Sunlight pours in from a giant wall of windows that stretch up to the vaulted ceiling. Assorted cheery colors welcome from every angle. A smiling six-foot purple gorilla beams down from a high shelf. Clever little tables and chairs and brightly colored toys beckon from all across the room.
I cry every time I come here.
I just spent most of Memorial Day 2011 soothing my wailing child as doctors, nurses, and technicians suck bloody phlegm from deep down his throat, probe his nose and ears, and listen long and hard for the sounds of pneumonia.
Urgent Care at The Children’s Hospital north campus is a great place to be if your child is very sick, which is precisely why it always sucks being here.
It’s actually been awhile. We’ve managed Raphael’s sundry illnesses this winter and spring and his recent bout of asthma attacks (brought on by extended crying from separation anxiety and wood smoke) with resilience and resourcefulness – for the most part at least. We were even handling this yucky cough at home without resorting to medical intervention or taking too much of a toll on family life – except for the loss of even more sleep. That was until Raphael suffered his third night of fever, shortness of breath, gagging, and fighting to stay vertical but needing to lie down at the same time.
In the middle of the night, we are zombies. We stumble around arguing over which remedy to try next and whose turn it is to try rocking our baby back down. We try saline up the nose, battery-powered suction, undressing, changing diapers, redressing. Reading and singing. Inhalers, nasal steroids, alternating doses of Tylenol and Advil, and drinks. Even the magic toy. Greg and I try to remain quiet and try not to be pissy with each other. We usually fail on both accounts.
Someone falls asleep in a chair holding Raphael upright, and then we switch turns. We groan when our three-and-a-half year old jumps in our bed at 6 a.m. ready for daytime action.
If you’re a parent, you know a version of this routine. What you may not experience is that nagging worry of: Could this be the time things really go wrong?
Docs here remind me that my son is highly susceptible to lung problems. They cite his history of pulmonary hypertension, troubled birth, and other medical history highlights, as if I could forget an item on that long list.
But today, Raphael gets to go home. His chest X-ray looked good. His blood oxygen level dips too low while he sleeps, but he recovers, so no overnight stay and no oxygen tanks this time.
Raphael is sleeping on my chest in his Ergo carrier as I type and wait for the discharge notes.
It’s 4 p.m. Time to go home and light the grill for some holiday weekend burgers. Time to celebrate!