Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In case of emergency

We are almost upon the 1 year anniversary that #3 had an appendix bursting situation.  I've meant to post things I've learned, but .....

1.  Trust your instincts.  I called the doctors office at 4 concerned enough about the day of #3 not feeling well.  They said give it a day, unless her symptoms changed.  Really, we know our kids well enough to know when the pain and uncomfortableness is different from "normal".  I say "normal" because unless there is an extreme amount of blood or other bodily issues, I tend to keep one eye on the problem and go about my business.  I let my kids self administer bandaids, icepacks, arnica, epsom salts and vitamins.  When I called the after-hours medical advice line 4 hours later, they urged me to go to the hospital ER immediately.  Prior to receiving morphine (8.5 hours without pain meds or diagnosis) #3 stated that her pain was 11 out of 10.  She never cried.  Who really could have guessed the extreme pain and condition that was happening.

2.  Have an opinion about what hospital is best for kids.  Just as you check out schools before your kids go, you should know what hospital you want your kids to go to and why.  We are equi-distant between 2 hospitals.  One has a pediatric ER and one does not.  One has pediatric surgeons and one does not.  One is near a maximum security prison and one is not.  Guess where we ended up?  11 1/2 hours in the wrong hospital made for a long night and then some.

3.  Take a plug-in cel phone charger and snacks with you when you go.  You never know how long you will be and how important your phone with texting and games can be.  Also, no one is there to help the parent of the patient.  There is no way I'd leave my child in a space, in 11 out of 10 pain, to hunt out a vending machine, next to prison inmates and stabbing victims.  Normally, I wouldn't be eating between 8 PM and 8:30 AM, but something about staying up through the night helping a sick child made me want a soda or something to keep me up.  I guess it is a good thing I didn't have anything with me to eat or drink because then I'd have to go the bathroom.  Non-ped ERs don't care that there isn't anything to keep your in pain, puking and pooping child entertained.  Thank goodness for phone tic-tac-toe and Dora movies, but what a drain on the battery.  Also keeping in contact with the spouse at home with the 3 other kids and any other support throughout the night is a handy thing too.  Running low on energy from no sleep or food and battery power on the phone are very stressful.  Thank goodness for the Ambulance driver with a phone plug that matched.  We barely made it with power, but we made it.  I now travel with a plug charger in my car in case I end up in a similar situation.

4.  Question the doctors.  We started with an ER doctor that I swear we've had before.  When #4 had an ear infection and the ER was our only option for pain relief, I believe this doctor was very dismissive.  He did not trust my instincts or believe my concern was valid.  He was wrong and was the person saying to me, "If it was my child, I would not run the invasive tests".  Really he was saying this because he must see a lot of cases of gas that parents think are appendicitis.  After 8.5 hours in the ER, I wished we ran the tests when we got there and not 3-4 hours after we had gotten there.   He was basing his opinion on how stoic #3 was being.  He doesn't know her though.  The most whining and crying is usually over a sibling issue.  Since we were without siblings, there is no one to show off for.  We also learned the hard way that nurses and doctors don't always communicate when they change shifts.  Asking questions is important when you don't think you are being heard or need to clarify something.

5.  Go to the bathroom before the ambulance ride.  Luckily I had the foresight to ask the ambulance doctor to stay with #3 while I did this task.  Once we got to our destination, it was straight to surgery prep and such.  No time to pee.

6.  Write everything down.  Bring a small notebook and pen.  I did not and wished I had.  After 2-3 days with little to no sleep, it is hard to remember what you are being told or who is saying it.  People change shifts and days blur.  Write it down.

7.  Have a phone tree established for emergencies.  Determine when you are not in crisis who needs to know.  Set up a process to notify them without you needing to call everyone.  Create an e-mail dist-list to have if necessary for updates.

8.  Use social networking sites if you belong.  It is a way to give simple updates to a larger group than text or e-mail.  You never know who has advice, knows someone to help or can help you in ways you haven't thought of.  It is also a nice way to have communication with those other than your sick child, nurses and doctors.

9.  Accept help.  There is no way to keep a family of 6 running when one of the adults is missing.  Plenty of help is offered.  There is no way to predict who will help or how or what, but be open to it.  We were blessed with friends who took multiple kids, prepared meals, came by to visit and so on.  The kids' schools were flexible and so were others we had prior commitments with.

10.  Be patient.  Tests take time, recovery takes time and then it takes more time.  It took time for the family to adjust when we were discombobulated, and then not.  Recovery took time, and then it took time for the residual attention to stop.

11.  Lastly, you are always your child's advocate.  You know your child.  It is not as if people are out to get you or your child, but knowing when to say stop or how far the whining should be accommodated is your job.  Being a parent means making the best decisions for the welfare and goodness of your child every day all the time.  It doesn't change in case of emergency or not.  I repeated myself in situations I felt were worthy many times to everyone who came into our room.  At the end of the day, I doubt I will see any of the nurses or doctors again (hopefully and nothing personal) and if I offended them with redundancy, then oh well.

p.s. We have now learned that appendicitis is not more or less common in children.  It is not hereditary.  It is ambiguous until it is not.  There is nothing you can do to prevent it and you don't need an appendix to live.  Hubby did research and said it is a leftover organ from when we were more related to cows.  Moo.

No comments:

Post a Comment