Monday, January 16, 2017

Penny's Burst Appendix: Part 3

(You can find Part 2: Here) I pulled up to emergency drop of curb and Andrew came out to meet us. He parked the car, while I carried Penny, wrapped up in a blanket into the ER. I kept expecting everything to feel dramatic and fast paced, but in reality, everything was slow and patient.  Over the next 6-7 hours we waited as they put in an IV and ran tests, including an ultrasound, chest x-rays, and a full CT scan. With each new test, another specialist or DR would come and carefully explain what they had done and what this meant and what the next course of action would be. 
This picture is still painful for me to look at. She looks so hollow.
The worst test was the ultrasound. It is the fastest way to diagnose an appendicitis, but to see her appendix they really needed to press hard. Penny wouldn't let anyone near her stomach. They gave her some morphine for all the pain she was in but she still didn't want anyone to touch her. The tech worked slowly and gently and I silently and continually prayed over Penny that she wouldn't be in pain and that the ultrasound tech would be able to see what she needed to see. That prayer was answered and Penny calmed. I have never felt the presence of angels watching over us as I did in that moment.
The ultrasound was successful and as soon as it was over, Penny went back to complaining anytime her stomach was touched. They later told me that it is remarkable that she was able to let them see that well with the ultrasound. She has a lot of gas and that required them to push even harder to see everything. She also handled the CT like a champ, even though it made her nervous. Everyone kept remarking on how well she was behaving, saying that she was acting better than most 6 year-olds do in this situation.
CT Scan
Penny was a shadow of her former self. The only time she was a little bit happy, was when a nurse came and brought her a stuffed dog. She smiled and snuggled it.The tests confirmed that it was her appendix and that every one’s unvoiced suspicions were correct, it had burst. They immediately got her ready to transfer to surgery. 
She also had low oxygen levels
Right before she went in, Andrew gave her a blessing. She was nervous about being taken away from us, and I hated it too. But we promised her that it would be alright.   
Our last view as she entered the Op Theatre

Waiting room - the status board (Penny is the green line)
And then we waiting in the waiting area, surrounded by others with loved ones in surgery. Watching the board and willing it to give us more information that just “In Surgery”.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Penny's Burst Appendix: Part 2

(You can find Part 1 here)

I called her pediatricians office and was able to get an appointment 30 mins later. We had all just gotten up, so I rushed and threw on the clothes I had been wearing the day before, quickly rinsed Penny off in the bath, and had the good sense to grab a spare dress for her in case she vomited again.

I carried Penny into the doctors office and willed Eloise to be cooperative, which she wasn’t. The doctor immediately suspected something was very wrong. I think he knew within minutes that her appendix had burst, but all he told me is that he was concerned about her appendix and that we needed to do a blood test. 

Penny needed me to hold her and comfort her as they pricked her and tried to urge blood out of her dehydrated veins. Eloise was distraught that she couldn't be with me and a kind nurse held her while she kicked and screamed. 

While we waited for the results, Penny was given pedialte to drink and Eloise was jealous, and made that known, so the nice nurses got both girls pedialte popsicles. They also tried to give Penny medicine to stop her from vomiting. But it made her vomit it up along with the contents of her first pedialight drink. Thank goodness I packed a spare outfit! 
Meanwhile, Eloise enjoyed both popsicles and but got frustrated when they needed to be pushed up and shook them in her anger, covering the room in melted popsicle. Penny was still pretty unresponsive, except to request that I hold her. But Eloise was causing such a commotion that I had to keep putting Penny down to do some damage control. It looked a little something like this:

I felt like I was being pulled in two directions.

The dr came back to deliver the results. He began slowly describing what white blood cells do. Having studied health in college I had half a mind to interrupt so he could get to the part about what the problem is. It seemed to unlikely that it could really be her appendix, I expected him to say, that her white blood cells are slightly elevated, but not enough to be concerned and that we were going to have to do more tests, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Normal counts are between 5000 and 10000. And Penny’s was in the 40000’s. And we needed to get her to the ER in the hour. He called ahead so they were expecting us.

My sister-in-law was able to come pick up Eloise from the Dr’s office and Andrew left work to go meet us at the ER. I took off with Penny, still in shock, and not quite knowing how to process what what happening. I turned on the radio so Penny wouldn't hear me cry and we drove to the hospital to the tune of, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Click to read Part 3

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Penny's Burst Appendix: Part 1

I started writing this a year ago. Everything was still so fresh and painful that it hurt to write it all down. It was that kind of hurt that is painful, but healing at the same time, yet, I stopped part way through and never finished. I think it was also a big part of why I stopped blogging. It felt wrong to skip over this big, hard thing in our life just because it was painful to write about. With a little over a year behind us, it's time to finally finish.

Part 1:

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.

Penny went to preschool on Tuesday and her teacher told me afterwards that she hadn't been herself. Penny burst into tears when she saw me at pickup for no discernible reason but I didn't think too much of it at the time.

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.
By this point she hadn't eaten anything since Tuesday, which hadn't been much. The only time she talked was to complain and cry out that her stomach hurt her. Knowing how this story ends, this might seem a very obvious clue as to what was wrong, but I just assumed that the vomiting was hurting her. And in the days to come I would beat myself up for not knowing how serious the pain had been.

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


Monday, November 14, 2016

Poop, Pee, and Diaper Gel

Monday is PRESCHOOL DAY! The best day of the week! (sung to the tune of the Aquabat's Pizza Day) And I had big plans for my first solo Monday. I planned on rewarding myself for getting all three kids out of the house and to preschool (hopefully on time) by stoping at Target on my way home and strolling leisurely though the aisles with Maisie. Stopping to smell all the new holiday Mrs. Meyers cleaning sprays and hand soaps (because apparently, being an adult and mother of three means getting embarrassingly excited about seasonal cleaning supplies) and probably walking away with a cart full of must-haves from the dollar section. Which, while I am on the subject, is actually more like the $3 and $5 dollar section these days.

I was disappointed when I opened my email this morning and saw a note from Penny and Eloise's preschool teacher reminding everyone that preschool was canceled this week. But the girls were all still sleeping, Maisie included, and I was more relieved to get a few more minutes of sleep to be upset about losing my quiet morning. And even more relieved that I didn't wake up three sleeping girls and drag them to preschool only to discover there wasn't one today. But that's pretty much where my good fortune for the day ends.

An hour later, Maisie began to stir, and I could hear the big girls waking up as well so up I got. Maisie got a clean diaper and we went and got the big girls up from their rooms. And that's when I smelt it. It was like a cross between vomit and diarrhea and the resulting smell punched me in the face as soon as I opened Eloise's bedroom door. I quickly discovered that her diaper had leaked poop all over her crib.

Poor Maisie had to go back to her bassinet and wait while I dealt with the stinky problem at hand. As I ran around starting a load of laundry and putting Eloise into the tub, Maisie cried from her crib. Penny was able to keep her calm with binkies and songs.

But apparently, that wasn't enough excitement for the day. There was also an entire book ripped to shreds coving the floor in Eloise's room. Penny's room, looked like a tornado blew through it--not just because books and toys covered the floor, but also because her mattress was half on the box strings, half on the floor like a slide. However, the worse mess came as I sat nursing Maisie when Penny came and announced that the hall was covered in snow.

I've been doing this mom thing long enough to know, that when your preschooler tells you the hall is covered in snow, it's probably not just in her imagination, but some terrible mess that she thinks cutely resembles snow but that I will see for what it really is--horrifying. And she did not disappoint. From what I can tell, she must have ripped open her pull up, either on purpose or on accident, and the result was diaper gel covering the entire length of the hall. She played in it for a while, then got a spoon and brought it to me to see and told me to smell it. An offer that I instantly declined.

I armed her with a pair of gloves and a grocery bag, and she was able to pick up the bigger piles but the hall remained littered with the stuff. A quick google search, suggested using baking soda to help dry it out so it could be vacuumed up. So now, there is a nice layer of baking soda all over the carpet as well. I'm praying google doesn't fail me and leave me with an even greater mess.

I wish that was the last of it. But it's not. Remember when I said Eloise took a bath? Well, she got out of the bath while I was nursing Maisie, and I wasn't able to get a diaper on her, but she kept assuring me that she didn't need to go to the bathroom. Later, as I finally put her diaper on, she sweetly informed me that she peed in Penny's room. I have yet to find out where.
I will leave you with a picture of my sweet Maisie girl. I am not one to have favorites, but if I did, my favorite child would probably be the one sleeping peacefully while the others covered the house in bodily fluids..

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Halloween Twenty Fifteen!

The holidays keep getting better and better as our girls have gotten older and have started to really "get" it. Halloween with little kids is the absolute best! I picked Eloise's costume, she was a wind-up doll (like Penny was). Penny said she wanted to be a witch's shoe, I hoped she would be goldilocks, we compromised and she was a witch.
She loves those pumpkins!

This one is an outtake, but it's so funny to me I couldn't help but include it!