Being Strong for Your Kids (When you want to curl up and cry)

My youngest is in the hospital. Again. This is the third ER trip in the past 6 months, all critical to saving his little life. It seems that when my little guy gets sick, he gets really super sick. One time was croup, something my other kids had many times and it was uncomfortable but never life threatening. Then a few months ago and a few days ago he became severely dehydrated after a day of vomiting. Too dehydrated for the amount of time of the illness and his age.

So my little guy and Hubby found themselves being life-flighted in a helicopter from our nearest ER to a specialized children’s hospital. Wow. Just writing those words makes me shake and cry again.

I’m trying to be strong. But I found out yesterday it is ok to feel scared. I thought I was hiding that I was holding back the tears, but his nurse saw, and brought me a box of tissues and stayed by my side kind of hugging/rubbing my arm while they strapped my kindergartener into the flight bed.

His potassium levels were dangerously high and his heart could have stopped. From one day of vomiting. I thought he just had the tummy bug that is going around. The doctors are investigating a possible metabolic disorder that causes a strong reaction like this.

When I took him in to the hospital, he was still walking and talking and being a sweet little man. They struggled to get in the IV because his blood volume was so low. It took several pokes to get it started, and lots of mom being strong and asking him to be brave and still even though they were hurting him. They barely got enough out for labs, and when they did, the numbers were scary.

Once the IV was running a bit, they needed another blood sample. It took about 6-7 pokes all up and down his little arms, and they could not find a suitable place. His little veins kept collapsing as soon as they inserted the needle, and the tiny ones are hard to find. By this point he is kicking and screaming and it takes 6 of us to hold him down and my little guy goes hysterical, similar to when he used to have night terrors as a toddler. My job was to appear calm and use my voice to soothe him. I did it for a while, but then I had a flashback, of my own traumatic hospital stays as a child, and just watching him in this state was too much. I had to walk away so he wouldn’t see me cry and get more scared. I looked out the window and had to ignore his screams just to remain present.

Then I asked a nurse, begged her, is there any other way to get the blood we need? She said she could try to reverse his IV and draw it out bit by bit, but we would need him to lay still. SO I went back and explained to my bitty boy that we were going to try something else, without more pokes, and he needed to trust me. I sat on his bed, held his head and his hand, and make him look at me. I felt him relax, just a little, and it was enough for the nurse to get started. This process took about 20 minutes, drawing 1 cc at a time in a syringe, and produced a hemolyzed sample full or possible errors, but it was a start. I was so grateful to that nurse.

Then when they saw the dangerous potassium levels, Dr ordered albuterol breathing treatments, said it lowers potassium. Kiddo had fallen asleep from the exertion of the fit. A respiratory therapist came in and placed the mask on him while he was sleeping, and it was good for a minute, until he woke up, saw a stranger holding something on his face. He went hysterical again, and she attempted to hold him down and hold the mask on when I asked her to stop. By that time about 4 nurses were in our room, because of the screaming. I asked them if I could have a few minutes to calm him down before we try again. I told him the names of all the strangers in his room. I explained what they were doing, and what the computer (EKG and ECG machine by then) screens were measuring, watching his heart beat. I told him his heart needed special medicine so he could feel better and go home. I asked him if he wanted a drink, to sit up, and even have a chip? If he did, he could do all that before we gave him the medicine. And we said he could not choose to have the meds or not, but he could choose who holds it, him, me or the nurse. He pointed a little finger at me. So got a sip of gatorade, a potato chip, and then he let me hold the mask.

The respiratory therapist thanked me for my help, and showing her a technique for working with children. She said she never thought of talking to them like I did, and explaining the machines. Why do so many people forget kids are just little people and treat them like property? Of course many hospital workers treat adults this way too, they forget that hospitals aren’t routine for patients, and that we are all scared, and children even more so.

I am happy, so so happy, to say that my little guy is out of the danger zone, out of the ICU, and starting to look more like himself. He keeps looking at his little gold wings pin the helicopter crew gave him, I think to prove to himself that he really did ride in a helicopter. So we can focus on why this is happening, we’ll be meeting with a geneticist, endocrinologist, and probably many more -ists for exploring tummy issues, cellular issues, blood issues and anything else to prevent this from happening again, or knowing how to respond better if it does.

I had to get this story out, so I can go back to the hospital and be strong again. I came home to let out the dog, we sent the siblings to Grandma’s but forgot to send the dog in the rush and chaos.

I also have to say Hubby has been truly amazing at comforting and caring for his little boy, so sweet to watch them together. I’ve never seen Hubby so gentle and soothing and jumping up to cater to his every need.


11 thoughts on “Being Strong for Your Kids (When you want to curl up and cry)

  1. Oh my god you guys have had a terrifying time!! I’m SO sorry that this had to happen to your little one! It’s terribly triggering, having to watch them suffer, I know, and extremely hard to hold it together for them but so, so necessary. You did an amazing job, my friend…you and hubby both, sounds like.

    Try not to jump to any conclusions and take it moment by moment for now. I’m so relieved that he’s out of the ICU and on the mend. Hopefully, there will be a relatively simple reason behind this trouble and there will be some way to fix it so it doesn’t happen again.

    Stay strong. My heart is with you guys. xx

  2. Oh, R2B, my heart is breaking for you and your family, and especially, your son. I hope that he gets better soon. Thinking of you and sending prayers. Hugs, Jess

  3. You are so awesome. How smart to walk away and give yourself a break, to step back and regroup before it escalated to who knows what. Brava! Praying for your little one, your family, and the all those involved in your little one’s care. God bless.

  4. So sorry you are going through this. I am sure he is strong like his mama! Praying that the doctors will figure it out quickly and know how to help him! Hugs!

  5. sorry you are all having to experience this. at least you were able to find a way to bring him into the process, by using introductions and explanations, and especially CHOICES when his tiny little self feels like there are no choices. giving him any choice in the process helps him feel calm. good for you, mom. keep your chin up.

  6. aww, you have my heart-filled thoughts. i had a little girl who struggled and struggled. it’s so overwhelming and feels so wrong to see them scared and suffering. i hope the little guy gets some rest–and you and hubby, too.

  7. You are going through so much right now – I know how scary it is to have a child in the hospital, but I’m so glad that he’s out of ICU. ((sending up prayers for the little man and family)) The fact that you are a loving and caring mother proves your undying strength – best wishes!

  8. It is fine to be scared and you are handling it really well. You are doing great. I am so sorry your little one is going through this, I am so happy you got him to doctors who could help though. It is terrible how frightening hospitals can be, especially for children; you did great! You will continue to do great, just remember to take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of him and your other children with the same love you have always shown.

  9. I am so glad that your wrote these words. It is good to ground yourself in all that you have been experiencing. Sometimes writing it all out enables our mind and spirit to look at everything in a different light. You are an amazing person and your little guy (and others) are so blessed to have you 🙂

  10. You are not just trying to be strong, you do have amazing strength. Strong does not mean not being scared but raising above your fear and remaining calm and face the situation, which you did in this terrifying situation. And thanks to you, your little guy received the treatment he needed and was probably much less scared, seeing how calm you were. I truly admire your courage. My best wishes for your family.

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