I had hives over Thanksgiving. I was going to muscle through it, but after a few days I gave up and headed to the ER for a round of steroids. It was a big help, they cleared up right away, but being in the ER triggered a memory that’s been playing on my mind ever since.
As I was sitting in the ER waiting for my shot, I remembered one of Violet’s first ER visits nearly two years earlier at that same hospital. She was 1 at the time. This was long before she was misdiagnosed with CVS. She’d been throwing up for who knows how long. She was lethargic. Her eyes were sunken in. They gave her an IV as we waited for the results of her blood test.
The minutes ticked by. She started squirming, which was a tell tale sign that she was going to throw up again at any moment. At that age she had no control of it, no ability to hit a bag or bucket. Per usual, she got me, and I was covered. I’d committed the cardinal sin of ER visits with a frequent vomiter – I hadn’t brought a second outfit for myself. After throwing up, she felt much better and fell asleep. I placed her in the hospital bed and slipped down the hallway to try and wash up in the bathroom by the nurses station.
Voices floated in as I mopped up my neck and shirt with a paper towel… “I’m so sorry I’m late. Josh’s babysitter got stuck in traffic so I couldn’t leave.” “Oh no worries, it’s been really quiet….”
I tried to dry myself under the blow dryer, but realized quickly what a terrible idea that was (vomit+heat=worst smell ever), so I stepped away and the dryer shut back off.
The voices continued “… asthma attack in bed 1, broken arm in bed 2, hypochondriac mom in bed 4.” They laughed.
I headed back to Violet. I passed a boy receiving a nebulizer treatment, a girl with a newly wrapped cast, an empty bed, and there was my daughter curled up and tiny. I realized, of course, that I was the hypochondriac mom in bed 4 they had laughed about.
That was a very panicked time in my life. I felt in my heart of hearts that something was wrong with my baby, but no one I turned to seemed to think there was a problem.
An hour or so ticked by, someone came to tell me that unfortunately my daughter’s blood test had clotted so they didn’t have any results for her. “She’s looking a bit better after that IV” they said. She was still sleeping, but her color did look better. They discharged her, and gave me a handout on dealing with the stomach flu.
I don’t know why I’m rehashing that story. I guess because it’s no spend December and blogging is cheaper than therapy. I’ve been struggling a lot with what/ifs since Violet’s surgery.
People often say “Oh I’m so glad they figured this out so she won’t be sick all the time.” But it’s not just about being sick. In the passed, by some miracle, her intestines came untwisted on their own. That would not have happened the last time. They were wrapped too tightly, too many times. The blood flow was cut off. She didn’t have much time left.
What if that doctor hadn’t caught it? The final ER doctor who correctly diagnosed Violet was special, I could tell from the moment she walked in that she was different. She didn’t rush us. She listened in a way no other doctor ever had. Heck, she even asked to look at my daughter’s vomit (super special right?). But what if Violet had gotten a different doctor that day? The normal kind who brushed us off. What if our insurance hadn’t changed and we’d been at the old hospital? What if I hadn’t left work early? Those thoughts send me into a panic.
On the other hand, what if someone had listened to me years ago? What if all the doctors had been as good as the last one? What if I had fought harder? What if she had never had to deal with any of this?