Sunday, October 21, 2012

My most challenging week as a mother

I wish I could say this past week was challenging because little r was pushing all my buttons or channeling his inner monster. We do have a rather spirited child, so this would not be out of the realm of possibility. Instead though, this was an especially challenging week for completely unforeseeable reasons.

A couple weeks ago, Big R and I noticed that our crazy little man had a huge bump on the inside of his knee. We wasted no time and got him in to see a pediatrician at the army clinic right away. The pediatrician predicted it was just a cyst, but the radiologist interpreted the X-rays quite differently. We were told he had a tumor - most likely benign - and that he needed to see an ortho specialist and have an MRI as soon as possible.  This started a frenzy of phone calls for appointments and coordination for referrals. We even nearly had to cancel our trip to France, but the MRI couldn't be scheduled for a couple of weeks, so we were assured that going through with our plans would be fine.

The MRI was scheduled for this past week. Because you have to lay very still during the MRI procedure, and because it can be frightening even for adults, they sedate the little ones. The sedation requires fasting and the doctors like to hydrate the kids beforehand with IV, so it required an overnight stay at the Klinikum, or hospital, on Monday night.  That one overnight stay quickly turned into three, but I'm happy to be able to say it could have been much longer and far more serious, so you won't hear me complain.

Big R and I worked hard to remain strong. Too many possibilities were going through our minds. Surgery was seeming inevitable, and the thought was horrible especially considering our athletic little boy was hardly fazed by this large bump on his knee.  After much anticipation, we finally heard from the doctors that it was in fact not a tumor. Thank the Lord! It was instead a cyst that was quite dense making it appear like bone on the X-ray. We were so relieved.

A small, yet noninvasive, procedure was still needed to remove some of the pressure from little r's knee. This required more sedation and at least one, if not two, more nights of observation to be sure there were no complications or infection.

This week was bananas. Remove the stress of the whole ordeal and we are left with some memories that are hard not to laugh at. First of all, my spirited child is an impossible patient. This is never the case when he goes for a check up, and his visit to the dentist was spectacular. But you stick a needle in my kid's arm and show him blood, he's gonna scream. And boy did he ever.

Part of our check in procedures required a blood draw and a placement of an IV. He was so calm at first. It was kind if amazing. Then he was getting apprehensive. They don't use a vacuum tube to draw blood here but instead let the blood drip into the collection tube. This makes a mess when you have a toddler squirming. I think little r was convinced he was dying. Poor little guy started screaming at the top if his lungs. He looked straight into my eyes and said, "I'm done with this game, mommy. All done. This man is holding me, tell him to let go!"  That was rough. But then it was over, and little r and I put it all behind us(I thought).

Our first night in the Klinikum was long. We watched a lot of German cartoons and tried as best we could to sleep. The nurse started little r on IV fluids around 3 a.m. and that's when the sleeping stopped. Can't hardly blame the kid for not understanding what was going on.  He was so tired that sedation was easy as pie in the morning. He barely lasted 30 seconds before he was asleep and snoring. He even slept another 2 hours after his MRI was completed.

Waiting for the results felt like an eternity.  This is something I wish for no parent to have to go through, and my heart goes out to those parents that get the unfortunate news of finding out there little ones are sick or require major surgery.  After discussing the results with us, they whisked little r down to another room to do an ultrasound.  He behaved for this part.  Apparently the ultrasound tickled, so it wasn't scary.  Because of how dense and firm the cyst was (it really did feel like bone - it was amazing), the doctor wanted to do a procedure to remove fluid from the cyst.  Doing this both released the pressure from his knee and also gave them the ability to test the fluid for signs of infection or various other concerns.  So, we would be staying in the Klinikum for a couple more nights.

The next day is when the fun really began.  Little did the doctors and nurses know that little r was ready to unleash the furry.  He had had enough, and he was flat out done with being touched.  Unfortunately for him (and for us), he had been far too active and the IV they placed in his arm was no longer good, so they had to remove it and place a new one.  Good gravy.  This was a disaster.  A combination of being overtired and scared to death resulted in four of us holding him down and my child acting as if his life were hanging in the balances.

I had no idea that it was much more difficult to find a strong vein in a child for an IV.  We were lucky with the first one.  The poor doc had a hell of a time trying to get an IV to set, and little r had the doc so worked up his hands were literally shaking.  He had to call on reinforcements, which I'm sure was embarrassing for him.  Not five minutes later, an older gentlemen was knocking on our door and telling us something important in German.  We were clueless, of course.  Then he said in English, "I'm the senior pediatrician.  I
was called because there is trouble and my assistance is needed." Classic.

Here we are, yet again, all four of us holding him down.  The doctor had to place the IV in little r's foot because that was the only place he could hold onto with a strong vein.  I was up by little r's head, and he was holding me so tight I could barely breath and screaming so loud I was temporarily deaf.  Big R had his other leg, which was a challenge in itself.  He claims the doctor was pretty fearless, but little r did not make things easy for him.  After that began little r's stand - no one was touching him for any reason whatsoever, and from that point forward he indeed made it rather difficult for the doctors and nurses to get their job done.  My child is special.  These are skills I have no doubt will make him a strong individual as an adult, but at this juncture, they just help keep my life entertaining.

I had quite honestly felt as though we were deep in an episode of Grey's Anatomy.  There was no way this craziness was really happening, right?  We were in the process of calming little r down and waiting for the doctors to come get him for the procedure when THE BIG GUY came for a visit.  Here in Germany they refer to their head specialist doctors as "professors."  We got a visit from THE ortho professor, and behind him came his entourage of young doctors eager to learn everything from this all-mighty genius.  He did give off an aire of wisdom.  I felt smarter just having him walk into the room.  At this point I was absolutely convinced that we were on an episode of Grey's - there was no doubt.

We got a visit from the Professor because there had been a strong possibility that his specialist ortho skills would be a necessity in the operating room to remove the tumor from little r.  We were all relieved, but I'm sure some of the younger doctors were hoping for a tad more excitement. I was happy  not to give it to them.

The procedure was really quick, and we anticipated a similar recovery that we had witnessed the day before.  So, Big R kissed me good-bye and headed back to the office to get a few things done.  HA!  I have no idea what they gave my child to sedate him that morning, but he came back possessed.  It was insane!  He was sleeping with his eyes open...kind of, talking in his sleep, yelling and thrashing around.  Then he woke up and his eyes were dancing and he was adamant that he was going to get out of that crib. Yes, this kid who could barely sit up was determined he was ready to take on the day.  He tried to stand up and fell over while promptly telling me that all the people in the room were "busy."  It was entertaining right until the moment that he got hostile and I had no other choice but to "lock" him into his crib until he found his sanity.  I felt like I was dealing with a short, very violent drunk man.  Awesome.

I think I held back tears for maybe 10 minutes before I couldn't stand it anymore.  I rescued him from the crib and just held him.  That's what we do as mothers, right?  Our hearts ache when we hear our children cry in fear and pain.  I rocked him for probably an hour, and then my child miraculously found his way back.

The rest of the hospital stay was less eventful.  We were exceedingly thankful for our release.  Four nearly full days in the hospital felt like an eternity (although we know it wasn't and things could have been infinitely worse).  Little r's knee is nicely bandaged, but he feels no pain or discomfort.  In fact, I'm not sure he has any idea what we were doing there.  He thought the doctors were helping his bug bites go away.  The bandage gets changed by the Army doctor tomorrow.  I asked the scheduler to note on the appointment that she would be needing some assistance.  She thought I was joking.

We just need to keep his knee bandaged for another week, and then we can go back to things as normal.  He visits with the doctors at the Klinikum again in about a month just as a follow-up.  We aren't expecting any issues or concerns.

Someone was definitely looking out for our family this week.  As a mother, I'm not sure if there has been a more challenging time for me.  The emotions, exhaustion, anxiety... It's horrible to see your little one go through so much.  I pray that none of my friends ever need to go through anything serious with their children, and I pray even harder for those mothers that do.

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