A weekend of sickness

Things often don’t go as planned. This weekend was one of those things.

We thought that Friday evening would be a calm evening in. That turned out to not be the case when Namine started screaming in pain. Not crying — screaming. We thought that perhaps she had a UTI, so we brought her into the ER.

We briefly considered going to Urgent Care instead of the hospital for a few reasons: shorter wait time, less exposure to sickness, and shorter driving distance. But the potential benefit of the ER — more diagnostic capability — outweighed everything else. The spot Namine pointed to, when she indicated where it hurt, seemed to be directly over her appendix. If it was appendicitis, we would need to be at the hospital.

I called ahead to the hospital’s Special Needs line, so they would know what was going on. They, in turn, called ahead to the ER, to let them know we were coming. With as sick as Jessica is — she still has pneumonia and bronchitis — she went back out to the car to wait after Namine was checked in. Most of any hospital stay is waiting, unfortunately.

Namine was poked and prodded, but only with doctor fingers. I’m sure it was less than comfortable for her to have her stomach poked right where it hurt most and to be asked, “Does this hurt?” But by the time a doctor came in, the agony had subsided enough that she could explain, and not merely point and grunt in pain.

Results concluded that Namine did not have a UTI. Nor did an ultrasound reveal any inflammation surrounding Namine’s appendix, so the conclusion was little more than a shrug from the doctor. By the time we left the hospital — around 11, if I recall correctly — the pain had all but gone away, with no explanation.

The next morning (Saturday) I took Namine to her pediatrician for a follow-up after the ER visit. Namine explained to the doctor that there was still a little pain, but the location of the pain had moved. It was no longer directly above her appendix; now it had moved a little lower, directly over the muscle of her hip. The doctor had no explanation.

That was the end of Namine’s mystery pain, but not the end of her woes over the weekend. She started to develop a cough and runny nose. Starting out, Namine’s cough was fairly dry; but by the time she went to bed last night, it evolved into a wet, liquid one.

Before Jessica and I went to bed on Sunday, I checked Namine’s oxygen with the pulse oximeter. Her heart rate was up, which was no surprise, but her O2 was only 92. This was a shock because ever since the Fontan, she’s had much higher oxygen saturation — on average, 97-98.

I called the Special Needs line at the hospital, inquiring whether or not they thought we should bring Namine in. They said to keep an eye on her — checking her O2 every few hours — and to bring her in if her O2 were to drop below 90. It never did, so we let her sleep. At least, as well as she could with me bothering her every few hours with the pulse ox.

Namine’s fever lasted throughout yesterday. After I got home from work yesterday, I took her into Urgent Care. (They were expecting us, since Special Needs had called them ahead of time.) The concern was that she had strep throat, so she had a swab done.

Before the strep swab, the nurse asked Namine how her throat was feeling. “Like there’s a hundred frogs in my throat,” she croaked. The nurse took that mental image and ran with it; she explained to Namine, “I need to take a sample of those frogs. It’s not a needle, it’s a q-tip.” Namine said okay, and opened her mouth wide.

After the nurse had left, Namine said to me: “I don’t know why she talked to me like that. I know what a swab is, I’ve done this lots of times before.” I shrugged. It’s not the first time — nor will it be the last, I think — for an adult to talk “down” to Namine. Is it her small stature? Just the fact that she’s a child? I don’t know. Jessica and I speak plainly to her, and she understands us. What vocabulary she doesn’t know, she will usually infer from context. And she’s always asked about that which she still doesn’t understand.

It took about five minutes for the results to come back: negative. The good news was that Namine’s sore throat and cough was not strep; the bad news is that it’s likely viral. She’ll just have to wait it out.

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