One of the biggest blessings yet curses is the fact that I’m a nurse. Two cliches come to mind: Knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss.
Sometimes knowing a thing or two about the human body and illness is a wonderful thing. It avoids me unnecessary trips to the doctor, keeps me calm in a somewhat challenging situation and provides my friends and family a person to rely on for simple questions.
But sometimes knowing too much is no good.
There are times when I only want to know that a cold is just a cold and a scrape is just a scrape. I don’t want to know about all the possible germs that could invade the scrape and cause cellulitis or even worse, MRSA. I just don’t. I want to live in a nice little bubble where nine times out of ten, everything will be OK.
Sunday afternoon, Mae was awoken unexpectedly by having an accident. And it wasn’t pee. Mae is completely potty trained, so this, to me, indicated something bigger than just an accident.
An hour later she proved me true, when she reached to snuggle with me on the couch and subsequently vomited all down the front of me.
That night, she was up off and on every few hours and insisted Matt sleep in her bed until 4 am, seemingly uncomfortable.
Monday morning, she seemed perky enough – making silly faces and trying to drink water. She ended up napping on the couch all morning off and on, and then took a big nap in the afternoon. When she woke up, she was back to her regular self, so I had my neighbor’s daughter (who is nearly 20) sit with Mae while I taught at the gym. She was keeping saltines and pedialyte down, so I figured it was a safe bet.
She went to bed, looking tired, but no worse for the wear.
Tuesday morning rolled around, and I figured we were in the clear. 24 plus hours since she had thrown up and she kept fluids and simple carbs down. All good things.
All good things until she threw up all over me, again.
Let me say this. What she lacked in frequency, she made up for in volume. From my chest to my toes, I was covered.
At this point, I was getting worried. She should have been better by now, not worse. But worse she was, because her eyes were heavy, skin was pale and she spiked another fever.
I called my doctor’s office and the nurse gave me the same canned answer I already knew: Look for the signs of dehydration, then she listed them for me.
I was kind of insulted by the nurse’s response because she knew I was a nurse, too. I’m no idiot. I know the signs and symptoms of dehydration. I was calling because she was exhibiting the signs, now what should I do?
My doctor then called back a bit later and said, keep an eye on her, if she doesn’t perk up, bring her to the ER.
By 5:30, Mae hadn’t perked up even in the slightest. My mom was at the house prepared to sit with Mae while I taught RPM at the gym, but my gut just didn’t feel right.
All day, my gut was telling me something wasn’t right. But which gut was it? Was it my mom gut or my nursing gut? Because the mom gut is emotionally driven and the nurse gut is based off of facts.
Emotionally, we were both drained. I was tired of seeing her sick and Mae was tired of being sick.
Facts, she was lethargic, had a fever, ached, didn’t eat a thing and had maybe 5 ounces of fluid all day.
I called Matt and he told me to go with my gut and since I was with her all day, make the call. He trusted my decision.
So the ER it was.
I’m going to start by saying every single employee at CHP must take Ativan before each shift, because they were all extremely calm and serene.
During triage, when they were getting her vitals, she cried. Then I started to cry. She was pleading, “Mom! We go home! Mama, we go home? Please! We go home!”
After triage, I had expected to be sent back to the waiting area until our turn, but instead, they took us right back to a room.
Mae had had enough. She started having the mother of all tantrums. The doctors were patient and the volunteers were even better, offering her barbie dolls and crayons. She had an x-ray done, she had an ultrasound done. She got a pencil and some stickers. We watched Full House on the tv in the waiting room at ultrasound to go back to her room. You know, the episode where DJ has an epiphany and decides to dump Steve. Mae fell asleep on my lap while we rocked in the rocker.
Transport came, and walked us back to our room. I carried her everywhere. Mae was exhausted.
We got back to our room and Mae got a purple mardi gras necklace. She then decided that was gift enough to pee in a cup for me.
They checked her urine and determined that she was, in fact, moderately dehydrated. Mae refused to drink any more after she drank four ounces of apple juice.
At this point, my friend Jen was there as moral support. I was so thankful for that, because I felt like I was so stupid for bringing her to the ER – that I was overreacting. She sat there and heard the same things I did from the PA and the doctors. So when Mae, again, refused to drink anything, the doctor said, “Usually I make these decisions for the parents, but you know your kid better than I do. Will she drink?”
I looked at Jen. Her face said it all – little kid’s sick and she probably needs an extra boost.
I knew that if I said no, it was IV town for Maelie. But I wasn’t going to lie. Mae wasn’t going to drink. She is stubborn and was so very exhausted at this point that there was no reasoning with her.
So Mae got a first class ticket to IV town.
Let me tell you what. The nurse was phenomenal. The aid held Mae down in a very firm, but not too overwhelming way. The nurse had, from the time she placed the tourniquet to the time she said, “All done!” it was less than a minute.
And I didn’t even cry.
Mae totally did.
I don’t blame her.
They checked her blood sugar, and it was low. Even after the apple juice, it was still low.
Mae slept through the IV fluids, one of which had dextrose in it. I sat there and stared at the wall. One, my phone battery was near dead and also because I just needed some time to be a vegetable. I have been in a constant state of worry and stress since Sunday afternoon. I needed a break.
When it was done, the doctor came back in. It was after 11. We were tired. She looked at me and said, “I normally would have her stay over night, but you’re a responsible parent, so I trust that you’ll bring her back if she’s not getting better, correct?”
I said yes, thanked her profusely and carried Mae out of there and didn’t look back.