So I have been told by people who work there, that the odds of a child spending time in a PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) are about 1 in 1000. That means most families are fortunate enough to never visit one. Here’s how my kids stand:
Hailey: (Bless her) No hospital stays (some ER trips only, including an ambulance ride)
Adrian: PICU & PEDS stay for a skull fracture (and spinal fluid leak) Plus an ambulance ride at code (lights & sirens).
Tristan: PICU stay (post-op, plus many days and nights in the Oncology unit)
Madeline: MANY PICU stays (7 months straight and multiple other times) Plus an ambulance ride.
Clara: (Surprisingly) No hospital stays.
Presley: (What a good girl for her mommy) No hospital stays.
J’onn: (we just got home today) PICU & PEDS stay for a skull fracture. Plus an ambulance ride.
Cory: PEDS Intermediary Stay (just outside the PICU entrance, higher urgency than a PEDS stay) Plus an ambulance ride.
Eva (this may be the ONLY time I ever say this…PLEASE take after Clara!) No Hospital Stays (just a day surgery like Hailey).
That’s 4 PICU stays, 1 Intermediary stay, (3 PEDS stays along with the PICU stays), and 4 ambulance rides between my five kids who have blessed us with gray hairs.
Will someone please tell my kids they’ve used up their turns!
Most recently, Monday, June 15th to be exact, J’onn fell off the neighbor’s pool slide onto the concrete. He landed right on the top of his head. Unlike little Adrian, he was not knocked out, but had concussion signs instantly (dizziness, nausea, etc…). Within 30 seconds of Clara’s friend, Emma, carrying him home, we were off to the nearest hospital. When I carried him in, the waiting room was more packed than I’d ever seen one before (and I have literally made dozens of trips to them). But they took one look at J’onn and kicked an old lady out of their main trauma room and started a trauma code for him.
Adrian arrived a few minutes after we got there, in time to accompany him to the CAT Scan. The bottom line is that he fractured his skull from the left top of his head, down in and through his left eye socket. The blood pooled in his left eyelid and behind his left eye. The neurologist that was called insisted he take an ambulance ride from Holy Family’s ER to Sacred Heart’s PICU where he had hourly neuro checks all night long. The next morning we said good bye to our old friends there and went to PEDS Oncology (they send “clean” (not ill) kids there sometimes), because Kristy suggested it to Doctor Frye (thank you, Kristy, you were always one of my favorites!). At Sacred Heart, the rooms in Peds Onc are WAY better than rooms in PEDS. So while staying under observation for another day and night, we were comfy in 309 East.
Knowing that J’onn would be fine allowed us to enjoy catching up with our hospital employee friends that we would either run into (“HI! Wait- why are you here?!”) or who heard we were there and came and found us. It was funny to look at his right (unswollen) side and see Tristan, and many people told us that J’onn looks just like T. Seeing our old friends was a huge blessing for us.
It was also a good opportunity for J’onn to work on his manners and controlling his emotions in difficult circumstances. For example, when we arrived in the PICU, his IV from the ER had come out and they needed to put a new line in. That was unwelcome news for my dramatic six-year-old. Before he could erupt into a full-blown panic attack, I gave him this little speech:
“J’onn, remember in the car driving to the hospital, we were praying and thanking God for the hospital, doctors and nurses who would be taking care of you?”
(I got a slight nod from him.)
“Well, there are kids all over the world who get sick or hurt and don’t have a hospital or doctor to go to or nurses to help them. Their mommies would do anything to get their kid to a hospital and get the kind of help you are getting. That’s why you are going to be brave and strong, you’re going to do your breathing, and you are going to be thankful that you are getting such good care from these people.”
And the Lord worked a miracle. To put it plainly, as only a different kind of Dr. could, “The Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.” A smile came on his face, he nodded, and there were no panic attacks after that (with a few reminders to breathe).
As we told a few friends, there comes a point where it is relatively unbelievable. We also shared with them why we declined the many generous offers of help from our fantastic friends. It comes down to the fact that, after a while, it’s just embarrassing. We used this example to illustrate:
When I was pregnant with J’onn, and Tristan was a month from going home to be with Jesus, I had an ultrasound. They informed me that he had a VSD (a hole between the lower chambers in his heart). Adrian and I decided we should just keep that to ourselves. Who is going to believe that as one son lay dying, our next addition has a heart problem. We had to return two weeks after Tristan died to see about the VSD. Thankfully, it had closed on its own, but he had developed a cyst in his brain. Again, we didn’t want to be seen as attention seekers, and who would really believe us anyway, so we mainly kept it to ourselves. And, to be honest, we were so overwhelmed, we just told the Lord that He would have to totally handle this, and besides praying, we didn’t dwell on it. Well, fortunately, at the next ultrasound, the cyst also went away, and the doctor literally said, “I think you should go before we find something else wrong.”
But imagine if we had shared that information at the time. We are uncomfortable with pity. I know we are already judged for letting the Lord decide on how many kids we have, “and with all the problems, shouldn’t you just stop?” (Yes, people have said that.) And that’s really not the kind of attention we want, either.
Like I said, rather unbelievable. I was again told I should write a book, and my reply was that it would be labeled as fiction! As our friend, Gary, said yesterday while visiting J’onn in the hospital, we do have luck. It’s called “unlucky!” LOL.
But at the end of the day, all our family and friend’s prayers worked. The eye swelling is already down, the purple is fading, and he can open it half way (it’s only been 48 hours since the accident). I have to keep reminding him that he is to take it easy, but I may have to borrow Officer Beckley’s handcuffs to keep him from running and jumping.
In 2 Samuel, David calls a place where the Lord defeated his enemies Baal Perazim- the Lord that breaks through. That is what He does every time our kids are in the hospital. He breaks through the situation and we are blessed. We pray we are a blessing to others as well.
Thank you to everyone who prayed, visited, gave J’onn little gifts to brighten his stay, and helped in other ways (i.e. to Patrick Beckley for babysitting little Adrian). Even all the offers of help we refused are still greatly appreciated. Thank you all.
Adrian & Allison