Monday, December 16, 2013

The Most Expensive Nickel

It has been quite the December so far! One has to have a good sense of humor to deal with some of the fun this December has brought on.

Over a week ago, on December 6th, it was a typical Friday early afternoon with Alexander and I at home. I was muti-tasking between the kitchen and office and he was in the family room. I had just vacuumed in there too (key irony to what was about to happen). Suddenly, I hear him start to cough and cry. It was a sudden thing, and the cough was the kind of cough that occurs when you're taking a drink and the water goes down the "wrong pipe".

He was crying and he came to me, and I asked him what happened. He said he swallowed a coin. He kept doing that cough, but then he started to gag. That told me it went down his esophagus and not his trachea (a good thing), but he became more panicked and then he threw up.

I was going to find a few different coins and ask him to show me which kind he swallowed, but he threw up some more and the coin was not part of it. I started to scramble around the house in order to find clothes, clean up the vomit, and I knew I had to take him to the doctor. However, I knew our doctor's office didn't have an X-ray anymore. Plus, this seemed more like an Urgent Care matter. 

He stopped throwing up for the time being, so I went again to look for some clothes for him, but as I was trying to get him dressed, he threw up again. I also had to call Mikelle's school to have them tell her to take the bus.  I knew she'd be upset about that (don't get me started on THAT battle...), so I rambled to the lady on the phone about what had happened and asked her to tell Mikelle that her brother had to go to Urgent Care, but that he was okay, so she had to take the bus. I wanted Mikelle to know that he'd be okay.

Did I believe he would be okay? Yes. I knew he'd be okay, but since he kept throwing up, that coin was stuck in there somewhere, so the situation was serious.

I also called Chris and told him what was going on, but I honestly can't remember what I said..I also had to leave a note for Christian since he'd be coming home from school and I wouldn't be there.

I put Alexander in the car, and he immediately fell asleep. That frightened me. He falls asleep in the car all the time. In fact, that is how we get him to take a nap when we really need him to take a nap! This was also the time of day he does nap. However, he fell asleep before I even pulled out of the garage. And his head was bobbing as if he was exhausted. I knew all the throwing up would tire him out, but I was still frightened. The Urgent Care wasn't very far away at all, less than a mile once I leave the maze of our neighborhood, but I tickled the bottom of his foot as I drove, to make sure I got a reaction. He didn't look blue to me, but he looked pale. I called Chris again as we approached the Urgent Care and he told me to take him to the doctor's office instead. I knew part of it was that Chris was seeing dollar signs.

I said that wouldn't do any good because they don't have X-ray there anymore. He was still trying to convince me to take him there, but I became more agitated and I don't really remember what I said, but Chris would tell you that I was yelling at him (but he often accuses me of yelling at him even when I'm not. Still, I digress).

I was at the Urgent Care already, and my instincts told me to just go in there. I took him in there, and the receptionist called the doctor out to the front. I think the doctor was alarmed that Alexander was asleep and mistook that for unconsciousness or something. She said he looked blue. He wasn't blue. But he did start to gag again. She told the receptionist to call 911 and the doctor and her nurse helper dude brought out the stand to check his vitals.

I started to cry. I'm not sure if I cried because the situation was even more serious, or I cried because it was just too much, or I cried because of the human concern of not wanting to inconvenience first responders. I probably cried about all of it. As we were waiting for the paramedics and they were checking his vitals (Alexander was awake by this point), the doctor said it looked like his color was improving. She tried to ask me how I knew it was a coin. I said, "well, he told me, and the way he started coughing was a sudden thing." I knew it was a coin, but of course they have to wonder about all possibilities. I told her he didn't have a stomach bug, as the throwing up was sudden that came with the sudden coughing and gagging.

The paramedics arrived, and of course there were quite a few of them. Being female, I had the "not wanting to bother anyone" part of me feeling rather guilty about it. It was the same feeling I had when I had to paramedics come to my aid in the past (pregnancy problems - passing out at meetings in front of a bunch of people, other things....but this isn't about those times...). They were so awesome with Alexander. He even impressed them by saying his whole name. He says he's "Alexander Yayne Hendison..." (he can't say Henrichsen yet....and his Ls are like Ys...too cute).

I tried to call Chris again, but it went to voicemail. I planned to follow the ambulance to the hospital (the same one where he was born), since he seemed to be doing okay. If he was crying and asking for me, I would have ridden in the ambulance.

I went out to the car to retreive his backpack that he used for pre-school as it had some Christmas crafts in it he had done. That way he would have something of his with him in the ambulance for the guys to talk to him about. Chris called back before we left for the hospital, and I filled him in. One of the paramedics asked to speak to him. I guess the paramedic saw that I was still all scattered. I had no problem handing the phone over to him.

Chris knew by this point that he had to leave work and head this way. That wasn't an easy task since he does the van-pool with co-workers.He would have to go to his supervisor and obtain one of the company rental cars they use when situations and scheduling go beyond the typical van-pool times.

We arrived at the hospital, and the paramedics told me he kept falling asleep in the ambulance. Between the time of day and the commotion (and gagging and throwing up), that made sense. Things were weirdly slow at the hospital, but they did do the X-ray fairly quick, and yep, there it was. A coin at the base of his throat. At this point, we didn't know what kind of coin it was. I said it was a penny, but the doctor told me it looked too big to be a penny. I was worried it was one of those flat sliver coin-shaped batteries.

I had a paper copy of the X-ray, but then it ended up with a nurse. I wanted it back, but she didn't have it later when I needed it. I want that copy again. I'll have to go back to that hospital to get it. I want to post it. It's art!

Meanwhile, Chris told me he left work by 3pm. I planned on 90 minutes for his arrival, but there was a wreck on I-10 out by the plant, and he did become stuck in that mess. It was going to be awhile before he arrived. Friends of mine were asking if I was okay handling being there alone, and I really was. Another incident with Alexander happened back on Leap Day 2012 (he was 14 months) and I did that alone and it was a nightmare in so many ways. If I needed anyone to be with me, it was during that time. This one was nothing like that. Sure, this coin incident was still crazy, but nothing like a year and half prior. Looking back, I am now grateful to have that nightmare to use as a comparison to this incident. I think that's the only way I'm grateful for that whole trial. Why did I not go into detail about here back then? I still don't think I'm ready to yet.

Anyway, the next fun bit of news was the doctor told me a pediatric gastroenterologist had to be the one to remove the coin from his esophagus. They didn't have one at that particular hospital. My X-man would have to be transferred to the Children's hospital over in Mesa.  Gosh, Alexander would be turning 3 later that month and he was already going to tie me in ambulance rides. At least I waited until I was 35 for my third one. Alexander? He wasn't even three yet.
Chris still didn't arrive yet, but instead of telling him to go to the Children's hospital, I'd figure I'd wait until the transfer was actually taking place for me to have Chris alter his route.

It took forever to wait for the transfer to the Children's hospital. X-man was asleep, so it was a peaceful wait, but it still took forever. I didn't have my glasses, so I was blind and painfully bored. Chris arrived over 2 hours from when he left work, due to all the traffic commotion (and he brought me food...I was starving) and we were still waiting for the transfer. Meanwhile, I spoke with both of the kids at home and I arranged for someone from church to bring them dinner. I assured everyone Alexander would be fine and brought them all up to speed. Still, without my glasses, it was more and more difficult to text or post to Facebook. The awful thing? My contacts were in! I now require reading glasses too. It sucks.

But I digress. By the time we transferred to the Children's hospital, it was dark. I rode in the ambulance and Chris followed us. Once we arrived at the Children's hospital, they wanted to do another X-ray to see if the coin had moved. It hadn't. The doctor that came in after that told me Alexander would have to be in surgery to remove it. At first, that panicked me. The word surgery.  I immediately thought of cutting, post-op pain and recovery. However, I asked him what the surgery would entail. No cutting. Alexander would be put out with General Anesthesia and they'd go in and retrieve the coin. Other than the anesthesia, no real recovery issues.

Before he was moved upstairs to prepare for surgery, Chris and I took this video of Alexander.  Because I was communicating with friends on Facebook and text message, I wanted to make sure they knew he was okay. Plus, Mikelle and Christian would be able to see that as well. At the end, he says, "I love you too, guys." Too adorable and too funny. That describes Alexander quite accurately. Well, it's more like too adorable, too funny and such a turd! 

The two nurses that were there as we took the video laughed and said something to the effect of, "Glad you guys seem to be having fun with all this."  Oh yeah, this is quite the Friday night fun! Lol

What I took from what they said (they weren't being rude) was being able to find joy and humor in these stressful and inconveniences through life. I know earlier that day I was rattled and emotional and in tears, but I was rather calm once it was apparent he was going to be alright, despite needing to remove the foreign object from his esophagus.

Due to all these crazy antics Alexander seems to get into, dealing with Christian's antics a few years before in his younger years, situations like semi trucks running over our Christmas presents, and other lovely bumps in the road called life, I've come to operate with humor (and of course losing it and acting like a lunatic, but then having a sense of humor...). It's a necessity.

Once we moved to the surgical area, it was slow again. By now it was around 8pm. 

Thankfully my sweet friend from church, Sussy, stopped by our house a few hours earlier and gave some hamburgers to Mikelle and Christian for dinner. My friend Joy and Kristen also stopped by the house to check on them.

Anyway, after we met with the surgeon and anesthesiologist (and they were joking around with us...), we were alone with Alexander for a few minutes. We said a little prayer and then Chris gave him a blessing. 

I didn't like them wheeling him away when I couldn't follow. He was fine though. He wasn't crying. He was just going with the flow like it was a big adventure for him (I'm sure it was). Chris and I went and sat in the waiting area, and Casablanca was starting on the TCM channel, so we just started watching it as if it was any other day to get our mind of the fact that our little son was in surgery. I wasn't worried that much. I knew he'd be okay. It's just hard when you have to turn your baby over to someone else and not be present.

It didn't seem too long before the surgeon came in holding a plastic vial and revealed to us exactly what it was that Alexander had swallowed. A nickel! I'm going to put it in a shadow box frame along with a picture of the X-ray and when all the statements/bills come in, a copy of them as well. When Alexander gets engaged, I'll show them to his fiance. I'll probably put the shadow box on display at his wedding too.  A mother can't be put through all this without having some fun and sweet loving revenge later!
That's me in the waiting area holding the very nickel that Alexander had swallowed.
Of course he swallowed the thickest coin he could have swallowed. Not the largest, but the thickest. 

It still took some time to leave after the procedure, however, because it took Alexander awhile to wake from the anesthesia. He wouldn't be allowed to leave until he took a drink of water and swallowed it okay. Eventually he did so, and by 11:30pm we were leaving the hospital. It was 10 hours after the ordeal began.

I still have a lot of 'December' to catch up on, so another entry will follow. I have to mention the state of the house that Thing 1 and Thing 2 had us return home to. 

But for now, duty calls.

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