This past weekend started out pretty darn good. Friday afternoon, I got to leave work early because we’re on summer hours now. I got home and felt asleep, waking up just in the nick of time to go pick up Brandon from daycare. I hadn’t intended to take a nap, but those are the best kind - I clearly needed it. Unfortunately, it only goes downhill from there (sort of).
Saturday morning, I woke up feeling fine, but developed a migraine thanks to the weather that we’ve been having in abundance. It was the kind of migraine that no amount of pills will get rid of - you just have to sleep it off. Matt finally shooed me away around 11:00 and said he would take Brandon out to the park to play. After promising to have lunch ready on their return, I trudged upstairs back to bed and fell almost immediately to sleep - for two and a half hours.
I was just waking up as Matt was laying down for a well-deserved nap. He asked why I hadn’t prepped lunch before he dropped off. I kinda felt bad, but he did just fine on his own so I didn’t let the guilt eat me up too much. When Brandon woke up, I let Matt continue sleeping while I took advantage of a little one-on-one time for myself. When I got him out of bed, I noticed that his eye was swollen so I made a mental note to ask Matt if something had happened while they were out earlier in the day. Brandon and I had a good time; snack and part of a movie, then we went to go play outside and he decided he wanted to go for a walk. I was extremely pleased that he sat in his Chariot so well for me - he gives his Daddy a hard time about it.
The rest of the night went pretty much like normal, but I was a little concerned about the swollen eye. Matt hadn’t seen him get bit or hit his eye on anything, so we didn’t know what was going on. He’d been exposed to pink eye recently, but the white of his eye was perfectly clear, so I was pretty sure that wasn’t it. I convinced myself that he’d be fine in the morning and put him to bed.
That night I had a dream - and I rarely remember my dreams - that his eye was far worse in the morning. I won’t describe my dream; it was not pretty. It wasn’t accurate either, but I think part of me must have known that something more serious was going on. When I went in to get Brandon up Sunday morning, I could see before I even turned on the light that his eye was completely swollen shut. I called out to Matt that we didn’t have to figure out what we were going to do for the day, that we were definitely going to CHEO.
This part of the weekend I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it’s incredibly stressful to have to wait for your two-year-old to be assessed in an emergency department full of lots of interesting gadgets he’s not allowed to touch.
It’s frustrating to have two different doctors and the nurse give you three different versions of what to do and when. It’s disorienting to have a fourth nurse (student?) who doesn’t really communicate with you at all - and who is more focused on getting vitals than acknowledging that her young patient is exhausted and is simply not in the frame of mind to cooperate.
Don’t get me wrong; I have a great respect and appreciation for CHEO and its presence in Ottawa. And I don’t think Brandon had poor care at all. We just had some communication challenges that eventually got worked out. The only lingering concern I have was that the doctors both told us several times that they didn’t know what was wrong with Brandon’s eye. They were going forward with aggressive treatment for infection, but he didn’t seem to have one based on the blood work. But with a fever and the swelling as bad as it was around his eye, they didn’t want to take any chances with waiting for further testing. They didn’t mention they suspected it was cellulitis if it was an infection. They didn’t mention that if it was cellulitis that it was was worrisome enough that they wanted to go directly to intravenous antibiotics rather than oral or injections. They did say that they were taking it seriously because his eye was affected, though, and I am extremely thankful for that.
My feelings about this whole episode are more positive toward my husband and son. Matt is, quite simply, a rock when it comes to medical stuff. Matt just does what needs to be done - no drama, no whining. I love that about him. On the other hand, I am a complete wimp. I can barely handle getting a needle myself and I had to talk myself through it and remember to breathe and not look as they’re putting an IV into my little boy’s hand.
They couldn’t get the blood they needed for testing from the IV site, so they had to take it separately from his other arm. My poor little monkey was held down by his mom, his dad and two strange nurses for about 20 minutes as we tried to make all this without hurting him. He was tethered by the IV pole for several hours while we waited for the blood test results and then waited for the first dose of antibiotics - we did a LOT of waiting throughout Sunday.
Given the situation, Brandon was extremely well-behaved. I could not be more proud of him. He occasionally tried to pull off the dressings and IV, but he didn’t get too worked up when we wouldn’t let him. He finally stopped trying to pull it off and just held up his arm and said, “take off.” That’s my smart boy! We finally got the all clear to leave the hospital around 2:30 with instructions to return 8 hours later for his second dose and a warning that we’d have to come back Monday morning for a third. I didn’t care about interrupting my sleep, because I’m a big girl and I can adjust. I wasn’t thrilled about the disruption to Brandon’s routine, but we really had no choice.
Sunday night was weird. We puttered around doing chores, but we just had this feeling of constant waiting. Waiting to see if Brandon’s eye was any better. Waiting to go back to the hospital. Waiting to find out if they figured out what was wrong.
At promptly 9:00pm, Matt and I had everything ready to go and all we had to do was whisk Brandon out of bed and into the car. He was not a happy camper, but I got him calmed down with food and a movie in the car. (Yay for movies in the car!) By the time we got back to the hospital, he was in a pretty cheerful mood. We found out in triage that the infection was cellulitis. (I already gave that one away a few paragraphs ago, but this was the first time we’d been told.) We waited some more, though not as long as everyone else, because we had to keep those antibiotics on schedule. And they did a great job getting us in and out of there as quickly as possible. CHEO is across town from our house - 20 minutes minimum if there’s no traffic. Round trip, it took us less than two hours, thank goodness.
The nurses who helped us were much easier around children and Brandon really took to them, saying “take off” when they started unwrapping the dressings that covered his IV. Then he told them “thank you” before we left and I think his nurse fell a little bit in love with him - the flirt! With orders to return in 8 hours, i.e. by 5:30 the next morning, we headed home to put Brandon to bed. His eye was definitely improving and we were all feeling better.
By the next morning, his eye was doing a lot better; it was almost down to where it was when I first saw the swelling on Saturday afternoon, but I wasn’t optimistic that this would mean we’d get to switch to oral antibiotics yet. But I was wrong! I was so glad to be wrong, too. Brandon had his last dose of antibiotics injected into the IV and then they took it out completely.
In the grand scheme of life, this was a pretty minor blip on the radar. Sure, the infection was pretty severe and might have caused some serious and long-term problems if left untreated, but we were fortunate to catch it early enough and get treatment started quickly. What I took away from this experience is a greater respect for the challenges that parents of sick children face. There is nothing easy about having to confine a child to a hospital room for a few hours; I can’t imagine how difficult it is if they have to stay for longer periods. It’s scary to have so many different people coming in and out of your room, but the doctors and nurses at the children’s hospital are so good at gaining the little ones’ trust. (Even though Brandon wouldn’t give his doctor “five”.)
I’ve also, once again, learned how adaptable my child can be. When faced with an unknown situation, he certainly balks at it, but when he knows there is no getting around it he just lives with it. He doesn’t cry and scream and sulk at every turn; he tries to find ways to make the new path fun. I know some adults who can’t even say that much. I feel so much pride after watching him this weekend - not for anything I’ve done, but for who he is as a person. I hope that Matt and I learn to do a good job of nurturing these positive traits he’s showing.