Monday, August 13, 2007

A rough lesson

In September of 1996, H and I were newly married, we had gotten married in June of that year. My kids were doing well, they were 16, 12, and 10. We had just bought this house a few months before. All in all, good times.

One day while at work, I got a call from my youngest-YS-or Jordan--if you want his real name. He was ten years old, and he was complaining of a "stomach ache". He was now home from school, but told me that he had been sick all afternoon and the school nurse had sent him back to class, and she wouldn't call me. (Jordy had been known to use the stomach ache card before).
He said that he felt like throwing up, and i knew this must be a real problem he was having as he was now OUT of class, and still felt bad. I told him that i would be home is a little while, and to try the pepto in the fridge, and lay down. When I got home, i realized he really was pretty sick, he had a fever, and he started throwing up. This was on a Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, he was not better so i took him to the family doctor, the one we had always gone to. Dr J. said he had the classic stomach flu, liquid diet, rest...he would get better in a few days. He said it was really going around. On Thursday, he was really sick. He temp was around 102, and I was trying not to freak out like I always did/do when they get sick. He was still throwing up, everything. I was pushing liquids, and he was heaving them as soon as he swallowed them.

On Friday, I took him BACK to dr J. He was irritated with me, and acted like i was the classic idiot mother, and said to me "I told you this would last a few days, he has the flu". I protested that he had been sick for so long, and his fever wouldn't break. Nevertheless, he sent me on my way, acting like I was deranged. Jordy was no better all day on Friday, and i stayed home from work with him. I felt helpless.

On Saturday, I decided that I had had enough, and I knew for sure that Jordan had. He was one sick little boy, all the medication I had been trying to give him was doing NO good, I was seriously scared. I waited for H to get home, and we took him the the emergency room in the little town where our doctor was located. Because it was a weekend, there were doctors from the big city covering that department. I had never met the doctor that we saw. He ran a few tests on Jord, and said, "I don't know what's wrong with him, but I know something is wrong." He wanted us to get him to the pediatric hospital in Des Moines asap. He actually wanted us to let Jordy go by ambulance, but he was too scared for that. I could not believe what I was hearing. So we drove like maniacs the two hours to get him there. It was now late evening. When we got to the pediatric hospital, they of course, ran a few more tests. And came to the conclusion that his appendix had burst-- FOUR DAYS BEFORE. Emergency surgery, NOW. The surgeon on call came in, and boom---just like that, it was midnight, and Mark and I were sitting in the little room outside of the surgery wing. There wasn't another soul around.

Before the surgery began, the surgeon had come out to talk to us. I of course had never met him, and he seemed like a sweet, older doctor. I cannot tell you the emotions that I was feeling...mostly because all I can remember was the most paralyzing fear I had ever felt. After we spoke with the surgeon, it became unbelievably worse. He told us that there was no guarantee, that he had been sick for way too long, and the prognosis wasn't looking good at all. He assured us that he would do everything possible to save his life. I was in complete shock. I knew things didn't look good, but I couldn't believe the words I was hearing. I fell completely apart. Completely. I was most grateful that I had already seen Jordy and walked him down to the surgery doors before this, and I would not have been able to keep my composure now. He had said to me "will I be okay, mommy?" I had assured him that he would, and I told him that I loved him more than anything in my life, and i kissed his beautiful, sweet little face again and again. He held on to my hand for dear life. They had given him a sedative, and he sort of drifted off then, and I was grateful for that.

So there we sat, Mark and I. I was hanging on to HIM for dear life, praying that my baby would be okay. I had finally stopped crying, and I just sat there. The minutes ticked away so slowly, then the hours. Mark did all things humanly possible to comfort me, but I really was having no part of it. I felt the worst guilt I had ever felt---and I knew that I would carry that around with me until the day I died, regardless of the outcome.

This part of the hospital was eerily quiet at that hour, I don't think they actually began the surgery until close to midnight---and it was now going on three am. On a Saturday night. I had called his dad-in fact, I had called his dad all week to let him know that Jord was sick, and then that evening I had called to tell him what was going on. I woke him up, and he seemed not too worried. He lived about the same distance away that we did, but he did not offer to come to the hospital. None of my family offered that, either. I was shocked at their reactions, they wanted to know when he was out of surgery, but they weren't about to leave their warm beds. Both of the older kids were at home, alone, but D was old enough to take care of things. They were worried, but I had not told them the true gravity of the situation.

Finally, just after three am, the surgeon came out to talk to us. He said that things had gone as well as they could, but we would not really know anything for the next 48 hours. He said that the infection and gangrene had spread considerably. He said it had been necessary to remove part of his bowel, then piece it back together. He also said that Jordy's appendix was not in the usual place, that it was a little off to the left of where it should have been, and perhaps that is why the other doctor had been unable to detect the true problem. That meant nothing to me...I knew the reason that my doctor had not picked up on the problem was because he hadn't really tried. He knew the flu "was going around" and that was all he needed to know.

When my baby came through the doors of the surgery unit, I couldn't believe it was him. He looked awful, face swollen, tubes in his nose, down his throat, machines attached to everything. They took him to icu. That's where I went, too. For the next ten days, that is where I lived. I sent H back home to take care of the other two, and to continue on with life. Mine remained suspended on the outcome of the life of my baby.

Obviously, he survived just fine, as I talk about the rotten little shit all the time. I thank God for that every day. The days at the hospital were hard. It really was about two days before we knew whether he would come out of it or not. It took what seemed forever for his body to fight the infection off. Eventually, his dad did come to visit, but I learned what he was made of that Saturday night. That was the only time I left the hospital, I didn't want to see him, for fear that I would cause a scene in front of Jordan.

I called the school and told them what had happened during that first week. It was funny, the school nurse made a trip to visit as soon as he could have visitors. She called a few times to check on his progress and the class sent cards and gifts. I think she was afraid of what I might do to her, considering that she hadn't believed there was anything wrong with him in the first place. Dr J. called, also. He actually apologized for missing the true problem. Again, he was afraid of a lawsuit. The kids dad wanted me to sue everyone, and then in fact, he consulted a lawyer wanting to do just that. I wanted no part of any of it, and i thought that my ex's reaction was classic, considering he hadn't done one single thing to help any of it. If I wanted to sue anyone it would have been HIM. But I knew of no "I am a jackass father" lawsuits. I don't believe in suing---it would not have changed the outcome. Even if he hadn't made it, I would not have chosen to do that. But I did learn to be more diligent with the medical field....and while i have always trusted my gut, this time I didn't take it far enough. I still wish I had done more, taken him to a different dr, or something. I believe this whole mess is why he seems to always be sick--he can't ever get any cold or anything without it turning into a huge ordeal. I'm sure it had to have affected his immune system, although I have no medical proof of that.

I cannot imagine the HELL that losing a child would throw a mother into. I know the few days that I lived with that fear taught me to appreciate every day with those I love, as the most innocent of things can turn deadly in a matter of no time. I have always been a paranoid mother, and I don't mind admitting that. My kids are my entire world. After this incident, I became even worse. Which I am sure is why I am still an idiot mother, and they are all grown. I don't mind being thought of that way---because it is the truth. I definitely could be called worse things. :)


Summer said...

A mother's instincts are ALWAYS right.

abbagirl74 said...

Thanks for this post. I needed to read it. My kid has really been on my mind lately. You are such a good mamma.

SOUL: said...

jamie jamie jamie...
this one did me in. thanks for writing it...
but ya got me... the usually non crying soul...sittin here crying, reading about your baby... your instincts... the fucked up medical world... just all of it. i was right there with you.
you know how bad my memory is, and i really don't know what or how much you know about my baby patrick... but i KNEW.. and every doctor i took him to acted the same way... ear infection, bronchitis, respiratory infection... all the while i BEGGED them to test him for friggin asthma!!!! begged. i KNEW. 4 1/2 months old. half his life was spent sick. 5 day stretch was spent inpatient.. for include a terrifying spinal tap! i was only 22 years old. maybe even 21. JESUS. NOT one single freakin dr would do an asthma test. to this day i don't know what it takes to test for asthma... all i know... is that asthma is what killed my first born baby boy... while the entire house slept and heard nothing.

i don't believe in suing either. but that was a definite of wrongful death. or malpractice..and a well documented one. but that wasn't what any of it was about. NO amount of money can make any of that better.

I am so glad your boy is ok. at least to some degree. and an idiot mother is better than no mother at all!!!
idiot mothers unite!
ok it's early..i had to throw something stupid in there... gosh.. how dare you make me cry at 6 am on a damn monday morning. now i kknow i'm gonna shove a sharp object down the docotors throat today!

have a good day jamie.. if not, at least "feel good"
latah tatah

Anonymous said...

jamie, gosh what an awful memory to have...but at least with a good ending... yeah i think losing a child could be the worst thing to happen on the face of this earth...and yet we have parents here in japan who abuse their children, kill them because they dont eat their veggies or wont stop crying... THOSE are the people who should get the death're ok jamie... like soul says,, idiot mothers are better than nothing...

Maria said...

This angered me. At the doctors. I mean, for godsake...would it kill them to LISTEN for once. You were the mother, you knew that while J was prone to fake stomach aches that this was different.

That no one listened to you is frustrating for me beyond words.

I always trust a mother's instincts hands down and never understand it when people doubt it.

I am so glad this story had a happy ending.

Portia said...

Lordy that story shook me pretty good. really puts things into perspective too. i can hardly believe what i just read..about the doctors, and the fact that he went around for a couple DAYS with a burst appendix. is it just me or is that a miracle? bottom line is he pulled through, thank GOD. it really stinks that he still has medical issues but at least you've got your baby!!!

i hope he's feeling better soon.

and you have a womderful monday:)

Steph (GF) said...

O my goodness Jamie.. as usual i read your blog everyday and wasnt expecting this ... got all emotional at work lol.. Great story .. Poor baby had have been so so scared.. Although of course i knew the outcome, i was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

the landshark said...

you're not an idiot. you're awesome. :)

simonsays said...

Summer- you are absolutely correct.

Abbagirl-thank you---and believe me, I am no better a mother than you are. They don't come with instructions, wouldn't it be great if they did?

Soul, Good heavens--I would NEVER have posted this if I had known. I am so sorry I made you cry, and brought up things that you didn't expect this morning! I am so, so sorry...

JYankee, I know just what you mean, Japan doesn't corner the market on parents that do horrible things...unbelievable, isn't it?

Maria, you too, are absolutely correct, but doctors never believe in mothers instincts.

Portia, it was a miracle, I never think of it as less...

Steph--THANK YOU so much for commenting! I think your reaction was sweet, as obviously you know that he is okay, since you are the famous GF that I always talk about! Now get back to work! And please, please, email, drive, snailmail me a photo of you and YS--With no pic of you here, it looks like I don't love you guys at all!

Landshark---what a sweet thing to say to me...xo

SOUL: said...

don't apologize for this post. or anything you ever write here.
don't feel bad about anything. i asked about him anyhow remember? i want to know about your life and family, and this is a huge part of it. like i said...thanks for sharing it with us. i'm sure you shed a tear or two writing it. i appreciate that. we all do. obviously.
it's all good.
i'm gonna go eat somethin..then i'll toss up a post about my wonderful dr. i just saw. and his great update.
if it wasn't "five thousand degrees" outside , i'd go fishin. :))

CCC said...

What a touching story (that really hits home, too), Jamie...tx so much for sharing. You had me on the edge of my seat...I wasn't sure how the story was going to end. And the part about his bilogical, I would have been so ticked off and sooo disappointed that he stayed in bed...while you were waiting for the surgery to be completed! It's difficult for me not to judge that kind of behavior. You are such a strong gal. Ethical too. I'm with many instances, what good will sueing do?

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I thnk I am about to hyperventilate just reading this! Wow, I dont know how you got through that but glad you all did! (the rotten father can go to hell, I cant believe he didnt get his butt out of bed!)

Josie Two Shoes said...

Oh my God, Jamie... I didn't even know what to say after I read this. I was just praising God that your son is alive and well! It is a miracle for sure! I cannot imagine what this had to be like to go thru, and it really does explain why you tend to overprotect the kiddos a bit now. A mother's instinct is a powerful thing, and it was given to us for a purpose, I am thankful that you went ahead an got the medical care your son needed - had it been left to that "so wise" doctor, you wouldn't have your son now. Yeah I bet they all rushed to call and cover their asses - pathetic. I hope they didn't sleep well for a long, long time after that. It coulda been one of THEIR kids! I just can't believe some of the stuff you've had to go thru, but your kids have mama's blood in them and they are gonna be survivors - just like you! :-) Big Hugs to you, my friend, and thank you for sharing this with us. I know it wasn't easy to do the remembering to write it.

Amanda said...

Yes, I can totally understand why you feel this way.

Beth said...

I'm tellin ya....A MOTHER KNOWS HER KID!!! Thank God you found out in time and he's ok, but it's awful to have to go through that.

When my youngest was 4 months old, he got sick...and stayed sick...for months. Would never get better. I took him to the dr. just about every week. My dr. was wonderful and did all kinds of tests on him. he stopped growing and everything. We finally figures out he had allergies! He started allergy shots and grew 3 inches and gained 6 pounds in 2 weeks! I KNEW there was something wrong...a mother just knows these things.

krispo said...

I found your blog a few days ago. Now I'm reading a lot of your stuf because I just love it. I can reed more english than I write it... but, this is life, so...
I hope to visit your blog more often.
Kisses take care