Saturday, December 19, 2009

Black Friday 2009

It's taken a very long time for me to post again. Mostly because nothing really mattered outside of keeping vigil over my little girl these last three weeks. Her illness isn't terminal or life threatening but could have been life altering. However thanks to many prayers & positive vibes from friends & family all things point to a full recovery, at some point. Despite knowing that things could have been much worse, nothing could provide comfort when you're in the middle of it happening to you. I know things happen for a reason & perhaps the good Lord was sparing her from something much worse...yet I still couldn't help asking "why her? why not ME!" I know there are parents out there (many whom I know personally) dealing with bigger travesties then my own & this thought did give me the will I needed to get through this. I don't know what inspired my peanut but perhaps her own innate resiliency.

Typically on black Friday J & I would be putting up our holiday decorations with carols played in the background, getting our Xmas cards ready, and making our Thanksgiving meal at home for just us. But this black Friday 2009 it was very different & I'll probably always remember it as a black & gloomy Friday.

One day when my baby is feeling healthy a year from now I'll think back to this as one of the many scares this little one had. This Friday Valentina woke up unable to walk. A child who normally greeted you scaling her crib to get out, was suddenly flat on her back crying to get picked up. Once I got home from a manic morning of pre-dawn shopping & she still wasn't moving from her sitting position, I knew something was up. I checked her meticulously looking for something broken & I found a swollen knee resembling a tangerine & "warm to the touch" (a term I learned from my medical experience). After full panic set in & quickly put aside I took her to the ER at our local hospital. I kept thinking she must have sprained, fractured, or broken her leg somehow & now I'll have to figure out how to handle a toddler in a cast. Little did I know that would have been the best scenario. Instead her diagnosis was we think she has a bacterial infection in her joint temporary paralyzing her leg so we'll need to "tap" (that means stick a needle in her joint to remove fluid..another new medical vocab word) her knee. That wasn't a pleasant experience for anyone involved but it did confirm the doctors' suspicion that she definitely had "septic knee" (a bacterial infection in your joint - another new medical vocab word) and would need to be admitted so she could receive IV antibiotics, not the common pink stuff provided to most kids with infections. The explanation of her diagnosis together with all of the risks that doctors need to legally inform you of as a parent sent me into a state of shock or utter disbelief. No no no no...she just hurt her leg, I kept thinking to myself. These knuckleheads don't know what they're talking about! But they were right & the follow up tests showed it & she had consistent fevers indicating her little body was fighting some freaking microbe that if I could actually strangle the damn thing it would have given me incredible gratification. Instead I used opportune moments to lash out at nurses, technicians, & doctors who managed to foul up in different ways with my kid. Still nothing could really quell my desire to blame (or kill) whatever was causing my peanut so much pain in her short life.

After a week of ups and downs but definite progress of her condition we were told that going home would be a real possibility. It's incredible how a week in the hospital can seem like months. But not without another dramatic experience like having your 18 month old go through surgery under general anesthesia (that means put to deep sleep). Why? Well after all the blood draws and and playing pin the tail on the donkey with Val's veins she had none left to set up a permanent IV line so she can continue her medications at home. The alternative was to surgically place a catheter in her chest to a main artery so she could receive her medications on a daily basis by a home nurse for the next 4 weeks. With that, we were released only to get home & deal with various other issues & side-effects and ongoing visits to see our long line of doctors.

I could finally go home and be with both my daughters & somehow convince Cati that my absence was only temporary and that my having to leave her with grandma was just as painful to me as it was scary for her. My other little trooper was strong enough to hold the fort at home with her grandma.

After lots of opinions & observations it looks like Val will not have any permanent damage to her joint & in a few days she'll be off all the drugs that have for the most turned my once active & lively little girl into a cross between a drunk & sleep dwarf.

She'll then have to go through one more procedure to remove her catheter & then we can all breath again. Or should I say will be able to breath again & laugh again & live our normal hectic life again.

I can't lie, a lump formed in my throat that first night that has never quite gone away. Even knowing this will all be over soon and we'll once again resume where we left off doesn't release the worry of what we still need to face ahead of us. I'm trying very much to have a sense of normalcy at home & the peanuts have certainly picked up where they've left off fighting & playing like little monkeys. It gives me a small sense of relief and hope that she'll be fine.

And so I'm committed to make this holiday special as we intended it before all this mess happened. And maybe even one day I'll be able to use this to hang over my daughter's head when she doesn't want to come home to visit her elderly parents because she would rather be skiing th slopes of Aspen or something.

In retrospect this experience has taught so much & I've learned that....

  1. It's true that when they say when decide to have children your heart walks around outside of you.
  2. My life would never have been worth living without my daughters in them.
  3. As a parent we are strong enough to get through anything for the sake of our children
  4. As a parent you have a right to protect your child from protocol that interfere with their best technicians who want to wake up your child every 4 hrs for a rectal temperature, or forcing you to use a crib when it scares the be-jesus out of your kid, or wearing a hospital gown 5 sizes too big instead of something familiar from home. For a scared small child, every smidgen of familiarity goes a long way.
  5. Have a GREAT pediatrician that you can trust goes a long way.
  6. And if you need to be in the hospital you might as well milk it for all it's worth! Valentina came home to share all of her accumulated winnings with her sister Catalina :)

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