Freyja & the Hospital

Freyja in RileyAs some of you already know, we recently had to take Freyja to the hospital.

I had tweeted about it (which syndicated to Facebook and this blog), but was intentionally vague. You’ll get why in a moment.

My mom was visiting, and it was the last day of her stay. We had made plans to have a final blowout dinner, including orange & goat cheese Bruschetta, gnocchi in alfredo sauce, and zucchini bread. I had just gotten home from work and Melissa had just gotten the groceries, and we were getting ready to start making dinner.

One of us was changing Freyja (I can’t remember which one of us) and we noticed that the stool in her diaper was a darker hue than normal — almost a rust color. (You parents know what I’m talking about — non-parents may find it strange that we noticed, but when you see, and clean, poop 3 to 5 times per day, you can’t help but become accustomed to its properties)

My first thought was that it was blood in her stool, but we both agreed that it was worth having her doctor take a look at it. We weren’t especially panicked at this point. It was about 4:30pm.

Our pediatrician saw us immediately. The admitting nurse checked her vitals, weighed, measured, etc. We had brought the diaper with us so they could take a look at it. There was indeed blood in it. The Dr. had some ideas about what it could be, including an inflammed pyloric valve (at the bottom of the stomach, leading into the small intestine), food allergy, or possibly something more serious. She said she’d like us to have Freyja checked out at Riley, where they have Gastroenterologists on staff.

At this point, we were under the impression that we would drive out to the Hospital, she’d be checked out, and we’d get back at 10, maybe 11pm. We ran home, grabbed a couple things for the trip, and headed out. I sent out my first tweet at this point.

Grabbing a quick dinner on the way, we got to the hospital at about 7:30pm. There were a few other people in there. A couple with an asian-looking daughter in a wheelchair were speaking with the front-desk. They said that her blood had turned dark-red; Observing in greater detail, I noticed that she had a small pouch with blood in it nearby her hip — I guessed it was probably a kidney issue.

We waited for about 30 minutes before being seen by triage. Our triage nurse had curly red hair, freckles, and was about Melissa’s height. She had a pair of super-deluxe scissors (the kind they sell on RonCo, sort of a bent-angle shape?) in a holster just above her butt; presumably for cutting through clothes rapidly. She asked us a number of questions and took some basic measurements. Nothing unreasonable — “does she have a fever,” “What happened,” “when did it start,” “how many diapers has she gone through today,”  etc. She finished the paperwork, handed us the hospital band for Freyja, and showed us to our emergency room where they took the full-size bed out and brought in a hospital crib.

A woman with a clipboard lumbered in, handing us some boilerplate hospital documents to sign off. When she left, she somehow managed to run over the foot of a young boy in the hallway. I was hoping that wasn’t foreshadowing the rest of our stay.

There was a television in the room, hot chocolate down the hall, and two uncomfortable chairs. The room was small, about the size of our bathroom, and there was a rhythmic “boonnnngggg…” sound in the bathroom; At times, there would be more than one sounding, and the rhythms would be interleaved with one another. It was almost 9pm at this point; we were starting to come to the realization we might be here longer than we expected.

The attending nurse had been in once or twice and had attached a monitor to Freyja’s foot to track her oxygen level and pulse. She had a very valley-girl sounding accent. I don’t mean to judge or stereotype people, but to any future nurses out there: Sounding like you’re on “The Hills” or “The O.C.” is not a good way to project any semblance of competence to your patients. She had asked us exactly the same questions that triage did. With the assistance of another nurse, they gave Freyja an IV to start her on a saline drip and take some blood. I had to look away for the blood-draw (I’m a bolenophobic) and leave entirely for the IV — Freyja was screaming. Melissa’s eyes looked moist as well — it’s hard to hear your child in a state of fear and pain.

Around 10:30pm, a doctor with short black hair, glasses, wearing green scrubs came in. He asked us, again, the same questions that triage and the attending nurse did. I began to wonder if they shared any information with each other at all. The doctor reached the same conclusions that our Pediatrician did, but said he had to consult with the top-dog doctor on the floor before ordering any tests. We were going to have to stay overnight.

At this point, Melissa and I had to figure out what we were going to do. She said she’d stay with Freyja that night, and I could go home. I had to take my mom to the airport in the morning, and pick up Sullivan of course. I was very miffed that we had been there since 7pm, been asked the same questions over and over, with absolutely no progress. I had absolutely no confidence in our medical professionals at this point. It felt like they were just wasting our time.

Melissa told me later on what happened here. From what she remembers (she was really tired at this point), the Doctor ordered an X-Ray, the nurse’s came in to take some blood (the first sample had coagulated) and mistakenly thought she had already had her x-rays. They had to put the order in again. Another, different, doctor came in, asked the same questions as the others, and offered the same advice. He also harassed Melissa about not having already vaccinated Freyja (that’s a topic for anoter blog post, but I’ll at least say that we are NOT Jenny mcCarthy anti-vax people, we just don’t want to distress our infant daughter with attenuated pathogens when she’s only 3 weeks old.)

They finally got the x-rays, found nothing, and admitted her to a hospital room. They drew more blood, easier now that she had been on saline drip for a while. Melissa faded in and out of sleep in the hospital room, sitting in a recliner with a pillow and blanket.

More waiting.

I drove my mom to the airport at 8am, and headed back towards Indiana. Melissa had texted me the room number and direct phone line with what little battery life she had left, so I called to find out the game plan. She said they had ot done anything useful yet and she was thinking she just wanted to leave. We drove non-stop from Dayton to Indianapolis and went up to the hospital. The non-ER main branch of the hospital was really nice; it was very spacious, colorful, and looked very inviting.

When we finally got into the room, Melissa said that Freyja had another bloody-stool diaper, worse than the last time, so she changed her mind about leaving right away.

Freyja was laying in a crib bed, sleeping. She had a splint on her one forearm to keep her from ripping out the IV. She was hooked up to a saline / sugar water solution. The room had two televisions, many cabinets, and was dimly lit.As far as hospital rooms go, it was really nice.

There was another crib, a cage really, with a 1-year-old boy with dark skin and beautiful eyes. His name was Gavin. He was sleeping as well, and was alone. Melissa said that throughout the night, the nurses would come in to feed and rock Gavin, and he would cry when they put him back into the crib. We later found out that Gavin was a “frequent flyer” and was frequently in the hospital. The volunteers were very familiar with him. No family came in during the entire time Freyja was in that room. It was really sad — he was such an adorable little boy. He was very curious, and would try to grab the instruments outside of his crib. He liked looking at us. I wanted to hold him, but didn’t think that would be appropriate.

Sullivan in cafeteriaAn hour before we arrived, they had done a Barium-isotope scan on Freyja, to analyze her upper-GI. Her innards are fine, all the organs in the right places. I was relieved, of course, but part of me wishes the test results would have come back badly, because at least then we would know what the problem was.

Sullivan and I grabbed lunch from the cafeteria. It was pretty good.

In the room I held Freyja and watched movies on the kids channel — first, the end of Shrek 3, then “The Emperor’s New Groove.”

More waiting. Lots of it. Frequent visits by the nurses who would ask if the doctor had been in yet (no), and by volunteers to feed or hold Gavin.

We had one or two more Doctor visits that all thought the same thing as the others. Finally, the gastroenterologist we ORIGINALLY thought we would see right away came in to talk with us. He explained that it was most likely a food allergy — some of the proteins in the food Melissa is eating is causing an allergic reaction in Freyja. Common foods that cause this are Dairy products, Soy, nuts, eggs, etc. Basically everything we eat regularly. :P He suggested that we put her on formula, a hypo-allergenic variety, to avert the problem. We can do an elimination diet with Melissa to figure out what the problem-food is.

Initially, I figured that now that we had finally seen the doctor, we could pack up and head out.

No such luck.

First, we needed an order to get a prescription. Then an order to remove the IV. Then an order to get discharge papers. I swear, you could practically knit a sweater out of all that red-tape. When we finally left, it was just past 6pm, nearly TWO HOURS after the doctor finally saw us.

One of the nurses we talked with said they were exceptionally busy that day and the day previous, but it just seemed ridiculous.

So we’re all back home now, and Freyja has been much better. No poops yet, so we don’t know what the status is, but she’s been much calmer and in better spirits.

Not being able to breastfeed has been hard on Melissa, both physically and emotionally. Our plan is to primarily use formula while we figure out which food Freyja is allergic to. Our travel plans to go out east for my sister’s wedding are still on, so the greater part of my family will get to meet the new addition. :)

Thank you to everyone on Facebook and Twitter that expressed their concern and wished us well, we all really appreciate the thoughts and encouragement. This was a very scary ordeal!