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Saturday, November 23, 2013

this mom's nightmare

Last Saturday morning I planned to run some errands, pick up books at the library, get some milk at the store, and make sure the kids got an early nap because it had been a busy week.

Sometimes what we plan doesn't go like we thought.

My daughter is 19 months old and had a cold and a tooth coming in this past week. Runny nose, a little coughing, some whiney-ness during the day from teething. Nothing out of the ordinary for this phase or time of year.

Except she had weird red and small dots on her face. They were near her eyes, forehead area. They looked like pin pricks, they were so small. I hadn't seen them before. My husband swore he'd seen them once before on her, but I don't recall that.

It was weird. We moms see something that is not ordinary and we know if it's weird, different, not supposed to be there. 

They don't look like much on the pictures, but they were alarming at the time. 

So I did what any mom would do when she needs an answer... I Googled it.
Not the best idea typically, but hey, it's what we do when we want an answer NOW.
I found something called pitichiae. I had never heard of it, but was sure this was what my child had.

Fast forward, I'm at the walk-in care. The second I walked in and showed them my daughter's rash, the nurse, the doctor, they looked at me like "yikes, this could be serious!" That doesn't calm down a mom's worrying, let me tell you. They fired questions at me, "Has she had a high fever? You noticed this last night? Have you noticed any seizure activity? Is she eating, lethargic, drinking? Have you noticed bruising on her body?"

To say I was freaked out is to put it mildly. I was texting my husband every chance I got when they left the room. I was trying not to panic, but it felt weird.

All the while, my daughter was laughing, singing with me, playing, and eating her snack. Nothing seemed wrong, besides a runny nose and an annoying tooth yet to pop through.

They said this type of rash is typically caused by vomiting or coughing, excessively - neither of which my daughter was doing. She had a slight cough, not nonstop. If it is these two things, it's mild and will go away and is OK.

Or (and OR is the word you hate when you're sitting in a doctor's office, that I learned...) it could be life-threatening meningitis or leukemia. My grandfather died of leukemia. It's cancer of the blood, that I knew. That I didn't want to hear. At that word, my heart started beating faster.

Let the sane mom take over here:
NO, there was nothing at all in my heart or gut telling me my child was really sick. I had no reason to believe she had cancer or anything at all besides an annoying cold and tooth causing her to be stuffed up and runny nose and this random rash that I couldn't explain. I truly did not at all believe she was very sick.

Still... when the possibilities are put in front of you in print on a Google search site, or when a nurse or doctor says they want to check her Oxygen levels just be sure (something I hadn't heard before), you kinda get freaked out.

I'll state for the record this nurse and doctor were amazing! They were not doing anything but their job. It was me causing my own worrying, honest. I commend what they do. They did it fast and smart. I was the one who let myself get carried away.

And that's precisely why I'm writing this blog post... I think it's easy to get carried away as a mother, with our worrying and wondering and freaking out over little things that just don't make sense to us.

We are mothers. We are fixers. We make things better. We take care of it all, every day, for everyone. When something doesn't add up to us, or can't be found in our What to Expect books or if nobody on a discussion board has experienced this, we panic. We start to sweat and wonder and worry more. It's just part of us being female, I believe.

Back to it...
They said to rule out anything serious we could do a blood draw. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I can tell you what I was NOT expecting - me holding my baby down - like literally holding her down. Me on my knees on top of the hospital bed holding her head away from looking at her arm and wiping her tears and staring into her sad, angry, confused eyes as she screamed "no, no, mama, no." Writing that now makes me want to vomit. At the time I wanted to throw up. I had this terrible pain in my stomach, aching to make this situation better for my baby, knowing I was doing the right thing, yet feeling like it was wrong somehow also. That's the worst mom feeling ever.

They took blood from her arm. It didn't work. We had to do it again at another hospital. The 30 minute drive to that other hospital I was a wreck. I tried not to think, to overthink. To imagine the possibilities. I tried to tell myself, it's fine, it's OK, listen to her talking, she's fine, she won't remember that traumatic situation of them taking her blood, she doesn't blame you, she does not have cancer, she's fine.

But. (and but is another word I've learned is something you say sometimes with medical situations... there is always a "but.") 

But... I couldn't help myself. I tried to reassure myself it was fine. I called my husband who said it was fine. I didn't want to call anyone else for fear of worrying them or hearing them worried, which would in turn make me worry.

So I drove 30 minutes really fast, with music on, and barely sang, just imagining the awful things they were going to tell me.

Then the drive back to the doctor we started at, another 30 minutes, to imagine the what ifs. It was one of those "my life could totally change in 30 minutes from now...." moments we sometimes have. Like remember when you went into labor and you were thinking, wow in hours our entire life is going to change? Well that's what this was like, knowing for sure, something was going to be different in a half an hour, yet in the bad way, not good.

And yet of course I wasn't even sure I'd get bad news from the test results. It was of course a possibility that things could be normal, this was a fluke, random rash.

But as a mom... you worry. You wonder and question. It's just how it is, no matter how strong or confident of a person you are. No matter how rational you think you can remain, you worry.

My mind went to places it wasn't supposed to, it has never gone before. I pictured my daughter losing hair. I pictured my son feeling neglected because his sister got all our attention being sick. I pictured not ever having another baby because we could not handle more in our life. I pictured too many stupid, awful, unimaginable moments. Why? I have no idea besides fear. I was scared. So when you're scared you think dumb thoughts and you can't control it.

I hugged my daughter so tight when we returned to the doctor's office. I sang to her and tickled her and told her out loud, "It doesn't matter what those tests say, you are just fine, and we love you and things are fine."

I was scared. Admittedly, I was scared. Of a teeny tiny rash. Little pin pricks of spots on my daughter's face terrified me. The possibilities terrified me.

When the doctor came into the room with the nurse by her side, I thought, "that's it, the results were bad, otherwise why would they both be here?"

The news was GOOD. Nothing was wrong. No test results came back weird. They don't know why she got the rash, so it's still something on our minds and something I'd love answers to, but they said she's fine, normal, she's OK.

My life was back to normal. Nothing was changing. It was OK. I could stop breathing heavy.

I shared this not for sympathy. Like I said, my daughter is fine. We have some weird rash to keep an eye on, but otherwise she is just fine and will be fine. I believe that.

I shared this because I never knew what real panic could be like when it comes to my kids' health. They have had two ear infections between the two of them in almost 4 years (knock on wood!). We have experienced croup twice, which was scary, but OK. Knock on wood, we're lucky and blessed.

I have a dear friend who has held her daughter down for medical tests more times than I have brushed my kids' teeth I guess. I have eternal admiration for this friend, for the struggles she overcame, for the challenges she faced head on because she had to, sure, but also because she's such a strong person. She could get through anything, I know. I'm not sure what type of person it takes to survive a tough medical situation with your child, but I am not sure I could do it. I know you just do it, you have to, there is no choice. But this teeny tiny scare worried me so much.

If you have friends who have children going through such difficult medical situations, and you aren't sure what to do... try just listening, just texting and calling as you can, sending cards, sending little happy presents of stickers or coloring books to her child. But don't get offended if she doesn't call you back or update you every step of the way through that medical process. It's a daunting experience, from what I can imagine, don't make it worse by being upset your friend is not there for you like she used to be. She's probably just trying to keep it together on a daily basis. Have patience and compassion. 

I write this to say, I have such empathy and love for those who are going through or have gone through a difficult medical situation. What I learned in this situation was that you have to follow your gut. My gut told me something was weird with that rash. While it ended up that the test results were normal, the doctor said it was so good I brought her in, because it just have easily could have not been normal.

Listen to how you feel. Don't listen to whatever anyone may say, "she's fine, let it go." If you wonder if something is wrong, advocate for your babies. You are their voice, use it.

And as for worrying, well, we all do it. Just watch yourself. It doesn't need to get too out of hand like it did for me. Save yourself that stress.

Stay strong, moms.

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