Marsi to the midnight doctor

“Mom, did you take me to the doctor in the middle of the night?”

That’s what Marsi asked me at about 10:00 this morning.  I was asleep in the rocking chair and she was sprawled out on the living room floor.

Yes, yes, I did.  If I’d known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have… but you live and you learn.

All week long in my daily posts I’ve been chronicling Marsi’s bout with a tummy bug.  (I previously may have referred to what she had as “the flu,” but among many things I learned last night in the E.R., I know now it is only appropriate to refer to influenza, the respiratory illness, as “the flu.”  Vomiting and diarrhea constitute a stomach bug.)

Anyhow, Marsi had first thrown up Tuesday morning at 6 a.m.  She’d pretty much been flat on the couch since then, unable to keep much of anything down and lying there about half-asleep most of the time.  You know how it is with a bug like this — every time she threw up, we assured her that surely that would be the last time.  But she just kept at it, and after three days Beau and I started to worry about dehydration and… and… all the scary things a fatigued mind can conjure up.  Friday night at 8 p.m. she was still saying her “beddy” hurt her, and she upchucked the Gatorade she’d had eight hours earlier.  Then a mysterious rash showed up on her jaw!  That was it!  Beau and I agreed that one of us should take her in to be checked over.

(Readers might remember that my sister is a family practice doc, and she’s wonderful about answering her phone and fielding our various health-related questions.  She never tells me exactly what to do, though; some decisions are ultimately up to us as parents.  Last night marked the first time in nine years of parenting we sought emergency help for any of our kids, and of course this wasn’t a real emergency.  It was just that we had finally decided Marsi needed to be checked up sooner rather than later.  As I tried to convince the E.R. nurse who immediately tagged me a Drama Mom when I walked through the door with a leggy 4-year-old in my arms, I actually consider myself to be a Super Laid Back, Been There Done That Mom.  But the duration of Marsi’s sickness was scary enough to make us question her safety.  She had been feeling puny for so long we were starting to worry she might waste away in her sleep.)

So.  Beau volunteered to stay home with the three healthy kids; I would drive Marsi to Miles City for a check-up.  Two-year-old Muggins is not an easy-to-bed kind of guy, so I helped Beau get everyone to sleep before I buckled a snoozing Marsi into the van.  My coffee cup and a podcast kept me awake for most of the 70-mile drive, but I was getting pretty sleepy the last few miles and had to call Beau to talk me into town.  I parked in front of the E.R. about 12:30 this morning.

The great thing about the Miles City hospital is that it’s not super busy, so you get help quick and you get plenty of one-on-one attention.  Marsi was stretched out in an exam room, still wearing her footie jammies, right away.  Her vitals checked out great, as did her physical exam, which relieved any worries we had had about appendicitis.  (By the way, the mystery rash had totally disappeared during the drive, never to be seen again.  Luckily I had taken a picture of it with my cell phone, which proved that it did exist at one time and that I’m not totally crazy, but the doctor was still stumped.)

The doctor assured me that a regular stomach bug can easily last up to 10 days.  “But what about the 24-hour flu?” I asked, already realizing that “the flu” as I’ve always known it is a misnomer.  Surprisingly, the doctor also indicated that a tummy bug that lasts only one day might most likely be related to food poisoning.  So my whole definition of stomach illness changed last night.

Marsi was feeling good when we got to the hospital.  She’d vomited five hours earlier and not had anything to eat or drink since, so her belly was on empty and liking it.  Then the doctor decided that Marsi should drink 12 ounces of apple juice, on site in the E.R., so they could monitor the results.  The main goal of the juice, of course, was to alleviate any lingering concerns of dehydration.

Have you ever tried to force a child to drink 12 ounces?  It didn’t help that the more she drank, the worse she felt and the more she wanted to curl up on her side and go to sleep.  It was the wee hours of the morning, after all.  Me coaxing sip after sip into her started to feel less like we were getting help and more like I was torturing my baby.  Part of me just wanted to lay down beside her on the bed and sleep awhile.  Now that it was almost certain she had a regular ol’ tummy bug, I was feeling pretty silly for being out and about with her when we both could’ve been home in bed.  “If you drink the whole thing we can go home,” I promised her.  But she just couldn’t do it, so I changed my promise:  “If you can pee in the potty we can go home.”

Finally she did pee, and the pee looked fine, and so she was discharged from the E.R.  I arrived home with her at 4:30 a.m. with some newly-attained knowledge, including instructions for keeping a little one hydrated during sickness.  (When we got home, Beau and Muggins were wide awake, watching one of Muggins’ favorite “cow shows” on YouTube — Muggins had woken about 2 a.m. and Beau could never get him back to sleep.  Bedtime has never been one of the pieces in Beau’s Daddy Repertoire.)

Oh, and I forgot to mention that after she was discharged, I carried Marsi from the E.R. out to the parking lot through the cold night.  I got her loaded in the van and hadn’t even sat down myself before she threw up all that apple juice.

There was nothing for me to do but get in the driver’s seat and drive us the 70 miles home.  Because all symptoms indicate it’s just a tummy bug.

Here’s hoping nobody else in this house gets it.

© Tami Blake


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Marsi, feeling good last fall

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