I am writing this in a hospital room. This is not exactly how I had planned to spend our 24th of July.
It all started a few days ago. Brooke kept mentioning her neck hurt. Dallas and I kept brushing her off thinking she had just slept wrong or pulled a muscle or something. Her neck started bothering her more and more so by Monday night she didn’t want to go to sleep because it hurt her to sleep. She woke up that night in pain. The next day she would hardly move her neck and didn’t want to eat because her throat was hurting now, too.
My sister and I had arranged to meet at a park to play that morning. It was a park that looked like a castle, and I knew the kids would love it. We got there and I noticed that Brooke just wasn’t herself. She couldn’t play very well since she couldn’t move her neck, so she ended up sitting in the shade looking miserable.
I decided to take her to the doctor to see what they thought. I was nervous she had meningitis, but the doctor looked her over and said he was sure she had an abscess somewhere in her neck saying that nearly always when kids come with stiff necks this was the case. He couldn’t feel an abscess, but he said it could be in the back of her throat or behind a tonsil where he wouldn’t be able to feel it. He looked at her quietly for a little while and said, “You know, I’m going to send you to Primary Children’s right now for a CT scan.”
I was completely shocked. Going to the hospital was not even a notion in my mind. Then he said that if they found an abscess she’d be admitted and would have surgery right away.
Almost as an afterthought he said, “We should do a strep test also.” Again I was shocked when we found out the test was positive. Strep? She has strep?! I had no idea. The doctor was still worried about her neck stiffness saying that strep wouldn’t cause that so he thought she had more infection somewhere. I asked if we could just start giving her the antibiotics for strep and wait and see how she does. He said, “Oh no. I wouldn’t do that. With this affecting her neck we don’t want the inflammation to get so bad it starts restricting her air supply.”
So away we went to Primary Children’s. Luckily my mom was home and was able to rearrange her life to accommodate watching Caroline and Spencer indefinitely. Dallas was able to get off work to go with us and my dad was able to stop by and help Dallas give Brooke a blessing before we headed off.
We got to Primary Children’s and Brooke was pretty nervous. She’s very wary of doctors because she knows they often give shots and that idea doesn’t agree with her very well. I assured her a CT scan was easy and she just had to lie on the table while they took pictures of her neck. Then we got there and I realized they needed “contrast” for the pictures which would mean an injection.
Poor Brooke was lying on the huge table already pretty nervous when we had to break the news about the shot. Her lip started quivering and she tried to get up and run. After some reassuring words she got the injection and had the scan done. We usually don’t see much of her big eyes anymore, but they were out in full force as she was nervously trying to take everything in.
After the scan we waited for word. The technician told us the pediatrician got the results and was consulting with other doctors to determine a course of action. After a while the pediatrician called and said there was inflammation and infection in her neck, so he had already made the arrangements to have her admitted and “after a couple of days of IV antibiotics, she should be good to go!”
A couple of days?!
I tend to overreact (especially concerning medical things), but even I thought this seemed like an overreaction.
Nevertheless, we checked her in and waited for a doctor to come and tell us more. From what I understood, the infection had started spreading beyond her throat into her neck tissue. They were worried that an abscess could form or the inflammation could close off her airway. Also, he pointed out that the abnormal part of her CT scan was close to her brain and spinal cord so they didn’t want to see things get worse since those are obviously sensitive areas. Dallas asked if this treatment was overkill and the doctor basically said it was a pretty aggressive way to treat this and oral antibiotics would probably have been just fine. Luckily he also said we likely wouldn’t need to be staying several days and could probably leave the next day if all went well.
Brooke got settled in her bed. She was still scared of every doctor and nurse (and resident and med student and nurse-in-training) and would hardly talk. I think it hurt her to move her mouth much so she just mumbled out monosyllables and did her best to ignore all the poking and prodding.
She felt a little better when we got her bear and blanket and let her watch My Little Pony episodes on the iPad:
I spent the night with her and it was a miserable night. Sleeping in hospitals is the worst. The next morning the doctor came in (waking Brooke up) and she sat right up, moved her neck, started smiling and giggling, and answered his questions using full sentences. I couldn’t believe how much perkier she was. It’s always such a relief when your normal child returns to you after being caught in the clutches of sickness.
We are luckily moments away from being discharged. Hooray! I’m so grateful that Brooke’s sickness wasn’t very bad and that she was able to feel better so quickly.
And just in time – first grade starts tomorrow!