Well, we made it 3 years and 10 months without a trip to the emergency room, but we can check that milestone off our list now.
Here’s how we ended up there. At about 4 a.m. Wednesday, I heard E. crying and moaning from her bedroom. This is very unusual. If she ever wakes up during the night, she just comes into our room and climbs into our bed. But I could hear her through the monitor crying, “Mommy, Mommy” over and over. When I got in there, she wasn’t really awake but she kept saying, “My legs hurt.”
I thought she was just having charley horses or something, so I climbed into her bed (double bed FTW) and stayed there until morning. Throughout the night, she kept moaning occasionally about her legs without ever really waking up. In the morning, though, things got worse. DadJovi and I were both working and my mom was here to take care of her. But every time I got up, she started screaming and I couldn’t even get her out of bed. I tried every movie and TV show bribe in my book to get her to the living room.
But every time I picked her up, she started really crying and saying her legs hurt. She pointed to her upper thighs and said that’s where the pain was.
I did what any normal mother does in 2011 — I turned to my Tweeps. The consensus was clear:
They all confirmed what we were sort of thinking here at the house, too. Before we left for work, we got her up on the couch and DadJovi had her stand up on her feet. She cried and complained about it, but she didn’t collapse to the floor. Since I knew she was in good hands, I still went to work, albeit a bit reluctantly. It was just strange. And for something that shared the name with one of my childhood crushes, it was surprisingly unfunny.
This picture, on the other hand, is hilarious.
My mom and I talked about every 30 minutes. E. had no fever, ate a big breakfast and as long as she didn’t get up, she was happy on the couch watching movies (who wouldn’t be?). Other than the whole not walking thing, the most troubling thing was she kept refusing to go to the bathroom. Finally, at about 11, my mom forced her to go — 14 hours is way too long to hold your bladder!
But she still wouldn’t walk and every time she tried, she cried. I checked in with my pediatrician around noon and we decided to take a wait and see approach for about an another hour. She said if it was growing pains, they shouldn’t last that long. By 2, I was freaking out that my normal wild, happy child was STILL not walking. I called the pediatrician’s office and we got a 3 p.m. appointment with a new doctor (mine was already gone for the day).
I rushed home from work to pick her and my mom up. Getting her in and out of the carseat was no fun. It reminded me of our old swim lessons days — brutal. We finally got in to see the doctor around 4 and she was awesome. She was so silly and made such a game out of checking E’s legs and hips, that E. had no idea how her joints were being manipulated. For the most part, everything moved as it should, except when she tried to extend her left leg out and when she had E. stand up and try and take a step. Poor baby just crumbled to the ground and started screaming.
The doctor was pretty sure that it’s something called toxic synovitis, which sounds much scarier than it is. Here’s how KidsHealth.org defines it:
Toxic synovitis, also known as transient synovitis, is the most common cause of hip pain in children. It is caused by a viral infection that sometimes (but not always) settles in the hip joint. The virus causes swelling at the hip joint, which makes walking painful. Usually just one hip is affected. But later on, the virus can pass to the other hip.
The doctor felt fairly confident that that’s what it was but she was a little concerned that E. hadn’t been sick recently. Usually it follows a viral infection, and other than a runny nose a couple weeks ago, she’s been healthy all month long.
Since it was so late in the day and a holiday week, she sent us over the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital’s ER to rule other things out. She wanted them to take an X-ray of her hip, as well as bloodwork. If E. hadn’t been in such obvious pain, she said she would have done all the tests in the office. But the results wouldn’t be available until the next day, and she didn’t feel right about sending her home for the night when she was in so much pain. As she put it — toddlers don’t exaggerate or fake pain. This was real.
So, we headed over to Arnold Palmer for our “11 minute ER wait.” I wish. Everyone was very nice and GREAT with kids, though, so that helped.
We had to wait about 45 minutes or so to get into a exam room. Then, we went over everything again first with a nurse, then a med student and finally with the doctor. He scared me. I know he was just explaining all the possibilities but he told me how it’s not unusual for hip deformities and diseases to not appear in children until they’re 3 or 4. He kept throwing around the term “septic arthritis,” which sounded really scary to me. Again, I don’t think he was being overdramatic but I went from being not very worried to freaked the fuck out.
He ordered two sets of X-rays, one for the left hip and one for the entire pelvis to make sure everything was aligned properly. He also ordered an ultrasound and three different bloodtests.
E. wasn’t so sure about all of this.
I was so ill-prepared for this trip, that my purse had NOTHING fun in it and my phone battery was dying, so she couldn’t even play games. Thankfully, E. has a new obsession — taking pictures. So we used our wait time for a mini portrait session of Mommy.
I did a pretty good job of not looking freaked out, huh?
Finally, they drew the blood, which was the worst part for both of us. Thankfully, Arnold Palmer has something called Child Life. A very sweet girl came in and explained all of the tests to E. in kid terms. Then, during the blood draw, she had two big board books that she used to shield the nurses from E’s view. She still screamed and cried for a moment, but it went much better than I thought it would be. They had to put a port in her arm and that bothered her throughout the day, but otherwise, she did awesome.
Child Life also brought E. Strawberry Shortcake coloring sheets after she told them that’s what Santa brought her, so she was pretty psyched about that, too.
Almost right away, they came to take her to ultrasound. They let her play with the gel first and I explained to her that this was how we used to see her when she was in my belly. She thought that was awesome. It was very surreal. The last time I was in an ultrasound room, I was looking at E. in utero. And here I was watching them take pictures of her tiny hips. I had to bite my lips to keep from tearing up in there.
We went right from the ultrasound to the X-ray room. This was the coolest for her since I told her the bed and machine looked just like Darth Vader’s chamber. Then, when they took the picture, it seriously sounded like R2D2 was talking to us. She was in awe.
I was excited by how quickly the tests all went, but then came the long part — the wait for results. We were though with all the tests by 6:45 — less than two hours after we arrived at the hospital (which seriously seemed quick). Around this time, DadJovi was finally able to get away from work and come in.
I had already sent my mom home, so we were excited to see a new face in the room. Plus, he brought his iPhone full of games. E. was thrilled.
DadJovi was also trying to not seem freaked out.
First, the doctor came in to tell us that the X-rays looked normal (YAY!!!) and the CBC blood test showed no signs of infection (double yay!). He also said that the ultrasound did show that she had some fluid around her left hip, which was making the toxic synovitis look more and more likely. He still wanted to wait for the additional two blood tests to further rule out some other infections/conditions. And because it couldn’t be all good news, he told us that he wanted the orthopedic team to look at her results to see if they would need to drain the fluid from her hips, which would need to be done in an OR. So much for my momentary feelings of relief.
This was the longest part of the night. I don’t know if shifts changed or what, but it felt like forever while we waited for the final test results. E. was awesome, though. Somehow her Daddy discovered the TV in the room — I’m not sure how she and I missed it. The channels were limited so we may have aged her a few years by watching a “Family Guy” marathon on TBS. Desperate times. But she never cried or whined once about being bored. I was so impressed.
Finally, a little after 8, the doctor came in with the final two test results. I already knew what one of them was because my pediatrician was monitoring everything from home and kept calling/texting to check in on us. She’s awesome.
She was ready to go home! No signs of infection and no need to drain the hip! And the only treatment she needs for the toxic synovitis is rest and Motrin. They prescribed Tylenol with codeine but he doubted we’d even need that, so we haven’t even bothered filling it yet. (If you’re looking for more information on toxic synovitis, KidsHealth.org does a good job of explaining it)
He said they’d be in shortly with her discharge her. Sorry, THIS was the longest part of the night. An hour later, we were finally free to go! It was Slurpee time!
So, all in all, not bad for our first (and hopefully last!) trip to the ER. I hate that whole “call the doctor or wait it out” decision process. I’m definitely glad we went in, although I’m terrified for our hospital bills since my husband’s insurance sucks. I know we’re lucky to even have insurance when so many don’t, but I think we may be kissing our spring home renovation project goodbye.
But being on a floor with really sick children really puts it all in perspective. I don’t know how families do it. I would take 100 trips to the ER if I could spare E. one. It’s so sad to see little ones in hospital gowns and hear them crying in pain. We’re very lucky.
And wouldn’t you know it, after a slow start this morning and some gingerly steps on her leg, she’s now running around the house as if nothing ever happened. The doctors said the synovitis tends to clear up pretty quickly on kids.
I told DadJovi that I’m going to look at all of this as a huge learning experiment for E. A little like science camp. She got a doctor’s kit for Christmas, so all day long, I kept pointing out the real versions of her new toys and she was really into learning about all of it — even her IV. Today, she’s gone back to her toys to check out the differences.
So maybe this was just an investment into her future career in medicine. I can dream. Although, as long as she remains the happy and healthy child that she is today, that’s all I need.
I was also so touched by all the sweet Tweets, Facebook messages and texts I received throughout the whole ordeal (my mom did me a solid and brought my cell phone charger to the hospital. I would have gone crazy without my phone throughout the night!). Seriously, social media does wonders to help you feel less alone and scared in the world. So thank you everyone for your messages.
Have you had to take your kids to the ER? Or do you remember going as a kid? I was accident-prone, so I made way too many trips! And did you also have a Tiger Beat Kirk Cameron poster on your wall? Please tell me I wasn’t the only one.