As if we haven't spent enough of our recent lives contemplating the last 25 hours of Ellie's life, we headed to the Emergency Room with Max last night to further traumatize ourselves.
Max's fever, cough, lack of appetite (he didn't even finish his ice cream last night- that's big) and general fatigue probably wasn't ER worthy. But my complete paranoia mixed with the CLOSED sign on the Urgent Care doors, led us to ER check in desk anyways. When we walked in the door, I was already anxious. Max's cough has been going on for about a month now, and two antibiotics later, we are not getting any better. We actually seem to be getting a little worse. And the whole time, I have the voice of Ellie's infectious disease doctor echoing in my head, "We would have been more worried if she wasn't responding to our treatments and attempts to make her better." I could NOT keep myself from thinking, "holy shit, this can't happen again."
In the germ-infested waiting room, Max sat on our laps and barely moved a muscle. And I'm pretty sure Max wasn't paralyzed with fear, like his Mommy was. There was no Animal ABC's and no Wonder Pets play-by-play. He just sat there and stared at the Toy Story movie playing on the TV in front of him. And he has never seen Toy Story, he hates new movies. But there he sat.
Finally, we were taken back to a room and as soon as we walked in, the tears started. I couldn't help it. They just came. Seeing all the equipment and monitor was so overwhelming. I didn't want to remember our time in the ER with Ellie and I didn't want to think about Max being sick enough to need any of that stuff. I pulled it together and sat on the bed with Max.
I was ok until the doctor came in. That poor man, he had no idea what he was walking into... He did Max's exam and we started talking game plan. He wanted to do a chest xray to rule pneumonia and a nasal swab to check for influenza. I was pretty convinced it was pneumonia, he was pretty sure it was influenza. He said for pneumonia, we'd start on some new antibiotics- I thought, "no problem, we can handle that." BUT THEN, we ran through the influenza scenario... Bad idea Mister. He said the worse thing he could, he said, "If it's influenza, he's going to get sick. He's going to get a lot worse. He's going to get really sick."
The tears came immediately. In an instant, I was back in Ellie's PICU room, sitting in the chair facing her bed, with my back to the window and world outside. The doctor was sitting in front of me, with his hands on my knees, saying how sick Ellie was. He was saying she wasn't going to get better and was only getting worse. He was saying that ECMO was her only chance, IF she even made it to the other hospital.
I just kept thinking, "I can't do this again. I will completely lose it if Max gets really sick. I can't handle seeing another one of my babies with a tube down their throat."
One x-ray and nose swab later, everything came back normal. No pneumonia. No influenze. Just an upper respiratory infection for Max and near mental breakdown for Mommy. Dave, still concerned, got to pay the bill. I made the doctor tell me what happened to Ellie is rare and that this wasn't what was going on with Max. I asked questions that I KNEW the answers to. If I'd been able to run carrying a very sleepy Max, I would have sprinted through the exit door once discharge papers were signed.
Max awoke with this morning with a low grade fever. He ate an appropriate amount for breakfast and seems just a little tired. I kept him home from school, probably more for me than him. And I'm glad I did- because he then decided to break out in hives for no apparent reason. Sure why not, right?
Before Ellie died, we had been to the emergency room once with Ellie, very sick, and Max twice, not as sick, but still pretty ill. During those times, I wasn't overly worried and had no anxiety whatsoever regarding our presence in the ER. I didn't like seeing my kids sick and having pokes and other tests done but I knew it would help them and so it's what had to be done. Last night was sooo different. I didn't want them near him and I wasn't at all sure what should or should not be done. No, I'm not a doctor, but as a nurse, I have a pretty good idea of treatment protocols for children with certain conditions. As a mother, I know my child and know when something is wrong.
Since Elle died, I don't trust what I know as a nurse, and I certainly don't trust my mother's instinct. Yes, I felt there was something wrong with Ellie, that night I remember sitting in our bed holding sick Ellie and thinking, "I feel like this is worse than it seems." But I brushed it off and I was so wrong to do that. Ellie needed me and I wasn't there for her. Last night, when the doctor asked us our opinion on the treatment course, I didn't really know what to say or even what to think. Part of me kept thinking, "yes that makes sense," the other part kept screaming "BUT LAST TIME..." It wasn't just Max's sickness we were dealing with last night. Losing Ellie, especially the way we did, has left me questioning everything. Nothing is as it seemed to be.