Saturday, November 10, 2012

72 hours

It has been quite an eventful 72 hours in the Chang family. (I warn you ahead of time that this post might be a little on the long side, so take it in stride.)

It started Wednesday, when we noticed that Alicia was a bit fussier than normal. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep and wouldn't let Linda put her down. At first we thought maybe she was just teething and therefore wasn't feeling well. But by that evening, right before we put her to bed, we realized that she was hotter than usual, and after taking her temperature, we discovered that she had developed a fever.

Somewhere along the line we had heard that belief that kids develop fevers when they're teething, so we thought maybe the fever was just a result of the new teeth coming in. (We found out later that kids do not get fevers when teeth come in.) So we went to bed.

In the morning, Alicia's temperature had gone down, so we thought we were in the clear. We went through our regular morning routine. I went to work, Linda stayed home and took care of Alicia. Around noon, Linda brought Alicia to the office to meet me for lunch, and that was the start of what would be the craziest two days we've had in a long time.

During lunch we noticed that Alicia really had no appetite, and she was more lethargic than usual. We thought maybe again, that she was just not feeling well because of her teeth. So we just let her nap while we ate lunch. After lunch, Linda needed to run an errand, so I took Alicia back with me to the office. While sitting at my desk, Alicia nestled into my chest and just kind of laid there, which is quite unusual for our little ball of energy. Usually when sitting with me, she's pushing herself away from me, trying to get a peak at what Daddy's doing on the computer, or trying to grab something on my desk. But not this time. This time she kind of just laid there in a stupor.

Suddenly, Alicia awoke with a start and started coughing and dry-heaving. Knowing what was coming next, I grabbed the garbage can and positioned her head over it. Thankfully, nothing came out, and she just settled back into my chest. A few minutes later, however, she did it again, this time, she did actually throw up, what I can only guess was her breakfast, since she hadn't eaten anything at lunch.

At that point, I noticed Linda had texted asking me how things were going, and I told her about what had just happened, and so said she was coming back right away.

As soon as Linda got back to the office, we packed our stuff, I shut down my computer, took care of some last minute office business, and we rushed off to the hospital with one of my co-workers who has been sort of a God-mother to Alicia over the past few months.

My co-worker has a son who had several medical conditions when he was younger, so she was on pretty familiar terms with the pediatricians at the hospital that Alicia frequents. This came in real handy when we realized that the pediatrician with clinic hours at that moment was booked solid and without connections there was no way we were going to be able to get in to see him.

Well, when we got to the hospital, we went straight up to the doctor's office, my co-worker walked right into the office and greeted the doctor, got a pass, giving us permission to get an appointment with him, and booked an appointment to see him that afternoon. Praise God.

After waiting for a few minutes, while he finished up with a patient, we finally went in to see the doctor. We explained her symptoms and after examining her ear, nose and throat, she said that she probably had a slight case of an infection. Nothing to worry about. He prescribed some fever medicine in case she started to burn up again. But said that she should be fine.

We took the opportunity to ask him to look over some of the results of a head sonogram that Alicia had gotten about a month ago. He looked at the scans and said that the PVL (brain trauma) she sustained at birth, was still there, but it looked like it hadn't gotten bigger, so again nothing to worry about. It meant that we would need to be more wary of her motor skills on the left side of her body, and help her to practice those movements as much as possible. But overall, he said nothing to be concerned about, that in time, she would be OK. And he sent us home.

On the way home, as I was holding her, I noticed that her left hand and arm was twitching. Every second or so, her hand would squeeze and her arm would jerk. At first, I thought maybe it was a side effect of being hungry and not eating all day, cause I noticed that she had also been shivering earlier in the day. We got her home, and Linda told me to give her a bath to wash off any germs or bacteria that may have gotten on her from the hospital.

While giving her the bath, I noticed her arm continued to twitch despite me having given her a cracker prior to putting her into the bathtub. So after the bath, while dressing her, I pointed out the twitch to Linda. When Linda saw the twitch she thought it was pretty weird too. So we started praying. I know some of you don't believe in the whole spiritual warfare thing, but I just had a sense that something was off in the spiritual realm, so I just declared the blood of Jesus over my daughter, and I took authority as her father over her body, and cast out any spirits that were not of God in the name of Jesus. After a few minutes of prayer, her arm stopped twitching. 

But then we noticed that Alicia wouldn't look at us when we called out to her. She kept looking over to her left side, and I noticed that her eyes were rolling into her sockets to the point where her right pupil nearly disappeared behind her nose. I went into serious prayer time at that point. And eventually she came out of it.

Still not sure what that was, Linda called my co-worker who had helped us earlier, who called the hospital and talked directly to our doctor, who told us to go right back to the hospital for him to check her out.

So back into the cab we went, and back to the hospital for a second time that day. When we got there, we waited a few minutes, and the doctor admitted us, and examined Alicia. At that point she had returned to normal, so he asked us how long she was twitching for, and said that she had probably had a local seizure. He said the cause of the spasms could be multiple reasons. It could be that because she had a fever, that the fever triggered some misfiring in her brain. Or, he said it could be that some nerves finally connected from her brain to her arm, and so it was now sending new signals causing her to twitch. In any case, he prescribed her some epileptic medicine, which was kind of freaky when we saw that being typed onto the computer. Also, he told us to schedule a brain scan. He told us that unless she had another episode, that we were not to give her the medicine until after the scan, because it would affect the results.

So again, we collected our medicine and went back home. Back home, we tried to settle in a bit. Linda went out to get dinner for us, while I stayed home and took care of Alicia. Again she was pretty much just lethargic and laid in my arms without moving too much. Thinking that she was probably hungry, I tried to feed her a bit of food, at which point she promptly threw up. After throwing up, she went back to lying in my arms and fell asleep. When Linda got home, I put Alicia down on the couch to sleep, so I could eat. Over dinner, I told Linda about  Alicia throwing up, and she naturally was a bit worried and wanted to go back to the hospital. Being American, and also, having been to the hospital twice that day already, I tried to dissuade her. And Linda agreed to just observe her for a bit longer.

Linda, being the loving mother she is, was feeling really anxious about Alicia and her condition. She really wondered whether we needed to go back to the hospital, and was really worried about whether Alicia would be OK. I could tell that she was really just sad and nervous about Alicia's condition. Alicia hadn't really smiled in the few hours since lunch, and Linda said something that I think captures what she was thinking at that time, pretty well. Linda said, "What if we never see her smile and laugh again?"

For some reason, I at that point just felt convinced that Alicia was going to be OK. And Linda asked me if I was scared, and I said, no. Alicia was going to be fine. We as the children of God have authority over sickness, so we needn't worry. We had a God, a Heavenly Father who was in full control, so we didn't need to be anxious. And besides, being anxious wouldn't fix anything. Linda listened and took it in, but still I could tell she wasn't completely at ease.

I mentioned that I hadn't given Alicia any water after she threw up, so we decided to wake her up so we could give her some juice. She seemed OK after the juice, but after a few minutes she threw up again. At which point Linda decided we really needed some people praying for us, so she called some friends. And I could hear her sobbing outside with weariness and concern.

 About a half an hour after the juice, we tried to give Alicia some milk, thinking that she was probably hungry. Again... throw up. This time Linda was convinced we needed to go back to the hospital, so she called our friend again to see what she should do. My co-worker told her just to wait a bit and see what would happen. If Alicia threw up again, then we should go straight to the emergency room.

After hanging up with her, Alicia did in fact give one last heave-ho, so Linda promptly went to our room, packed a suitcase, we called the cab and off we went for our third trip to the hospital in less than 12 hours. While waiting for the cab to arrive at our house, I noticed a change in Linda's demeanor. She became strong and confident. It was almost as if, once we decided we were going to go back to the hospital, God's courage and strength surged into her, and she started taking charge. Which was actually good, because after Alicia's last upsurge, I felt myself just depleted. I was just emotionally drained and was on the verge of tears.

Again, I couldn't help but marvel at God's blessing in allowing us to be on a see-saw and not both be down at the same time.

When we got to the emergency room, we had to wait in line to register Alicia. Finally, we got admitted and got sent to the pediatric section of the ER. We explained to the doctor what had happened that day, with the fever and also the spasms and we asked if we could be admitted. He looked Alicia over and said, sure. He promptly called and got us a room. Reading her reports from that day, he said that she probably just had a virus of some sort, and told us to give her some of the fever medicine that her pediatrician had prescribed earlier. While talking to him I noticed that Alicia's arm was going off again.

At first, I thought maybe Alicia was just moving her arms like she does when she's trying to dissuade someone from touching her, but I noticed that it was twitching in the same way it was earlier. Since our pediatrician hadn't seen Alicia when she was twitching earlier,  I asked the ER doctor if this was considered a spasms/seizure since I wasn't sure if I was just maybe misreading or imagining things earlier. He said that if we held her arm, and it stopped then it didn't count as a spasms.

But when he told hold of her arm, she continued to twitch, so he said, yes. These were definitely spasms, so he told us to give her the medicine that our pediatrician had prescribed. Then he told us to go over to the side and wait, so they could get a blood sample, and insert an IV into Alicia and wait for them to get our room ready. While getting her IV inserted, I noticed that Alicia was once again looking to her left and her eyes did the rolling into her socket thing again, so I know that I hadn't been seeing things earlier. But just as soon as it started, it stopped and Alicia calmed down.

While we were waiting for our room, the ER doctor came over and talked to us some more. He said that judging by the fever and the spasms, one possibility was that she had a case of meningitis. What's that you ask? Well, we had to ask the same question. It's basically, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain. Sounds scary, right? Yeah. Well, he said they needed to run some tests, but seeing her symptoms, it was a possibility.

Of course, I at that point promptly whipped out my cellphone and started researching meningitis. At which point a nurse came and took us up to our room.

We finally got settled into our room, and laid down to get some much needed rest after a long and harrowing day. Little did we know that the next day would be even more tiring.

Since this is getting long, I'll end this story here. And pick it up tomorrow. =D

To be continued . . .

1 comment:

  1. Goodness, you guys have been through a lot in the last few days! Thanks for updating; sorry you are dealing with all this! Sending lots of prayers for you all.

    Also, for future reference, we've learned the hard way that after vomiting, don't give anything by mouth for 1-2 hrs and then give small sips of Pedialyte (or whatever the equivalent Oral Rehydration Solution is that you can get over there), gradually increasing the amounts if the child tolerates it. No solid food for 8-12 hrs after vomiting and then gradually introduce bland foods like the crackers you mentioned, toast, rice, etc. When Alex had the bad stomach bug and then the seizure/respiratory arrest we didn't know this at first so that first night we kept letting him drink after throwing up and the poor guy just kept throwing up ... Oops!

    I will eagerly await your next installment. Love you guys so much!