Banner turned one on Friday, we celebrated on Sunday, took him to the doctor for his 12 month appointment on Monday and he was in the hospital on Wednesday.
Yes. You read that right. The hospital.
Banner started running a fever Monday night. We called the doctor, but everyone assumed it was just a mild reaction to the shots he received that afternoon. No big deal, right? It is a pretty common reaction to vaccinations, and the fever wasn't even that high. Just under 102.
Tuesday morning was pretty awful. Poor baby had the chills and cried non stop until the baby Motrin finally started working. Then, mercifully, he fell asleep on my chest for two hours.
Trevor and I split the day. I stayed home with Banner in the morning, while Trevor went to work. And we swapped in the afternoon. By three, Trevor reported that the fever had come back but lower than it was that morning. Only 101.4. But Banner had taken another two hour nap and seemed to be feeling better.
Wednesday morning started fever free. Trevor even considered taking him to school, but I wanted him to be fever free for 24 hours before taking him back to day care (even though we were still convinced this was a shot-induced fever, and our little guy wasn't contagious). It turned out to be a wise move, because his fever was back up to nearly 102 by mid morning. Unlike the day before, however, the fever didn't seem to be making him feel bad, and he was busy playing with all his toys. So, I held off giving him a dose of baby Motrin until lunchtime in the hopes "that letting the fever burn" a little would help his immune system do its thing.
He also had two big poops that morning. The second of which resulted in an unexpected bath and emergency load of laundry.
Yes. It was THAT bad.
Trevor was unable to come home on Wednesday afternoon, so my sister babysat while I put in another half day at the office. When I checked on Banner, she reported that he had taken a nice, long nap and was busy eating some apple slices and Cheerios that she had prepared. She had taught him to make "fishy faces" that afternoon and he was still making them when I returned home around 5:30 that evening. Banner was in a great mood and even greeted me at the door.
After Amy left, I changed Banner and - even though he felt cool - checked his temperature. 100.9. A fever isn't considered a fever in a baby until 100.4, so this was pretty low grade. I remember thinking to myself that he was finally getting better.
This was around 6 PM.
Trevor arrived home about 20 minutes later. I was in the process of giving Banner his last bottle of the day. But, unlike most nights, Banner didn't seem interested in his milk. At first I thought it was because he was full from all the snacks he had eaten with Amy, but - on a whim - I asked Trevor to take his temp again. You know, just incase.
I called the on-call nurse at my pediatrician's office, and left a message for them to call me back.
Fifteen minutes went by, and Banner was looking worse and worse. His eyes were starting to weep, and he was lethargic and pink. Trevor took his temperature again, and it was over 104. Not knowing what else to do, we hurriedly packed a diaper bag, put Banner in the car and drove to Children's Hospital.
The on-call nurse at our pediatrician's office never did get around to calling us back.
Trevor had never been to nor heard of Children's Hospital, which I found strange considering I had been there just last month on a foundation-related tour of the cardiac ICU. My brother had been a patient there back in the mid 80s when he lost one of his kidneys, and - really - if you have a sick kiddo in this city, it is simply where you go. I even chose my pediatrician, in part, because he did his residency there and still has privileges. Trevor would say I'm a catastrophist. I prefer "prepared".
We arrived at at Children's around 7:30. I had cried for most of the drive in an effort to get it out of my system and compose myself before arriving at the hospital. It almost worked because my tears turned to anger when we exited I-35, and Trevor had no idea where to go. He kept trying to pull into a parking garage when - clearly - the hospital was across the street. To say I was "irrational with worry" would have put it mildly. I pretty much tore his head off.
We ended up pulling up to the main entrance valet, where I got out, took Banner and left Trevor to figure out the part about parking and whatnot.
I still to this day have no idea where the emergency room entrance is to Children's.
Since I entered through the hospital's main entrance, I had to ask where the emergency room was, and - promptly - started to cry. The anger had disappeared and been replaced with what it was all along: SCARED.
A man handed me a sticker with "E.D." printed on it, and a very nice lady took the time to walk me through the maze of corridors to the emergency room. I was so grateful.
When we arrived, it was clear that the emergency room was overwhelmed with patients. There weren't enough chairs for everyone, and families with sick children littered the floors and hallways. Nurses kept walking through telling people to "clear the area", but there was no place for any of us to go.
My mom later texted me that the lead story on the news that evening was how slammed the ER at Children's was with the flu, RSV and other respiratory illnesses.
I filled out the initial paperwork, handed it in and proceed to do my best to stay out of everyone's way. Trevor eventually found me in all the chaos, but said he might not be able to wait with me for long. In an effort to cut down on the number of people clogging the waiting areas, only one parent or family member was allowed to wait with the sick child. Everyone else, including Trevor, had a sticker with "Lobby" printed on it.
There was another family there with a baby that looked to only be a month or six weeks old. Trevor and I gave them our newly acquired seats in the waiting area when we saw them. I just remember thinking about how little and fragile their baby was, and how terrified they must be. At least Banner has an immune system and twelve months of vaccines and day care viruses under his belt. Their baby was too young, and yet there she was in the middle of it all.
I hope she is doing okay.
We were called into triage around 8 PM. We described Banner's symptoms, and they took his temperature. It was 104.7. They told us to take off all of his clothes in an effort to cool him down and that we'd be admitted to the emergency room shortly.
About fifteen minutes went by, and Banner and I were taken across the hall to another waiting area. Trevor couldn't come with us, and went to wait in the lobby. The ER waiting room was much less crowded than triage, and there were more than enough chairs for everyone. Banner and I tried to sit as far away from everyone else as possible. Not because we were afraid of germs (after triage, it didn't matter), but because it was cooler away from all the other feverish bodies. And my baby felt like he was on fire.
The hardest part about waiting in the ER was that I had to do it without Trevor. I had my cell phone, though, and took the opportunity to notify family of the situation via text.
Around 9 PM, Banner was taken back to be accessed by the ER nurses. They did a whole host of tests back there, but the only one I remember was the taking of his temperature rectally. It was 105.2. They immediately gave him a dose of Motrin, and asked me if I had noticed any signs of seizures in my baby. Apparently, when fevers spike so quickly in infants, their bodies can't handle it and they often seize.
The nurses made it sound like these kinds of febrile seizures are no big deal, but I assure you - had it happened to my son - it would have been a very big deal. I'm not sure I could have handled it.
After the ER evaluation, we returned to the waiting room for about thirty minutes before being reunited with Trevor and taken back to an exam room. Banner had perked up quite a bit by this point, and I was oh-so relieved to discover that his fever had dropped back down below 103. The Motrin was working.
Of course, now that his temperature was down, they wanted Banner to eat or drink something. Fevers have a way of rapidly dehydrating a person, and getting some fluids into him was essential. Problem was, Banner was completely uninterested in the formula or Pedialyte they offered him. He even refused water. We were able to get a squeezie in him, but everything else was turned down or made him gag.
Then he started throwing up. The first time was just like a larger than average spit up, but about forty-five minutes later he blew chucks. And I mean that literally, because I was suddenly wearing the apple slices Amy had made him earlier in the afternoon, along with everything else he had in his stomach.
It was awful.
(Although, I did get a very comfy pair of scrubs out of it. Trevor was immediately jealous of them, which is funny since I would have done just about anything to not be thrown up on in the first place.)
Because he couldn't keep anything down, the doctor wanted to take blood, run some tests and give Banner fluids intravenously to help rehydrate him. I was going to stay for the procedure and help hold Ban down, but realized very quickly that I have no stomach for needles as far as my baby is concerned. So, Trevor stayed with him, while I excused myself briefly to change out of my puke-stained jeans into the aforementioned scrubs. I'm glad I did, because Banner apparently moved during the procedure and blood went everywhere (seriously, when I returned it was all over the gurney and floor). Had I been there, I'm pretty sure I would have fainted.
After the IV was in, though, I curled up with Banner in the chair. Poor baby was exhausted and fell asleep in my arms.
It took about an hour for the contents of the IV to drip slowly into Banner. After which, they wanted us to try to get him to eat of drink again. But, just like before, Banner refused everything we put in front of him. Which is why, at 2 AM, the decision was made to admit Banner to the hospital.
It took two hours for them to find a bed because the hospital was so crowded. And, even then, it was on the cardiac floor. We were taken to it just after 4 AM.
On our trip up to the room, the nurse told us that there were still over 50 people waiting to be seen in the ER. That's just how busy it was Wednesday night.
Upon arriving in the room, Banner was hooked up to another IV and FINALLY had not one, but TWO wet diapers. I've never been so happy to change a diaper before in my life.
After the nurses finally left and we got Banner down, Trevor and I fell asleep (he in the chair and I on the couch). It was just after 5 AM.
The thing about me being a catastrophist and all is that sometimes it works out to our benefit. Everyone in the ER the night before knew our pediatrician. The ER doctor knew him as "Joe". They had done their residency at Children's together. And one of the nurses used to work with him at his current practice. But the best was seeing his face when he walked through our hospital room door a little before 8 AM Thursday morning to examine Banner for himself. Apparently, he had been notified in the middle of the night that one of his patients was admitted to the hospital, and we were his first stop that morning.
Granted, I have generally NOTHING nice to say about the on-call and advice nurses at his practice, but considering we don't go there to see the nurses, I've decided this doesn't really matter. The doctors are fabulous, and seem to genuinely care about their patients. And, with a year of parenting under my belt, I'm starting to figure out what constitutes an emergency and what doesn't - especially now that I've gotten comfortable administering baby Ibuprofen and Tylenol on my own.
I guess it is all about perspective. Which is kind of funny considering I was seriously thinking about switching pediatricians less than two weeks ago because I was so fed up with the practice's on call nursing staff when I had the flu. And then a real emergency happened and I (re)realized all the things that I already knew were important. I guess it takes a crisis to truly focus sometimes.
But I digress, after my pediatrician visited, we got the green light to try to get Banner to drink again. They ordered the same formula that he is used to at home, and we finally got about four ounces into him around 9 AM. When that stayed down, we gave him four more a little while later. By early afternoon he was able to keep down eight all at once, which meant that the doctors finally gave him the green light to come off the IV (although they left the needle in his arm until we were discharged just in case). It was clear by that time that Banner was feeling better - he started to play, laugh and cruise around his hospital crib. I've never felt so relieved in my life to have my baby pull my hair and throw his toys in my direction.
We were discharged around 4 PM Thursday afternoon, after Banner was rehydrated and his fever had stayed at bay for twelve hours. The strange thing is that no one was ever able to figure out what was wrong or what had caused the fever. All of Banner's viral panels had come back negative, and nothing in his blood work even hinted at an infection. Even the cultures that took two days to grow yielded nothing. His official discharge papers from the hospital just allude to dehydration caused by high fever.
I was worried that the fever was caused by Banner's twelve month vaccinations. After all, the fever started within hours of receiving the Hepatitis A, Chickpox (varicella), PCV13 and MMR. The problem is that allergic reactions usually take place immediately (not 48+ hours later), and involve things like rash/hives, swelling and rapid heart rate. And, while MMR is known to give high fevers in babies, such a reaction does not generally occur until 7-10 days AFTER the shot is administered. Same with Chickenpox.
So, even though no viruses were found to explain the fever, the doctor's best guess is that Banner had one. This theory is supported, somewhat, by the fact that I know of two other babies that have been hospitalized with nearly identical symptoms either just before or after Banner. Sounds like some sort of mystery virus is making the rounds, but no one really knows.
The good news: Banner is definitely on the mend. He ran a low grade fever Thursday and Friday night, but felt cool both Saturday and Sunday. Despite a 4 AM coughing fit last night, he seems to feel fine and is back in school today.
The bad news: Trevor was sick all last week, and got worse during our hospital stay. At the time, I wanted him to go home and rest, and was frustrated that he absolutely refused to do so. Rationally, I got that he wanted to be with his son in the hospital, but it just about made me crazy to see him hacking all over the place. By Friday morning, he could barely function. My mom had come to stay at home with Banner so I could go to the office for a bit and catch up since I had barely been at work all week, but she never saw Trevor because he was barricaded in the bedroom. Both our doctor's offices were completely full, so poor Trevor had no choice but to go to the local PrimaCare. Since everyone in the metroplex is sick right now, it took hours for him to be seen. The diagnosis: the flu AND a nasty case of strep throat.
Trevor started antibiotics on Friday afternoon, but only started moving around again yesterday. I did my best to keep Banner out of the house as much as possible over the weekend (THANK YOU, GRAMMY PAMMY), slept in the guest room and took care of all household and baby-related duties.
So far, 2013 has really been a doozie for my family health-wise, and the year isn't even two weeks old, yet. So many things have fallen by the wayside in the interim. Thank you notes remain unwritten, presents haven't been put away...heck, Banner's first birthday decorations are still up in our living room.
I just can say enough to all those who have helped out, brought us food, risked "contamination" to play with Banner and keep me sane. You all know who you are, and I am so grateful.
Hopefully, we are all on the mend, and things will get back to a sense of normal (whatever that is!) soon. Thank goodness everything we have had recently has been treatable. It has been miserable, but we will recover.
In the meantime, here's to the rest of 2013 being a healthy and happy one!