Wednesday, July 4, 2012

One Hell of a Night

   Happy Fourth of July everyone!  And happy birthday to me.  As most of you have gathered from Facebook, the past 24 hours have not been uneventful for me and my little Monkey.  (That nickname seems to become more and more appropriate with age.)

   Yesterday at around 12:30 Monkey was sitting at the kitchen table, playing Play-Doh with her two friends while their mother and I sat next to them, chatting.  Monkey stood up to grab a cookie cutter that was just out of reach, and fell flat out onto the floor, landing squarely on the back of her head.  She cried for a good 30 minutes as I rocked her, putting an end to play time.  She asked for a movie and lounged on the couch, grouchy and sleepy, but seemingly no worse for wear.   When the movie was over she returned to her usual Monkey self, so I felt the danger had passed, and we began getting dressed for our pool date with two of my close friends.

   We had a blast at the pool, and Monkey swam her little heart out.  It was no wonder she was exhausted on the ride home, but something didn't feel right with her sleep.  Usually fighting it to the last blink, she gave in with no fight.  I attempted to rouse her several times on the way home, but she was intent on returning to dreamland.  I got her home, bathed her, and broke my "no more than one movie rule" by plugging in The Lion King 2 (her recent favorite) as I began to cook dinner.  During this time she was squalling, using a cry I haven't heard come out of her since infant days.  I wrote it off as extreme fatigue, but in the back of my mind I kept hearing the word "concussion".  This led me to go check on her so often that I pretty much ruined the soup.  I tried to get her to eat with me, but I couldn't rouse her from the couch.  I even offered a picnic in the living room, but to no avail.  I finally gave in and fixed her favorite snack: cheese, cherries, blueberries, and yogurt, but nothing was working.  My child couldn't keep her eyes open long enough to even tell me if she was hungry or not.  So I did what I always do when faced with a medical decision: I called my mom, an MA for more years than I can remember.

    When I gave my mom a synopsis of the days events, her first words were, "Get her to the ER."  I was shocked to hear the words in my head spoken aloud in my mom's voice, but after much deliberation, I decided I would let her sleep and wake her every so often to be sure she was okay.  But then I spent three minutes straight, picking her up, calling her name and doing everything short of shaking her silly before finally waking her.  That's when I knew I needed to be sure.

   I called my trusted friend, Tessua, and she rode with me to the hospital at Keesler AFB.  Once I got Monkey signed in and registered, I was called back by a male nurse in his mid-forties with two earrings in one ear named George to hear why we were here.  Now, if anyone out there has kids, you know that it always seems to happen that your kids miraculously look and feel better once in sight of a doctor.  I think it's their way of rebelling even at an early age.  So when I was telling my tale of possible concussions and lethargy to the nurse with my alert and talkative daughter on my lap, I anticipated some disbelief.  What I didn't anticipate was the utter lack of professionalism, kindness and disregard for any possibility that I could be counted on as a good source of what's expected of my child.  When I used the word "lethargic" the man grabbed my daughter's blankie, flopped it around in my face and said, "This is what we call lethargic.  Not sleepy; not groggy, but a limp floppy rag."  Taken aback by his blatant arrogance, I shot back, "Look, my mother is an MA.  I'm studying Nursing, and I've read enough books to know the meaning of the word "lethargic.  When I say she was lethargic, it's because it took my 3 whole minutes to wake her."  He seemed to shrug this off and went about his exam, huffing and puffing.  Wanting to make sure my daughter was in no way overlooked because of something I had done, I attempted to make amends.  "I hope you don't think me rude," I began.  "It's just that I know she looks like she's fine now, but she wasn't like this when we left the house.  When we left the house she was lethargic."  Rolling his eyes he simply said, "We just get a lot of moms in here who throw that word around too much."   Next he began feeling around my daughter's head to see if she felt any pain.  Again, if you know anything about children, you'll know that if you're a stranger touching them without any explanation, they're going to react badly.  So when he was plucking her head asking, "Does this hurt? Does this hurt?" my baby girl simply cowered in my lap.  Finally, after a bit of coaxing from me, she answered with a nod, and his exact words were "I'm not impressed.  If it were hurting her she would have screamed when I tapped her head."

   My this point I was already disgusted and just ready to go home, but then it got worse.  This George took us to our room.  Tessua, who had heard almost everything from the lobby and was equally disgusted, joined us.  He left us in the room, making sure to leave the door open a crack, which I found odd.  Then I heard him mimicking me in the most unflattering manner at the nurses station not ten feet from my door.  His antics were met with an uproar of laughter, and my stomach turned over as he walked back past my door, met my eyes with the most triumphant of looks, and strode right past.

   When the doctor came in I gave him an account of what had passed the best I could, with the tears that were threatening to overflow.  I kept them at bay, however, and the doctor (who guessed who I was talking about before I even finished) apologized and promised to reprimand George.  Finally feeling like I was being heard in my concerns for my child, I was satisfied.  The doctor did a CAT scan and found a 6 cm linear fracture on my daughter's skull.  There was no bleeding, but she was to be transferred to Mobile, AL for further observations.  The doctor, being a truly understanding and kind person, listened intently as I requested to be sent to Baton Rouge where my family is.  The best he could do was New Orleans, but that was good enough for me, putting me an hour closer to home and family if I should need something.  Needless to say, I was extremely grateful.  The doctor also told me that George felt really badly given that she did have a fracture, and that he had apologized.  I received this gracefully, but in my head I was wondering if he would feel as apologetic if my child had been perfectly fine.  I doubt it.

   I can say however, that the rest of the night I was faced with enough kindness to atone for the lack of it in the start.  The nurse that replaced George was very sweet.  When she had painstakingly placed an IV in my daughter's little hand, she turned around to grab a bandaid only to turn back around in time to see my little girl rip the unwanted thing from her hand.  We were all flabberghasted.  The nurse handled herself very well, stating only, "Well that's a first," before moving on to inserting another one in Monkey's other hand.  I think it was a testament to the strain on my nerves to admit here that I laughed out loud.  My little girl, fractured, tired, confused, longing for home, and not wanting that damn thing in her hand any longer did the only thing in her power to make herself more comfortable.  I had a moment of realization that she's going to be okay.  Now and in years to come, she'll change what she can and live with the rest, and that's what I want for her.  I want her to be a survivor.

She told me, "I'm a boxer, Mommy, like Daddy."  

Knocked out

   Soon the ambulance was there to whisk us off to the hospital.  Monkey was excited to see the "special car with the flashing lights" wearing her "special gown".  The men who conveyed us to New Orleans were angels, simply put.  The man who rode in the back with us, Shannon, was attentive and even a bit indulgent to my child, making the driver turn on the lights before Monkey was ushered inside so she could see how pretty they are.  When she fell asleep and her head was flopping from side to side, Shannon found a blanket to roll up as a pillow so that her head would lie still.  When I seemed restless, but sleep eluded me, he got me talking.  When my issues with George surfaced, he not only knew who I was talking about without my naming him, he even offered the comforting, "He's and angry old grouch who is good at what he does, but everyone's always telling him to just shut up."  Shannon even went so far as to award Monkey a "special prize" (a little stuffed animal he had tucked away) for being a big girl.

In the ambulance
   We made it to New Orleans Children Hospital in the wee hours of the morning, and I expected more of the same headache I had a Keesler.  What I found was the best hospital experience ever.  Usually the check in staff is tired, grumpy and sick of dealing with idiots and drunks, but the two women who helped me get Monkey signed in were amazing.  They made me laugh, reassured me, smiled and even sang me "Happy Birthday" when they saw my date of birth on my ID.  Then the amazing paramedics wheeled my daughter in the waiting room where she had a better view of the fish tanks and dancing dolphins on the wall.  They pushed her stretcher around the room until she'd seen everything twice, and then they indulged her in a game where they adjusted the bed up and down while she giggled.  I finally felt that my daughter was getting the treatment she needed, and I would recommend that hospital  to anyone.

  We were admitted to a room where we could rest, and we did.  When the doctor came around today to see Monkey, she was found to have no neurological damage, no swelling, and nothing more to worry them.  We were sent home late this afternoon, and now I am exhausted and she is begging to go the the park.  Aren't children the most amazing little creatures?  They can heal themselves with sunshine and smiles.  They are resilient almost to a fault, and their spirits are so easily lifted.

She made a name bracelet in the playroom.
Putting together a puzzle in the playroom
   I know this is turning into a very long post, but it's not over yet.  It would be a sin for me to not mention the unfailing support of my fellow Navy wives.  Tessua was a saint with her jokes, comforts, and random musings that helped me get through the night at Keesler.  Both Tessua and my dear Mrs. Emily showed up to bring my baby and I home with a stuffed animal and stickers in tow.  Then the day was ended with all of us getting to sample some homemade cupcakes Mrs. Emily had baked for the occasion.  I am truly blessed.  And of course, I have the support and unfailing love of a large and caring family.  I'm so grateful to everyone who asked about my little girl, worried about her, prayed for her, thought of her, and just made it known that they were there.  I love you all!


  1. This really made me cry. I'm really glad your Monkey is doing better, though! Next time you're in the area, call me! I miss y'all and I still have the bribe book for you!! :-D

  2. I'm so sorry Aundraya, I had no idea. Poor baby girl! I hope and pray she is all better by now.

  3. It's okay, Meghan. She's back to her normal self now. The doctor said it'd take 2-3 months to heal, but she's allowed to do everything she was before :-) Thank you for your prayers.

    And Alysha, I don't know how I missed your comment, but I will have to swing by next time I'm in. I miss you :-)