 22. The phlebotomist at Children's was an absolute PRO. She found the vein, poked the baby, drew some blood, put the little tube in, got Lucy's hand all boarded up and taped down, and Ta-Da! Done! 5 seconds flat! Well, ok, not that quick, but she was awesome, and Lucy cried some but not the "Come quick! I'm DYING!" cry.
3. Nose/Throat culture. This one falls under the category of "Would rather have my kneecaps broken". They had to squirt a fluid in the back of Lucy's nose and throat and then stick a big old tube up her nose to suck the fluid out with some of Lucy's gunk. That's the technical description. In my own words, it sucked. Lucy screeched and screamed and gagged and coughed and sputtered and I almost died from pity and grief.
4. Spinal tap. I cannot describe to you how excruciating it was to watch my baby have to go through this and I do not wish it on any of your babies. Even if I don't happen to like you very much. It was a three man job. One tech held Lucy on her side in the fetal position (which she hated, ha ha) to open the spaces of her spine. One doctor oversaw the whole procedure suggesting the tech move Lucy this way or that. The CNP that did the actual procedure looked up at me (bawling in the corner) every now and then to reassure me that things were going ok.
And really? That was the worst of it. Now we wait. Lucy's fever is still high - the latest was 103. But those tests are either going to tell us that she has an infection of the ______, or they will tell us that her immune system is just too immature to fight off a little bug, or that nothing serious is wrong at all and we just need to ride out the fever.
At around 6pm, the nurse came in and basically told me to check out for a while. Since I'm nursing Lucy, the hospital gives me vouchers for meals, (as the nurse put it, "You feed Lucy, we'll feed you.") and she told me to leave and go get something from the cafeteria. I went around the corner in the hallway and started bawling. I cried all the way to the cafeteria. And then, I saw all kinds of families with all kinds of children with all kinds of ailments, and I realized how very blessed we are that Lucy is by no means a sickly child and all she has is a fever. How lucky are we that our perfect baby was born with all her fingers and toes and all her organs and bones neatly arranged in their assigned spots in her skin? I ache for the mommies that are here longer term than I am, and their precious babies.
So that's where we're at. The Bubba went home to get some quality rest since he has to pull double duty with trying to be intellectually present at work for a while tomorrow (making sure buildings stand up takes some concentration, I'd imagine) and being on his A-game here with us as our rock.
I'm pretty sure we won't die from waiting, but I guess I can't be certain - hell, I'm not a doctor. I have 8-10 more hours to wait before the first tests come back with results. And then we can move on from this knowledge purgatory and into the lukewarm pool of What's Next.
Keep praying, team.