Wohoo! I first I was hoping would never come...
I have a migraine and it's been an awfully long week/end, so I'm going just the fact on you here. Perhaps I'll add some reflection later.
Last Friday, Becca had 2 ticks we pulled off of her. Saturday, she had another.
Becca threw up on the way to therapy on Wednesday morning. She'd started getting a little cough and threw up. Not altogether odd, but a little unusual for it to happen in the car. And really gross. Big props to Miss Ashley for helping clean her up. Probably not in her job description.
Thursday morning, we got Becca up for school and found that she had thrown up in the middle of the night and slept in it. Ew. Again, a little unusual, as she usually wakes up. Just as we were walking out the door on Thursday morning, she threw up again. A pain, but not unusual because she was coughing. She went to school (this is so common for Becca that it doesn't keep her out of school), we went to work.
I pick her up at school at 3. Her teachers mention that she threw up her bolus feed (again, not unusual - but I'm noticing a pattern here) and that her eyes had just started to look a little red. Almost everyone in her class (including both teachers) have had pinkeye in the past week, so they thought Becca was finally catching it, too. As I held her, I noticed that she felt hot, so we took her temperature - 101.5. I got the heck out of dodge and called the pediatrician so they would know we were on our way.
We get to the ped and thankfully our regular doctor was in. (God bless Mark Rawls.) Of course, they take her temp, and she doesn't have a fever, but she has lost 3 ounces since the day before. I give him the story, he examines her, she throws up all over me, she acts SUPER puny, he gets concerned in that I'm-not-going-to-worry-the-anxious-mother pediatrician kind of way. I didn't realize how concerned he was until I asked him about a general developmental thing and he saids, "Let's not worry about that right now and focus on the illness at hand,"even though he's always willing to discuss developmental stuff ad naseaum with me.
He was particularly worried about the tick bites and went back and forth about whether we should do labs, start antibiotics or both. We opted to start the meds and do the labs, which would not be definitive for tick-borne illness (hence the question in whether to both with them if we were going to treat anyway), but could show us some common indicators for ehrlichiosis. (Google it and pick a reputable website. I'm out of energy to do it for you.) We had the blood drawn, which was miserable, and Becca cried for the next 45 minutes while we made our way over to the children's hospital to pick up the prescription b/c regular pharmacies wouldn't have it. There's a problem with the insurance, etc., we can't get it until the next day unless we pay out of pocket, blah blah blah. So I shell out the cash and get the heck out of dodge.
Becca actually asked to eat (!!), so we stop for dinner and our friend Emily joins us. Becca's actually happy for the first bit of dinner (she LOVES Emily), but then she gets super-fussy. While we're eating, Dr. Rawls calls (that rhymes!) and says that he's glad we're doing the medicine because her labs are suspicious - platelets are low, one kind of white blood cell is high and another is low, liver enzymes are elevated (which she has a history of). Of course, she hasn't actually started the antibiotics yet because I don't have the right syringe to fit into her Mic-Key button, and she's sure as heck not going to take it by mouth. Oh, and even though she asks, Becca doesn't actually eat much of anything.
We head to the car, and Becca perks up. She's happy to be outside, says goodbye to Emily approximately 25 times, starts singing. We're halfway home (from Green Hills for you Nashville folk), and she's still singing "Happy Birthday" to Emily (which we sang to Emily 3 weeks ago). It's dark by now, after 7 pm, and at some point she stops singing. At exit 65 (Hwy. 96), I notice that her right arm is sticking up at an odd angle, and I reach back to hold her hand, and it's rigid and shaking. She won't answer me, and I can't really see what's going on. I can't pull over because I'm in the middle of a major construction zone. It's raining a little bit. I know there's some places I could cross the median and head back towards the hospital but I can't see them. I end up talking to her, trying to get her to respond, holding her hand and calling 911 while driving a.l.l. t.h.e. w.a.y. to the next exit, #61 (Peytonsville Rd./Goose Creek).
I pull into the Shell parking lot. I want the 911 dispatcher that my phone is about to die and have them have someone call John and tell him to meet us at the hospital. My phone dies. Becca has stopped seizing by now, but she's still non-responsive. She's breathing fine and her color looks okay, as far as I can tell in the dark parking lot, but she won't answer me or look at me. I panic slightly, trying to find somewhere to park the car that doesn't have a tow away sign (funny where my anxiety goes, isn't it?), park, and pull her out of her seat. I start throwing things in bags (I carry a bunch of crap in my car), keep working with Becca, and wait for the ambulance, which arrives after just a couple of minutes.
My new best friend, Amy, and her partner check Becca out, see that she's stable, send the firefighters away when they get there with their siren blaring. Check her blood sugar - 95 - beautiful. Check her O2 sats - fine. Pulse - fine. Responding some but definitely NOT acting like Becca. They ask if I want to use our carseat or theirs, so I grab ours. (How weird is that to think about? They put her in her carseat and hooked the carseat to the gurney. Makes sense, but odd.) Nice EMT guy whose name I don't know tells the gas station guys not to tow my car.
We make our way to the hospital (25 miles or so?) without the sirens, which I learn you only get if you are dying. No thanks. I borrow dude's phone to call the pediatrician and almost yell at the answering service when they keep asking their usual inane questions ("what's her approximate weight? R as in rabbit, e as in elephant, b as in boy..." etc.) and tell them just to page the damn doctor and tell him that we're on our way to the emergency room. Becca is distraught at this point, but Amy and I finally get her to calm down a little bit to sing her favorite line - "aaaall true da town" in "Wheels on the Bus" in between tears. Super pitiful. As we pull in to the ambulance bay, Dr. Rawls calls the guy's cell, and I tell him the whole story in what turns out to be the first of about 1,400,032 renditions of it. No, that's already the third because I've already told the dispatcher and the EMT's.
John's out in the waiting room at this point and I ask the nurses to go get him but they keep asking me questions while he just waits out there. Annoying. He always makes Becca happy and I'd kind of like to see him at this point, too. You've got about 15 people just standing around who could get him.
Oh yeah, Becca threw up in the ambulance, too. And another time while being checked in. And another time. And one more time, I think. I'm still wearing my vomity clothes from earlier anyway. She's had a slight fever when the EMT's got her, so they tried to give her Tylenol and she throws it up. (Fever's only 99.9, so it doesn't seem like a febrile seizure, which are not caused by high temps but by quick spikes in temps, but with one that low it couldn't have "spiked" all that quickly. And I think the kind of seizure looks different or something like that.)
But back to the hospital - we see a million doctors, but there's no mad rushing around or anything. She's definitely stable at this point, though definitely not well. The nurse tries to tell me that I can't hold her while they put an IV in, which I tell her (in more polite terms) is total bullshit and I will be holding her, thank you very much. (Do I hear a cheer from my child life friends?)
We get a Mic-Key button extension and give her the first dose of the antibiotic. ER doc is also thinking that it could be ehrlichiosis. It's rare to have such a serious reaction but it's certainly not unheard of; in fact, every year a few kids in Tennessee die from it. (One of my dear reader's child had a very severe case of it last summer, in fact - Valerie, I've been thinking about you guys for days now!) Even though she's stabilized now, they want to keep her for a while to observe her in case this is the beginning of things going very badly very quickly, as it's known to do with kids her age exposed to ehrlichiosis.
Flashing back to the night that I spent in the ER in the CRIB with Becca last summer, I immediately start lobbying for a cot for me. (The cots are awful but definitely better than the crib.) Of course, the hospital is full, like it always is (build the darn expansion already, please! Donors, do you hear me?) but they think they maaay be able to get us a room. Such a tease. I do try to make the case, though that after you've spent 150 nights in the hospital, you ought to get bumped to the top of the bed board. We don't get a real room, but we do get bumped over to the observation area, which is much nicer than the ED - it's bigger, we share a bathroom with the folks next door instead of using the emergency bathroom in the hall that gets REALLY gross as the night wears on, and Dr. Rawls will be our attending instead of the ER doc (who is lovely but doesn't know my kid). I get a cot, but I do end up spending a couple of hours in the crib b/c Becca keeps waking up thoroughly confused (of course).
I've pushed for them to start her feeds or to give her the very strong sugar water IV fluids so as to avoid a repeat of the Emergency Department Blood Sugar Debacle of 2010, so they get her milk and get it going. She doesn't have to be hooked up to any monitors or anything and the residents on duty assure me that I'll wake up if she has another seizure. They just want her to be at the hospital in case anything does happen, which sounds like a good plan to me. We deal with logistics: John swings by Mapco to get me some essentials and heads home to take care of the poor pups who have now been in their crate for 14 hours. (Mental note: give housekey back to our key-keeping friend, KCC.) Mark and Marne (from church) have brought John's car to the hospital (Carol dropped him off b/c they were all at a dinner together), and we send them to get my car from the gas station and take it to their house.
Becca and I have a blessedly uneventful (though definitely not restful) night. I ask the residents if they can find a stuffed animal or soft blanket for her since we don't have any of her loveys with us - silly me thinking the docs would have any clue about this. Eventually, I ask our Care Partner (m.a.), Princess, for one, and she finds a hot pink/zebra stripe supersoft fleece that will forever be known as Princess Blankey. Rock star!
In the morning, I keep expecting doctors to wake us up at 5, but we don't see any until close to 7:30, and Becca even slept until about 7. They do their assessments; all clear. Dr. Rawls comes by a little after 8, and the scene is much like the first time we met him after Becca's g-tube surgery- Becca and I are cuddled in the bed while she dozes and he sits in the rocking chair, which I remember because I liked that he didn't stand over us and talk at us. Good doctor. He wants us to stick around into the early afternoon to give the antibiotics more time to work (got the 2nd dose that morning) and make sure she's still improving. By noon, Becca is almost totally herself again, and I'm begging the nurse to call the residents to discharge us. (We'd already gone on a few hospital adventures and when John got back and took her on a walk, they even saw Miss Melissa!)
The orders come through and we have the easiest discharge ever. The nurse (Hope - who is awesome) encourages me to hold Becca while they remove the IV. Becca's now covered in Dora Band-aids not because she is covered in boo boo's but because she loves Band-aids, and I had happened to buy a box at the pharmacy, so with every unpleasantness she got a new Band-aid. She still won't let us take them off. ("Leeb it oooooon ban-ai!")
Becca falls asleep on the way home and climbs into bed as soon as she can. She sleeps for 4 hours. I get home little bit later (stopped to get my car and pick up some food) and also sleep for 4 hours. She and I repeated the pattern this morning - the nap that is, not the hospital run. She's been pretty pitiful and puny today; she obviously still doesn't feel very good. She threw up last night (like normal) and after her bath this morning, she REALLY didn't want me to brush her hair - hiding it under a hat from me and everything - so I'm thinking her head was hurting.
So - what did/does she have? It could be a random virus. It could be ehrlichiosis. It could be both. They drew blood to run tests for ehrlichiosis but they won't be back for a few days (that's why we didn't run those tests to begin with - you've GOT to start the antibiotics before the results come back anyway). Will she be okay? Should be, even if it is erhlichiosis. The antibiotics are pretty awesome (doxycycline). Will she have another seizure? Maybe. It could be the seizure activity is isolated to this particular illness. It could be that she'll be prone to having seizures when she's sick. If that's it, most kids grow out of us by the time they are about 5. There's a very, very, very small chance (maybe 5%) that she has a form of epilepsy, but unless she has another seizure, we're not even going to see a neurologist. We do have a prescription for an emergency medicine to give her if she has another seizure, but Dr. Rawls thinks that we won't need it - he wasn't even going to write it for us, but the residents did, and he agreed that it's a good thing to keep at home, though we don't have to mess with taking it to school, training all her caregivers, etc. (Thank goodness - we're about to get so complicated that only nurses can take care of her!)
Here's the bit that I find oddly encouraging: Dr. Rawls said that nothing they did for her was based on her history. We may have acted more quickly because of her history, but they would have essentially done the same thing for any other 2.5 year old with the same issues and a recent tick bite. So this was actually a regular old kid illness, not a preemie thing. How 'bout that?!