4 Things I Learned During Our Children’s Hospital Stay

So I have been pretty MIA the last few weeks, and for good reason – at least I think it is.


My 2 year-old has decided to contract as many childhood illnesses as he can before pushing me to the brink of insanity!!


Not even kidding.


It started with the most severe case of the stomach flu I have ever seen. As a mom, I thought I was familiar with all things projectile vomit and diarrhea related… I was wrong! We were having episodes consistently, every 15 minutes, like clockwork!


I watched my vivacious, happy, energetic toddler become weak, lethargic and incoherent in a matter of an hour or two!


Fast forward through a 2 ½ day hospital stay for severe gastroenteritis, dehydration and low potassium levels and we were slowly getting back on track.


Sure, everyone who came in contact with him contracted the same awful stomach bug (except for me, miraculously), sure the kiddo had signs of PTSD from the whole experience and was acting out and no longer sleeping through the night, sure I was severely sleep deprived and so overwhelmed I would silently burst into tears whenever I was alone – but we were making it through.


The week we finally reentered humanity and went back to school, along with all our other usual activities I was informed my kid was exposed to lice. LICE!! Are you kidding me?


After days of paranoia – I seriously felt like my head was itching 24/7 – we determined that no one contracted lice, but we were lucky enough to catch the Hand, Foot & Mouth disease that no one in the school mentioned was going around!


So here we are, Day 3 into our second virus within weeks. This mama is barely hanging on by a thread – I’m tired, I’m irritable, I’m trying to fight off a case of depression (the extent of which I haven’t dealt with since college) and I may literally need to be committed by the time this is all over with.


That said, I have learned a lot through this whole health ordeal:


Trust your gut:

They call it a “mothers instinct” for a reason – its because when it comes to your children, your intuition its rarely wrong!!


An hour into the stomach bug, before we had any serious symptoms, I called our pediatrician. Partly, because I am “that” parent that calls for everything (id rather be safe, than sorry), but also because throwing up was unusual in our house. My son had really never vomited before – outside of spit up as an infant, but I’m not counting that as the same thing, not by a long shot!!


We were told to watch him, if he threw up ___ more times or stated to have severe diarrhea then to think about going to the ER. Now, both of those things happened – about two hours after my phone call, but by the time those alarming symptoms started we had already been admitted into the emergency room at Children’s Hospital.


My point is that I just knew something was seriously wrong. I felt it deep within my soul, beyond my gut – I felt it in my bones! My husband and I trusted that “off” feeling and quite literally rushed to the hospital because if it.


In retrospect it was a good thing we did, because our kid was seriously ill. He was extremely dehydrated – and we caught it early!! If we had waited to take him in, gone against my mommy instinct, who knows how much worse he would have been.


Trust your gut!! Don’t ignore the red flags – that internal alarm system is there for a reason and it can save your life – or your children.



Ask questions:

Doctors are in a position of authority and we live in a society where it is frowned upon to question or go against authority. When it comes to your health or the health of your family, however, it is completely within your right to ask questions. Ask all the questions!! Then, once you get the answers, ask the same questions to someone else for a second opinion!!


One doctors’ opinion is not the end all be all.


We may not like to think about it, but doctors can be wrong – and they are sometimes. Probably more often than is comfortable to think about, but I know its true. As a practicing therapist there was a lot of things I didn’t know the answers to. I disagreed with my colleagues on treatment plans numerous times. I saw professionals make the wrong call, more than once. So I know that things can, and do, go wrong. I also know there is often more than one way to go about a problem. Most importantly, I know the value in asking for a second opinion – be smart and don’t be afraid to ask for one!!!


It can weigh heavy on a marriage:

I’ve read stories – they pop up on Facebook all the time – of sick children and how the illness would wreak havoc on the parent’s marriage. I never understood how that could happen in a time of crisis, but I do now.


Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I are fine. Our marriage is strong and we are solid. I also know that the virus’s that have infected our family are nothing, NOTHING, compared to what some families are going through. Some people had/have their babies in that hospital (and others all over the world) fighting chronic illnesses, recovering from surgeries and experiencing things I pray I never have to experience. I pray for those families and those children.


What I am saying is that I get how those severe illnesses’ can impact a marriage. Just the stress of it all is enough to slowly drive a wedge between a couple. The sleep deprivation, constant fear, your crying and scared child, being quarantined to a hospital room (or even just your house), its enough to slowly drive people insane.


Suddenly all communication goes out the window and you and the hubs are snapping at each other and resentful because the other one has the good hospital pull out bed – like there even is such a thing! All hospital pull-out beds suck, they are small and uncomfortable, just like the pillows – which are stiff in case you were wondering. But emotions are high and you just want your kid better so you go on the attack of the one person that is a free for all – your spouse!!


The person you can bitch and complain to, yell and scream at, say those things that you instantly regret once they leave your lips – that person is always your spouse. Why is it that we can be the nastiest to the person we love more than anything? Because they are the safest. They are the person who, despite all the nasty the night before, will still love you in the morning. They will always forgive you because they are in it with you for the long haul – so we attack them because we can’t do it to anyone else! I’m pretty sure its why these type of health situations with your kids are so hard on your relationship because you need to take that stress out on someone – the hubby is just the unfortunate one with the bulls-eye on his forehead.


It takes a special type of person to work here:

After this experience I am convinced – not everyone is not cut out for work at a Children’s Hospital. Working with sick people is one thing, working with sick kids is another.


We are lucky enough to have a phenomenal Children’s Hospital in our backyard – its maybe a 20-minute drive from our home, which is nothing considering others drive hours to be treated there.


Not only did they provide exceptional care to my child, but they were kind and patient and reassuring in a very scary situation for our family.


Naturally, I had to say thank you to all these amazing people who cared for my child and I usually always show my appreciation in the same way – with food! I made sure the hubby went and got cookies and bagels for the staff who took care of us during our stay. I have found that this small gesture is very well received in a hospital setting – try it next time! It makes you the favorite patient and nurses are always willing to go out of their way for the favorite.


As they say, this to shall pass – and I have no doubt that it will. Until it does though, the Cholakian’s will just be over here binging on Emergen-C and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until we can finally say we are healthy again!!


Now go wash your hands – and your kids hands – so none of you get any of this nonsense!!


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