I got an email from a reader today that cracked me up. It simply said “What the heck happened?” It made me laugh because I feel like I’m still figuring that out myself.
We’re still at the hospital and I’m a terrible cell phone typer but I’ll do my best to give a brief explanation for anyone who has been wondering.
I’ve mentioned for the last two weeks that Violet has been sick. At first it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. She was diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome at 18 months, and this seemed like a typical episode.
But then it didn’t end. With each passing day I felt more and more panic. Friday morning was day 12 of her vomiting. I arrived at work but just couldn’t concentrate. I turned around and left an hour later. The panic that had been growing each day was suddenly so strong that I rushed home, grabbed Violet from the babysitter, and drove to the hospital faster than I have ever driven before.
It was our third ER trip for that episode. Something didn’t feel right, but I told myself she just needed more IV fluids.
When the doctor came back she asked if we had done an x-ray and if I thought we should do one. Without even thinking about it I blurted out “I want to check for an intestinal obstruction.” I had just watched Next to Normal on YouTube last week and the phrase was still on my mind (I have a lot more to say about the show but this is just a quick update). The funny thing is I didn’t REALLY think that was it. Or perhaps I did subconsciously. Whatever the case, when she asked, intestinal obstruction came out of my mouth, and moments later we were in x-ray.
The x-Ray looked fishy, so off to ultrasound, the ultrasound looked suspicious so off to another ultrasound. This was all very fast.
Gosh this is the speediest hospital ever, I thought to myself. Not realizing the speed was perhaps a sign of something serious.
Then the doctor walked in. She took the Gatorade my daughter wasn’t drinking out of her hand carefully. “No more drinks, okay?”
My face must have conveyed my confusion.
“I don’t want you to panic. But we’ve just paged our best surgeon. He should be here in about 30 minutes to perform emergency lifesaving surgery on your daughter.”
Emergency. Lifesaving. Surgery. But don’t panic right?
Things got really busy really fast. People rushed in to take her vital signs. She was changed into a gown and then whisked away.
The doctor arrived. He drew a quick sketch I didn’t completely understand. Said a lot of big words I didn’t understand. The things that stuck in my head were that her intestines were essentially knotted (so she did indeed have an intestinal obstruction) and that she was likely septic. He told me various scenarios that involved colonstomy bags, intestinal implants, and further surgeries.
I remember asking him if this was a minor thing, like getting your tonsils out. His response was that he was a 30 minute drive away when he got the call, and yet, here he was ready to perform surgery 20 minutes later.
So I guess it was a bit more serious than a tonsillectomy.
He asked me if I had any other questions and then power walked out of the room.
When he emerged two hours later his first words to me were “Well, we were able to save your little girl.”
My heart skipped a beat because that was the first moment that it dawned on me just how serious it was.
The surgery had gone even better than expected. He said that although her intestines were very beat up, he was able to save them all. No colonostomy bag, no further surgeries required. I remember telling him how thankful I was and him responding that it was a miracle.
We’re still figuring everything out, but what this doctor thinks happened is that Violet was born with what’s called an intestinal malrotation. Which from what I understand means she was born with her intestines positioned incorrectly in her abdomen. This caused her intestines to twist in and out of place over the last 3 years. Things were so twisted around in there that her appendix was in the upper left side of her abdomen as opposed to the lower right. Every time they twisted she got sick, and developed a small volvulus which (thankfully) worked itself out. This time she developed a nearly catastrophic volvulus which blocked off her intestines 100%, and never would have come untwisted by itself.
She’s doing really wonderfully now. I’m slowly sorting through my thoughts, especially on how this was missed for so long. I’m also feeling extremely lucky that although it was missed by so many doctors and specialists, she’s going to be just fine.