Saturday, October 15, 2011

Strength in the hard times.....

I believe there is strength in the hard times.

Prayers prayed for our little girl, and encouraging words for us to make it through.

I am relieved that we are at the end of this. I am thankful to God that Katie is healing everyday.

I know that many prayers were said for her, and I am thankful to each and every prayer that was given.

I am thankful at watching her eyes light up at the mention of her being able to go home. I am thankful that she will be coming home.

In the beginning it was very scary.

Monday, October 10th
We spent the afternoon at the park. Katie and Natalie were enjoying playing with all of their cousins and I enjoyed having a chance to sit down and talk with mom. That evening Katie complained of her stomach hurting. I assumed it was from dinner and gave her some of her acid reflux medicine. We tucked all our kids in bed, watched a little television and then climbed in bed ourselves.

Tuesday, October 11th
Katie woke up with her stomach hurting. She had had some congestion and I figured it was sinus drainage that was bothering her stomach, so I gave her some cold medicine and sent her to school lunchbox and backpack in hand.
An hour later I received a call from her at school. I didn't get to the phone right away so it went to voicemail. I checked the voicemail and I heard Katie saying, "Hey Mommy this is Katie. I'm just calling you because I don't feel good. I want you to bring me some medicine. I hope you get this message. Love you. Bye."
I went to her school to pick her up, and made an appointment with her pediatrician. I asked Anna, the school secretary who takes very good care of all the kids at school, if there was anything going around in the school. She told me a stomach bug had been going around but not any of the kids in Katie's classroom had it yet. I then thought that maybe she just had the stomach bug.
By five o'clock, the earliest that they could get us in at the doctor, Katie had become much worse than she was earlier that morning. I rubbed her back while waiting to see the doctor in the room they had us in, it wasn't but a minute or two and she was fast asleep. She tested positive for strep and given a prescription for amoxicilan.
I noticed her face was looking more "flu" like and while we were waiting for her prescription and picking up some popsicles I took this picture to text to Jerome because I didn't think she looked good.

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I made her a bed in the living room so that she could watch cartoons and rest. I kept Natalie and Spencer out of there.
She seemed exhausted and slept most of the evening and all through the night.

Wednesday, October 12th
I woke early morning to her crying that her stomach was hurting. We got Spencer and Natalie dressed for school and out the door on time, and then Jerome left for work.
She kept crying and telling me that her stomach hurt. Then she had to throw up.
She continued to throw up, not holding anything down. Motrin, Tylenol, water, her amoxacilan....nothing, she wasn't holding it down. I called her doctor early that morning and told them that she couldn't hold anything down and they told me to bring her in.
They were very busy that day. They were fitting us in to see a nurse, not to be seen but to be given a penacilan shot since she was unable to keep anything down. The nurse had us both stay in there a while to make sure she did OK with the shot. Katie was laying on the table, I was rubbing her back and she fell asleep. It had been an exhausting morning. I laid my head down just to rest and fell asleep too. The nurse came in a good bit later, woke us up and told us we could go.
When we made it home I tucked her back in the bed I had made for her in the living room. I rubbed her back until she fell asleep. I remember thinking to myself, "If this is strep throat it must be bad", so I started cleaning and disinfecting the house. I didn't want any of the rest of us to get what she had. Because this just felt different. She had had strep throat before but never this bad.
Then she woke up.
She woke up screaming and holding her head.
It terrified me and I called the doctor immediately. They told me headaches were a part of strep throat and to alternate Tylenol and Motrin with her. I did that and started keep track of her doses and temperatures on the chalkboard inthe kitchen.

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Even with the Motrin and Tylenol both in her system she was still carrying a 102.7 temperature.
I called the pediatrician's office back and told them that she wasn't getting any better. They told me that it takes more than a few hours for the penacilan shot to help. I knew that. I knew that the penacilan shot wasn't going to magically make her better in a few hours. I was concerned about her fever not going down. They then told me that you can carry a high fever with strep throat and that I should start seeing a difference by that evening and that she must have a really bad case of strep throat.
After hanging the phone up with the doctor she woke up again. By the time I got to the living room she was standing in the middle of the living room floor holding her hands to her head and screaming and crying, "It hurts, it hurts!". I pulled her to me and rocked her and told her I know and that I had just called the doctor. I got her to lay down back in her bed, all the while she was crying that her stomach and head hurt really bad. Then just like it went away she fell asleep. I went and got a washcloth to put on her head to help with the fever.
She slept for about thirty minutes, all the while I was working on cleaning and disinfecting the house while she slept. She woke up again crying and throwing up.
Then there was a knock at our door. Natalie came in the get me to let me know. It was our neighbors grandson. I could see through the glass door that he was upset. I opened the door and he told me that he fell on the steps at his grandpa's and he wasn't home and that he thought he broke his arm. I took one look at it and knew it was broken. I had him come inside. I ran to get the phone to call his mom and get some ice for his arm.
Katie had fallen asleep again by the time his mom arrived at our house. I walked outside to tell her everything that her son had told me and then I heard Katie. I heard Katie screaming inside the house and I was outside standing in our front yard. I ran inside the house and found her laying in the floor rolling back and forth holding her head and screaming. I knelt down to her and she looked at me crying and said, "Mommy. Mommy it hurts. It hurts, it hurts! Mommy do something! It hurts". I didn't know what to do but hold her and try to comfort her through it.
Then I started to doubt. I started to doubt that this was just strep throat. I didn't know what it was, but never, never have any of my kids had strep that did this to them.
Then as if the pain faded away, she just fell asleep as I was rocking her.
It continued this way. She would sleep about thirty minutes then wake up screaming and crying. Then she would fall back asleep, sound asleep in a matter of seconds. I was a mess, I didn't know what to do. I wanted to take her in but the doctors had told me this was just a bad case of strep throat. I felt this was something more, I felt it inside, it just didn't feel right. Then I thought maybe it was the fever. The fever I couldn't get to go down.
The next time she woke up I asked her if she wanted to get in the bath and that that might help. She soaked in the bath for a while, she seemed calmer in the bath. She told me the bath felt good. Then I helped her out and as I was drying her off I noticed pink splotchy places on her, but figured it was from the bath. Then I had her bend her head down so that I could put her hair up in a towel. She bent it down and immediately put her hand on the back of her neck and started crying and told me that it hurt.
She seemed fine for a bit after her bath. She asked if she could have something to eat. I tucked her back in the bed I had made for her. I took her temperature and it had gone down to 100.2. Then I thought to myself,"Maybe it is just strep throat". Jerome was getting in from work about that time and he went in to check on her. He fed her a cup of applesauce, he even played the airplane spoon game like he used to do. She giggled at it, ate most of the applesauce, drank a little water and fell asleep.
As she was sleeping I talked to Jerome about everything. I talked to him about trying to decide whether it was just strep throat like the doctors had told me or to follow the feelings I had inside me that something was wrong. I just couldn't get past that feeling I had inside me that there was something wrong. That this wasn't a normal strep throat like they had had in the past, that maybe the doctors were wrong. That her holding her head and screaming how bad it hurt and then a minute later she was fast asleep was not normal. I felt it. I knew something was wrong. I looked at the clock and told him that her tylenol dose runs out in 30 minutes and that if she wakes up again with her head hurting that we were going to the hospital.
I got dressed and made us all some grilled cheese. It was dinnertime, but I wanted to make something quick in case she did wake up with her head hurting I wouldn't have anything in the oven to worry about.
Then she woke up. About five minutes after waking up, it started. She started crying that her head hurt. I put some pajama pants on her, grabbed her blanket and ladybug pillow, bottle of water and we left for the emergency room.
She was quiet on the drive there. We dropped the other two off at friends houses and made our way to the hospital. When we got there she seemed fine. They took her temperature in triage, laughed with the nurse and then we went out and sat in the waiting room. She laid down on one of the seats, drank some of her water and watched tv. As I sat there beside Jerome I doubted myself. She seemed fine. Was I just worrying to much? Maybe it was just strep throat. Her fever wasn't more than 100.2 in the triage. She seemed better.
Then they called us back. She hopped up in the bed talking and chatting away. The nurse came in to talk to her, aske her what was going on with her, how she felt, he made a few jokes with her and she laughed and giggled at him. She seemed fine. I was really doubting myself at this point.
Then about 15 minutes later it started. She held her belly and started crying that her belly was really hurting. Jerome left the room to get the nurse then came back in just in enough time to help me with Katie. She was throwing up. She was throwing up a lot. We sat the containers on the counter and I wet a towel for her to wipe her face off. About that time a doctor walked by our room. She looked at Katie and came straight over to her. She asked what all was going on with her and I told her. She ordered her an IV and started her on zofran for her stomach ache and another medicine for her headache. The zofran worked wonders but her headache kept coming back like before.
She then told us that she was moving us from immediate care to the emergency room and that she wants Katie to have a spinal tap done. I know she saw the fear in my face and she explained that she was hoping the medicine she had given her for her head would have worked and that she does the spinal tap if last and that it was the only way to rule out meningitis.
They then moved us over to the emergency room. Katie fell asleep and Jerome fell asleep on her pillow after rubbing her hand trying to help the headache go away.
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Then the doctor came in and explained what he was going to do and that they were going to sedate her to do the spinal tap. I was so relieved to hear that. I had heard before about how painful getting a spinal tap was and I just didn't want my baby to have to go through that pain but I also wanted her not to be sick.
The nurse came in and started getting her prepped for the spinal tap. She comforted Katie and told her that she wouldn't even know anything had happened that she would just sleep right through it. Katie was still a little worried and then the nurse told her that there had been a little boy in there today and he woke up asking when they were going to do it and that they had already done it and he didn't feel a thing.
Katie felt a little better after hearing that. But I think it was more the number of doctors and nurses that were entering her room and staying that was more frightening to her than anything. I think that let her know that something was going to happen.
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The doctor told us we needed to leave the room now. I kissed her on her forehead and promised her everything was going to be OK and that we will see her in just a few minutes.
Then the waiting began.
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Outside her door we could here the nurses and doctor talking to her. I could hear the sound of her heartbeat on the monitor. Jerome hugged me and I listened, I listened to the rhythym of her heartbeat and waited. It was scary standing outside that door waiting and hoping that everything would be fine. Hoping for an answer to her pain but also praying and hoping that it wasn't meningitis.
They opened to door and let us in. The nurse tried to wake her but Katie just wanted to sleep. The nurse said she didn't want to leave until she saw Katie talking and awake and stirring. So I whispered to Katie, "Katie....time for school". She peeked an eye open at me. Then Jerome whispered in her other ear, "....and Natalie's wearing your clothes!". As crazy as it sounds, that is what woke her up. She opened her eyes looked at us like we were crazy and laughed a little then asked if it was over yet.
The doctor then came in and explained to us that it would take about 40 minutes to get the results of the test. Then he and the nurse left the room. Katie was tired, exhausted and worn out. We turned the lights out and she slept for a little while.
Then she woke up screaming and crying. Jerome climbed in bed with her to hold her and rock her. All she would say is, "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!". Each time getting stronger and stronger. Finally it faded away as she fell back asleep quickly as she had before.
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A while later the doctor came back in the room to talk to us. I was hoping and praying it wasn't meningitis but I wanted answers and I wanted Katie to feel better.
He sat down on the stool and told us that she had meningitis and then explained the difference between bacterial and viral. He told us that her fluid was clear which was a good sign, meaning that it was viral, but he couldn't completely trust the results of the test because of the antibiotics she had been given prior to us coming to the emergency room. They then gave Katie some morphine for her pain that kept returning.
They admitted Katie late that night to the pediatric floor. They started her on an IV of fluids and tried to make her comfortable. While she slept we tried to rest. The brought in another chair that reclined for each of us to sleep in. Jerome slept a little because he had to get up in just two hours to take Spencer to school. I couldn't sleep. My mind was racing. I was worried, scared for my baby girl.

Thursday, October 13th
Jerome took Spencer to school that morning and then went home to try to get some rest. We had decided we would do shifts at the hospital so that one of us would be home with the other two and one of us here with Katie.
All day Thursday was awful. From the time Katie woke up she was having the headaches.....awful, painful headaches. They started her one of the antibiotics soon after Jerome left. She had a reaction to that antibiotic. They had warned me that most of the time there are reactions to it but they have to give it to her first to see. It wasn't but a minute after it started in her IV that she was acting crazy. She threw her covers off, and was wrestless. She was kicking her legs and throwing her washcloths (one of them at me) and yelling that she was itchy all over. They stopped the IV and gave her benedryl through the IV. I was relieved because the little girl that changed in front of me was most certainly not the Katie I knew. She calmed down and fell asleep.
Then she woke up a little later in pain.
Screaming pain.
I pushed the nurse call button and the nurse told me that she was calling the doctor. Katie's doctor had put in an order for motrin but that was all. The nurse came back to give Katie her motrin and told me that we had to wait to see if the motrin worked first. All the while Katie was crying with her head hurting.
Six minutes later I couldn't take it anymore. Katie was in terrible pain. I pushed the nurse call button and she told me they were waiting for orders from Katie's doctor.
Ten more minutes passed by. Katie was still crying, holding her head and saying,"It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!" over and over. I pushed the nurse call button again and this time she came back to Katie's room. She tried calming me down because she knew I was getting upset that nothing was being done. She told me she was still waiting on an order from Katie's doctor and that Katie's doctor was on an important phone call with an infectious disease doctor.
Ten more minutes passed.
All while Katie was in severe pain, crying, holding her head and saying, "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!" over and over again.
I pushed the nurse call button again and she told me that she was still waiting on orders from the doctor.
Katie's pain then escalated to unbearable pain.
As I sat on her bedside, rubbing washcloths over her forehead and trying to comfort her, holding her.....she cried. She cried in terrible pain.
She started pulling on my arm begging and pleading for me to do something, "Take the pain away Mommy PLEASE! Mommy hurts, it hurts! Please take it away! It hurts!".
"I'm doing everything I can do", I told her. I told her I wasn't a doctor and that I couldn't give her medicine like at home that we just had to wait on the doctor.
Then she took a big breath and laid back on her pillow. She looked at me in pain and said, "I'm just going to try real hard to go to sleep and that way when I wake up the pain will be gone". It made my eyes swell up with tears, then she looked at me and said, "Mommy....don't cry". So I sang to her. I rubbed her forehead with a wet washcloth, played with strands of her hair to help calm her and sang to her the song I always sang to her when she was a baby.
I sang that same lullaby song to her ten times. It took all I had in me to not cry. I knew she needed me to be strong. My voice cracked, my eyes swelled with tears the whole time I sang to her. I wanted her pain to go away. I would have taken her place if I could just to take her pain away.
She opened her eyes on the tenth time of me singing to her and told me that trying to sleep wasn't working. Then she started crying again. I felt completely helpless. I wanted to do something but couldn't do anything but try to comfort her through her pain.
Then finally, finally after 50 minutes from the time she was given motrin the nurse came in with orders from her doctor to giver her morphine.
Finally...........she was going to have some relief from her pain.
She was completely exhausted from all the pain her body had endured. The morphine put her to sleep fast. And she slept. She slept with no pain.

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I went to the bathroom and cried while she slept.
This was hard.
To see my baby in so much pain and feeling so helpless.
The doctor came in a little later and I told her about how long Katie was in pain. I asked that Katie be allowed to be seen by a doctor on the pediatric floor if she was unable to be reached (something the nurse told me to do because she was irritated at the length of time it took too). Katie's doctor also put in a standing order for morphine every four hours for her.
The rest of the day was up and down with Katie. She was comfortable as long as she had morphine in her body, but when it would start wearing off the headaches would come back.
The infectious disease doctors came in to talk to me. They asked a lot of questions such as if we went on vacation this past summer, where did we go, had we been around anybody sick, do we have a dog, and so on. They explained to me that it was rare for a child to have strep throat and meningitis both at the same time. They also explained that Katie's fluid from her spinal tap had to be sent to a special place for testing since she had had antibiotics before the test and that it might not even culture because of it.
That evening Jerome came to the hospital and helped with Katie. She slept for most of the time. The morphine, benedryl and antibiotics seemed like they were working. He left late that night to get home and get Spencer, get him home and in bed. He was going to try to go to work the next day so I told him I would stay with Katie.
A few hours after he left Katie sat up in bed and started crying and saying that her belly hurt really bad. Then she had some horrible head pain and was crying. She turned her head to say something to me and she threw up awful, projectile awful. I pushed the nurse call button and she came back. I wiped Katie down, changed her clothes, changed my clothes, scrubbed my hands in the sink, helped the nurse finish making Katie's bed and then tucked Katie back in the bed. The nurse got her IV hooked back up and then left.
About two minutes later Katie sat up again, crying saying she hurt and then threw up again all over her freshly made bed. She was covered this time. She was covered, I was covered. I pushed the nurse call button and she came back to repeat everything we had just done. This time she bandagded up Katie's arm so that it wouldn't get wet and asked if I wanted to put Katie in the shower. I helped Katie into the shower. She seemed to be feeling better and insisted on washing herself off.
That was it for me. I had no more strength left. I was not feeling well, I was worried, exhausted, and completely utterly drained. I cried. I called Jerome and told him that he was going to have to come and help me, that I couldn't do it anymore. I needed him there with me. He had only been home a few hours and had just climbed in bed. I called Lisa at 12:30 in the morning to see if she minded if Jerome dropped Spencer off there so that he could come to the hospital. She didn't mind at all and happily took Spencer in her home at 1:00 in the morning.
Jerome came to the hospital. He seemed full of energy and I asked him how and he laughed and told me he had stopped to get gas and me some motrin because I had a headache and bought himself a 5 hour energy. He took completely over, he knew I was drained. Talking to him I realized I had been awake since 5:45am Tuesday morning. It wasn't any wonder I was feeling the way I was. I had been able to sleep maybe 20 minutes at a time since Tuesday morning and not amounting to anymore than 4 hours of sleep.

He took over that night completely. He got up with Katie, he got up when the nurses would come in the room, he took care of everything while I slept. I would wake up enough to open my eyes but then fall back to sleep. I was completely drained.

Friday, October 14th
We woke up to Katie feeling much better. She looked better, acted better, she didn't look as sick as what she had been. It was a blessing to see her improving.
Around eleven that afternoon we received a call from Spencer's school. He had a headache and wanted some motrin. I explained to the school nurse that we were in the hospital with our daughter and asked if she could give him some. She sounded alarmed when she heard what we were in the hospital for. Spencer had talked to us and told us it was just a headache, he was tired from the schedule we had been running since Katie was put in the hospital and he had his head rung at the football game Thursday night.....he just wanted some motrin. The nurse told me she would call me back and wanted to check his vitals. She called back and told me he wasn't running a fever and that she would rather him not have motrin because that would mask symptoms if he were to come down with the same symptoms Katie had and that we should come and get him and watch him. I hadn't been out of the hospital so I left to go sign him out of school. As I walked down the pediatric floor of the hospital most of these signs were on almost every single door........
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I made it to his school and he was upset and didn't want to go, "the one fun day of the year (homecoming celebration) and I have to leave", he told me. I took him to get some lunch and ice cream. I drove with the windows down to feel the fresh air on my felt good to be out of the hospital. Then I went home to pack some new things and pick up the laptop and movies for Katie to entertain her since she was feeling better. Then we stopped at Target on our way to the hospital and picked out some things for Katie. Spencer helped me pick them out....some play-doh, coloring books and crayons, a night glow toy and a new pair of pajamas.
We made it to the hospital and Katie was happy to have everything we had picked out. Spencer was fine....just a headache he kept saying. He helped Katie with her night glow art toy and gave a special message for her to see at night. She talked to Granny on the phone and was excited to get to eat a grape popsicle.
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Jerome left with Spencer to get his homecoming pants,shirt, tie and shoes while Katie and I stayed at the hospital.
She heard some commotion in the room across the hall. A little boy who had been admitted about the same time she did was getting to go home. She got upset and started pouting and crying that she wanted to go home too and that it wasn't fair that she was stuck in the hospital.
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I climbed in bed her to look at a book with her. We turned the night glow toy on and she loved it. It made a drabby, depressing hospital room look cheerful and colorful at night.
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The message Spencer had left her was very sweet. She looked at me and said, "I love bubby."

Saturday, October 15th

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Katie had slept pretty good through the night. She didn't wake up in any pain, she only woke when the nurses would come to change her fluids or check on her.
She was super excited to pull the lid of the hospital breakfast tray to find french toast sticks.
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Then she colored in her new coloring books for a while. We had lunch and then played with some play-doh. She made a hamburger with her play-doh....I was joking with her and told her that I bet the play-doh hamburger would taste better than the hospital hamburger....she agreed on that one.
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Then we watched "Judy Moody, Not So Bummer Summer", at least some of it. She fell asleep for a little while.
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When she woke up I was laughing with her about her hair. I told her she was starting to look a little like Judy Moody. She thought it was hilarious. Then I helped her get a shower because Jerome was coming to the hospital to trade places with me. I was going to go home, get ready and take Spencer to do pictures, dinner and then his first homecoming dance. I braided Katie's hair because she was feeling better and I wouldn't be back until Sunday morning to see her, and she told me she didn't want Judy Moody hair and we both knew that Jerome can't braid hair.
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She was focused in on her movie here, but I could tell so much of a difference in her complexion and her eyes....she was getting better.
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Sunday, October 16th

I woke up, got dressed and went to the hospital. I called Jerome before leaving and they were still asleep. I asked how Katie did through the night and he said she did great. He said she slept all night and was back to the Katie we know.
I stopped and picked us up some breakfast, dippin' biscuits for Katie....her favorite.
Katie's pediatrician came to see her not long after I arrived and gave Katie the OK to go home. Katie was clapping and cheering.....she was ready to go home. Jerome took this one of her right after her doctor left to let everyone know the news.....

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She will be home with me for the rest of this week. I will be going to school to pick up her homework so that she won't be far behind from the rest of her class when she returns.

I want to thank each and every person who said a prayer for Katie while she was in the hospital. It means more to us than you will ever know.

I also want to thank everyone for the support we received as well. It was a tremendous help.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.......

11. prayers prayed for Katie
12. a mother's instinct to know something is wrong
13. caring doctors and nurses
14. medicine for Katie's pain
15. support from friends and family in our time of need
16. a God who listens to each and every prayer
17. knowing that prayers work, and seeing her get better everyday
18. friends who will keep our kids, even at 1:00 in the morning
19. the feel of coming home after a long hospital stay
20. seeing Katie laughing again
21. sisters talking, hugging, and giggling together because they missed each other
22. being able to cook a good meal after being gone
23. knowing that all five of us are tucked comfortably in bed at night again

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