Happy Labor Day weekend! It’s a hot, miserable day to kick off the Illini football season here today, and I can’t be happier. That’s because it’s the complete opposite of last year when Hurricane Isaac came through and busted our drought. More importantly it’s a very different weekend in our lives. It was possibly the worst in either Eric’s and my lives. Tyler had intussusception and subsequent surgery to fix it.
It all started the Friday before Labor Day. Tyler was very sick with what we thought was a nasty cold. He was sleeping constantly and very miserable. Sometime that evening we decided it was time to take him to the doctor. He was lethargic, listless and not like himself at all. When we got to convenient care, he threw up in the lobby. If you want to get in quickly to see a doctor, that’s the way to do it. We didn’t even have time to fill out the forms. The doctor told us it was a virus and an ear infection and sent us home. We thought that didn’t sound too bad, until we got him home and one of us was up with him all night. He just kept throwing up. It was a long exhausting night and the poor guy just kept getting worse and worse.
Once the morning came, we were back in contact with the hospital. This time talking to a nurse on the patient advisory line. Even though he’d been throwing up all night they told us that we couldn’t bring him in until it had been 6 hours with nothing going in him. So we sat around the house all day on Saturday watching the Ilini game as everything we put in him came immediately back out. It was awful. He wanted to be held constantly. If he wasn’t throwing up, he was crying. My poor baby was miserable. As soon as the Illini game was over, I’d had enough. It hadn’t been 6 hours yet but we were going to the ER.
Once there, it only got worse. He had become pretty unresponsive. Once we finally saw a doctor, they berated us for waiting so long to come in because he was so dehydrated (I’d like to give the nurse who told us to wait 6 hours a piece of my mind). They started an IV in him which as a parent was quite possibly the worst thing ever. They couldn’t get the IV into his tiny little 6 month old baby veins. They poked and prodded. There were 3 of us holding him down. To this day, I want to break down and cry thinking of it (in fact I’m tearing up right now). He needed it though. He was so dehydrated and still couldn’t keep anything down. After a good 30-40 minutes of them attempting they finally got it in, he started getting fluids, and he started getting better. He actually ate without it coming back up and we thought we’d get to go home and enjoy the rest of our long weekend. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. They got a room ready for him because they wanted to make sure he continued getting the fluids he needed and that he stayed ok through the night. In retrospect I’m very thankful they did this even though at the time I just wanted to go home and take care of my son.
Finally around 8pm that night we made it to Tyler’s room. I came home to get some clothes and food and to let Guster out, so that I could spend that night. Eric came home shortly after I got back. If I thought the previous night was bad, this one was a lot worse. About an hour after Eric left, Tyler started crying and getting sick again. The nurses came in to check on him, but it was pretty much just me and him trying to make it through the night. Neither of us slept much. I spent a lot of the night standing and rocking and shushing him. The nurses eventually had me marking on the board how much he was eating and what time it came back up. It ended up that nothing was staying in at all. It continued into the next day, but luckily Eric came so I could at least take a little cat nap. It felt like it took forever for the on call doctor to come in. I would have said it was at least noon, but it was probably more like 10am.
The on call weekend doctor thought it was probably just that he was extremely constipated, and his stomach was upset. They gave him a laxative and took some x-rays just in case. The x-rays didn’t show anything, but since it was a Sunday, the doctor wanted to be on the safe side. He ordered a CAT scan. He told us he really didn’t think it would find anything though. The CAT scan like the IV was another horrible experience of Eric and I holding him still to try to get a good image. It took a lot of tries and a lot of screaming and crying. Shortly after we got back to our room, the doctor came in looking very grim and told us it was intussusception, and that it required surgery. (TMI warning here) An intussusception is basically when the bowel goes in on itself basically. It telescopes. Usually, there is bloody stool (sorry to gross everyone out!), which Tyler didn’t have. His body just wouldn’t let anything go through. There are no pediatric surgeons at our hospital or in Champaign at all, so Tyler would have to go to Peoria to the OSF Children’s Hospital. They wanted to take him by helicopter, but since Hurricane Isaac was visiting that weekend, it was too bad to fly. We were going by ambulance. This was actually better because one of us could go with him this way.
It seemed to take FOREVER for the ambulance to come. From what the doctor told us, it seemed like it was an emergency situation, and that it needed to come quickly. As we sat there, Eric and I just got more and more anxious and Tyler got more and more listless. Finally, they got there and tied Tyler’s car seat onto the board. The ambulance seemed a little on the incompetent as well. If we hadn’t had the car seat, we have no idea how they would have transported him. Eric rode with Tyler to Peoria while I came home to get clothes and things Tyler might need while we were there and to get Guster’s stuff ready for my parents coming to pick him up. I don’t remember the drive at all except crying a lot and trying to stay awake. It’s a bit of a miracle in itself that I got there unscathed.
Tyler and Eric were already in a room when I got there. Then there was more waiting. At some point, they finally came to get him to take him to have an ultrasound to determine how bad the telescoping was. They had one procedure to try before going to surgery, a “nonoperative reduction”. Basically they gave him an air enema to try to cause the part of the intestine that is inside the other portion to stretch back out. The nurses and ultrasounds techs told us it would be very hard to watch, and he’d be very uncomfortable. After watching the IV and the CAT scan, I couldn’t bare to stay and watch the air enema. Eric stayed with him though, and was the support I couldn’t give at that point. It took a lot longer than I was expecting which I had a feeling would mean bad news. It was. He supposedly did not respond to it, so it was time for surgery. We met Tyler’s surgeon. He wasn’t a very friendly sort, but he was very competent and seemed like this was no big deal. That reduced our nerves tremendously, but with a 6 month old who knows what could go wrong. Worrying about his reaction to the anesthesia was my biggest concern. It was a laproscopic surgery and Tyler would have 3 small incisions where they would straighten his intestines back out. Easy Peasy.
Finally at 11pm Sunday night, they started the surgery. Eric and I were curled up in the waiting room praying, hoping and worrying pretty much all by ourselves that night. I think both of us were just hoping beyond hope that everything would be alright. Finally around 11:45pm the doctor came in and told us the best news ever. The air enema had evidently just taken awhile to take effect and his bowels had straightened out. Everything was fine. Tyler did have a hydrocele probably from all the throwing up that they would go ahead and take care of since he was already under. Then the waiting began for him to wake up. He came out perfectly. I wouldn’t expect any less from my brave little boy. I let Eric go in first because he was way more shaken from all of this than I was at least visibly. I think somewhere around 2am we finally got back to Tyler’s room for a little sleep
The next day, Monday (Labor Day), they said Tyler was doing fine, but they wanted to watch him for awhile longer to make sure his bowels weren’t affected by any gangrene and were working fine. So we began a day of trying to convince Tyler he wasn’t hungry after not keeping any food down since basically Friday morning. It was difficult, but it didn’t matter because he was going to be ok. We had an absolutely wonderful nurse that day. I can’t remember her name now but she went out of her way to find toys for Tyler to play with and tried to put off medicine if we were all napping. She was amazing.
After all of that, finally on Tuesday morning they gave us the ok to feed Tyler. Eric’s mom showed up that day. She’d been on vacation that weekend, and my parents couldn’t come up because they had Guster and the farm animals, not to mention the 5 hour drive , so it had just been the 3 of us doing all of this together, our little family. Finally around 2pm they said we were free to go home. It was one of the best days ever. Tyler was happy and doing well. Eric and I were exhausted but so incredibly happy.
So this story had a very happy ending, but there is one part that hangs over us everyday with every virus or cold Tyler gets. There is a very real chance that this could occur again especially since he’s had it once already. The intussusception was caused by the virus that had enlarged a gland which caused the bowel to rub against itself and telescope. There is about a 10% chance of it happening again. Luckily the bigger he gets the less likely it’ll happen, and it’s very rare for it to happen after the age of 2. Since we’re nearing Tyler being 18 months in the next week or two, it’s become a much more distant memory and less of a worry. On days like today when we’re having fun with our sweet boy and he’s laughing and playing it’s hard to remember that he was ever that sick.