Sunday, July 4, 2010

Long time no type

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost two months since my last post. The end of the school year was so busy, and at the end of May Daniel had a 5 day stay in the hospital just to add to the fun. More on that later. A couple of days after school ended, we went on a trip to my in-law's house, and took in some college visits while we were up in New England. We came back home on Friday, and the hot and humid weather is in force. I am so thankful for air conditioning!

On May 24th I had just arrived at work, and I was setting up my computer in a quiet place away from my classroom so I could work on grades. The receptionist found me and said that my child's school nurse was on the phone for me. Doesn't that always send a shiver down your spine? I mean, with Daniel it could be anything from "we need more supplies" to "his blood sugar is way high/low, take him home!" The last time I got a call from a school nurse, it was for my younger son, Dominic, who got a goose egg on his forehead during recess and spent the rest of the day in her office with a headache. Ugh.

This time the nurse said that Daniel was having trouble breathing, that he complained of pain in his left shoulder, and that his left arm was numb. Yikes! I gathered all my stuff and drove across the county as fast as I could. I tried calling his pediatrician, but it was Monday morning and I got an automatic message saying that I was 5th in line, which is usually a 10-15 minute wait. I called the nurse back and asked if she thought, based on how he was feeling, whether I should try to get him into the pediatrician or take him to the ER. She said, "Oh, if you can get him into your pediatrician, that would be good." Then she told me to hold, and I could hear a discussion going on in the background. She came back on the line and told me, "okay, I think it would be good if you took him to the emergency room."

I freaked out and drove faster, wondering if Daniel was having a heart attack, and why the school nurse didn't put him in an ambulance. But at that point I was close to school, closer than an ambulance, so I picked him up and started heading for the nearest hospital. My brain was going, "closest hospital? or Children's hospital? Closest? Childrens?" Daniel said, "why are we going this way? This isn't towards home? Can't I just sleep this off?" Sheesh. "NO! We are going to the ER!" Daniel rolled his eyes. "I don't want to go to the emergency room!"

I didn't tell him that I was worried about his symptoms because I didn't want to freak him out. Luckily, the ER was pretty empty, and we were seen right away. The doctor listened to his heart, took his vitals, and said, "Well, we're going to do an x-ray. And we'll do an ekg just to totally rule anything else out, but his heart sounds fine."

That was a huge relief for me. They rolled in the ekg machine, and quickly ruled out a heart attack. The x-ray showed the real story -- that his lung had spontaneously collapsed. The doctor said that they would be sending Daniel in an ambulance to Children's hospital (Ugh! Should have gone there first!) where they would do a further examination. She said that many times these pneumothoraxes heal on their own. Sometimes you need a chest tube. But she thought he'd be fine.

So here's the deja vu part of the story -- 3 years before, in May 2007, Daniel was diagnosed with diabetes. We started at this same hospital, and then they sent us in an ambulance to Children's. At that time I was in such shock that my brain wasn't functioning enough to figure out who could take care of my other 2 kids. This time was different. My brain was making lists. First I ran upstairs to see my mom, who was in the hospital for another issue. Luckily she was better, and a day away from being released. I let her know what was going on. Then I got on the phone. I called friends to take care of my other two kids because the doctor told me we would be in the hospital at least over night. Then I called my husband's boss. My husband was out of town on a business trip, and I needed him back right away! His boss was great -- once she found out what was going on she started making travel arrangements for Matt before she even contacted him.

We got to Children's hospital, where they told us that Daniel needed a chest tube. They inserted it in the emergency room, while he was awake (high on morphine and numbed with something else), while I was holding his hand. When they cut him he said, "Ouch?"

"Oh, you felt that? Give him some more "something-caine."

Then a few minutes later, Daniel said, "You have your fingers on my rib right now, don't you?" Oh God. I held his hand, bent my head down, and decided quite firmly that I would NOT be a fainting parent." It was a tight squeeze between his ribs, but then the doc said, "You'll hear a pop!" and it went POP and the tube was in. We spent the next few days waiting for the lung to reinflate. It took 2 tries, but finally worked with no surgery.

My husband came home, my kids were cared for, and Daniel and I spend 5 sleepless nights with the wonderful staff of Children's. He's fine now, with a little scar on his chest as a reminder of that crazy week. There's a 30 percent chance of it happening again, in which case they would do surgery right away to make sure that the lung can't collapse again.

The pneumothorax had nothing to do with his diabetes. He fits the profile of tall, skinny, young male -- apparently it is quite common. Just like type 1 diabetes.

All's well that ends well. I'm thankful that we're all together now, and on our way to see the fireworks. Happy fourth of July!

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