First (token) ER trip: Cate

Last weekend, first Sam and then I, succumbed to an intestinal virus. For several days, Sam had pretty low energy. We knew she was sick the morning she let us sleep until 9 am! While her appetite was a little diminished, and she had explosive poo every 4-6 hours, she was also pretty cheerful and still wanted to play. And other than the unplanned baths and laundry, her illness was pretty manageable.

Six days later, with Sam and me finally recovering, and Bill and Cate apparently not sick, I was wondering whether my breast milk had imparted some immunity to Cate. Umm, no.

Friday afternoon, Cate kicked off being sick with far more “fanfare” than either Sam or I had mustered. Where Sam kinda urped once or twice right after eating, Cate vomited in 3 of the 6 rooms in our house. We’re guessing that the same comparatively weaker sphincter muscle that made Cate’s reflux so much worse than Sam’s, is also allowing this bug to forcibly evict her stomach contents over and over.

Sam lost more than half a pound during the week (of her 16+), which was concerning to watch as her face got thinner by the day. But as long as she was still eating, we could rationalize that she was deriving nutrition from her meals. But with Cate losing fluids at both ends, it was hard to imagine how she could keep going. On Saturday, after Cate puked for the fourth time (and on Dad for the second time), we called the pediatrician.

The triage nurse told us to get Cate in to see a doctor in the next few hours, which on Saturday night meant a trip to the ER at Texas Children’s Hospital. She also told us to discontinue nursing and formula, and start giving Cate a little bit of Pedialyte every 5 minutes or so.

The first problem was we didn’t have any Pedialyte. My cousin, Sharon, raced to our rescue and arrived shortly with several kinds of pediatric electrolyte replacement beverages, fresh from Walgreens. (Thank you!) The second problem was Cate refused to drink any of them. Both the orange and grape flavors were pungent and she didn’t want anything to do with them, which considering that she’d never had them before, was understandable. Sharon agreed to stay, feed Sam some ceral, and put her to bed so that Bill and I could focus on Cate and get her to TCH.

From this point forward — refusing the electolyte stuff and denied milk and formula — she went downhill. Since none of us were hemorrhaging, we got parked for several hours in the ironically named “Fast Track” unit. Cate stayed awake for most of her ER adventure, but she was entirely passive through the entire process. She scarcely stirred while a nurse attempted to collect saliva for a study we enrolled her in (more on that later). Playing with and attempting to eat the lead for her pulse oximeter was more or less the height of her engagement.

Finally around 10 pm, the physician’s assistant brought us a bunch of unflavored Pedialyte. Much to our relief, Cate gulped the stuff down. And 20 minutes later, not only had it stayed down, Cate had perked up. I read her my new favorite story and she even giggled at the main punchline. Phew. The PA kept us around for another two hours to observe Cate and make sure she continued to improve. But she eventually sent us home around midnight, armed with another 10 single-serve bottles of Pedialyte.

After an indulgent run through the Med Center McDonald’s for a midnight “snack”, we drove home. Other than a short nap on me, Cate had been awake for the better part of 8 hours, the longest she’s ever been up. Out in the dark in the car, she fell asleep readily. We went home, let Sharon go home, and Sam woke up. We roused Cate long enough for the two of them to nurse tandem, and then all fell into bed.

I wish I could say we all slept well, but one or the other of the girls had one or the other of Bill or me out of bed every 45 minutes or so for the rest of the night. I managed to get 3 hours in a row at one point, but Bill wasn’t that lucky. When Sam woke up before 8 am, rested and raring to go, it was *hard* to get moving.

The good news today is we’re figuring out how to manage Catie’s bug. For instance, she’ll drink the Pedialyte (the real stuff from Abbott Nutrition, not the generic) if she’s hungry. So if we give her two ounces before we nurse, then she gets both. If we nurse first, that’s all she’ll take. And since the PA told us to stop giving her formula, which is dairy-based and more difficult to digest, she hasn’t puked again, which is good all around.

I’m making a point to pump, too, which gets her an extra few ounces of milk a day. For the moment, she needs it worse than her sister does. And I’m pleased to report that Sam rose to the challenge of nursing extra when her sister’s appetite was its lowest. Her nursing has definitely improved since March, for which I’m grateful.

Finally, the girls took *long* morning naps today, which definitely helped. Cate slept 3-1/2 hours and woke up cheerful. She wasn’t up for a stint in the jumper (that’s hard work!), but she was definitely ready to play for a little while. I expect that by Tuesday, she’ll be on the mend.

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One Response to “First (token) ER trip: Cate”

  1. cyn says:

    What an ordeal! So glad y’all are on the mend.

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