Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sick Kids

I hope that you all never have occasion to visit Sick Kids hospital, but if you do, know that it is a place that brings you to your knees with awe.  

Monday morning, 7am, the Big Yam fell down the stairs of our house.  The entire flight.  All 14 steps.  It was my fault.  I thought the gate was closed.  I thought the gate was closed.  That thought haunts me.  I could have sworn the gate was closed.  The sound of the thump that sent me running out of his room and the sight of his little body, face down and splayed out on the floor haunts me.  I was in the middle of getting the Big Yam ready for the day.  I went to pee, and I know the gate was closed then because he stood at the gate and watched me pee, and then proceeded to pee on the floor.  I went and cleaned up his pee, and I could have sworn the gate was closed at that point, too.  I got him dressed and I was grabbing his socks from his room when I heard that sound and even worse, that awful, drawn-out silence that followed it.  

I ran downstairs and gathered him up and saw that his bottom three teeth were at a right angle and he was gushing blood and screaming and it was a freakin' s**tshow of epic proportions.  There are no words.  I called my neighbours to figure out where to go and then called Momma D and she came right away and we drove to Sick Kids Emergency, the Big Yam wailing all the while, though eventually settling down when I sang him songs in the car, even with the effin' massacre in his mouth.  

Here's the thing about being a parent.  YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO BE AFRAID OF. I saw his teeth and I was freaking out.  When we got to Sick Kids Emergency, they asked me a barrage of questions - how many steps, are they carpeted, what did he land on, did he scream right away (concussion check), could he move his head (concussion check), any vomiting, odd behaviour, were his legs and arms bent at a weird angle.  I didn't even THINK to check that stuff.  I picked him up like an idiot, when he could have hurt his neck or spine or any of that other stuff I didn't know about but actually learned when I did my CPR training.

They put a neck brace on him even though the preliminary check seemed fine.  Then it was a matter of me trying to soothe him enough so he would be still for the CT scan.  I tried for an hour but he was getting scared and I'm sure his teef were hurting like whoa and he wouldn't settle, so then it was a whole debate between the anesthetist and the trauma surgeon about weighing the pros and cons of putting him under for a CT scan when it was unlikely (based on the preliminary evidence) that he had any spine/head fractures/issues.  Complicating things was the fact that he had eaten breakfast this morning, leading to the risk of pulmonary aspiration (what I learned - chemically induced unconsciousness leads to disabling of the natural block in the esophagus that prevents contents of the stomach entering the lungs).  So there was a big argument between anesthetist and trauma doc that I unfortunately overheard.  The end result after a consult with neurology and dentist was that he was going to be put under.  So they let me into the room with him to help him calm down before he went under and then they kicked me out so I wouldn't see him getting intubated.  Poor little guy.  He went under so quick. 

The entire surgery lasted about 30 minutes.  They pulled his 4 bottom teeth out.  I signed the consent forms after the fact because it all happened while he was out.  Then the Dotytron showed up and we were there when he woke up.  They wanted us to stay overnight so we were moved into the day patient room which is a bit of a misnomer because the other 3 patients in the room had been there for a few days, most of them waiting to be transferred to a private room.  I stayed with him through the night and the Dotytron went home at 9pm to get some rest because his concert band is competing today in the Ontario Band Association thingamajig.  The trauma doctor I spoke to last night said that he could have discharged us, but due to the height of the fall and the facial impact on the poor Boobla, he preferred one night just to watch and make sure that no concussion symptoms occurred after the fact.  As he put it, he would have preferred that the Big Yam have a seizure at the hospital than with us at home (my preference too.)  

We got discharged this morning.  It was a long night.  It's crazy how still hospitals become at night - how unearthly and alone you as the visitor seem to be, haunting the deserted halls, even though you're sharing your vigil with everyone else keeping watch over their loved ones.  

I can't say enough good things about Sick Kids.  Every staff member we met was phenomenal - kind, competent, warm, loving.  Great bedside manners.  It is an exemplar of how our health care system should work.  They were obviously in a hurry to discharge us, seeing as how we were occupying a bed unnecessarily.  I kept marveling at the miracles and the work being performed at that place.  Each section of each floor has a a well appointed playroom for the kids, there's a library, a school, research facilities.  Thinking about the amount of money that keeps that place running is mind boggling - the army of nurses, RNs, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, family counselors and the doctors in each section of each floor.  

I came away thinking of how lucky we are and how ludicrous this whole parenting venture is.  It's like the ultimate Ponzi scheme.  You get sucked in not knowing how much you owe.  There were people in the neurology, neuroscience, and trauma wing who had been coming to Sick Kids for years and years  - who had effectively grown up there.  There were kids there with undiagnosed neurological issues - countless things that you have no idea to be afraid of when you decide frivolously to have a child.  

I came away from my 3am haunting of the Sick Kids halls completely humbled by humans and our ludicrous coping capabilities, our resiliency, our strength, and how low we can be pulled.  The work that's done in that building is inspiring and I'm not just talking about the work of the doctors, researchers, and residents.  The love that parents can have for their children and the ability of children to adapt and be kids regardless of situation is staggering - another example of the sublime.  

My sis says I dodged a bullet and I am inclined to agree.  I'm so grateful that my Boobla is okay, for the most part, unscathed except for the loss of his baby teeth and his newfound thirst for lemon flavoured Jell-O.  We have to see a pediatric dentist to see what the long term ramifications are for a kid to lose their baby teeth so young.  If it's only cosmetic, as I suspect it might be, I'm not that fussed about it.  I couldn't believe that through it all - he still wanted me - he still wanted to be carried and kissed by his mama.  Especially since I did it to him.  I feel like he's Rihanna and I'm Chris Brown or something.  I kept expecting to the Sick Kids people to call CAS on me - hell, I'm on the brink of turning myself in.  My sis thinks I'm taking it harder because I am so controlling and have such high expectations that this slip up is harder for me to take.  That might be part of it.  Feeling like a bad, negligent mum is another huge part of it.  Knowing that I hurt the little fatburger and ruined his fatburger mug is another huge part of it.  I won't be able to hear him crunching into an apple again for a long time.  The inside of his mouth looks like the human centipede and that's my fault.  

This is what he looked like sleeping in the prison-crib at the hospital.  They taped this foam block to his hand to keep all the IVs in - in case they had to give him medicine or something later.  Awwww...poor little block hand.

I took the rest of the week off of work to spoil the Big Yam rotten and cover his human centipede mouth with kisses.


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