Sunday, February 5, 2012

Learning to Trust ~ Michael's hospital stay

It's been a week!  On Tuesday my son was playing in the back yard and accidentally stepped on a nail.  The rather rusty old nail went straight through his shoe and into his foot.  It bled quite a bit, but it eventually did stop.  I called his pediatrician and she advised me as to how to clean it out and she called in an antibiotic for him.  We started him on the antibiotic that night.  I thought it was pretty much a done deal.

Wednesday morning when he got up his foot was red and swollen.  He was complaining that the top of his foot was hurting.  I began to wonder if he had possibly broken a bone or sprained his foot when he stepped on the nail.  I called the pediatrician again and she recommended that we ice it and keep an eye on it.  She said that the antibiotic can take 24 hours to work and that there might be an infection brewing.  She said that I could bring Michael in to have her look at it, but I thought it would be better to wait and see how things went.

By Wednesday evening there had been no improvement and he couldn't walk on it at all.  I called a friend of ours that is a nurse and she told me to soak his foot in epsom salt and warm water.  We did that and it did temporarily relieve some of his pain.  I was encouraged that maybe Michael was on the mend.

Thursday morning when he got up there was still no improvement.  I knew right then that he had to be seen by a doctor.  I called our pediatrician and we were able to get in right after lunch.  The pediatrician came in and took one look at his foot and said that she was admitting him.  I was stunned.  I will say at this point that I love our pediatrician.  She was very matter-of-fact, but in a very calming way.  She gave me the information that I needed and stressed the importance of the situation, but in a very relaxed manner.  It wasn't until later that I realized how serious this all was.

Thankfully the hospital was only 4 miles away from her office.  We got to the hospital and got him registered.  He didn't exactly understand everything that was going on, but we thought that he would be in the hospital for one night and then he would go home.  We got him up to his room and somewhat settled in.  I was trying to make phone calls and take care of everything I could from the hospital.

Within an hour of our arrival he spiked a fever.  The doctor there at the hospital also discovered that he had a rash going all the way up his legs and on his stomach.  We eventually figured out that the rash was an allergic reaction to the first antibiotic he was on.  The fever was due to the infection beginning to spread.

At this point, I started to figure out how serious this all was.  The pediatrician was very honest with me about what we were looking at.  He quickly learned what the bacteria was that caused the infection.  It was pseudomonas.  Pseudomonas likes to hang out in the rubber of shoes.  Which typically isn't a problem.  But when a nail pierces the rubber and picks up a bunch of that bacteria and the punctures the foot and thrust all that nasty bacteria into the body, it becomes a big problem.  Pseudomonas is highly resistant to most antibiotics.  That is why the first antibiotic didn't do a thing to help.  Michael would have to go on two different very powerful antibiotics through an IV to combat the infection.  The doctor warned me that there could be other complications.

Then a podiatrist came in to see him.  She was such a dear lady.  She looked at his foot and ordered an x-ray and an MRI.  The x-ray was to check and see if the nail had broken the bone or possibly chipped the bone.  If the bone had been broken or chipped, there was a good chance that the infection had gotten into his bone.  If that was the case, it could become a chronic condition that Michael would have to deal with the rest of his life.  Not something that a mother wants to hear.  The MRI was ordered to check for any fluid/pus build up and to make sure that a piece of the rusty nail had not broken off in his foot.  If either of those things had happened, Michael would need to have surgery.  Due to the amount of swelling, the podiatrist seemed to think that she would have to do surgery just to drain the fluid.

During this whole time, Michael was such a champ.  He was nervous, but brave.  By the time we got down to the MRI it was 9:00pm.  We were told the MRI would take about an hour because the doctor wanted a contrast and non-contrast MRI.  This is when things started to get hard.  Michael was getting very tired.  He had already been through a lot.  A new tetanus shot, blood drawn, getting the IV started, the antibiotics being pumped into him burned a bit, getting an x-ray and all the information he was learning about what all was wrong.  Then they put him in this MRI machine and tell him he can't move while he goes into this tube and this machine makes all these crazy loud noises.  They gave him headphones to listen to music and they allowed me to stay in the room with him (with earplugs).  As he was laying there, I saw the tears start to well up in his eyes.  This was by far the hardest part of this journey.  He was in pain (they had to pretty much strap his poor, swollen foot down), he couldn't move, he was exhausted and scared and he couldn't communicate with me.  Between the noise of the machine and my earplugs and his headphones, there was no way we could talk to each other.  I kissed his forehead and gently rubbed his head.  I wiped away the couple of tears that slipped down his cheek.  I tried so hard to keep the smile on my face and to let him know that I was there.  Even now as I write this, the tears well up in my eyes.  Not being able to ease his pain or fears or even give him some words of encouragement was so very hard.

We finished with the MRI and headed back to his room.  It was after 10:00pm at this point.  The nurses got a bed set up for me in Michael's room and we tried to get some sleep.  Michael was horribly uncomfortable and his foot was still in pain.  The wonderful nurses did all they could to help him.  The antibiotic burned and stung as it went in so it was very hard for Michael to sleep.  He finally did get to sleep around midnight.  I fell asleep somewhere between 12:30 and 1:00am I am guessing.  The nurses had to come in every couple of hours to change out his IV and antibiotics and check on his foot.  Between that and Michael's very restless sleep, I hardly slept that night.

When morning did come, we started to see some improvement in Michael's foot.  The swelling was still there, but some of the redness was fading.  We also received word that there was no bone damage and that the MRI was clear.  His lab work also came back and it was good as well.  This was all very encouraging.  No surgery needed and the infection had not gotten into the bone yet!  I was anticipating that we would be released in a couple hours.  However, when the podiatrist came in that morning, she made it very clear that she was not comfortable sending Michael home yet.  The hospital pediatrician came in later and expressed the same thought.  They wanted Michael to stay another night and continue the antibiotic.

By this time I was beginning to really miss the rest of my family.  Although I had called and talked to my daughter a couple times, she was having a hard time being without me.  That made it harder on me to be there.  Not to mention how much I was missing my husband.  I wanted to see him so very badly.  I had not seen him since Thursday at lunch.  Since we were going to be staying another night, we made arrangements for my husband, daughter and my parents to come up that evening to visit.  I was so grateful for that visit.  My husband and I were able to go to the cafeteria to get some dinner and just talk for a little bit.  It was so encouraging to Michael to be able to see everyone as well, especially his little sister.  Soon enough the two of them were laughing together and I know that it really lifted Michael's spirits.

Michael continued to improve little by little.  We were told that we would be able to go home Saturday.  I thought we were in the clear.  Saturday morning came and I started getting instructions about what needed to be done at home.  They had mentioned to me before about the type of antibiotics that Michael would need to be on, but it wasn't until that morning that I got the full grasp of it.  The only antibiotics that would combat this infection were very powerful.  They also carried some risk.  Especially for a child.  One of the antibiotics was typically not even given to children.  It could stunt a growing child's growth.  It could also mess up the joints of the child as well.  Not your typical side effects.  I had two different doctors come in and talk to me at great length about the possible complications.  I felt like I had to decide to poison my child in order to get him well. It was made clear though, that any other antibiotic would not be strong enough to kill the infection.  The infection would then continue to spread and we could be back to square one, but worse.  It could get into his bones and he might need surgery.  Ugh.  I agreed to the antibiotic regimen that they doctors were recommending.  Then one of the nurses there spent over an hour trying to find a pharmacy that carried this antibiotic and that would agree to fill it for a child (what does that tell you when the pharmacist doesn't even want to fill the Rx?).

We were finally discharged from the hospital and on our way home.  I picked up the prescriptions for Michael and we began the 10 day regimen.  The one antibiotic has to be taken every 8 hours.  Based on the schedule that Michael had in the hospital, that means I have to get him up in the middle of the night to give him his medicine.  While waiting for Michael to finish his first dose of medicine at home, I started reading all the information given to us about these antibiotics.  It was a bit nerve wracking.  I have never read so many warnings about medications.

Through this there have been two very prominent thoughts in my mind.  The first is regarding families that deal with so much worse than a bacterial infection and a couple of nights in the hospital.  Families that have children with chronic illnesses or injuries that are so much more severe.  I was acutely aware of how blessed I was to be in the hospital for a very temporary stay.  I was also acutely aware of the little things that I can take for granted.  One thing that was very hard for Michael was that he was pretty much bed bound.  Anyone that knows my son knows that he is a kid that is always on the go.  When he finally was given permission to go for a "walk" in his wheelchair, he was only allowed to go on his floor.  No going down the elevator and getting some fresh air outside or even just perusing the hospital.  We made so many laps around that floor and we stopped at every window so he could see a different view from his room.  In the floor lounge, there were great big windows and for a moment the sun was shining brightly through them.  I was able to position Michael so that the sun shone on his face.  That gave me such joy for my little boy to feel the warmth of the sun.  He sat there for several minutes just soaking it up.  I can't imagine those that are stuck in the hospital for weeks or even months.

Another little thing that I missed was just being able to take a "proper" shower.  I was so grateful to take any shower at all and for the toiletries that the nursing staff provided for me.  However, there is nothing quite like taking a lukewarm shower and trying to wash my hair with "hand and body soap".  :-/  I am thinking that we will add this to our RACK list or for one of our Birthday Project ideas.  What a simple joy we could bring to a family that has found themselves unexpectedly staying at the hospital by making up little travel size toiletry gifts with "real" shampoo, soap, conditioner, deodorant and so on.  The staff there also had tons of movies for kids to watch in their rooms, but what about coloring books and crayons?  Or books that they could read or from which they could be read to?  I understand that they have to be very cautious about transferring germs (they have to sanitize the movies before they can go back on the shelf) so keeping books and crayons on hand is simply not practical.  But they could be given as gifts just to keep.  We were so blessed that someone had donated a new Jenga game that the staff just gave us.  Michael was thrilled to have something different to do and it was his to keep!  What a blessing!

The other thought that kept going over in my head through all of this was simply to trust God.  Again, we have gone through nothing like other families have and I don't want to even compare our situation to others.  But there was definitely something God was teaching me through this.  I am a girl that tends to worry.  A lot.  About everything.  All the time.  Seriously.  It's bad.  So dealing with this hospital stay has tempted me to push my worry into overdrive.  Especially regarding the medications Michael is now on.  However, I have been reading "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges.  It's not an easy book to read, but very needed.  Through all of this with my son, God has soothed my heart and reassured me that He is in control.  So what if my son is 3 inches shorter than he would have been if he had not taken this medication?  What if he does face joint deterioration or rupture?  What if this does cause all sorts of serious complications for his liver?  Will any of that catch God by surprise?  Not at all.  When I was trying to make the decision about the antibiotic regimen that the doctors wanted to put Michael on, I could feel the anxiety begin to rise within me.  Then I remembered (through the Holy Spirit) that God was in control.  That this wasn't about me holding my son's future in my hands.  God is holding Michael's future.  God knows exactly how tall my son will be as an adult, regardless of medication.  God is the one that sustains Michael's little body and is intricately involved in every little cell of his being.  If God wanted to allow one (or more) of Michael's joints to rupture, it would happen, with or without these antibiotics.  All of this is completely and fully in God's ever capable hands.  It is foolish of me to think that I in anyway can alter God's plans for Michael's future.  God saw to it that we got to the hospital at the exact time needed.  Right as the allergic reaction began and Michael's fever spiked.  That was no accident.  All of this is by His design.

So, I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.  I will seek God's face and try to make wise decisions for my children, but ultimately, God is in control.  I will give Michael these medications without fear or guilt, because I know that God is bigger than any warning label.  I know that I can trust Him more than any physician and more than myself.  That is my little lesson learned for this week.  And it is one I am sure I will continue to learn for many years to come.


  1. I hope your son is doing well and healing. Please post an update when you can.

    1. He is doing much better, thank you. He is back to his active self. If you saw him today, you would never know that he had been in the hospital last week. He is still on the antibiotics and he has tolerated them well. We will not know till many years in the future if any of the other possible complications have arisen. I am still trusting that God is in perfect control of the whole situation. :-)