I recently experienced one of the pivotal “mom moments” all of my girlfriends have told me about – that magical trip to the ER with the little one in tow. The fact that it happened on the first day of my would be family girls trip made it all the more magical, but the experience was one I hope to not repeat again (although in talking to friends it seems that this could be just the start of my ER punchcard life).
JL has eczema – has had it pretty much since birth and it gets pretty bad since he’s the kid who likes to be outside in the grass and running around. I also had it growing up and it went away- so we aren’t overly concerned… That being said, I make more than a few calls to my cousin who has 4 boys of her own and is a nurse – so she’s seen every rash, breakout, eczema flare up etc and has been my voice of reason to calm me down more than once (thank you K!). So when I sent her some pictures of some eczema on his back that was looking really funky and weird, she said she hadn’t seen it look like that before, but if he got a fever call the Dr. Something kept niggling in the back of my mind and I tried not to be “that mom”, the one who hears a sneeze and thinks pneumonia or is sure that a rash is actually meningitis… I remembered that my pediatrician is up to date and does video appointments too, so I made an appointment and showed him pictures of the rash progression. His prognosis: If he’s not acting lethargic and you’re not seeing any sores or anything in his mouth and there’s no fever – it’s probably eczema. BUT if any of those things change bring him in ASAP. Whew. What a load off… With only 2 days before our trip I went about packing and packed some medicine just in case…
At hour 4 of the Napa drive, we pulled off for a quick pit stop and I checked in with the little guy – who was warm, but as my sister noted, we were all pretty warm sitting in the car. I quick temp check showed he had a fever- not ER fever, but do you ever want to take that chance? So I gave him some fever meds (like the Dr suggested) and we made it to Napa. But I couldn’t shake the worry… I kept checking his temp and he was clinging to me in a way he didn’t normally… So I called it. While my family checked into the resort I called the closest ER and headed over. My mom and sis jumped in the car and we rushed over – we had 2 hours before the rest of the family arrived, but I was prepared to hand over my car keys and camp at the Napa hospital if needed. (It wouldn’t be the vacation we had planned- but I mean… is there even a choice?!)
The registration nurse had no info about our health care so while Grandma played with JL I called our insurance to make sure we were okay, and we got checked in. Within 2 minutes the intake nurse diagnosed JL with chicken pox – and probably at the very end of it all. WHAT THE EFFFFFFFFF!?!?!
“No no, he was vaccinated”
“Yea, so was my 26 year old son… He had this a month ago.”
“But I don’t get it…It’s just on like half of his back… and there’s not that much”
“About 2% of kids who get vaccinated will still get chicken pox. It usually won’t be as severe and it’ll go away quicker. You’re almost done honey, just hang in there.”
She still processed our paperwork and put us in an isolated room where I coaxed JL to nap a little while students (teaching hospital), nurses, and a myriad of other people came in to check on JL. We had nurses ask us “How do you know it’s chicken pox?” (How do I know?! You guys diagnosed it! I didn’t!), and talk about quarantining us. At this point, I had now had over an hour and a half to google/WebMD it and see what the treatment was and look at photos to confirm it. After a nurse (with the worst bedside manner who I also think thought I was lying about vaccinating him… ) asked us what the Dr had said we told her we were still waiting and did we have a timeframe on seeing the Dr we were told to wait our turn because they had people who were much higher priority in (see what I mean about bedside manner?!). Eventually we were discharged by a nurse (no doc ever came by), and told to give him ice cream since his throat looked sore, and baby aspirin for pain or Benadryl for itching.
The long and short of this rambling missive is that you have to trust your gut as a mom. I had my mom with me, and that support helped me so much. I knew that it was more than eczema and I went in. I would never have guessed chicken pox because he’d been vaccinated. JL still hates going to the doctor and the emergency room didn’t help that situation. But at the end of the day – he didn’t really care about the doctors, the nurses, the waiting rooms – nothing. He just wanted mama. Which worked because I just wanted my mom. I felt negligent and helpless – which is how most people with a sick kid in the ER end up feeling. So just remember you’re not alone. You will get through it, and moreover – your little one just wants you. So while you silently curse the rude nurse, or bless the angel intake nurse, or text your husband for support – so long as that sweaty little head can snuggle in… you’re going to be alright.
BUT if you can avoid the ER trip – do that instead! 😉