“This leg doesn’t look good,” the doctor told me gravely on Tuesday. “I’d like to have other people look at it.”
I nodded. I was getting scared. I did not like the expression on his face. I comforted Natalie, who had started to yelp on the exam table.
A few minutes later, two more people walked into the room and checked on Natalie’s leg.
“NO! STOP!” Natalie screeched.
I could see that her leg was really red right near the thigh.
“I think it’s filled with puss,” the doctor said. “That also needs to come out.”
The other two people peered at it. One had to touch it and Natalie screamed at the top of her lungs.
“It really needs to be drained.”
They started to talk amongst themselves for a few seconds.
“…really big puss pocket…”
“…needs to be drained now...”
“….may even need surgery because it’ll be painful to drain...”
“Surgery?” I said. I so wanted to bite on my fingernail. I do that when I’m nervous but I figured it was not the time to do it. Most people freak out if you start gnawing on yourself.
The doctor turned around. “I think surgery would be the best option. It really is going to be painful to drain. She’ll probably be put under…”
“Put under?” I gasped. I felt my eyes prickle with tears. None of my kids have ever been put under.
“It’ll be better for her, I promise,” the doctor assured me. “I’m going to make a phone call to the Denver Children’s Clinic. They’ll know exactly what to do there.”
“The Denver Children’s Clinic?” I echoed. My mind wasn’t working properly.
“Yes, just take a seat and I’ll let you know what they say,” the doctor told me.
I tried to settle down in the seat. But I found I was too nervous to sit. What did they mean Natalie had to be put under?
This is around the time when I started to freak out a little bit. The tears started to flow and I couldn’t get them to stop. Natalie was crying because people kept poking at her leg. Tommy was freaking out because he can’t handle it when people cry. He tends to have a melt down himself. So there I was in a tiny room with tears dripping down my cheeks with a wailing two-year-old and a seven-year-old who kept moaning that it was too loud and could Natalie please be quiet now?
I called Tom at work. As soon as he picked up I started to cry all over again.
“Natalie...put under...Denver Children’s Clinic,” I croaked out as a snot bubble exploded from my nose. I really wish I were a prettier crier.
“What’s happening?” Tom asked.
“Natalie...put under....Denver Children’s Clinic.” Then I started blubbering loudly.
“Where are you?” Tom demanded.
“Pediatric section...of...base...hospital....” I managed to spit out.
“I’ll be right there!”
Tom later told me that he even put the lights on his cruiser so he could get to me faster. He said I really freaked him out. He rushed into the room and found me cuddling a sniffling Natalie and Tommy all balled up on the floor.
The doctor came out then and reported that we could go to the Denver’s Children Clinic.
“We need to get the leg taken care of as soon as possible,” he said and his tone made me cry all over again.
Nurses kept asking me if I needed anything. I think I was making them nervous.
We hurried home and packed some bags since we were told we’d probably have to stay overnight.
Tom was able to get off work since the base hospital contacted his commander.
We started the two hour drive to the Denver Children’s Clinic.
When we got there, we went into the emergency section and checked in. They knew exactly who we were.
We were shown into a room and told that the doctor would be right with us.
Of course ‘right with us’ meant an hour later.
“I’m going to show my attending her leg,” the doctor said when he finally came in. “If you’re not aware, an attending is…” he began.
“I know what an attending is. I watch Grey’s Anatomy,” I said with a sharp nod.
He seemed a little taken aback. “Right. Well. Good.”
Then the attending came back with him and they looked over the leg and said yes, surgery would be best to minimize her pain.
“It’ll only take fifteen minutes,” I was told.
Then someone came in to start an IV and Natalie flipped out. It’s a teaching hospital so they had someone training to be a nurse put it in and she did not do a good job. She couldn’t find a vein and was messing around for five minutes. I was on the verge of saying, “Let the person who knows what she’s doing put the IV in!” because Natalie was screaming at the top of her lungs and trying to get away.
The IV wasn’t attached to anything yet so Natalie was still able to run around:
Then about two hours later, they were ready for the surgery. I started to shake.
“Will she be okay?” I kept asking a billion times.
“Yes. She’ll be fine,” the doctor told me.
Natalie was given the drugs to knock her out. She started swaying and talking to her hand.
“Someone will come out and get you in fifteen minutes,” the doctor said.
Leaving Natalie was one of the hardest things I had to do. She looked so small.
“Come on. She’ll be fine,” Tom said and practically dragged me to the waiting room.
Tommy was happy because he finally got a blown up glove. He had been asking about one the second we stepped into the hospital.
“All I want is a blown up glove!” he kept saying.
Then he got one when he told the doctor, “I could really use a blown up glove to cheer me up.”
And he got a surgical hat and said that he was now a doctor and did anyone need a surgery performed?
I kept pacing around the waiting room.
“Sit down,” Tom urged.
“I can’t,” I said. Pace, pace, pace. Chew, chew, chew. Because yes, I was munching on my fingernail which I know is probably covered with germs but it helps calm me down.
“Pacing isn’t going to help,” Tom pointed out.
Pace, pace, pace. Chew, chew, chew.
“What if something goes wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing will go wrong.” Tom patted the seat beside him. “Sit.”
So I did even though I didn’t really want to. I started swinging my legs and Tom rested a hand on my knee. “Chill. She’ll be okay.”
“How can you be so calm?” I asked.
“Because I have faith.”
“My Dad will watch over her,” Tom reminded me. His Dad passed on a few years before.
A doctor came back fifteen minutes later.
I jumped up and nearly smacked Tom with my hand on accident. “Is she okay? Is she okay?” I said.
“She’s fine. She’s still kind of out of it thanks to the drugs but she’s in recovery now.”
We were led back into recovery and Natalie was in a crib with wires coming out of her. Her eyes opened for a few seconds and then closed again.
“Mommy,” she said and I rushed over beside her and took hold of her hand.
“Mommy is here. Mommy is here, princess.”
The doctor reported that everything went well. It turns out that it wasn’t puss in her leg but dead fat cells.
When Natalie started to come to, we were led to our room.
“Mommy,” Natalie kept saying as I held her.
“Mommy is here.”
Then when we were shown to our room, Natalie focused on Tommy’s glove balloon.
“I want that,” she said softly.
“This is mine, Natalie,” Tommy said, hugging it to his chest.
“I WANT THAT!” Natalie bellowed.
Tom and I exchanged a Look. “And…she’s back,” I said.
Natalie got her own balloon glove and a nurse came in and introduced herself.
“Your son can stay here now but we have a strict visitor’s policy,” she said.
“What are the hours?” I asked.
“9-9,” the nurse said. “But kids twelve and under can’t be up here at all.”
“Because of the swine flu and other illnesses,” she continued.
“Where is he going to go?” I asked.
“Someone will have to stay with him in a hotel,” the nurse said.
“But Natalie needs us both!” I said.
“I’m sorry,” the nurse shrugged. “He can stay here tonight but tomorrow he has to go.”
So Tommy and I shared the tiny (and I mean tiny) pull out couch and Tom took the fold out chair.
Natalie woke up several times during the night screaming because of her leg. The nurse would come in with pain medication for Natalie to take but Natalie would spit it back out at her.
“NO LIKE!” Natalie yelled. “NO LIKE THAT!”
Then the next morning Tom and Tommy had to go. There was a day care center downstairs were siblings could go but no one showed up to run it. I mean, hello? The hospital was nice but they really should make a place where siblings can go so the parents can be together. No one seemed to really care about our predicament.
Natalie was able to run around the room. When the nurse came in to check her blood pressure, Natalie started to wail.
“Get OUT!” she said and pointed to the door.
The nurse chuckled. “Someone is getting cranky. It probably means she needs some pain medication.”
“Erm. No. This is just Natalie’s personality,” I said.
The nurse blinked. “Oh really? I can’t believe that someone with such a sweet face could be so—”
“GET OUT, BYE!” Natalie bellowed.
I had to see Natalie in pain several times and I hated that. She would yell, “I want to go…HOME! I want to go…home!” as they changed her leg bandage. It was awful. I never want to go through that again.
Finally, on Thursday we were able to go home since her leg looked good. The thing is though, Natalie did test positive for a bacteria called MRSA so she’s still on antibiotics. We have to take her back to the base clinic on Monday so they can check to make sure the leg is healing. Right now it looks like she has two bite marks on her thigh.
As we pulled up to our house, Tommy grinned and went, “We’re home! It’s a Christmas miracle!”
I smiled too. “You know what, Tommy? I think you’re right. It is a Christmas miracle.”