Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I'm not sure that it would be an exaggeration to say that the doctors and nurses who treated Beckett in the ER on Friday saved his life. I know they told me that if I had not brought him in when I did he would have stopped breathing. Pretty scary.

I'm thankful it's over, but the whole experience made me see how lucky I am...how many truly wonderful blessings there are in my life, my sons and husband chief among them.

It also made me deeply appreciative of the fact that I live in a city that boasts not just one, but three, children's hospitals. Amazing.

I guess technically, now, there are really just three different campuses belonging to the same hospital, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. However, each facility began as a unique children's hospital or medical program in its own right. Egleston was your basic children's hospital that was founded by a wealthy man who was his mother's only surviving child, his four siblings succumbing to early childhood diseases. Hughes Spalding was a hospital for the children of African-American families who could afford to pay for healthcare; and Scottish Rite began as a rehabilitation facility for children of all races whose families could not afford long stays in other hospitals.

Few places actually even have a dedicated children's hospital, leaving kids to receive treatment from doctors and nurses who aren't always trained to treat their small patients.

Both of my boys have been treated in the Egleston ER now and Brendan has had surgery at Scottish Rite. I can't imagine their having to go through that at a hospital catering to adults. It's such a scary thing, yet all the caregivers at Children's really are focused on helping the children through the process. And their parents as well.

I don't think I dealt with one person, from the intake coordinators to the doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists, who was impatient, short-tempered, or ugly. I certainly have met doctors, nurses and others like that in the hospitals I've been in as a patient. It was so calming and refreshing not to have to deal with anything extraneous when my son was sick.

I hope we never have cause to visit Children's again. But, I'm very glad to know it's there. I'm also glad to know that it's there even for families who cannot afford routine healthcare. We're very fortunate to have insurance; not everyone is. And for those families, Children's provides close to $80 million a year in medical care that it doesn't recover.

When she was sitting with me in the ER the other day, the hospital chaplain suggested I remember the words of the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus as a comfort while sitting with my sick child.

I say, what a friend we have in Children's.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mysterious Ways

What a very long week it was and most of it for naught.

My mother-in-law has never kept Brendan overnight. That was all about to change last weekend, but, alas, it was not meant to be.

My mother-in-law works at a school and was or is on spring break this week. She offered to watch both Brendan and Beckett so that Scott and I could have a very much needed weekend away. I made last minute travel plans to a resort on the Outer Banks, scheduling a romantic couples' massage in a spa overlooking the Currituck Sound. We were looking forward to the nine hour drive so that we could talk and listen to music without interruption. I was looking forward to sleeping late and for two days not having to do anything for anyone else but myself. And really, mostly, just looking forward to talking to my husband without having to stop every five minutes to say, Please, say excuse me. or No, not right now. Please wait just a minute while I talk to your dad..

We had made all the arrangements and were so excited. All I had to do on Friday after dropping Brendan off at preschool was come home and pack our suitcases. One for us, one for the boys.

But there it was...that nagging wheeze that Beckett has had off and on since January. He had a little bit of it Thursday night, but Friday morning it was so loud I could hear above the car radio. And he just didn't seem like himself. My hungry little caterpillar only took 4 oz. of his bottle when normally he wants a full 6 oz. on top of nursing.

Mother's intuition said I should take him to the pediatrician just to be sure before leaving him with my mother-in-law for the weekend. So, after dropping Brendan off, I popped into the pediatrician's office. It's right around the corner from the preschool. I asked the nurse to listen to him and five minutes later we're in the exam room. The doctor comes in listens for a minute and tells me I will not be going on vacation after all. Two breathing treatments later and the doc is telling the nurse to call an ambulance to come take my little guy to the children's hospital. Whoa! This was not what was supposed to be happening!

They were supposed to tell me I was overreacting and that he was fine!

I talked the doctor into letting me drive Beckett the 10 min. to the ER. We were there until 3 p.m. when they finally admitted Beckett to the hospital. He had four breathing treatments in the ER and was put on oxygen. They could never get his blood oxygen level to stay above the 80s without oxygen. The wonderful ER doc told me that if I had waited just a few more hours to take Beckett to the doctor that I would have had to call 911. It was all very scary.

Of course, my initial reaction was disbelief and I'm sure the doctor thought I was a terrible mother for asking him if he was sure we wouldn't be leaving and that I wouldn't be taking my trip. The first trip alone in 5 years. The last time Scott and I took a trip alone together was to NYC in May 2002 and Brendan was conceived on that trip.

In fact, I know the doctor must have thought I was a terrible person because despite how nice and consoling he was to me, becasue he did have the chaplain come in to talk to me....a woman much younger than myself with no kids who had the audacity to ask me if I was mad at my baby for getting sick!

Now, they may have had her come in because of the seriousness of the situation. Scott and I were at one point discussing whether or not we should have a priest come from our church to baptise and anoint Beckett. But, it felt like they had her come in to talk to the crazy lady who was disappointed that her trip was ruined.

Still, I wasn't angry at my child and can't believe someone would think that. I was angry at the nice Presbyterian chaplain for suggesting that and angry at God for his terrible sense of humor. In hindsight, though, I realize that God may have actually used this to save Beckett and his brother from something even worse.

After spending Friday night and most of Saturday in the hospital, Beckett was able to go home Saturday night around 8 p.m. He was doing much better, but we are having to give him breathing treatments at home every 4 to 6 hours.

When I called my mother-in-law to tell her we were going home from the hospital, she was in tears from pain. She has kidney stones and was in such acute pain that she didn't remember talking to me when I called her yesterday to check on her.

I am terrified to think what could have happened if Brendan and Beckett had been in her care. I'm sure she would have probably called my sister-in-law to come help her, but you just never know.

It sure is strange, though, that this respiratory virus kind of came back out of nowhere, optimally timed to keep us from going out of town.

Very, very strange.