Monday, July 27, 2009

On My Team!

Even though I often want to believe I can do everything myself, I know I can't. Sometimes the most important thing I can have is a team in my corner, working for me.

Usually, that team is pretty much my hubby. It might be my sister, mom, or kids, but often it is Craig and I against the world. However, when something comes up that is beyond our mortal ken, like this past week with our littlest, we need more team members. And I found them.

After the most agonizing week with a primary care physician who won't see us unless we use his urgent care (not even for a follow up from the ER?! Are you kidding me?!), I called a doctor who came as a referral from another urgent care facility. I called his office on Thursday morning after poor Soph's ear looked like it exploded. He answered the phone - so at that point I had spoken to our soon to be new doctor more than our current doctor! After listening to our trials of the week, his first words were: "Can you get her here tomorrow at 8:15?" Of course, I could! By now, this doctor had DONE more than my doctor did for the whole 3 months we were is patients! My biggest concern: our insurance does not flip to him as our primary care provider until August 1. We are one week out from that.

His response: "We will either get you squished in, or we will waive the fee. Just get her here." I am totally willing to pay whatever I need to for my daughter, but already I felt relieved that here was someone else, someone who doesn't even know us, showing more concern for her than most other medical personnel in the past week. I was ecstatic. New team member number one.

We get her there right on time; he explains to his staff what we need to do with the insurance, and his receptionist gets on the line with our insurance. I knew she would get them to cover the bill, because as I went into the exam room with Soph, this is what I heard her say: "I understand that, but we have a little girl who just had a seizure, needs to see a primary care physician, and needs medical care now. Do you want her to have another seizure because she can't get in to see the doctor?" New team member number two.

The nurse who first saw us before the doctor came in was more than courteous and told me that we could not have picked a better doctor - she actually followed him from the urgent care office to this new office just to work for him. New team member number three.

The doctor and his office took great care of Sophie, fixed our insurance to cover the bill, and want her back in the office this week for another follow up. And while it took some trauma to get here, it was a result of our other horrible doctor that led us to Dr. Nguyen. I guess there is a silver lining to every bad situation. I love our new team!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The past revisited

The one thing a mother should never wear is a shirt with her daughter's blood on it. But that is exactly what I wore to the ER last night after a very strange misadventure.

Sophie was supposed to be in bed, but in a moment of bad judgment, decided to pick up one of the cats. She mishandled the cat so badly that the cat scratched her to get away. That is when I heard the screams.

I go running into the bathroom and Sophie's hand is COATED in blood -- thick and welling. I grab a rag from the closet and press it to her hand to staunch the blood. AT the same time I call to Craig for help - just how bad did the cat get her? Pretty badly -- it seems the cat somehow dug deep enough to hit a vein, hence all the blood.

Craig gets on the phone to the nurses' hotline as I inspect the damage to the hand. Not too bad maybe; the blood has already started to clot, but I can see there is a collection of blood under her skin. So I tell Sophie it doesn't look to bad when she tilts her head up to look at the ceiling. I ask her what she is looking at when her eyes roll back into her head.

I know what this is. I know it because this is what I do -- my baby is having a seizure. She starts to fall but I am still holding her wounded hand, so I half-catch her and guide her to the floor, where she begins to twitch and spasm. I am yelling for Craig to call 911, and I am frantic. I know this misery of a condition like this, and I don't want my daughter to suffer through it.

Craig has the nurse transfer him to 911 and I stop yelling at him, but now I am crying because I am in such a panic. Sophie stops twitching and refocuses her eyes. I can see her confusion, and she asks me, "Why am I not in bed mommy? Wasn't I in my bed?" (my first wake up mantra was "there is no place like home" - perhaps the brain defaults to a place of comfort?). I gather her into my arms, and now she is crying because I am crying, and I am failing to get a hold of myself. I keep telling her, "You're OK, baby! You're OK!" and she keeps repeating, "Why am I not in my bed, mommy?" like we are in a bad movie loop.

Craig hangs up the phone and the emergency team is on the way. He picks her up and we go downstairs. I call a friend to come watch the other two, as this is going to be a late night. The paramedics recommend Sophie go to the hospital, since we have a history of seizure in the family. In the ambulance, Sophie talks and talks and talks non-stop. He takes her temp, and she has a fever. She is very pale.

The ER is not quite the stuff of nightmares, but in a community that grew faster than the hospital, we are close to that. There are four paramedic beds waiting for a real bed, and people are in beds in open areas, in every hall. How are there not enough rooms for everyone? The Dr's first visit occurs while we are waiting in this hall. He checks her over and looks at her stats. It is her fever that gives him a clue to her condition - he thinks the seizure was brought on by a quickly spiking fever, but since she is just a bit out of the age range for that condition, ran interference on the cats, and has the family history, he gets her into a bed, and we begin an evening of tests.

Over the course of 5 hours, Sophie is the lucky recipient of several tests. First they do a chest CT. When we get back, they draw some blood and hook up an IV - she evidently needs fluids. When she says she needs to pee, the nurse hands me a cup. What a fun job for me. Afterwards, it takes Sophie a bit of time to fall asleep, as she is "nervous." At one point she jerks awake quickly and calls out, "Mommy! Mommy where are you?" She is a bit confused but remembers quickly where she is and eventually goes back to sleep. Craig and I doze on uncomfortable chairs, then I awake when I hear a noise right by the door. A large, jovial man has arrived with a wheelchair to take Sophie to have a head CT scan. The machine resembles a giant donut, and the man does a good job of being careful and caring for Sophie. Other than the paramedic in the back of the bus, this man has exhibited the most concern for my baby.

He tells me it will take about an hour for the films, and the dr should see us shortly after that. Once we are back in the bed, one more person arrives; Sophie's final test is an EKG, which is quick and easy. We turn off the light and fall back asleep.

I awake with a jerk as my hand and legs are numb from my sleeping position. Sophie has rolled to her side, and she is shivering a bit since her open backed hospital gown is not covered by the thin blanket. I am wrapped in a sheet because I am dressed for the 110 degree weather from earlier, not this hopsital the temperature of an industrial freezer. I cuddle with Sophie for a bit -- it is now after 3:30. A nurse comes in to look at the scratches on Sophies hand and clean them. She does a good job of getting much of the dried blood off Sophie's hand, and then uses a disinfecting wash to take care of the wounds. Another nurse comes in with the Doctor, and we get the final breakdown.

They don't know what caused the siezure (they never really do, do they?) but they think it was Febrile in nature (due to the spiking fever) but they are not 100% certain. As a result, they recommend taking her to a pediatric neurologist (wow, does history repeat itself!) which will most likely mean either another trip to Rady's children's Hospital in San Diego, but maybe we will get lucky and find a reference for the more local Loma Linda. They also prescribe hard core antibiotics for her hand ( I also hope it helps her ear which they say is not infected, but why else should it hurt so bad?). We receive our final paperwork and thank all the nurses and doctors who did their best and took care of my baby. We left just after 4 am.

We arrived home just around 4:30 am, thanked my friend, and Craig walked her to her car. I got Sophie some cereal and a glass of milk while she lamented her inability to use her right hand - the one of the cat scratches -- as they have it pretty heavily bandaged. She takes a few bites and wants to go to bed. I finish my cereal and tuck her in. She is already asleep.

I need to wash that shirt.

Friday, July 17, 2009

On Personal Responsibility

My son is 12 - he will be 13 in December, and I am so proud of him.

He just tested for his black belt in Tae Kwon Do, an accomplishment that has been 5 years in the making. Whether or not he passed, though, is not my moment of pride. My moment of pride involves the events leading up to that moment.

We homeschool, and one of the most important things I am trying to impart to my children is their ability to not only teach themselves, but to also have the personal accountability to do the work well (or better) and on time. For 12 yr old boys, this often extends to the realm of sports and video games, and not much else!

For the past month, my son has been working hard. In this month alone he: 1)completed the Weather Merit Badge for Boy Scouts; 2)completed all his requirements (only has meetings left) for his Second Class rank in scouts; 3) worked as an assistant instructor at his TKD studio for 5-6 hours, on top of his 4) 5-6 hours a week of TKD training. He has essentially worked more this month than *I* have, and that is a lot for a 12 yr old.

But it is more than the accomplishments. Not once did I have to say, "Hey, get to work on your Merit Badge!" or "It's time to practice TKD!" He took that initiative all on his own. When I told him he should start working on his merit badge, he showed me that he was already working on it, and had been for the past hour. He finished his presentation for it a month early as well. While I was upstairs with the girls, he asked if he could "YouTube" his forms to make sure he is practicing them correctly - and he did this for at least an hour a day, ON TOP of his 10-12 hours of class each week.

It is the fact that he stepped up, on his own; that he took the initiative to do the work; that he had the presence of mind to say to himself, "This needs to get done, so I better do it now," is something most ADULTS fail to do.

If nothing else in this world, my son has learned to step up and get the job done.
And that, my friend, is success.