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!