Monday, December 28, 2009

White Elephants and Black Ice Part 2

We walk down the pediatric unit and I hear our baby-faced nurse joke with a co-worker about leaving early. She must not have children. I tell myself because if she had children she would know that the only person in the world right now is my limp little boy who is still riding shotgun in his Daddy's arms, unable to walk on his own. I couldn't care less who is leaving early or why. All I want to know is that my son is going to be okay.

Once the nurse situates herself in a curtained off room, she asks us to place Grayson on the hospital bed. He is still so quiet. And extremely cooperative. Any other time, at any other doctor's office I would have paid one hundred dollars minimum for such cooperation but this time it is the most disconcerting thing. I want him to protest, to resist, to be him. I hold my breath while she speaks. "We need to take his vitals and then a doctor will be right in to examine him." I still don't sense urgency in her demeanor and this bothers me.

When I was twelve years old I flipped over a bicycle and wound up on my head. Within an hour I was in a hospital that I remained in for one week with a hairline fracture to my skull. According to my mom, it was pretty bad even though most of what I remember was awful Jello and a very upset little baby who was my "roommate" for the duration. If I fell from a bicycle and got a concussion my mind was reeling with what happened to Grayson falling from the height of his father's shoulders, with nothing to break his fall.

"He looks so pale," I whisper to the nurse so Grayson won't hear me. And then I notice him responding more slowly than usual. Typically, he has a gift for gab and words flow from him freely and amusingly. This moment, however, he can hardly string together a response when the nurse or his daddy ask him where it hurts. I am crumbling into pieces on the inside. On the outside I smile at my boy and rub his sweet little hairless leg that is peeking out from his gray playpants. His eyes seem stunned to me, like he's not sure if he is asleep or awake.

"Sometimes," the nurse speaks softly back to me, "after a trauma to the head, people will be be dazed for a little while. Then they return back to normal if there is no fracture." I like her more for her optimism. It seems that she believes Grayson just got his "bell rung" pretty badly. I exhale. A little.

The doctor comes in and very warmly greets Grayson without, again, much agitation or reaction from him. Still not taking my eyes off him for a second, I feel antsy as she examines him and listens to his heart. I want to scoop him into my arms and make this whole day go away.

"He is talking. He is responding. He looks really good to me," the doctor concludes after a few minutes interacting with her patient.

"But his color..." I start.
"We will keep him and watch him for a while to be sure he returns to himself. He sustained a significant fall but I have no reason to believe he has a skull fracture and don't really want to give him a CT scan at this time."

WHAT? No scan? How will we know for sure? Why not be safe and do a scan anyway?

"We now have more evidence of these types of scans causing more harm than good in young patients who have a growing and developing brain. If you feel he is still not himself in a while then we will reconsider. For now, I feel his vitals look really good."

The husband and I exchange parental looks that beg the doctor to treat our baby as if he is her own. She senses this because she adds, "I will be back in a few minutes to talk with him. The CT scan is right there (she motioned) so we can get him seen quickly." We agree it is worth the little bit of wait time.

Grayson's soft little body sits bewildered but still on the bed. He looks toward the TV and at Handy Manny but that's all. You see, he no longer likes Handy Manny and I know if he was feeling more like himself he would've asked for a different program, "a scary show, one with scary things in it, like mong'sters," so my heart still feels like it has weights in it. We are not out of the woods and my mommy brain throbs.

Just then an angel appears. Her name is Kelly and she has bubbles for Grayson. He perks right up and smiles that charming smile. He reaches out and pops every single bubble she blows with his little boy fingers while singing, "Bubbles!" I have to put my head down to hide the tears that threaten to burst through if I'm not stubborn enough. But I am. I couldn't have him see me cry because he is just "coming to" and I'll be damned to interrupt that!

"There's our son," I say out loud to her. "He's finally acting like himself!" I lament like we have been here in this nightmare moment for days. She nods toward me, winks and says, "They usually perk up with bubbles," and that is it for me. She doesn't have fancy tests or M.D. after her name or even a chart. I don't even know if she is a nurse or a social worker. I don't care what her title is because for us, she is more than that. She has bubbles, see-through, silly, beautifully round silent orbs of nothing for our son and that brought him back to life, back to us.

"Mommy? I want to go home now."
"Me too, Sweetheart. We will. Let's talk to the doctor one more time and then we can go home." I feel the weights lift from my pumping chest.

After another hour or so of examinations, making sure food and drink stay down, and playing with a faded beat-up magnetic turtle game, we are given the green light to go home. Two doctors had observed him and both felt Grayson showed no real sign of needing the scan at that time.

"But watch him for the next 24 hours," they warn unnecessarily. I do not peel my eyes from him for the rest of the day, even with a house filled with fun visitors and frolicking children. Grayson keeps up with the rest of them. His Daddy and me? We hug each other a little tighter between hors d'ouerves, kiss him a little more often after the huge family gift exchange, and feel luckier than anyone can imagine that we can attend our own party with our little boy who loves bubbles.


The Palmer Family said...

Phew. Glad to hear it all turned out well in the end. Bubbles, pretty priceless.

I'll call you soon.


Cristie Ritz King said...

NOw that I know he (and you two) are ok and I've dried my sobby tears, I will say, no more parties or date nights for you two-they always end you up in the ER!
Kissed to all of you.

Anonymous said...

good lord!
checking in from buffalo,
glad g is okay.

One Sided Momma said...

kathleen - yes, all is very well on this homefront...hope same applies to yours! talk soon. :)

crk- you are SO right. we thought the same exact thing after it happened. something about special occasions makes us clumsy.

cara- no more ER stories, i promise! how's buffalo?

pajama mom said...

cold. balls cold.
glad to be home.
although pretty cold
here too.

pajama mom said...

p.s. when i was six i tried "surfing" in my doll's stroller, not my best idea. hello, concussion.

anyway, i had a baby roommate also, who screamed for days, she had been bitten by snake(s), three times! totally justified, but still.

thought i'd share.

One Sided Momma said...

pj - stroller surfing at six? ouch and pretty impressive for such a small tyke. actually, same applies to that poor little snake bitten up baby you were listening to now that i think about it. wonder what the background story was there.

p.s. if you once got bitten on the buttock (only one cheek) by a german shepherd when you were 16 then you and i should really have our DNA checked...many parallels, my new friend, have you noticed too?
p.s.2 i know i'm late on this but team edward, definitely.