Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

May 22, 2004

Second hospital story

Well I'm saddened and bewildered to say that we spent the better part of the week in the hospital, this time with Georgia. She supposedly had stomach flu, but that diagnosis worried me because she was so suddenly and severely sick and who has to go the hospital for stomach flu? Well, we went in Wednsday, and after days of way too slow recovery, and some backsliding, the real bug showed itself and she was more properly (hopefully!) diagnosed with strep.

This time the number thing didn't bug me- I just omitted the phrase 'when I took her temperature' and rattled off the numbers my mom thermometer (that's my hand on her forehead) told me. It worked very well and I have a lot of confidence in that hand. I even beat the real hospital thermometer once. I had called the nurse in because I could tell that Georgia's temp had gone up, and when she checked it, it measured like 98.1 which was so wrong, and when they did the rounds taking vitals a half hour later and found her temp to be 102, I was vindicated. Maybe next time (God forbid the horrible thing) I'll be able to say, 'take it again lady. yer machine ain't workin.'

I saw this really good, REALLY SAD movie a few months ago, called Wit, about a poetry professor who dies of cancer, and she really tells it like it is but with a good sense of very dry humor and sarcasm. Anyways, she talks in one part about how quiet and boring it is to be in a hospital 99% of the time, and then there are these flurries of activity (like you see on TV) and then hours stretching out into days of just lying there, or sitting next to, in my case. I was there about forty hours total (Billy took the second night shift) but it seemed like weeks. I was desperate for distraction, but couldn't keep my mind on them when I did manage to find a magazine or get my book from home finally. And it wasn't really worth it to be caught up in a book, because when I looked up from it, the reality of Georgia lying there sleeping fitfully in a hospital bed seemed so pathetic and startling that it wasn't really worth going away mentally in the first place.

This was such a hard part of being a parent. Like caring for a newborn, it requires a lot of selflessness and lioness instincts. And it wore me out. Communicating with health professionals was like trying to speak a different language, where the information that you need is all between the lines. And I didn't want to voice the questions that I had. Like 'why is she so sick that she needs to be hospitalized', and 'why isn't she getting better' and even 'how long are we going to have to stay here' and 'how am I supposed to feel about all this'? You know, anything that would require supportiveness from a health professional I didn't want to ask because I didn't want to be vulnerable and get hurt. I just went with the flow instead and tried to stay on top of caring for Georgia and trying to think clearly about the patterns of her illness so I could report them in a way that made sense when the next person asked how she was doing. (Not that anyone really asked that, they decided for themselves, but I told them what I knew anyways because it was clear that they couldn't know a lot of how she was doing just by taking her vitals every four hours.) We had a lot of caring nurses and a good doctor, I think, but toward the end of the visit, we got some loud abrasive types and one that thought Georgia was a different patient and unhooked her IV before realizing she had made a mistake, and then the doctor started getting condescending to me and just really negative about children in general, and that really wore me down. I wonder if they were getting frustrated that she wasn't getting better like she was supposed to and I was picking up on that or what. One day they thought she had a bladder infection and so I had to spend the whole afternoon trying to convince a tearful, feverish Georgia that it was really important that she pee in this cup (she wasn't into all the procedures involved in a clean catch urine sample). But that came up negative. The doctor seemed at a loss when he reported that, maybe he gets irritated when illnesses are being mysterious. I'm sure I would. But I'm all sensitive and feel like people are mad at me that she's not getting better. He was pretty happy and even a little exultant when it started acting like strep and they could just give her a shot and done. So that's good. I was happy too. I wonder what it's like to be a doctor or a nurse on the pediatric ward. I think my heart would break every day. I definitely couldn't take it. I didn't want to know any of the other parents or kids on the ward. But we were on isolation status the whole time anyways, so it didn't matter if I did. And the sounds and smells of a hospital are so unpleasant.

Anyways, now Georgia is slowly recovering, I think. I'm still worried though because her fever isn't going away yet, and they gave her a huge dose of penicillin (in a big scary shot) yesterday. Shouldn't the fever be gone now? We're going to try to push through the weekend health care beauracracy and get an answer to that one. Does she have some new resistant strain of strep? Is there something else going on? Has anyone heard health news about this kind of thing? I'm about to go scour the internet to find out. She'll probably just recover slowly.

I'm a little dazed from the whole experience. I'm not sure how to process it all and how to make sense of it, what lessons I am supposed to be learning and what changes I could make that could make it really unlikely that this will EVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

Thanks to everyone who helped us through it. Your gifts of kindness made the way easier for us all.

Posted by Bahiyyih at May 22, 2004 01:22 PM

Dear Bahiyyih:

Im so sorry that the children have been so sick. Its so scary and you have to depend on God to do the healing. Doctors dont know everything. Im really thankful that Georgia is getting better. She is such a dear child. Ive gone through some of that with my kids and it is really hard. I still worry about my grownup kids and I still cant do anything about it except pray. Let me know how both the kids are.

Love to all.
Grandma Patty

Posted by: Patty at May 23, 2004 06:57 AM

Can't wait to see the kids and see their wellness (comparitively) with my own eyes. You go with that mom thermometer, Bahiyyih. It's the best. Nurses used to touch their patients, too. Diagnosis---an inexact science at best. I'm with you on the gladness that I'm not one of "them." See you soon.

Much love, Nana

Posted by: Nana at May 28, 2004 12:14 PM

Thought I'd mention that Ali told me Zoe got strep with the same symptoms a while ago. Only they wouldn't test her for it right away so she was sick for four days at Disney World before getting meds. Is that story too abbreviated to make sense? Anyway, my point is, Georgia's not alone.

Posted by: Layli Elena at June 1, 2004 10:13 PM