Saturday Night Fever

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I had planned to write a silly little story last night about the hospital engineer "fixing" a problem in our room:

But that became insignificant after what followed which I will call...

The Scariest Moment of my Life.

Here's how it played out.  Our head doc is on call this weekend so we feel very safe.  When he recommended an infusion of antibodies (immune globulin iv), we thought it sounded like a good idea.  Ari needs any virus-fighting help he can get right now. (If you want to read about the antibodies and how they do it, check out this site.  And a more complete Ari medical update is below.)

They briefed us on possible side effects and reactions from the transfusion, gave him some benadryl and tylenol to "pre medicate" him, and plugged it into his line.  It was going to be a 2 hour drip.  He watched 3 episodes of Caillou, I read an US Weekly, Matt went to get dinner, and then, an hour into the infusion, Ari made a funny coughing sound like he had a frog stuck in his throat.  Matt and I both jumped up.

And then within seconds, Ari was shaking uncontrollably.  I don't know how long it took for a swarm of staff to rush in, but it felt like forever.  Ari was vomiting and rigor-ing, his heart rate was through the roof, his entire body was covered in hives, and when they took his temperature, it was over 105.  They gave him a shot of benadryl in his IV line which made him very promptly... pass out.  

At this point, I remember shouting "something is wrong!" and the doctor in the room calmly assured us that "this was a normal reaction and within minutes he would be fine."  Again I shouted, "something is wrong!  do something!" and they were able to get Ari to respond (open his eyes, squeeze our hands, etc).  I am not sure how long he spent in this frightening eyes-rolling-back position, but it was long enough for me to, ahem, think the worst.

And then, suddenly, he sat up, looked at me, opened his little pink lips and said, "where's my front loader? get my truck."  Just like that, he was back.  In fact, he proceeded to have a bit of a manic episode (they think from the benadryl.)  It was like watching a toddler with ADD on speed.  He wanted toys and rocks and playdough and he was singing songs and drinking juice and tickling himself and poking the nurses.  I think he even had a laughing fit.  Then he asked Matt, "Daddy are you going to the office?" which prompted one of the nurses to ask if Matt works nights.  We all had a quick chuckle and shared a big sigh of relief.

(I'm pretty sure this is when I wiped away tears, allowed my heart to beat so fast the floor shook, and then chugged a bottle of gatorade to keep myself from fainting.)

When all was said and done, his fever was back to a more comfortable 102, he was given IV steroids to try to stop the reaction to the antibodies, and as a reward for the intense drama, we were moved to a new room (good thing because the Engineer didn't fix the issue).  We settled in, Ari dozed, and Matt and I enjoyed a much-needed adult beverage (thx C&B. And shh people, don't tell the staff).

Incredibly, his fever broke overnight and he was able to sleep comfortably.  In fact, he's still dozing now.

I'm going to take a quick shower since I can now smell myself.  (TMI?  Never...)

Hoping for an uneventful Sunday!


OK more medical stuff, for those who are curious.

A little background as to why we are here... The protocol for kids with cancer is that anytime a child has a fever (above 100.4) they have to get blood cultures taken in the rare case that they have a bacterial infection.  If the kid has normal blood counts, they get a dose of IV antibiotics and are sent home, but if their counts are low, they're required to stay in the hospital until counts recover.  This is so they can be monitored around the clock, receive high-dose antibiotics to prevent bad stuff from growing in the body, and because there's a chance a fever signifies a bacterial (central line) infection  it could be a very bad scene if they send a kid home.

On counts - Chemotherapy makes counts (white blood cells, neutrophils, platelets, etc) drop.  On purpose.  It usually happens about 10 days after receiving chemo.  In Ari's case, he usually drops around day 10 and then his body takes 2 full weeks (sometimes longer) to recover and for his counts to go back up.  He had chemo on Wednesday March 27 (11 days ago).  The other two things that make counts fall - fevers and viral infections.  So Ari has the perfect trifecta of count dropping mechanisms.  This isn't exactly worrisome, it's really just bothersome.

What does this all mean?  Well, in short, that our stay here will not be short.  My guess is we'll be here for around 2 weeks waiting for Ari's body to produce cells so he can fight off his little infection.  (This was a heck of a lot easier before kid #2.  And before we moved to the 'burbs.)

We are now in a room on the bone marrow transplant hall because the regular Onc hall is full.  Ari is going to be on "precautions" for most of this stay because they don't want to risk him giving his viral bug to another child.  I don't blame them.  But, it's going to be pretty difficult to keep Ari happy and occupied once he feels better.  No toy room, no movie nights, no nothin'.  Hopefully we can take him outside and keep him busy looking at ambulances and watching construction.

We can have visitors (but very brief visits and no kids and only if people are 100% healthy and haven't been exposed to anyone unhealthy).  We are ok right now, have clean clothes and lots of snacks, and just hope Ari's fever stays down, his cough clears up, he feels better, and he grows some good white blood cells soon.

(We are in the market for a nanny type person to help out with the baby and maybe stay overnight for these 2 weeks.)

I'll continue to update the blog but hopefully only boring daily updates from now on!


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