Wednesday, July 15

A Trip to the Lake, with a Hospital Detour

A few weeks ago, we headed north to spend a fun weekend with friends at the lake.  With much anticipation, we bought life jackets, prepped the kids for several hours in the car, and packed everything up.  I was super excited about getting out of the house for a few days.  Sometimes it's nice to just get out for a bit, you know?

We arrived late on a Thursday night but, on vacation, the adults stayed up late.  Because we could. :-)

Despite periodic cloudiness, we spent much of Friday and Saturday in the water.  Beth, Luke, and Jack became pretty confident in the water, although after hearing about "alligator gar" Luke was pretty nervous about getting back in!  We did a little fishing in the evenings and enjoyed hanging out, building friendships and making memories.  I can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much, being silly with the kids, watching Ryan have so much fun with them, floating in the water, laughing, and feeling very carefree.



We had a fun Saturday night in which Luke felt it necessary to stand and dance on the outdoor bar while eating.  (Anything goes at the lake!)  Early on Sunday morning Beth woke up me saying her foot hurt.  I had no idea what to tell her at 4 am, so I tucked her back into bed and told her we'd look at it tomorrow.  The next morning she had what looked like an infected cut on the top of her toe, so we put on some neosporin and a bandaid then went to mass.  She was very lethargic during mass, and afterward I took this photo and texted it to my brother, Dr. Michael.


Doesn't look to bad with the bandaid on, but he said it was "streaking" up her leg and we should go to get it checked out.  After a quick lunch, and after figuring out some logistics (we had been planning to go home after mass), Ryan dropped Beth and me off at an urgent care and drove back to the lake house to pack us up.  Beth was feeling pretty rotten at the urgent care, I posted this photo on instagram and asked for prayers.
The PA who saw us at the urgent care was on the fence about what to do.  He thought about sending us home with a prescription antibiotic but asked if he could send a photo of Beth's toe and leg to a local ER doctor.  By now the streaking had traveled up to the top of her thigh (it had been at her ankle before mass) and my mama intuition told me something was going on.  I consented to having the photo sent, and the ER doctor said she wanted us to come in for an IV antibiotic.

Our sweet friends agreed to watch Luke, Jack, and Caeli for us so Ryan could come take us to the ER.  He picked us up and we went to the hospital that the urgent care recommended- being in a strange city I was at the mercy of their recommendation.  After they got us into a room, we had several doctors come in and out to check on Beth.  The first was nice, but the second doctor, who was the pediatric doctor, didn't handle things well.  He shocked us by saying Beth needed to stay for two to four days, and that this was "serious stuff" and she could lose her toe.  He said this in front of her- not okay!  Her diagnosis was cellulitis- blood poisoning in the old days.  They wanted to keep her on IV antibiotics for at least 48 hours until the blood cultures came back negative, confirming that she didn't have a blood infection.  


Beth was a nervous wreck about having the IV put into her arm.  My poor baby was feeling bad, sort of delirious with fever that kept getting higher each time they checked it, and not in a place to really rationalize the necessity of an IV.  I laid down on the bed next to her and braided her hair.  We talked about her favorite saints, the meaning of redemptive suffering, and the importance of being brave. The years I'd spend building up her trust and confidence paid off on this day.  I was able to confidently remind her of the trust we've built, the control I let her have over her decisions and her body.  I let her choose her clothing and hair, respect her time, and honor her autonomy.  I reminded her that I wouldn't MAKE her do anything that I didn't think she absolutely had to do, and this was an instance in which she HAD to do something she didn't want to do.  I didn't make her do it.  She trusted me and consented on her own.  And to me, that meant the world.

She was brave.  Even sick, exhausted, not understanding, and hurting. 


It seemed like it took forever for them to bring the antibiotics in, then transfer us to her room in the pediatric unit.  Charlie brought food for us because the hospital wasn't confident that they could feed us a gluten-free diet.  (On another note- even after requesting a gluten-free meal, the hospital sent a regular gluten-filled dinner that night, which really made us lose confidence.  There was a lot of miscommunication, or perhaps lack of any communication at all, which was very disappointing.)

After discussions, Ryan and I decided he'd spend the nights with her and I'd drive back to the house to stay with the other kids.  I thought Caeli would do better with me there at nights and I felt so confident that Ryan would make sure Beth would receive the best possible care.  After a round or two of antibiotics, Beth started to feel better and she and Ryan watched movies, played games, took silly pictures, called people on the phone, drew pictures, and probably did all sorts of other cutting up.

She looked back to her old self by the time I arrived on Monday.  I brought the other kids so they could see her (Luke had cried on Sunday night when I told him Beth wasn't coming home that night) and after a short visit, Ryan took them back to the house for the afternoon while I stayed with Beth. Beth also had some other visitors that day!  Grandma and Grandpa drove up to see her and bring her some goodies, and our friends also brought their family up to see Beth too!  Other than the IV in her arm (she was more annoyed with it than anything- it didn't hurt anymore) she acted like her old silly self!

That night Luke and I texted Beth a goodnight picture.  I think she and Ryan had already gone to bed though!

Back at the lake house, life was back to normal- just without Beth and Ryan.  The kids still woke up early and had to be fed.  Everyone missed Beth and there was definitely a cloud hanging over everyone's heads as we knew she was gone.  I was taking phone calls from doctors and well-meaning friends and family.  It was chaotic, but there were some beautiful moments too, like an early-morning lake-side breakfast with this beauty.

And listening in on a conversation with these big kids who were discussing the existence and creation of God, and trying to ponder how He was, is, and always will be. These children are amazing.

We heard on Monday night that Beth might be able to leave on Tuesday morning, if the results of her blood culture were negative.  We were excited to hear the news that she might be out so soon but we were also concerned about the incoming tropical storm!  We weren't sure what time she'd be released, how long the process would take, or when the storm would hit... We decided to play it by ear.

I was really feeling the pressure of extending our stay for so long!  We were generously invited to visit for a long weekend (late Thursday night through Sunday morning) and had already over-extended our welcome to Tuesday- and now we were having to delay our departure another day due to potential bad weather!  Our hosts were so generous, and if they ever felt like we were staying too long or getting frustrated with our presence then they never let us know!  They were nothing but gracious and helpful and understanding of everything we were dealing with, and the fact that we had their home to basically crash (and sometimes trash!) for almost a week seemed like it was no problem for them.  I am so very thankful for that.  I know it's hard to travel and stay in someone else's home (we have so many weird food demands!) and I know what it's like to have someone stay over for maybe a day or two too long.  It's hard to have someone else in your home sometimes.  But I never felt pressured to leave or felt unwelcome.  They were amazing to us.

Our friends Charlie and Andrea were also absolute life-savers.  At the first sign of concern they were asking what they could do to help, and I had complete trust and faith that they meant it and that they'd be totally capable of handling our little ones.  It made a world of a difference because I didn't have to worry about Luke, Jack, or Caeli at all. They went our of their way so many times, and did so cheerfully and prayed with us along the way.  Charlie brought us supplies in the hospital and no doubt encouraged Ryan. Andrea shared my mama worries, got angry with me when I was angry, reassured me and validated my feelings, solicited prayers, gave me hope and confidence, and celebrated with me when we brought her back.

Beth was released on Tuesday afternoon and we enjoyed a celebratory dinner tonight while everyone partied.  The other kids planned a surprise party and gave her gifts and cards, and there was much rejoicing all around.  We planned to take off the following morning and I think we were all pretty exhausted, so we hit the bed early that night and came home the next morning.

Beth had to complete 8 full days of a nasty oral antibiotic, which we mixed with chocolate milk and she chugged it through a straw.  She despised it but she did it!  She wore her hospital bracelets for a few days, I think as a reminder of a great personal victory.  

After reflection, I feel like if this had happened at our home, it would have been much more difficult for us.  We were able to rely on our friends so heavily, and for that I am eternally grateful, because this was such a stressful two-day experience.  If we'd have been home we would have had to carted all the kids around, or arranged to drop them off somewhere and all of that would have added another element of stress to the situation.  We were so thankful for their support, and so thankful to our hosts for understanding our difficult situation!  

A month later, as the medical bills come rolling in, we still run into people we haven't seen lately and they ask how she's doing, and it seems like it happened forever ago.  So many people were praying for her,  and for that I am also so grateful.  I was so worried about sepsis.  About her losing her toe.  And of course she's just fine, everyone probably knew she would be- we were told this is a common childhood illness after all!  But when it's your baby, it's hard to see that far ahead into the future.  All glory to God, author of life and in whose will we find our peace!


Mary said...

I'm so thankful she is well. How scary and yet so filled with blessings.

The Zajicek's said...

Oh gosh, so sorry to hear about all this! So thankful she is well now, I know that had to be so scary!

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