The Terrible Week
There is nothing worse than seeing the suffering of a little child and being powerless to help. My five-year-old grandson Noah recently had his very enlarged adenoids removed, a routine procedure for most kids. Unfortunately, he turned out to be one of the few children who have serious problems in the post-op period. Two days after the procedure, he was not eating, drinking or going potty. My daughter Hannah and I took him to the emergency department of a children's hospital, where he was admitted for dehydration.
Thus began a six-day hospital stay. Now tethered to an IV, Noah still refused to eat or drink because it was so painful. In the past, when he had to take medication, Noah would grab the little plastic syringe, proudly saying "I do it, Mommy." Now getting oral medication in meant holding Noah down while he screamed and fought. And so the days passed, with rounds of medications, some by VI, some orally, blood pressure readings, and temps. He refused anything but a few tiny sips of juice and bites of food.
When pain meds took over, he became a little brighter and would do puzzles, watch his iPad and even visit the hospital playroom and outdoor playground, riding in a red wagon. We watched him get thinner and pale, still unwilling to take anything in. Mom and Dad took turns sleeping on an uncomfortable fold-out bed, eating cafeteria food or take-out meals. Big sister Lena felt the disruption, too. Her aunt Alison spent several nights at her house, keeping her occupied. After working in a children's hospital for nine years, none of this was strange to me. But it had a far different impact when it was my own precious grandson. It was hard not to worry, even though I felt sure he would eventually get better.
Finally, Noah turned the corner. He was willing to drink juice, though grimacing, and eat a few bites of food that appealed to him. The doctor discharged him, to everyone's relief. Noah still has a ways to go. He needs to rebuild his body and get his usual bounding energy back. Noah's nose and mouth feel different to him now and his speech has been affected. This is where we can help. As his parents get back to work, we can help him eat well again and keep fluids going while, of course, spoiling him silly.
When you have healthy children and grandchildren, it's easy to take it for granted. Although Noah's illness was certainly not life-threatening in nature, it was a reminder to treasure and enjoy each day together.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.