Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I Think I've Earned My Mom Badge Now

Back to "As the Toddler Turns:" Jarrah was still steaming when David got home yesterday. She was also peculiarly gray in visage and her breathing was shallow and rapid. We tossed her in the tub and she barely protested. That was also weird. We stalled for a bit but I think we both knew it was time. When we finally called our pediatrician's office, the attending said "Go to the ER." So we did.

I was nervous and light-headed on the way there; thankfully, I don't know much about emergency rooms, let alone those devoted to children's emergencies. The whole thing seemed slightly surreal. David dropped us in the circular drive and went to park the car. I had just gotten Jarrah out of the car seat when I heard someone behind me say "She's gonna blow!" Right then Jarrah barfed down my back and into my open purse. Suddenly, I was a weird combination of embarrassed and scared. I started running with Jarrah in my arms towards the check-in desk, and then straight back out again as I wondered: "Is it rude to carry a vomiting child indoors?" Then my terror overruled that polite consideration and I ran back the other way. I got in line and Jarrah snuggled her head under my chin. Just before my turn, she let loose a torrent of puke directly into my cleavage. Twice. I stood there, clutching my burning child, coated in hot vomit, just in time to hear "Next!" I opened my mouth, and no sound came out. Tears started running down my face.

"It's okay, Mom." said the admitting nurse. Like an angel. A special Patron Saint of Vomit. She slipped the little pulse thing-o on Jarrah's finger. "She's awake and responsive. That's a good thing, Mom. It's okay." I cried some more but managed to get out a couple pertinent details. David came in just as it was time to sit down and wait. Now I was able to focus on other things, like the fact that I was wearing vomit and hadn't brought a change of clothes, and that everything in my purse was wet and stinky. I snapped open my cell phone. Totally wrecked.

I couldn't change, but I had a moment to appreciate our surroundings. The lobby was new, and sort of cheerful. There wasn't any screaming or crying; no one appeared to be bleeding or dying. By the time I was done with that, they were calling "Ja-RAH! Ja-RAH!" and we were on our way to triage.

The triage nurse took her temperature, and then we all held her head for a very sloooooow dose of Motrin (since all the recent ones had come right back up.) By now Jarrah was no longer excited about the "doc-tah"--back at the house she'd been psyched, since she'd seen one on the Wiggles. The nurse sent us back out to the lobby, saying "If you haven't been called in an hour, let me know." Uh-oh. But they called us in two minutes, if that. I never did finish any of the admitting paperwork they gave us. Hopefully someone did.

When we got to the overly bright room with the paper tablecloth, Jarrah was over it. "Go home now," she said. "I want to go home, too, sweetie," I said. I really did. I was ready for dinner and Heroes. "We've got to wait for the doctor." Another triage nurse came by to do her vitals, and said she "heard something" in Jarrah's left lung. Eek.

All of the above happened bim, bam, boom. But we waited for the doctor for an hour. We put Jarrah in a gown covered in tigers. "Don't like it," she said. "Don't want it." We got her a cherry popsicle and the nurse took her temp again. It had gone up. But she still had the presence of mind to prefer the Red Vines from the gift shop to her popsicle. "That one," she said. And then she said it about 20 more times. Because we thought she had the stomach flu, however, we couldn't give her anything but liquids, in the interest of keeping the Motrin in.

I was getting hungry (and cold--I ended up shucking the vomit shirt and putting on David's jacket with nothing underneath) so David sent me to the attached McDonald's for a snack. Later, he said that Jarrah cried for me the whole time I was gone. Cringe. McDonald's in a Children's Hospital is even more depressing than usual. I ate a cold Happy Meal while reading a brochure on how McDonald's gives back to the community. I listened to a man near me say into his cell phone, "We're here for the duration. Thanks for your prayers." I shivered thinking about all those tired, sick kids on the other side of the wall, and their anxious families sitting around. I scurried back to our room.

When I got there, David was talking to Dr. Dabhia. She was young and beautiful, and very sweet. She confirmed that Jarrah needed a chest x-ray, and went off to order it. Right before she did, I stood up and almost fainted. The room spun around and around. I had to sit down and put my head between my knees. I'm not sure what was going on; maybe I had forgotten to breathe for a while.

David went snack-hunting right as the respiratory technician came in. He explained that he was going to give Jarrah a breathing treatment. He asked me to seat her on the edge of the table and hold her hands. Then he snapped the little mask like you see in the movies over her face and turned on a big unit that pumped out dense, white steam through a blue tube. For a split second she froze, in what looked like total disbelief rather than shock. Then she opened her mouth and screamed at the top of her lungs, ripped off the mask and made a dash for the door. That's my girl--she can take care of herself. I wanted to be strong for her, but I immediately began sobbing when I saw her little face looking so betrayed, that expression that says, "Why are you letting this happen to me?"

In the end, the technician and I had the lovely experience of holding Jarrah in a headlock (it took two of us--she's that strong) while he pressed the hose directly to her nose and mouth without the scary mask. I swear we did this for 15 minutes, and my eyes were about six inches from his crotch the whole time. You know, because the situation wouldn't have been quite awkward enough otherwise. Throughout, Jarrah was keening, "Noooooo.....noooooo.......noooooo" until he finally said "There's no owies, right?" and something seemed to click for her--true enough, there were no owies! She stopped crying and moaning, though we still had to hold her head.

Immediately after, a radiology technician popped in to take us to x-ray. By now Jarrah looked positively shell-shocked. "Any chance you're pregnant?" the cute x-ray girl asked. "Um, nooooo." I said, in my sarcastic voice. I've got to stop doing that with total strangers. We hoisted Jarrah onto a narrow table and the technician strapped her down. Then she positioned bright lights on her and wheeled a giant machine towards her. "Look!" I cried shrilly. "What a big camera! You're going to have your picture taken, but this camera is much bigger than Daddy's!" I stepped behind a giant glass screen while David held Jarrah's arms over her head. Her expression was dumbfounded, but she didn't cry or struggle.

Back to our room, which was starting to feel like home. Jarrah thought the ceiling track for the privacy curtain was for trains, so I turned it into a choo-choo and made it chug along for her. A sweet nurse brought her a stuffed giraffe as a souvenir of her visit. She found the abandoned oxygen mask on the counter and made him wear it. She palpated his stomach (which had been done to her several times already) and said, "Giraffe go to doc-tah!" We had a pink vomit basin from earlier, which Jarrah decided was a phone: "Hello? Hello? See you soon!" Then I positioned the giraffe's head over it and said "Blehhhh! Blehhhh!" "Don't give her any ideas, " said David.

Dr. Dabhia came back and told us Jarrah had pneumonia, in the early stages. She was going to need antibiotics. She went off again to write up the Rx. A cute nurse who reminded me of Seth Rogen from Freaks and Geeks came in to discharge us, and explained that Jarrah was only throwing up because she was coughing so hard. All signs pointed to it having been a good idea that we got her looked at sooner rather than later.

Jarrah was ecstatic that we were going home. It was 10:30 p.m., we'd been at the hospital for nearly four hours, we'd been treated really well, and we'd gotten some answers. Outside, it was strangely tropical, like Hawaii, only we were in a parking structure in Kearny Mesa. "Wiggles!" shouted Jarrah as we made our way to the car. She has a very strong association of where we parked for the Wiggles concert, and since her mommy is claustrophobic and avoids parking garages whenever possible, there hasn't been much to compete with this memory. Now there is.

I'd like to say that all our troubles came to an end with our return home, but Jarrah soon vomited in her clean bed and spent most of the night alternately crying and coughing. I went unshowered and unbreakfasted to the pharmacy when I finally woke up, having been up the first half of the night on a hair-trigger response for more coughing-vomiting interludes. Jarrah slept in, clearly exhausted from her cootie battle.

And get this: insurance wouldn't cover any of her meds because a generic is being released on May 11. Because we obviously can't wait for it, we had to pay over a hundred dollars to get her better starting today. I guess they think she should just suffer until then to get the generic? If I wasn't so tired, I'd be making some irate phone calls. Tomorrow's another day.


Type (little) a said...


Hope Jarrah gets better soon, and that Mommy and Daddy don't catchwhat she's got.

Also, I won't be expecting any calls from your cell.

Jenn said...

Oh Sam! HUGE hugs... can we bring you dinner? Yiftach offered to make the phone call to your insurance for the ludicrous amount of money they charged for the meds because your daughter got sick two days before a generic; unbelievable!

When you are up on your feet all feeling better, we'd love to meet you at the park!

Lisa Gillespie said...

Hi Sam!

Sounds awful!! What a horrendous day! I hope Jarrah is feeling better by now. Pneumonia is a scary word.

I had to laugh about you making the giraffe barf into the emesis basin :-). I did that too when Anton was sick!! This just shows we have the same wacky sense of humor when we are delirious. :-)

Give Miss J a hug from the mouse house lady.

Love, Lisa

Alleen said...

I'm hoping she is feeling much better.

WTF on the meds?????????????????

Anonymous said...

Yes, you've definitely earned your Mom Badge!!

Hope Jarrah is better by now?

Best, Gail

Chinazhoumom said...

Sam...Appeal the claim for her RX - I work for a MAJOR health in carrier - and you (by law) have 2 appeals - look at your certificate of coverage (that big book or pdf file-you prod have never opened)
anyway - write a letter - or better yet - a cc of your blog post to the ins company - if rejected - DO IT AGAIN - oh and mention the insurance commissioner - they hate that.
Good Luck..

Cheri said...

I nominate Sam for Mom of the Year!

I hope Jarrah is on the mend.

Happy Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

Hope all is well by now! Your blog had me on the edge of my seat... I'm sure the antibiotics will make things much better much soon. Thinking of you guys, Lix

Those who serve the little dictatrice. said...

Oh no! What an un-fun experience!

Hope Jarrah is feeling better ... and that you were able to get the vomit smell out of your purse. :) ... does tend to linger... lol

Mir said...

Oh you poor things! DEFINITELY deserving of the mommy badge. Glad to hear that she's feeling better!!