Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Appendix Is Really Quite Unnecessary Anyway...

Just two days after our July 4th celebration (on my 33rd birthday), this is what my little boy looked like...

He woke up that Monday morning very sick. He had a high fever, was throwing up, and slept the ENTIRE day (or whenever he wasn't physically getting sick). He didn't eat or drink anything and he slept so hard that we could barely wake him.

A few different times over the course of the day, he would push at his stomach and say, "I don't like this" or "I don't want this." Obviously, I just thought his little tummy was hurting and he was tired of feeling sick.

The next morning, concerned about dehydration, I encouraged him to go to the bathroom (just to see if he would be able to go). As he stood up, he grabbed the lower right side of his belly and cried out in pain.

All of a sudden it clicked for me.

His appendix.


I called the pediatrician and said we didn't have time for an appointment and we were on our way to their office to be seen ASAP. I carried my sick, 65 pound baby into the office and cradled him in my arms as we waited for the doctor. He slept most of the time and would only wake occasionally to moan in pain. After a quick examination, our doctor called the hospital and told them we were on our way. We went straight there.

Drew actually perked up a little on the way over and was talking from the backseat. I began to think we might be overreacting with our hospital trip and maybe he was going to be fine. However, by the time we got to the hospital, his fever had spiked once again and he was in a lot of pain. They brought us back right away, took all his vitals, put him in a wheelchair and took us upstairs to wait to be examined by the surgeon.


Never a place you want to see your baby...

He slept as we waited for the surgeons to examine him. Once they did, I was told he needed immediate surgery and was a "textbook case of appendicitis." I was shocked that a child so young would have appendicitis, but the surgeon assured me that they see it all the time in young children.

Drew slept as I filled out all the necessary paperwork and it wasn't long before they came to move his hospital bed up to the surgical floor. I remember walking alongside his bed (he was sound asleep) and feeling as if I was floating outside of my body. Like it wasn't real. Like my son wasn't about to be taken in for surgery. Like he wasn't in so much pain that the only way his little body could cope was to stay asleep so as not to feel it. He looked so vulnerable to me.

I began to get really scared. Surgery is a terrifying thing, especially when it is for your 5 year old son. I didn't have too much time to dwell on the fear. The nurses came in with more paperwork and more questions. They debated giving Drew a sedative. He was in a deep sleep so it seemed unnecessary. However, they were concerned he would wake before surgery began and then get really scared. We opted for the sedative - I couldn't bear the thought that he would wake and be scared to death about what was happening to him.

It was time for them to take him and I almost lost it. I leaned in to kiss his sweet, pale lips and then his cheeks and his eyelids. I whispered in his ear to be brave and strong and I told him how much his family loves him. I squeezed his hand and held back tears as our hands became disconnected when they began to wheel him away.

I was alone for a brief moment before a nurse appeared to take me to the waiting room. It wasn't long before my mom and brother came to sit with me. I had first thought that I would rather be alone, but I was very comforted by their presence. It was especially nice to have my mom with me so much over those few days. She is so wonderful and it was nice to have someone who was just as concerned about me as she was about Drew. She's a great mama!

The surgeon finally came in and said that everything had gone smoothly. The appendix had been HUGE, gangrenous, and filled with pus. It was extremely infected and could have ruptured at any time. He told me that Drew was in recovery and I could see him when he woke up.

Waking up took a long time and we called to check several times only to hear that they were trying to wake him but he was not responding at all. He was totally fine, just completely out of it.

They finally said we could come back. He really was not awake yet, and certainly not alert, but it was just going to take time. I was there as he squinted his eyes open and looked directly at me. His face was swollen and he was lethargic and confused, but he knew I was there and he could hear my voice. That was all that mattered to me.

Grams and Uncle Adam were happy to see him too. And they were a big help to me as we got settled in our new room. It took a while to make the transfer and it was so wonderful to have their support.

As soon as we were all settled, Daddy came for a visit. Of course, I had kept Matt updated throughout the day and as soon as he got home and picked up Abby, they headed straight to the hospital. The little dude was glad to see his Daddy. This might have been one of his first smiles!

And, Abby was so relieved to see that her big brother was ok...

She was so concerned about him.

Daddy and Abby brought Drew his lamb - he sleeps with this lamb every night so it was a big comfort to him!

It was a long first night. Drew's appendix had been very close to rupturing and the surgeons were not sure if any of the infection had leaked. So, he was on a combination of three strong antibiotics to fight off any infection that might have developed. The side effects of those antibiotics had the potential to make him very sick. Thankfully, he responded to them very well.

Nights at a hospital are filled with a constant interruption of blood pressure and temperature checks, beeping machines when meds run out, and nurses coming in to administer meds and IV fluids. It was a long night and we were both glad to see morning.

They had kept Drew on IV fluids throughout the night, but discontinued them the next morning and encouraged him to drink on his own.

His first sip of water in several days...

There were some other complications that Drew had while recovering. For the sake of privacy, I won't go into detail here. Suffice it to say that the road to full recovery was bumpier and longer than we had hoped. Everything was eventually fine, but it was a VERY stressful day for Drew, Matt, and me.

One of the good things was we had lots of visitors that day! Grandaddy and Nessa came by right before lunch. They were worried about our recovery issues and concerned about their sweet grandson. Grandaddy took matters into his own hand and bribed Drew with money. I only mention it now because it definitely helped and I know Grandaddy was so proud of himself and Drew!

Good thing Grams came by again with a cool, new alligator bank for Drew! Now, he had a place to keep his money!

And, boy did he enjoy "feeding" that alligator money!

After my dad and Vanessa left, Matt wanted to spend some time with Drew so I went home to take a shower, change clothes, get some lunch, and pick up Abby. Drew and Daddy got some special time together and I got to spend some time with Abby which was really nice. It wasn't long before we wanted to see Drew though so we headed back to the hospital.

We had several other visitors once we got back. My sweet friend Kari came by with her children to bring toys, games, and cookies. Drew really enjoyed opening up his presents and Abby enjoyed seeing her friends!

Danielle came by with baby Graham. She had more gifts for Drew and doughnuts for me! Dunkin' Donuts is an inside joke for us and it soooo brought a smile to my face!

Also, my wonderful friend Marci kept Abby for us on two different days. She didn't even give me an option, she basically just called and said she was picking Abby up and we could have her back when Drew came home. It was such a relief to know that Abby was well taken care of and was having so much fun.

Jen came to visit late the second night and it was just what I needed. Drew was asleep, I was exhausted and frustrated, and I just needed my good friend. She brought me dinner, listened to me vent, and offered wonderful advice (thanks in part to a phone call to her mother who is a nurse). That advice changed the way I was advocating for Drew and I believe it was the catalyst for some changes that gave Drew the time he needed to begin the process of getting better.

By the next morning (day 3 in the hospital), Drew was feeling much better. He had some applesauce and juice for breakfast and we took a short walk to build up his strength.

Look what we found on our walk...

A playroom filled with with toys, games and activities!

With an XBOX 360.

Drew would have stayed there all day if they had let him. It really cheered him up and that made me so happy!

Eventually we had to go back to our room, but they let us bring Battleship with us. I taught Drew how to play and he loved it! And he won! (Because it is the LAW that you let the sick kid in the hospital win

Just about ready to go home. Waiting for the nurses to finish our discharge papers. Lovin' his balloon from Grams.

There had been no sign of infection and Drew was able to drink and eat (a little) on his own. All of that together meant it was time to go home! This happy boy couldn't wait to get home to his people and his own bed.

They wheeled him out of the hospital in a wheelchair and he thought that was first class all the way. To this day, when he talks about being in the hospital over the summer, the only thing he mentions is riding in that wheelchair. It left quite an impression.

I'm glad the rest of it has faded from his memory. It was horribly scary and difficult and frustrating and exhausting. I don't want him to remember any of that.

Instead, we will take away memories of a brave boy, good health, and supportive family & friends.

After a day or two of resting at home, Drew was almost completely back to normal. He was moving around better, eating and drinking normally, and was back to his happy self.

Good as new.

That, my friends, is answered prayer...

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