The past few weeks have been REALLY hard – really hard, I tell ya! I know I’m saying that a lot lately – but it’s been a hard couple of months for us. When things get hard, I tend to close in and write less. It’s just my way of coping, even though I know that reaching out is probably a healthier way to go…
Anyhoo- a little over a week ago, Ginger (age 4) came down with what I thought was a stomach virus. I was in the middle of cleaning out our new house – the previous owners left us a lot of junk to deal with, plus we had remodeling debris, etc. So – I rented a dumpster and got to work! Meanwhile, Mr. M was working tons of hours, and I was also taking care of Ginger (who was quite sick) and doing all my regular mom, homeschool, and household duties.
Dumpster I filled in two hours!:
Well, I figured with a little rest and TLC, Ginger would get better. I scheduled her a doctor’s appointment for Monday, thinking I would just take her in to the doctor then. But by Sunday evening, it was obvious that she was getting much worse, and she needed to go to the ER immediately.
So – I loaded her in the van and made the trek to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to their ER because I wanted her seen at a Children’s Hospital instead of our regular hospital near our house – call it mother’s intuition, I don’t know…
Mr. M helped us get into the van and when he did, he accidentally left his car keys in the door, and I didn’t realize it until I was barreling down the freeway at 70 mph. The hospital is 4 freeways away – a long drive – and I was in a HURRY and did not want to stop. So, I did not stop and miraculously, the keys stayed put for the hour long drive. Geesh!
I peeled into the ER and found the first spot, carried Ginger’s limp body inside, and saw that there was a 3 1/2 hour wait time. The lady at the front desk took one look at Ginger, grabbed me by the arm, and escorted me back to a private room and they hooked Ginger up to an IV immediately. With in a hour, she had bloodwork and an x-ray, and after they read the results, they decided to admit her as inpatient immediately. She went up the top floor and that’s where we were until this morning!
Once we got to the hospital, I had a strange sense of peace that it was out of my hands and that she would be taken care of and we’d get through it no matter the outcome.
I don’t know if it’s perspective from the deaths of our twin daughters, Vivian and Annemarie, or that I have read so many grief blogs over the years and known so many people whose children have battled chronic, long-term diseases – some of them ultimately passing away at a young age…
In those moments after we were admitted to the hospital, I really felt nothing but gratitude. I thought about mothers in Sudan whose children are sick but don’t have a hospital to take them to – and even if they do have a hospital, then they might not be able to afford the cost of treatment that must be paid for in advance.
That first night, as doctors hooked Ginger up to many tubes and monitors, all I could think about was a mom across the world who loves her child just as much as I do whose child would probably die on a dirt floor from the same issue Ginger had. At that point, I decided to pray hard for those other families across the world – and of course, I prayed for my sweet Ginger, too.
One thing about the hospital is that time stands still. We were there four days – and it felt like an eternity. I would look at the clock and wonder why the nurse had not returned and then I realized it had only been 45 minutes. The world was going on outside, but my world was confined to that little room – that little hospital bed, actually.
I didn’t tell many people Ginger was in the hospital – it was one of those things I just had to keep to myself until I knew more. When we first arrived, the doctors did not know what exactly was wrong and there was a period of time when I felt a darkness over me. I was in a fog, and literally surviving and caring for my child 24/7. I did not sleep when she was in the hospital. When I tried to sleep, I was awoken just as my eyes would close by alarms or procedures that happen at all hours of the night or Ginger screaming in pain. During the day, I had to be alert to talk to the team of doctors, nurses, and a gazillion other people who came by to check on her. There was no time for sleep.
Ginger had an NG tube placed to deliver meds to her stomach. She did NOT like the tube, and tried to tear it out even in her sleep. So, I spent a lot of time watching her sleeping, making sure that thing stayed put.
We were in a double room, so theoretically we could have had a roommate. The first night we did not, but by Day 2, they were setting up a crib for a baby who was being admitted. I went to the Charge Nurse and basically begged for a private room but was told that it was physically impossible because of the construction going on and that we’d be put on a waiting list.
So, the poor couple with a baby showed up about an hour after Ginger had a few horrible procedures, including the placement of the NG tube. Ginger screamed for over three hours – it was heartbreaking, high-pitched, and awful. She screamed words that will probably never leave my mind. One of the nurses started crying.
Well, what do you know – they transferred the couple with the baby to a different room after about an hour of listening to Ginger’s high-pitched screams. It became obvious that Ginger would not stop crying until they sedated her – so that is what they did. It took awhile, though, because they were worried that pain medications would interfere with the meds she was already receiving.
Ginger was not allowed to eat anything until the last day she was in the hospital – even her tube didn’t deliver food. She did have a constant IV drip, so she was fine – but she was hungry. By the time she got to the hospital, she had not eaten in five days – and then add four more days to that when we were in the hospital. All she could talk about were pancakes. I never knew she loved them so much, but now I know! 😉
Mr. M reading her a book from the hospital library:
Even though I told only a few people, the people who found out were so incredibly supportive and wonderful. I felt so grateful for all the texts, emails, phone calls, and gifts we received – it was overwhelming. I realized that when your child is laying in a hospital bed going through their own personal hell, how much it means to feel supported. It means a lot and truly helped us all feel not quite so alone during the whole ordeal.
We are home now. Life is back to normal(ish). I think it might take me a few years to catch up on sleep, but Ginger is back to her old self. Actually, she is an improved self because she is not battling the issues that landed her in the hospital. We have a long-term treatment plan with a pediatrician and a specialist – and it’s going to be fine. I know that these stories don’t always turn out so happy, and I am so grateful. I am so very grateful for her health, and for the wonderful people at CHLA who cared for her and treated us so well.
And what do you know, on her last day at the hospital, they let her eat pancakes and fruit! I have never seen a person so happy to see a plate of pancakes. 😉
Sometimes, it’s the little things… Seeing Ginger smile like that was the biggest gift I’ve received in a long time. I don’t feel deserving of her health, and I am so incredibly grateful for it. It’s a gift that I don’t ever take for granted.