We woke up to the sound of Riley stumbling and falling in his bedroom. He never regained his balance and began to vomit. Thinking he had suffered a head injury from his fall, we rushed him to the ER. It wasn't a head injury. And so began our nightmare and an opportunity to learn some important life lessons.
Lesson 1: Look for the good. It's there somewhere.
So we all found some good on a really bad morning. There was an ER nurse who wasn't even assigned to us but took us under her wing. She used hospital computers to put Elmo on for Riley and broke 'ER rules' to let Ryan and Tyler come back and see us. (I don't think our nurse was thrilled with her but she and I were quick friends. When Ryan first met her he thought that she was someone I knew before coming to the ER. Nope just an awesome person heaven sent to help us along our way!)
In the ER we were able to rule out head injury, ear infection, and brain tumor. All good things to eliminate! His condition was still such that he needed to be admitted to the pediatric ICU (PICU). This meant an ambulance transport to another hospital.
Even a very sick toddler knows getting to go for ride in an ambulance is exciting stuff. I did mention to Riley that I would prefer that this be his (and my) one and only ride in the back of an ambulance. We came to the agreement that he would forevermore stay out of ambulances unless he grew up to work in one. Family and friends began rallying around to support us. Good things.
Lesson 2: Go to God instead of Google. Especially at 2am when your heart is a wreck.
When we got to the PICU the struggle to find out why my baby couldn't walk, stand, or sit unattended continued. He was so dizzy that when I sat him up it looked like he was sitting on a waterbed that someone was disturbing. The poking and prodding would continue.
Then came a 'diagnosis' contingent on the fact that he would be better tomorrow. Accidental poisoning or...something else. Betting on accidental poisoning the testing of everything but vitals stopped. We would wait for the mystery substance to clear his system (probably prescription medication).
This didn't sit well with me. 1. My boy loves to eat food but anything strange, not so much. I never found sand or rocks in his mouth even when he was teething. It wasn't like him. 2. We don't have any prescriptions and our home is baby proof. 3. We were out all afternoon and evening. There wasn't an opportunity for him to get into anything and he woke up this way.
Even though my gut told me this was all wrong, I began feeling like a horrible mother. I went home to be with Tyler but couldn't sleep. Google was calling me and I answered. Oh the things that can go wrong with a brain/central nervous system and cause ataxia! My mind was swimming with horrible and permanently debilitating possibilities.
I think I needed some hope and peace in the middle of the night. Instead I flooded myself with fear and more wrong answers.
Lesson 3: Doctor's are human, even neurologist. And 'to ere is human...
Waiting till morning hadn't worked it's magic; Riley still wasn't walking more than a couple steps. What now? More tests.
New hypotheses. Maybe his body was an over-achiever and when fighting off a cold, went a step too far and began attacking itself. One test reviled that this wasn't likely but a spinal tap would confirm it. Not that I love the idea of needles in my child's spine, but I wanted to really confirm it. The doctors didn't agree and went back to thinking accidental poisoning. Maybe he just needed more time time than the average person to clear his system. (What?)
It just didn't feel right. I told this to a room full of doctors. Even still, I conceded, at their insisting, that maybe it was some kind of poison but I wouldn't believe it was something he ate. I believed it was something he breathed. 1. His breathing sounded off to me and he had a little cough. 2. We had smoke in the upstairs the day before this all started that could have been trapped in his room. 3. Google said carbon monoxide is one of the most common forms of poisoning and could have symptoms similar to Riley's.
I had my own diagnosis: carbon monoxide poisoning.
I insisted that more tests be done to determine if his lungs were a possible cause. They decided to look into it.
After three full days in the hospital and no more tests lined up we decided to go home and continue his care from there. We were still waiting for the results from the tests I wanted but they promised to call me as soon as they came in.
A day and a half went by and Riley was happy to be home but not making the progress we hoped for. Poison was really unlikely now because so much time had gone by. No promised call came.
We took him back to the doctor, his regular pediatrician. Finally a real diagnosis! Riley wasn't poisoned. The testing I insisted on would confirm this.
Lesson 4:...and to forgive divine.' Moving on and counting our blessings.
We looked at his lab work with his pediatrician and the test results was waiting for came back positive for walking pneumonia. Why didn't the call me?
Walking pneumonia can cause this. It's rare, but in someone so small it happens. Antibiotics changed everything. Riley is fine now.
While I was so happy to have Riley getting better, part of me wanted to make sure the other doctors knew they were wrong. I wanted an apology. I had no problem pursuing this in my anger at the whole experience, but...
My energy is better spent on being thankful rather than resentful.
It is time to let go of the anger.
Those doctors may never know how our story turned out. I will not get an apology from them but I don't need one.
I can't express how happy I am that my baby is safe and well. I take such joy in watching him run. It makes me wonder what other little blessings do I take for granted each day.