I’ve been living an absolute nightmare the last few days. At this point I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet. The true horror and how bad things could have been. You worry about your kids when they’re little and think it’ll get better as they grow. I’ll be the first to say, it only gets worse.
Saturday my 17 year old (youngest) went to motorcycle class to get his permit. He was gone all day. At 6 he came home limping. He said his leg hurt from an old dirt bike injury the previous week and being on it all day must have made it worse. It looked somewhat swollen. Gave him ice. Told him to soak it in some Epsom Salts and jumped in the shower myself at 7. He limped to bed at 8 and asked if I’d turn off his light at 9. I did and asked how he was. He simply said he was tired and his leg hurt really bad.
10:17 p.m. – I’m finishing my nails. Getting ready to go to bed and get a text from him “I can’t get warm.” I thought this was odd and replied with, “I hope you aren’t getting sick.” Finished my last nail and again thought his text was weird. He’s never cold. Decided I’d take his temperature on my way to bed thinking being cold could mean a fever and thinking in my head I really hoped he didn’t have strep throat. Something that is common for him. It was about 10:30 I went in and he didn’t look good. Teeth chattering. Bad color. Told him I wanted to take his temp. 100.8. I’ll get you some ibuprofen. No, he’d been taking it all day and just had some. What??!! Asked if his throat hurt – No. Appendicitis? Does your stomach hurt? No. WHAT HURTS? His leg. Lift the blankets and barely touch his leg. It’s hot and now he’s almost in tears and almost hyperventilating. Turned on my flashlight – The color of his leg had changed, it was more swollen. Looked at him again and knew instantly in my gut something was wrong. Told him we needed to go to the ER NOW. He agreed and could barely hop to the car. Paused the tv. Grab flip flops and ran out the door.
I had full thoughts they’d give him an antibiotic shot. Maybe some anti inflammatory shots. We’d go home. We made it to the ER by 11 a.m. and they took us straight to a room. Let the nightmare begin….
IV placed. Blood draws started. ER doctor looking at his leg. Lab Tech comes in and does a covid swab on top of the next two draws. It’s Midnight. I ask if they do covid tests on everyone still? No just those being admitted or flown out. Ummmm are we doing that? He realizes I’m clueless and says I should talk to the nurse or doctor. He walks out and the radiology people are waiting at the door ready to rush in. They tell me they are doing X-rays now and ask I step out. I stepped out. And am standing there slightly confused – Doctor comes to tell me she’s called the hospitalist and he will be here any second. I calmly ask if I should be alarmed. She says she needs his opinion and he needs to see the other room too. I can hear the nurse on the phone with a bigger hospital. I assume about the other room. The phone rings and the nurse yells to start my son on an antibiotic as fast as possible and the other doctor is minutes away but said they don’t have time to wait for him to asses first. I then hear the ultrasound tech is also ready and they are prepping for a CT. I’m just standing there. Listening to sobbing in the room next to us. Watching people run. Questioning life inside my head. We live in a small town, with a small hospital. What is going on?
Hospitalist arrives and rushes in. He’s also out neighbor. By this point my sons admitted this injury happened a month ago on a 4 wheeler that rolled on him. His fever is going up. He’s had numerous meds. They’ve started morphine. They have two antibiotics going. Second doctor looks. They look together. They grab the closest sharpie and mark the growing redness. He then tells me he thinks we need an airplane but doesn’t want to jump the gun. He asks what I think. Ummm, I don’t know. Inside I feel growing panic. He tells me he fears this infection is growing and eating tissue. He then says he’ll wait for the CT and Ultrasound results and decide. But if we don’t fly we aren’t leaving as his fever is rising with fever reducers and my son is declining quickly.
2 a.m. Sunday – 3 hours after arrival – First doctor returns to tell me to get ready to run home and pack. They’ve identified a fluid pocket. They don’t know what it is but it needs to be removed ASAP and we don’t have a surgeon available. He needs specialists. I’m in shock. I thought I’d be home by now. I ask if we can check in and wait until Monday? No, he doesn’t have until Monday. I ask if I can drive the 200 miles. No, he needs to stay on the antibiotics and be monitored completely. That can’t happen in my car. I blankly stare. I’m probably in shock at this point. Is this really happening? He doesn’t have until Monday? My child that was healthy 24 hours ago doesn’t have until Monday if he doesn’t have emergency surgery? I’m at the hospital. Alone. Terrified. Panicked. Holding it together outside while breaking inside. 2:30 a.m. she tells me the flight has been found and I have 1-2 hours and to go now. Pack enough for a few days.
Driving the 1 minute home I still can’t believe this is happening. Left my car running. Ran inside. Grabbed a bag and started throwing clothes inside for him and me. Shaking. Trying to breathe. Thanking God for a prescription of Xanax. Woke up my husband to tell him I was leaving who had the niceness to say – How much is this going to cost us? Ummmmm, fuck off? He then said he’d drop me off and take my car home.
Returned by 3:30 a.m. as an ambulance was which I thought was ours. No, it was a trauma. Life in this small ER got crazy. By now the room by us had been flighted out about 1 a.m. While I was gone they started him on a 3rd antibiotics. The most potent one in existence. Severe risks but I’m told the pros outweigh the risks as they need to get this infection under control now. Sitting. Minding my own business as they are severely busy with this near death trauma. He’s declining still. He begins to itch and says he needs to call the nurse. I told him itching is normal with morphine. No she said to call when you were gone and he pushes the button. Aide comes in and asks what’s up as everyone is busy saving that life. He says he itches and she’s off running. Boom room is again full. IV turned off. Medicines being give. Stats taken. Listening. Fever climbing. He’s red, swelling. I ask what in the world is going on? It’s “Red Man’s Syndrome”. He’s reacting to the potent antibiotic. They are now trying to prevent anaphylactic shock. WTF? Fever is going UP. She tells me his flight will be delayed. But he’s got to go. This seals it.
5:30 a.m. Flight Team arrives and begins prepping. Reason we were delayed is the trauma got our first ride as she was dying. Thank God we were a step ahead of that. I didn’t even realize it was light out at this point.
7:15 a.m. – Made it to next hospital 3 hours away. Slightly dozed on the flight. He was doing better. Reaction under control. Pediatric doctor came in immediately and assessed telling me surgeon would be there soon. With meds fever was down to 100 and the antibiotics appeared to have stalled the infection. Worst case this was spread to the bones but he wasn’t septic. Yet. But he needed surgery. Soon. Surgeon then came in – Looks and says it’s an impact injury. The fourwheeler landing on his leg caused a hematoma. He didn’t tell anyone and it developed an infection under it. Saturday something moved enough his body realized the infection was there and began working overdrive. Surgery would be at noon Sunday. Morphine and antibiotics continuing. Noon came and went. We got a couple hours of sleep.
2:00 pm – Finally had an OR open. Fever was 102 and again rising no matter the fever reducers. Continuing to decline. Sign more consents. Then pace the waiting room. Alone. For over an hour. Pacing. Trying not to lose it. Finally surgeon came out – As he suspected they found a large pocket of puss under the hematoma and drained it all. Then cleaned it good. Took out all affected tissue. Sewed it up and inserted a drain tube.
When he arrived back from surgery he was 98 instead 102+. His tachycardia was gone. (I forgot that. His heart rate was up to 190.) They said removing the infection is what changed it all immediately. The surgeon said our hospital made the right call by sending him out right away and using “big gun” antibiotics. Monday would not have been an option. He remained on morphine for the day with them checking him frequently. And IV antibiotics. Then moved to oxy’s and IVs.
There were iffy moments off/on. Bad morning Tuesday when they removed the drain tube. Infection was identified finally Tuesday as Coag Negative Staph and he was moved to oral antibiotics. Tuesday after the decline after drain tube they let us leave. We see our pediatrician Friday to look at it. Basically home and leg up in the meantime. Walking. Rest. Carefulness. It’ll take awhile for his body to recover from how sick it was, even if on the outside it looks like it’s healing well.
Now that we’re home and I’m not sleeping on a couch in his room I can think. I still haven’t broke down or cried. Tho, I’m convinced it’ll come. Currently it still feels like a nightmare that wasn’t real.
Every moment I thank God he told me he was cold. I thank God I stopped to check on him. He’s 17. I don’t often go in that late. I thank God I had the gut reaction to take him in ASAP and not try to wait until morning or Monday.
Then the fear and what if’s set in. The possibilities if we hadn’t have went in. They are bad. Scary. Fatal. There is a chance my child would have went to bed and never woken up. A chance I could be planning a funeral. A chance it could have spread and he could have lived but lost a leg. The alternative options are NOT good. They are bad and really bad or as bad as they get.
I spent the whole time at the hospital primarily alone. My two older kids came for awhile. A friend stopped on the last day. My husband stayed home but with how awful that’s been lately it’s a good thing. He was better off home. I was better off with him at home. My mom posted on Facebook like the most concerned person ever but never once offered to do anything to help. Nothing. Not to come sit. Not to come to the ER as my world was crashing down. Not to drive me a car when I mentioned I’d need one. I shouldn’t be shocked. I’m not. Yet, after the fact I can’t help but be sad she’s so selfish and self centered. It’s all about her. She was so tired and busy because of all this. But she did nothing. Nothing. She was at a biker party all night Saturday. She couldn’t even get the prescriptions I asked nicely for as she had another biker event Tuesday night.
It just sucks feeling so alone. To know that when major things happen it really is just me. To know I can only count on myself. This awful week just made me realize that I have choices coming, changes I want and I’ll only have me. Needless to say, I’m tabling all choices for today, this week, this month. My son will be okay and that’s all that matters. Even if I have to continue in this prison.