Tag Archives: being sick

The Surprise Hospital Visit

It was 2:30 Thursday morning when the tears came. I’d felt like crying a few times before that, but I’d held it back. I’d been in control. I’d told myself there was no reason to cry. But at 2:30 Thursday morning, I lost the battle. The tears spilled over my eyelids and ran down my cheeks, falling like rain on the hospital-issue white cotton blanket. That was okay. I just didn’t want them to fall on Big Brother’s face.

He was cuddled up against me, as close as he could get with while lying in a hospital bed, tubes and monitors attached to one arm and an oxygen mask on his face.  One of my arms was under his neck, the other over his chest. I’d been holding his hand, but his slipped away as he finally (finally!) drifted into a light sleep. When his fingers dropped to the blanket, my tears did the same.

There was no reason to cry. He was fine. He was going to be fine. He would be fine in the morning. But the tears fell anyway.

Maybe because it was the middle of the night and I was tired. Maybe because my little boy looked so pale and sad and helpless in that hospital bed. Maybe because, for twenty long minutes before finally falling asleep, my son had begged me to “please, please, please just put my shoes on and let me get up so we can go home, please let me go home, I just want to go home, Mummy, please take me home”. And I had to hold him and love him and tell him no.

As he slept, for the hour between his exhaustion overcame him and the nurse came in to check his vitals again, I had time to compose myself and consider again how we went from a quick doctor’s visit to Big Brother’s third ambulance ride, fourth visit to hospital, and first overnight stay.

Tuesday afternoon, Big Brother had a bit of a cough. Not a lot of a cough. Certainly not one that was bad enough to keep him awake Tuesday night. But with the serious flu going around Brisbane this winter, we decided we should take him to the doctor on Wednesday and get him checked out. Just in case. Little Brother seem fine but had been a bit clingy so, based on previous experience, I thought he might have an ear infection.

8:00am, Wednesday

I called the doctor’s office and made an appointment for both boys. The only time available was 12:30pm. Big Brother was a little lethargic, so after breakfast I let him lie on the couch and watch a couple of movies. (This is a big deal in our house, where we don’t watch TV.) Little Brother was fine.

11:30am, Wednesday

Big Brother told me his tummy and legs hurt. He wanted to go to the bathroom, but said he was too tired to walk and asked me to carry him.

11:45am, Wednesday

Big Brother asked if I’d carry him to the car. I told him we’d just finish getting ready to go and then I’d carry him out. He started to cry and told me his lungs hurt, and please could I just carry him to the car now and put a blanket over him? I did. I was glad we were going to the doctor, because it looked like he really did have the flu.

12:15pm, Wednesday

We arrived at the doctor’s office. Big Brother had been quiet the whole way. “Can you carry me in?” he asked. “But make sure you bring my blanket.” I picked him up and carried him in. He sat on my lap in the waiting room, leaning his head against me. His eyes fluttered closed and he didn’t seem to hear me when I spoke to him. Suddenly, his face lost all colour. Even his lips looked white. He closed his eyes and went limp in my arms.

12:30pm, Wednesday

The doctor examined Big Brother. He didn’t have a temperature. He didn’t have a throat infection or an ear infection and his chest didn’t sound too bad. She would have been happy to prescribe some antibiotics, but she was concerned about how he looked. He was really, really lethargic. He couldn’t seem to wake up. When I got him talking, he drifted back off in the middle of a sentence. He was white as a sheet. The doctor took us in to the treatment area and a nurse checked his vitals. His oxygen levels were alarmingly low. They put him in an oxygen mask, lay him on the bed and called an ambulance.

12:45pm, Wednesday

My husband and Little Brother left. It turns out Little Brother had two severe middle ear infections. My husband bought his medicine then took him home.

1:15pm, Wednesday

The ambulance arrived to take Big Brother and I to the hospital. Big Brother had perked up a lot on the oxygen, and excitedly told the paramedics that this would be his third trip in an ambulance, but the other two times he was bleeding.

1:30pm, Wednesday – 2:30am, Thursday

Big Brother’s oxygen levels were low. He had chest x-rays and a catheter put into his arm. He made friends with the nurses in the resus rooms of Emergency, told the pediatric nurse, “You’ve already told me that three times!” and high-fived everyone he talked to. He cried and begged us not to give him needles and explained that he had a doctor’s kit at home and he was going to grow up to be a doctor too. Thanks to one quick-thinking ER nurse, he collected a whole new “doctor’s kit” full of goodies to take home and use on his own “patients”.

He ate ice cream, watched TV and asked everyone to leave him alone so he could go to sleep. He liked the idea of an oxygen mask being like a fighter pilot mask, and hated having a nasal swab. He was diagnosed with viral pneumonia at about 8:00pm Wednesday, and we were told that if he could stay off the oxygen overnight, he could probably go home on Thursday.

It was 1:30am when he needed oxygen.

2:00pm, Thursday

The nurses wanted Big Brother to stay. One of the doctors wanted him to stay for another 24 to 48 hours. But in the end, the pediatrician said that he could go home if he wanted to and if I was comfortable. With viral pneumonia, the only thing to do is treat the symptoms and wait. His oxygen levels had improved, I knew what to watch for to identify if he was having trouble getting enough oxygen, and we live close to the hospital. Being in hospital was more stressful than helpful to Big Brother at that point. So we were discharged and told we could go home.

We got home at 4:30pm Thursday.

Big Brother’s breathing is getting better. He’s up and about, playing with his new doctor’s kit. He can’t do anything strenuous without running out of breath, but he’s feeling better. He no longer tells me his lungs hurt.

We were in hospital for just over 24 hours, and I was so glad to get home and to know that Big Brother was okay.

I can’t even begin to imagine how parents cope when their kids are in hospital for an extended period.

To all the parents in that situation: You have my sympathy and well-wishes.

To all the doctors, nurses, ER staff, and paramedics at Reccliffe hospital and beyond: Thank you. For everything.



Filed under Life With Kids, Random Stuff

I’m Not Sick, I’m Fine.

It’s winter here in sunny Queensland, and it’s been cold.

Really cold.

Not, “we’ve just had three feet of snow” cold, mind you. Just “I may have to work out if I’ve got something warmer than a tank top to wear” cold. (The answer to this question is “no”, so I’ve been huddled up in front of the heater in my skirt and tank top for the last three weeks.)

I don’t mind the cold, but I hate winter flu season. This is partly because I hate doctors. Or, rather, I hate the process of going to see a doctor. Let’s face it, if you’re sick enough to need to see a doctor, you’re probably too sick to be driving a car. But you make the appointment, bundle yourself up in plenty of warm clothes, and off you go. Then you sit in a humid room full of people sneezing and coughing and wheezing and sniffling for an hour. (If you weren’t sick to start with, you definitely will be by the time the doctor calls your name.) Then a twenty-something kid spends five minutes for you, charges you a small fortune, and tells you to go home and get plenty of rest.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen. I have two children and a shift-working husband. I have two chances of getting “plenty of rest”: Buckley’s and none.

I hate going to the doctor.

Big Brother doesn’t like going to the doctor either. The only time he’s ever been is to have vaccinations, so I don’t blame him. He’s five years old, and has never so much as had an ear-ache or a sore throat. I can count the number of times he’s had a fever on one hand and have fingers to spare. He is sickeningly healthy and always has been.

Little Brother doesn’t seem to have an opinion. And if he does, he’s not sharing.

But I’ve been sick this winter.

The kind of sick that leaves you with a muzzy, fuzzy, buzzy head all day and a cough all night.

The kind of sick that makes you wish the goblin king would steal away your children so you could spend a day sleeping.

The kind of sick that makes you consider going to see a doctor.

It didn’t help that Big Brother was unwell. Not “sick” as such, just unwell. He was tired and lethergic and cranky and just plain whingey. But every time I asked him how he was feeling he’d say, “I’m fine!”

“Is your head sore?”

“I’m fine!”

“Does your throat hurt?”

“I’m fine!”

I didn’t believe him.

Big Brother loves school. And if he’s sick, he knows he can’t go to school. So there was no way he would ever admit to being sick. He just whined and moaned and lazed his way around the house.

Fortunately, there was a little oasis of normal in the house. Little Brother spent one night with a fever and that was it. He spent the next few days laughing and playing and annoying his brother. You know, normal. He was a little more cuddly than usual and he woke up a few times each night, but that was it. He actually was “fine”.

But I wasn’t. And I was pretty sure Big Brother wasn’t. So, after a week of misery, I booked us in to see a doctor.

“Who would you like me to examine first?” she asked.

The boys were already playing with the doctor’s toys, both of them giggling away as they made up some complicated game that involved unpacking and repacking everything in the toy box. So I went first. I had a sore throat and a chest infection. Hook me up with some antibiotics, thanks.

Big Brother was next.

“I’m fine!” he insisted.

The doctor looked in his ears and his mouth. She took his temperature and listened to his chest. And then she smiled at me.

“He’s fine.”

I must have look dubious because she went on, “He’sbeensick, but he’s fighting it off by himself. He must have a strong immune system. He’s fine.”

Big Brother smiled smugly and said, “I told you I was fine.”

Yeah, thanks for that.

I knew Little Brother wasn’t sick, but since we were there anyway…

The doctor looked in his ear. “Oooh, that’s very red. You must have a very sore ear, Little Brother.”

She looked in his other ear. “Oooh, that one looks sore, too.”

She looked in his mouth. “Your throat is very red.”

She listened to his chest. “Mmm… That doesn’t sound good.”

She took his temperature and looked into his eyes. “I’ll give him a strong dose of antibiotics. Make sure you don’t miss a dose, and come back if he doesn’t start to improve in a couple of days.”

We left with plenty of medicine for poor, sick Little Brother.

“I told you I was fine,” said Big Brother for the hundredth time.

Hands up if your Mum sucks.


Filed under Life With Kids, Opinion