Thursday, August 25, 2011
A Pretty Pathetic Picture
Chloe hadn't been feeling well the last few days. She was listless, tired, laid around, complained that she wanted to throw up and then couldn't, finally did throw up and then felt better, but then didn't have much appetite or energy. Yesterday morning (Tuesday) she woke up very early, crying in pain saying that her tummy hurt. I could tell she was feverish and so just gave her tylenol and a few sips of ice water, and she went back to sleep again. When she got up she seemed better, even ate a bit, but yesterday afternoon she woke up from her nap crying again and saying how much her tummy hurt. I was thinking that she probably had a stomach bug, but did dare to give her more pain medication by mouth and had her lie down to rest again. She was bummed to miss the first day of the girls' new PE class--a Rodeo-themed motor skills class at SBTS. But there was no way she could go, so I set her up with a blanket and a movie with Daddy at home and took the other girls.
When we got home about 5:45, it was clear that Chloe was worse. She seemed to be in a lot of pain, and when I asked her if her tummy hurt all over (still thinking stomach bug or stress or who knows what) she said very clearly, "It hurts right here" and pointed to her belly button. Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. I remembered our dear friend Samantha and how she exhibited very similar symptoms before having an appendectomy. I remembered our friend Kevin and how he had very similar symptoms before his appendectomy. (both of those incidents occuring inside the country where we used to live!) So I rushed back to where John was studying and said, "I think Chloe has appendicitis!" He immediately came out and began to look online and everything confirmed that this was a distinct possibility.
I threw together some take-along food for supper and packed a few other things and we got everybody in the car, on our way to the hospital. Chloe was in so much pain as we drove, was moaning, groaning, crying, and then screaming in pain. We pulled up to emergency and John quickly carried her in while I went to park the car.
The next 7 hours were a blur of waiting, telling our story again and again, filling out paperwork and trying various tests to determine the problem. We were hopeful all evening that it would just turn out to be a virus, or maybe strep, or some other random thing, but as the night wore on they kept saying that things weren't conclusive yet so we needed to do one more test. So she had a blood test, a urine test, examinations by several doctors, an x-ray, and finally a CT scan. After the ER doctors read the CT scan they felt it still was not absolutely conclusive and so put the decision in the hands of the pediatric surgeon. Dr. F came to our room to tell us that as she looked at the CT scan, she suspected appendicitis. She was not absolutely sure, but she had seen enough cases of it to know that something not good was going on in Chloe's belly and almost everything else that it could be was ruled out. Just like that, they were prepping Chloe for surgery. When the decision was made they acted fast!
So about 1:45 this morning John carried a zonked-out Christin and I helped a stumbling-with-sleepiness Clara Anne up to the 8th floor surgical unit. The anesthesiologist gave her some pain medication and said to me in a sidelong whisper, "It'll take 2-3 minutes." 2 minutes later he asked Chloe if the pain was much better. Bless her heart, she had been pretty miserable all night, not often crying with the pain, trying to be brave but sometimes just truly hurting. When he asked her that, she said, only a little better, so he said, "ok, I'll go get some more." He turned to do that and in that next minute the pain meds kicked in, she relaxed, and fell asleep. Poor dear! Of course it was the middle of the night and she had been so uncomfortable, it must have just been a relief to be free of the pain for that moment! Chloe fell asleep in that moment and didn't wake up until much later today!
At that point, John took the two other girlies home and I tried to get comfortable on a short sofa in the surgical waiting area. They did call me several times to let me know how the surgery was going, which was helpful. It was "acute advanced appendicitis" but without a rupture that the surgeon could see, so that was good news. One interesting thing in Chloe's case is that her bowels have a congenital abnormality (that we had no idea about, it has not affected her until this moment) meaning that at one point her bowels twist the "wrong" way and so her appendix was actually on her left side! The doctor got Chloe's bowels cleaned out first and then could feel an obvious mass on her left side, and they were able to take it out laprascopically. What a crazy, strange thing! But I'm so thankful that they found it and got it out. The surgery was finished about 4, and she was able to get settled in her room about 5am.
Chloe slept the major part of today but did perk up a bit towards supper time. She ate a popsicle while watching a Strawberry Shortcake movie (what could be better?!) and then asked for seconds and then thirds! We got her sitting up in a chair a bit and even a little sponge bath too. She's been a champ. The hospital has a little smiley-face guide that you can show the nurses to tell them your pain level, and last night she kept choosing the most frowny face to say that the pain hurt the worst. But today thankfully she's been at "no pain" or "hurts a little bit" most of the day. Very thankful for that!
I have to say again how impressed I am with American hospitals and health care. I have met such caring nurses and doctors, who know their stuff and are committed to giving your child a great care experience. We are thankful for good medical care! The Lord is gracious!
So, rejoice with us tonight that the Lord preserved Chloe's life and holds her in His hand. That's always true, of course, but a physical/medical need is such a great reminder. I've said it before in relation to my mom's surgery, but it's still true: we are not God. We cannot, finally, save ourselves physically or especially spiritually. Our bodies are weak and frail and will eventually fail us unless Jesus returns first. And yet He has given such gracious gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and experience to doctors and nurses who are able to use things like laprascopic techology to perform a surgery that was necessary to Chloe's life--without it, she could have died. We saw the Lord's grace in many ways throughout this situation and are so thankful that Chloe came through ok. Obviously Jesus is helping her, she's been such a trooper! Here's a few more pictures: