Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Adventure Began Earlier Than Expected

Sorry to have left without a word, but I can rightfully claim emergency circumstances. Just days before the arrival of my parents-in-law Squirrel Monkey took ill. She vomited nonstop for a day and night and by morning her hands and feet were blue. You can hope against hope but in the end you have to make the phone call. We took her to the local doctors office and from there they sent us to the hospital. With no car, three kids, one who is listless and could vomit all over my back at any moment we made our way through the village streets to the hospital in the next town over. A trip to the hospital was the one adventure I have been dreading to make since we moved, but was thankful my husband could give me decent biking directions. My only major quarrel with the situation was that my usually reliable husband must have acquired some of the Dutch tendency to vastly underestimate the travel time. The 10 minute bike ride was a painful 30 minutes at best, but on the plus side my sick girl didn't have to find a receptacle along the way.

Once at the hospital they determined she was dehydrated and admitted her "until she balanced her fluid intake with her loss". I wish I could say it was as easy as that, but when you add two other perfectly healthy children confined in the cramped quarters of the doctors offices without the aid of the second pair of hands . . . Well, you can imagine things got a little crazy. Then there was the fact that we were unable to eat any dinner until the second parent finally arrived near 8 o'clock at night! By this time I was ready to shoo them out of the door and find a bed to lay next to my limp and delirious child.

As is with most nurses and doctors in the hospitals, they had other plans. In order to hydrate her their plan was to put in a nasal drip rather than the US's traditional IV. I am not one to demand a different form of treatment than the doctor suggests, but from now on I will never let them put another one of those things in my child again. First, they failed to pass my sterile test by dropping the tube on the hospital floor and instead of replacing it with a new one they rinsed it with a bit of water and soap and set it back on the tray. Then they grabbed my limp child and held her fast while they shoved the plastic tube through her nose and into her stomach. She retched and screamed and reached with every last ounce of energy she had left to get into my arms. Her eyes showed a look of terror I have never seen on any face before and hope I will never see again. It was so extreme that I found myself screaming alongside her at them to stop and just pull it out. It took every bit of my will power to stop from grabbing the tube and pulling it out myself, picking her up and running out of the hospital as fast as my legs could take us. In the end they had to establish that the tube had made it to the stomach by forcing air into her stomach and then pulling some of her stomach juices out with a syringe. After all this torture they set her in my arm and she gave them a look to kill and roared at them. I need not question why they felt it best to leave her in her crying mothers arms for comfort at that moment. I would like to question why the Dutch feel they need to use a nasal drip method over the less intrusive IV. If we ever find ourselves in the same situation again I will stamp my foot down and demand and IV. It does have it's own pain factor, but it is nothing in comparison with what my daughter was put through. By the next day they determined she had not had sufficient intake and determined to keep her another day. This made me wonder if we had given her an IV if she'd have already been back on her toes. The last two times we've been to the hospital with her for this she has had an IV and was feeling and looking much better with mere hours.

The final night in the hospital was interrupted repeatedly with a child who had to pee every hour. My warning was a little whine and if I failed to miss that cue the whole train of events would be thrown into a catastrophic scene. Next she would jump out of bed and start running at full speed towards the toilets whilst searching for her underpants. This groping slowed her enough that it gave me enough time to round the hospital bed, grab the pole she was attached to by the tube stuck into her stomach. This tube was quickly running out of slack and I'd have to chase after her without getting the electrical cord caught up on anything along the way as there was only enough tube and cord to extend taught to the toilet. I learned through much trial and error the best place to set the collection pan so that I could easily grab it with my free hand along our race to the toilet. This I had to get situated precariously on the toilet seat before she could work her panties to her ankles and jump on. This was usually done by hopping over a cord or tube and patting her on the head with a reassurance that I was sure she could hold it in just a second or two longer. After each of these races were completed my heart was beating fast and I had to force a calm into my voice as I tucked her back in bed. The night was long, but by the end they had determined they had finally filled her with enough liquids to stop the drip.

In the morning I begged the nurses and assistant physician to let her out in time to meet her grandparents at the airport by 11:45. They could not guarantee anything and wanted to see her drink more on her own which I informed them they wouldn't see until they pulled that nasty tube out of her throat. Every time she tried to eat or drink she'd quickly stop, grab at her throat, and complain that her throat hurt. The following conversation is a testament to her state of illness at the time of admitting. Upon trying to get her to prove to the nurses that she really could drink on her own I tried to convince her that the tube in her throat was the only thing that was making it hurt and that it was actually rather soft, just like the own she was fiddling with in her hand.

"There's a tube in my throat?!?" She gasped in shock.

A bit shocked myself that she could not have grasped this concept over the last two days I tried my best to sound casual about it, "Yes, honey, the tube you have in your hand is the same one that goes down your throat into you stomach."

"It goes into my tummy too!?!?!" Her mouth is now open in utter disbelief.

"MmHm, that's how they put all the extra water you needed back into you."

With a look of dawning comprehension she responded, "Oh, so that's why I'm not supposed to pull on this tube; it's attached to my tummy."In hospital with tube in nose and listening to her favorite Dutch TV program, Mega Mindy.

Poor kid. Here she thought she just had a pet tube to fiddle with. I hoisted her up too look into the mirror and she was again put into a state of shock when she realized her pet tube was actually going into her nose exlaiming, "It's in my nose?!?" But, again with a look of a light bulb clicking, "So is that why I am not supposed to pick at or itch my nose?"

When I had finally convinced the nurses she would eat or drink no more unless she could do it without the pain the tube caused they reluctantly conceded to pull it out. She asked if it would hurt and they told her that only the tape they used to keep it in place would hurt. She gritted her teeth through the pulling off of the tape and as she gave a sigh of relief the nurse gave one quick tug and the tube was gone. Squirrel Monkey gagged and by the time she turned her head to look at the thing that had invaded her body it was already tucked away in the garbage.

She then proceeded to devour her food and drink an entire bottle of apple juice just in time for the morning rounds, when the doctors (again reluctantly) gave her the approved discharge papers, and we ran out the doors without looking back towards our awaiting chariot: man on bike with two kids and an extra bike for the escapee and her mother (the side-along method of transporting an extra bike achieved not as gracefully as the Dutch can do it, but still affective). We rode like mad through the streets to catch the train to find the grandparents at the airport and from there it is a whole other story. Each day was an adventure in and of itself which I will chronicle with the attention they deserve over the next couple of weeks, complete with photos.

Currently I am settling into a simple pace of life again after our European tour of five countries and 8 cities in less than two weeks. I am sifting through laundry and unpacking from the trip and the hospital stay. I still have not yet mailed out the postcards from the trip (yes, it was that busy!) and do not dare look at our email inbox!

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