Nothing like a trip to the ER with your 2 year old to make you feel totally grateful for the things you have.
Just to say right off the bat: Owen has a stomach bug, so he's okay and we knew all along that he would be but the last few days have been stressful all the same..he started throwing up Friday night and seemed to be on the mend on Saturday (although he started to have some diarrhea), but after a marathon night's sleep (slept until 10:30am when he usually gets up at 6 or 7) he woke up feeling totally depleted rather than refreshed. He was not smiling (always a red flag with that kid) and had zero energy. He had a bit of an appetite and ate a small breakfast, little hands trembling with every bite. We hoped he would perk up once the food had a chance to settle, but he just seemed to get more and more lethargic and distant looking. Zoe and I put him in the stroller and headed out for a short walk, hoping some fresh air would be all he'd need but soon after we left home, he vomited up everything he had been able to put into his stomach that morning. She and I hightailed it home and got him cleaned up and started to try and distract him with TV shows and toys because he'd become obsessed with having a drink of water. I've always been told that you should NOT give anyone water when they are actively throwing up because they will just throw it right back up, so I wasn't giving him any. He cried and cried and begged and begged for water and I called my sister-in-law Sandy, an ER doctor, to ask what I should do. She suggested I give him a 1/2 oz of water every 15 minutes for an hour and see if he could keep it down and if he couldn't, to bring him to urgent care or the ER to possibly get an IV (the biggest thing to worry about when kids have these stomach bugs is dehydration...they lose so much fluid and it's really hard to convince them to ingest anything when they feel so badly...either that or they are so thirsty that they guzzle and then throw up again)...so, I hung up the phone and gave him his first sip of water and he immediately went back to crying and begging (Sandy had warned me that would probably happen) and I started feeling very lonely and helpless all of the sudden (Nathan had gone to rehearsal for the afternoon). Owen and I were out on our patio at the time luckily, because at that exact moment, my friend Katherine walked by with her family and I immediately burst into tears upon seeing her. I tried to shoo her away, not wanting to expose them to our germs but she handed her baby off to her husband and came right in to get the scoop. I told her what was going on and she suggested I just take him to the ER right away. I pathetically tried to explain that he was probably going to be fine and that I just had to bear through it and try to get him to drink slowly and while she agreed, she also strongly encouraged me to just take him in. It must have been clear that he and I were just completely done and that going to have him checked out would help us both calm down. During this conversation, my sweet Zoe came out from inside and started insisting I go inside and rest and that she would take care of Owen. As she refused to listen to my tearful resistance, I finally realized I couldn't put Zoe through it anymore either and decided to take him in. Katherine offered to take Zoe and let me borrow her car and we were off.
Owen stopped crying in the car, but started up again when we got to the hospital (also not like him) and as they were admitting him, my stress started showing right through again as I struggled to remember his birthdate and the tears kept flowing. I was trying to get myself to stop crying, knowing it wasn't helping him to calm down but I just couldn't help it. You can imagine the scenario all you want and know in your mind that the best thing to do is to keep calm but it's so hard in the reality of the situation. It's so hard to see your child suffering and to not be able to do anything to relieve their pain..I tried to get it together also out of respect for those parents out there who are forced to endure so much worse...I mean, at least I knew all along that he WAS going to get better once we got some fluids in him...I can't imagine the strength people are able to summon when faced with chronic, life threatening illnesses in their children.
Once we got a room, the nurses immediately started coming in to meet Owen and assess him and he quietly charmed them right off the bat. I told Nathan what was going on and he ditched rehearsal and came right home...Everyone there at the hospital was just so kind and understanding, and handled everything with so much respect for me and for Owen that I can't begin to express how safe and lucky it makes me feel. I feel lucky to live in this community with such a wonderful hospital, but I also feel lucky to be in a country where it's NOT the norm for a child to die of this kind of thing. We take it for granted so often, I think...the fact that this kind of illness can stay manageable and minor for us in this country when in so many places in this world, it could be a death sentence.
After a few hours, which was spent giving Owen fluids via IV and doing some blood tests (all came back fine, but they did show that he'd been pretty dehydrated), the doctor sent us home with the heads up that he could still get dehydrated so to keep a close eye on him. They gave me a prescription for an anti-vomiting medicine to help keep stuff in his system on that end and some electrolyte popsicles that he was going to town on while he was there. He was still totally out of it and feeling terrible even at bedtime that night but at least we knew his tank was full so we all went to bed feeling more calm. He woke up this morning with a smile on his face and has been our cheery little guy again. His diapers are pretty terrible and constant and he doesn't have a huge appetite but he seems to be staying hydrated so I'm sure he'll be better in no time.
The day after, I am struck by the fact that things can seem so desperate one day and totally fine the next. Again, it makes me feel so lucky to have healthy kids and to be living in a medically advanced country. I get teary eyed thinking of all of the friends and neighbors in our community who offered help and support without question, of the friends and family from afar who sent messages and made phone calls, wanting updates all day yesterday and today, making sure our little guy was alright. I feel pain and heartache thinking of those in this country and in this world who go through things like this and much worse on a daily basis without the comfort of knowing that the outcome will most definitely be positive. As I watch Owen get better and better over the next few days, I vow to reflect upon my good fortune and look into ways I can translate that into something more than just feeling grateful.