I Should Have Known It Was Bad When He Couldn’t Open the Legos: How Do You Know When A Child Is Seriously Ill?

October 11th, 2010

I started this post earlier today at Suburban Hospital. Blogging to relieve stress…

My eight-year-old son is a Lego fanatic, as I’ve blogged here, here, and here.


When he returned home from a Saturday morning Cub Scout hike, nauseous and exhausted, I figured it was a stomach bug and encouraged him to sleep. He slept most of the day. And when he was too tired to open a much anticipated Lego box that arrived in the mail, I suspected a bad fever.

By 2 a.m. Sunday, when he was up and playing with the Legos, I thought he was on the mend.  By end of day Sunday, none of us, to my great surprise, had caught his bug, and that’s when I began to worry.  After all, aren’t viruses contagious?

When my husband told me he had to carry him upstairs to bed, I replied, “We’re calling the doctor in the morning.” But by morning time, my son couldn’t even get out of bed, so we headed over to Suburban Hospital, where they put him on IVs, took blood samples and a sonogram, and told us they suspected a perforated appendix.

After four hours, he was transferred to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Big Boy went by ambulance with his father, and I by car after dropping off Boo at his best friend’s house.

And here I sit, now, blogging, waiting to find out if he has a burst appendix or not.

I feel:

  • Grateful to live in a place that has such wonderful medical care nearby;
  • Remorseful that I didn’t take him in as soon as I realized he was too sick to open a Lego box.
  • Amazed by how helpful technology has been through all of this. From my iPhone, I was able to quickly update my FaceBook status, read comforting messages from friends; check in on Foursquare and Twitter (my semblance of normality); look up appenditicitis on the Internet, and get directions to Children’s Hospital from Suburban Hospital.

From the Internet I learned that he’d likely need surgery and that if he had an abscess it would not be a good thing. I realized he’d need to stay overnight, and might be laid up as long as a week.

I had just accepted that when all of  a sudden things changed. They didn’t know what it was after all…symptoms inconsistent with appendicitis…could be his intestine? Another four hour wait as he prepped for a CT scan before we’d know whether it would be surgery tonight, surgery in a few days, or some other “medical treatment.”

I know in the scheme of things this is a very minor childhood incident, but it’s never easy to see your child suffer or hooked up to IVs is it? Again, I thought of the kids in other parts of the world who suffer without access to the incredible medical resources we have right at our fingertips.

Thanks to all of you who checked in with me today.

– Lynn

Postscript: Unfortunately he does have a ruptured appendix with abscess. They’re draining it tomorrow, and we’ll know more about surgery. One nurse predicted a five day stay in the hospital, and the Internet sites I’m now cruising say two to three weeks to recover. We’ll see.  My husband is cancelling his business trip to London, and we’re hunkering down.  Fortunately we both have pretty flexible schedules, so we will be trading off on hospital duty and doing a lot of typing in the hospital room too!

10 Responses to “I Should Have Known It Was Bad When He Couldn’t Open the Legos: How Do You Know When A Child Is Seriously Ill?”

  1. Brenna on October 11, 2010 10:06 pm

    That must be so scary, I am so sorry! If it makes you feel a tiny bit better, I had to have my appendix out while I was 29 weeks pregnant with my third baby and all was well for both of us. Wishing you lots of strength and positivity for you and a speedy recovery for your son.
    .-= Brenna´s last blog ..Making conscientious purchases… =-.

  2. Lynn on October 11, 2010 10:20 pm

    Wow, what a story, Brenna! That must have been scary! Thanks for sharing! — Lynn

  3. Beth Terry @ Fake Plastic Fish on October 11, 2010 10:42 pm

    Lynn! Thank goodness for technology. Just got home from an all day bike ride and got your message. Hoping everybody is okay and the surgery, if necessary, will go smoothly. My best friend had a ruptured apendix. It’s no party, but he was fine after surgery and a few days of antibiotics and morphine. I’ll keep you in my thoughts this week!
    .-= Beth Terry @ Fake Plastic Fish´s last blog ..Logitech Webcam C210- More Packaging than Product =-.

  4. Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama on October 11, 2010 11:01 pm

    No experience here to share, but I’m sure he will be fine and back to enjoying his legoes. My son spent last night going through the Star Wars lego book and can’t wait to share . . . so best wishes for a speedy recovery and plans for a trip to Legoland next summer.

  5. Jennae @ Green Your Decor on October 12, 2010 5:18 am

    Lynn, I am SO sorry to hear about this. This may or may not help, but my eldest stepson had a ruptured appendix a few years back. He was in the hospital for little more than a week. It took a lot of rest, but he was back to his old self before long. Hang in there and just know he’ll be OK!

  6. Jenn on October 12, 2010 5:50 am

    Oh Lynn, I’m so sorry to hear this! Thank you for sharing this story. I’m sending lots of good vibes your way. I hope your son’s treatment goes smoothly and I hope his recovery is quick and easy. Take care of yourself too and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

  7. Condo Blues on October 12, 2010 8:25 pm

    Lynn, please don’t beat yourself up over this. You couldn’t have forseen the outcome. My youngest niece had to have her appedix out and it came on suddenly and unexpectedly too. Her mom felt just as bad because she had just started nursing school.

    My niece recovered from her surgery and now she’s right as rain! I’m sending good thoughts your way.

  8. Mary Hunt on October 13, 2010 7:30 am

    So sorry Lynn, internals are so hard to diagnose since the symptoms all look alike. I agree, living near a capable hospital is now right up there with finding a place with good schools.

  9. Green Builder on October 14, 2010 2:39 am

    Oh, so sorry about this sad story. I hope he’s doing great now!

  10. Organic and Green Mom Blog | Happy Christmas: It’s Epiphany at Organic Mania on January 6, 2011 6:30 am

    […] This year, we celebrated Epiphany early in order to avoid having it at Children’s Hospital, where my son will have his appendix removed today. (The final stage of that awful emergency of a ruptured appendix!) […]

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