Where to start this story? At the beginning, I guess….
We had a full weekend. The older three kids had track meets on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was hot and humid. We brought lots of water with us and consumed it all. Everyone tried their hardest and some beat their previous ‘best’ at long jump and in the running events. One kid complained of their leg hurting, another of a foot giving them problems, and the youngest was pretty clingy. After the heat, no one felt like eating much dinner.
Most of the kids slept in on Sunday, so we went to “late Church (10:30 a.m.).” The one early riser was the youngest. He woke up with stomach pains that seemed to re-occur in waves. He’s two years and seven months old and has spoken about four words total in his life. The clearest two are “no” and “Mama.” We don’t hear them too often, though. Anyway, in varying frequency, he would double over on the floor crying for about a minute. Sometimes these pains were five minutes apart and sometimes they were an hour apart.
Darling husband and I conferred on the phone. We were unsure what the problem was, but decided to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. The pain didn’t seem to be getting any worse or migrating (appendicitis warning flags), so we thought perhaps he was just a little ‘stopped up.’ While his bowel pattern didn’t seem to be out of the ordinary, we couldn’t figure what else could be wrong. He wasn’t drinking or eating very much because a stomach pain would occur and he would no longer be interested in drinking or eating.
Come Monday, we decided a call to the pediatrician was in order because the stomach pains continued through the night (hourly). After many questions and after consulting the doctor, they requested that we try Miralax (two capfuls) or a mineral oil enema to bring on a bowel movement. If, after the bowel movement occurred, the stomach pains continued, they wanted us to call back and we could bring him into see the doctor.
A friend brought over her supply of Miralax and we gave that a try. My little boy hadn’t been drinking more than a sip or two of liquid at a try, so I tried to use as little liquid as possible to dissolve the Miralax (in this case, a generic Target brand knock-off). He took a gulp or two and then headed off to pursue other activities. Within minutes, he had another stomach cramp and spit up two tablespoons of the juice he had just consumed.
I put him down for a nap. He slept for about an hour and a half before waking up screaming because of another stomach cramping episode.
We tried more Miralax in a different juice drink. He took the tiniest of sips and wouldn’t touch the stuff again.
By this point, it was Monday afternoon. I went to drop off the older kids at track practice and pick up the Other Option (the enema!). While I was gone, he had a bowel movement. Hurrah!
He’s still in diapers, so we took a look at it to see if there was something there that could have caused the cramping. Nope. It was a normal looking bowel movement for him.
And the cramps continued.
On Tuesday, we headed into the Big City as I called the pediatrician’s office and got him in as early as possible to see his doctor. I didn’t let him eat anything that morning, but did continue to push liquids. He drank a few sips of juice on the way into town.
The doctor couldn’t find anything conclusive. She didn’t hear any digestive sounds and did a rectal exam to see if she could feel anything still ‘up there.’ She wanted to get him in for an x-ray or sonogram of his tummy. Radiology insisted that he be “6 hrs NPO” before the exam. Seeing as I had given him fluids right before his doctor’s appointment, that would mean another six hours before the exam. The doctor felt that was too long for us to wait and that sips of liquid shouldn’t count against him, so they compromised on just over four hours that he would have to have “nothing by mouth” — including water!
We finished up some errands in town, got lunch for the other kids, and visited my parents who live there in the Big City. When it was time for me to head out, I left the other four children with my parents and headed out to the Radiology Department at the big Children’s Hospital. Paperwork filled out, visitor’s tags on, we headed back for the sonogram. Distractions didn’t work, so I attempted to sooth him (and hold him still as much as possible) while the sonogram technician checked his belly. There wasn’t much talking going on, but they finished up pretty quickly. I got to hold him while they went to confer with the Radiologist. Pretty soon, he came in with the sonogram tech.
They knew what was causing his belly pain. Hallelujah!
He had an intussusception and time was of the essence. They immediately wanted to perform an air-contrast enema (see also Google Search) to see if they could ‘reduce’ the intussusception. They took the time to explain what this hard-to-spell term meant: His lower intestine had ‘telescoped’ up into his large intestine. Every time his large intestine pulsed, it caused my poor little boy pain. They also explained that since he had been presenting symptoms for so long, the chances of this procedure working were slim. If it didn’t work, we’d be off to surgery. If it did work, we’d be kept for a day in the hospital for monitoring. The chances of it reoccurring were quoted as 20% within the first 24 hours.
I couldn’t get ahold of my husband. I took two minutes to call my mother & let her know I wouldn’t be back to pick up the other kids like I thought. We were going to be at the hospital for the night no matter what.
They explained everything again, made sure to ask about three times if I was sure I wasn’t pregnant, and then hooked me up with an x-ray apron. I stripped my sweet boy down and they strapped him to a board on the x-ray table. I got to hang out at his head, holding his arms and supporting him with my words, kisses, and smiles as best I could. They inserted a tube into his rectum (more screams) and we all watched the x-ray screen as the tube-within-a-tube wound its way up through his large intestine. I lost track of the tube & the squeezes of air the doctor was pushing into his body as his screaming and pulling on my hands distracted me completely.
Suddenly, he stopped screaming for about 30 seconds. Long enough for me to hear the doctor confirm that the procedure had worked well & quickly. That seemed to indicate to them that he didn’t have any lasting damage to his intestines from the intussusception. After some more phone calls to & from his pediatrician’s office, we were admitted to the hospital for monitoring.
Poor sweetheart fell asleep on my lap during the admissions process. I was able to call & post-pone my chiropractic appointment literally minutes before I was expected to arrive for it. I still wasn’t able to get ahold of my husband, but I did call my mother back to let her know what was going on and that she would have the rest of my kids until at least the evening when my husband would be able to get up to the Big City to pick them up (if that was the plan).
… The rest of the story is just as long, but we are now home. He didn’t have a re-occurrence while we were there. He ate & drank well and was charming the nurses in his medical/surgical ward by pedaling the little pedal tractor they had through the hallways as early as a couple of hours after his procedure. (He also was creating little stink-bombs as he pushed the air they had inserted back out through his bunghole.)
It wasn’t how I expected to spend my night. I really need to get my contacts out as they’ve been in non-stop since yesterday morning. That’s the one thing I would have given my kingdom for last night – some contact lens solution & a case.
I haven’t been able to have my big stress-relieving cry yet. Perhaps tonight when my husband gets home from work & dd#3 gets done with her big end-of-the-year gymnastics recital.
Raising kids isn’t for the wimpy.