Avoiding the ER

Madeline has been to the emergency room so many times the doctors are starting to recognize her. It’s unavoidable since we are supposed to take her every time she reaches a fever of 100.4 degrees. It’s a step we reluctantly take in order to rule out sepsis since she doesn’t have a spleen, an important organ for fighting infection.

Saturday, she woke up with a fever of 100.1. Colin and I looked at each other, brows raised. Would we have to take her to the hospital? Why did it always seem to happen over the weekend? We dreaded where it was going.

It wouldn’t be so bad if all we had to do was have a medical professional look her over and form an opinion. But it’s just not that simple. When you’re determining if someone is suffering from infection (which can spread rapidly and acutely), you have to extract cells and run cultures on them to see if any bacteria grow. That means drawing blood and urine samples. Every. single. time. Studies show that unexplained fevers in children (especially girls) under the age of two are most likely caused by urinary tract infections (UTIs). So, even if we don’t think that’s the case, they have to be sure. Since she’s not toilet trained, there’s only one way to obtain a urine sample: urinary catheter.

If you have never experienced the “joy” of such a procedure, let me tell you: it’s awful. Now take that awfulness and couple it with a scared, feisty, sick two-year-old and you’ve got a regular nightmare. It takes four able-bodied adults to hold her down each time she gets it done. Four.

Then there’s the blood draw, which is no picnic either, and the waiting time it takes for these procedures and any others to be completed and processed. Needless to say, we would rather not go and subject her to all that every time.

So this time we waited. It felt irresponsible and I worried more, but at the same time, it was a relief to treat her like a regular sick kid and wait out the fever. Sunday came and no other symptoms arose. We were hoping it was starting to resolve itself, but by that evening, her temperature rose to 102 degrees. No getting around it now, we would have to take her in.

Thankfully, Colin agreed to do it. Now that we have too many kids to shuffle around the waiting room, we take turns accompanying her while the other parent stays at home with the rest of the crew. He is amazing and so patient and able to get her to calm down even when she’s reached her limit.

Again, with no other visible symptoms they had to move forward with same old procedures. Again, she screamed. Again, they tried to appease her with stickers.

She was sent home after several hours with ibuprofin and azithromycin, which we have to trick her into taking by masking it with chocolate milk. She’s on to us, though. She almost doesn’t drink it after a few doses. I hope we haven’t ruined the taste of chocolate milk for her forever.

I hate it. I hate making her go through all that over and over again. I wish there were a less invasive way to get the information, but I know there’s not and it needs to be done. I’m just grateful that all these times the results have always come back negative.

Once she can better communicate her symptoms, we hope that the frequency of her visits will lessen. For now, we just have to go by our gut and by divine promptings we might receive.

And we need to get this girl toilet trained!

(P.S. I’m very thankful to our home teacher, Alex, who came over last minute to help give Maddie a blessing. I know all turned out well because of it.)

2 thoughts on “Avoiding the ER”

  1. Oh, I had no idea they had to catheterize her every time! Maya had to do that once before she was a year old because she was vomiting and had a high fever. I didn’t have time (Nina was in preschool and I had to pick her up) to wait for the diaper-taped-on-method so they catheterized her and it was AWFUL. I can only imagine what that would be like for a “fiesty” 2 year old. (Well actually I have Drew to help me imagine….) BUT there is an alternative method, although I believe it is less reliable and I am sure the ER doesn’t even consider it for time’s sake. (They basically tape a ziploc on to catch the pee.) BTW, Maya ended up having an EAR INFECTION that time, which I will always be sure to have the docs rule out before another catheter!!! Has she ever ACTUALLY had a UTI??

  2. Maybe you can try giving her chocolate milk just for fun, and put the medicine in the applesauce next time. Anika totally took her applesauce with no problem – didn’t even seem to notice the difference.

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