Absolute Fear: My Daughter's First Trip to the Hospital

My daughter developed a fever on a Tuesday night in March and unfortunately maintained this fever into that Wednesday. For those of you with children, you know how tough it can be seeing your child sick. There has been nothing more frustrating for me as a father than listening to my daughter cough repeatedly and struggle sleeping. My daughter is a beautiful bundle of energy, spirit, and thoughtfulness on most days. When she is sick, she is straight up miserable, lethargic, and rude. I went to teach that Wednesday with my mind clearly elsewhere, which thankfully my students did not notice. My daughter clearly had not improved, so we decided she needed to go to the doctor's office on Thursday. My wife, as she often does, uncovered through research what was causing this problem: pneumonia. Camilla's doctor gave her a treatment to clear her lungs and prescribed an antibiotic. I was convinced that she would shortly be on the road to recovery. She usually bounces back rather quickly. But, that was sadly not the case. My daughter stopped eating and fought me tooth and nail on consuming liquids. This was something different. She was turning down food that she loved. She even started to say she didn't want to improve, which made this so scary.  In addition, my daughter was to celebrate her birthday with some of her friends in a few days. She was so excited about planning this glorious event right down to the Batman cupcakes. But, she started to say that she didn't want to have a party. Yes, this was definitely something different. 

After a return trip to the pediatrician on Friday, we were told that our daughter needed to go to the hospital. Her breathing was far too fast, and she was dangerously dehydrated. What came next was the most surreal part. To go to the hospital, we were required to ride in an ambulance. Very scary. I was literally feeling multiple emotions: sadness, anger, and confusion. And fear. Fear that this had become serious. Fear that our daughter could be lost. Fear no parent wants to deal with at all. Fear certainly hit my wife as well. I had to make a call about who would ride with Camilla. After viewing my wife's tears, I knew it had to be me. My wife needed a little space from the situation, so she would drive our car to the hospital. I knew that I had to be the rock this time, especially for Camilla. But, my daughter was so amazing and unfazed. I truly admire her resiliency. As we waited for a room in the ER, Camilla had trouble keeping down liquids and was spitting up, as she calls it, far too often. It was obvious that an IV was in her future. As we finally moved into a room, I thought about two things. How much these two ladies brought to my life? And, why were there so many cops in front of some of the ER rooms? Yikes! Anyway, we were hopeful that a night on the IV would help Camilla bounce back. In addition, we had to give her pumps of albuterol every few hours, which would hopefully clear her lungs. With all of this, and two uncomfortable chairs, it basically meant a long, painful, and sleepless night for my wife and me. I'm not sure how Jack Bauer does it. (Cue 24 clock ticking sound.)
Day two was a good one. Camilla had bounced back! Her breathing was good, and she was holding down food and liquids. We began to see our daughter and her spirit return. What a glorious sight to behold. What we learned was that she was hit with a devastating one-two punch of pneumonia and RSV, which is a respiratory illness. 

If dealing with this trip to the hospital and Camilla's illness wasn't enough, there were other knuckleballs we had to attempt to hit.

1) The fact that Camilla has proven to be susceptible to respiratory illnesses means that she might just develop asthma. 

2) With Camilla's birthday playdate coming up on that Sunday, I had to reschedule. Poor Camilla apologized profusely for being sick and ruining her party. Thankfully, all of her friends were able to attend on the alternate date. 

3) My father was in town. The same father I have not seen in about 35 years. I was certainly open to seeing him one on one. However, he wanted to meet my family and have me meet my half brothers that I did not know existed until a few years ago. Heavy stuff. Probably not the ideal time for me to deal with it, but you don't always have a choice. I did contact my father to try to meet, but by the time we connected, he was on his way back to Syracuse, NY. 

So, there was all that as well. I started to look around for mountain lions, Sherry Palmer, and Chloe, because it just started to sound over the top to me. 

Camilla continued to improve and was significantly better by Saturday night, although, she had to endure a second IV being placed into her hand that left her crying more than I have ever seen her cry. (That was really hard to witness. Really hard.) I was able to leave Jenelle and venture home, and we both received much needed sleep. We were able to leave midday on Sunday. Camilla  would celebrate her birthday at home! (Her first movie was in order.)

I have never doubted why I am married to my amazing partner. But during times of stress, you learn so much about a relationship. Honestly, Team Camilla rocked the house. We stayed focused, determined, and strong. When my wife needed support, I provided it. (Seeing our child loaded into an ambulance will do that to you.) When I needed help, my wife came to my rescue. (Having your child say she wants to stay sick did it to me.) We helped guide our daughter through this very challenging, exhausting experience. We truly compliment each other. Such a team. 

I am now convinced that this experience will have a lasting effect on me. Just recently, Camilla had a runny nose, and she said she was not sick, which is how this all began last time. I was very real with her, reminding her about the need for rest. I reminded her that we would like to avoid the hospital and keep going to school, classes, and playdates. The best way to do that, I said, was to rest. You know what? She listened and went to sleep shortly thereafter. Perhaps she remembers the sheer pain of the IV being put into her hand or the awkwardness of being in a hospital. I know I do.

Thankfully, this is a story with a happy ending. The main reason for this being the doctors and nurses who helped my daughter. It started with our pediatrician and ended with the help of some wonderful nurses. We are lucky and blessed to have received such quality care. Even though some of them perpetuated gender stereotypes, huzzahs still go all around. Just hoping I don't see those people again any time soon.

(Camilla celebrating her birthday.)

Posted on April 8, 2014 .