The week leading up to Penny's hospital stay was Thanksgiving. I hosted, and my entire family came and stayed with us in our little house. It was crazy and loud at times, but Penny and Eloise loved all the attention and excitement. We cooked a huge dinner, explored Austin, and played lots of card games. It was a blast! They left the Monday after Thanksgiving and we still had a fridge full of leftovers and the Christmas holidays and parties to look forward to.
The next day (Wednesday), the throwing up started. Looking back, I am embarrassed to admit that my biggest concern at the time was that her sickness would prevent me from being able to attend a party with Andrew. It was one of the rare times we had planned ahead and gotten a babysitter and we were both really looking forward to it. I was determined not to miss out, and went without him, thinking Penny just had the stomach flu and praying that I did not have it too.
To be fair, the sickness started out very normal. Penny was really good about vomiting into her bowl and not all over the furniture and floor. She could still move around on her own, but she spent most of the day on the couch watching movies.
On Thursday, she was worse. Her vomit was yellow, which I now know is a red flag that something could be seriously wrong, but I didn't think much of it at the time. My biggest concern was dehydration. She was throwing up so much, that I was worried we would be going to the hospital to get her hooked up to an IV. I remember something similar happening to my littlest sister, Taylor, when she was around Penny's age. And I was partly right, she did end up in the hospital hooked up to on IV, but not for dehydration.
Penny was so thirsty that she would guzzle water and that would make the vomiting worse. This was also the day that she began to withdraw. She became very quiet. This is not a normal thing. Penny is the type of kid who talks to everyone--anyone she passes on the street or in the grocery store. She has been known to call out to people walking their dogs as she stand at the top of the playground to ask them how they are doing. So when I say Penny was very quiet, that is a very strange thing for her. And it was the first thing that really started making me nervous.
She also became very weak. She didn't move all day. I had to carry her around and help her sit up. All she wanted was my company. And so I sat by her almost all day, even falling asleep on me for a while, something she hadn't done for years.
That night as I carried her to bed she begged me not to leave her. “Stay with me Momma” And I couldn't refuse. So I sat by her bed and stroked her hair and held her hand as she drifted off to sleep. I stayed with her for a long time after she feel asleep feeling worried. Something was definitely off. Normally, when my kids are sick and I am getting panicky and jumping to crazy conclusions, there is a calm feeling in the back of my mind that helps me relax and assures me that everything is alright. That night, I did not have that feeling. That absence of peace weighed heavily on my mind as I tried to sleep and I wrestled with it until morning.
The next day (Friday), I got Penny out of bed and carried her to the couch. I sat her down and moments later I watched her vomit all over herself. She did not make it into the bowl, she didn't even try. And my little girl who can’t stand to wear a shirt with a drop of water on it, sat there covered in sick and remained unresponsive.
That’s when I knew something was very wrong.
Click to read Part 2