Saturday, August 10, 2013

Yaya: Well That Escalated Quickly!

What a surreal experience it has been to be back at Primary Children's Medical Center.  Nellie and I have a strong affinity for PCMC primarily because we used to volunteer there when we were first married.  For 18 months we would go up on Friday mornings and spend 4 hours pushing an activity cart around the 3rd floor (which at the time included the MED/SURG unit and the ICU) offering cooped-up kids an activity to take their minds off of their boredom and pain.  We loved our interactions with the kids and felt so fulfilled in serving in such a small way.  

We have also had the opportunity to participate in the KSL radiothon that raises money to help the hospital to help those without means to pay for their care.  We have loved being able to take calls and participate in the fund-raising.  My parents and close family friends have been involved for years so it was really easy to love Primary Children's.
Nellie and I while we weren't taking phone calls for the KSL radiothon on the third floor of PCMC.  February 2013

Growing up, my parents participated in The Festival of Trees many times, which is another fund raiser for PCMC.  I remember watching them formulating and executing a plan for a tree for the festival.  It was odd to me that the work seemed to start in June or July in preparation for the Christmas season.  

Over the years we have many people we love who have been treated at the hospital.  Some of our friends and family pretty well have the whole place memorized and are readily recognized.  In all the time we've loved PCMC and its mission, we never dreamed it would be us benefiting from their excellence.  We have very healthy children so of course there would never be a need for us to use the hospital.  Of course, how many times does a story start that way?

Thursday night I got home from work and relieved my sister Darby who had been babysitting for us.  She told me that Yaya was not feeling well and had a headache and a fever.  I gave her some Motrin, a father's blessing and put her to bed.  Unusually, she fell asleep almost immediately.  That should have been my first clue.  Nellie was up in Washington with her cousin visiting their Grandma George.  For the past few years they have gone up on the same weekend every year to take Grandma to a family reunion.  Pretty short trip really, we thought I could handle it with some help.  

Six o'clock the next morning, I became aware of a little body in bed next to me.  Yaya clutched her bottom right rib and told me that her ribs were hurting her.  Her fever was still there as well.  We gave her some more Motrin, a drink of water and she fell back asleep for an hour.  When she awoke again, the pain was still there and after a bath that didn't help her to feel better, we decided to head to the Instacare.

At the Instacare, they took a urine sample (Yaya thought that peeing in a cup was about the grossest thing she had ever heard of) and did a strep test, both of which came back with no notable results.  I felt a little foolish for having brought Yaya to the Instacare at this point.  Figuring I must have overreacted we went home.  

After breakfast, I dropped Tutt and Lulu off with my sister Becca and took Yaya with me to work.  That worked for about an hour and a half, until Yaya again grabbed her side in agony and I decided to call her pediatrician.  

The nurse I spoke with at our pediatrician's office suggested after some questions that Yaya might have constipation so we followed some recommendations to help her if that was indeed the case.  After taking some fiber, Yaya immediately ran to the garbage can and proceeded to throw-up everything she had in her system.  She then went to take a nap, while I researched what might be wrong.  

My thoughts kept coming back to appendicitis.  We have a decent family history on both sides and Yaya was pretty insistent that she was feeling serious pain.  After a one hour nap, she woke up and cried in pain.  We then headed to our pediatrician's office.  

Yaya at the pediatricians--I love how blue her eyes look here.
At the pediatrician's office, Yaya was very brave (since her last visit there was to finish up her immunizations she was absolutely convinced there were going to be shots involved).  Although there were no strong signs that said there was definitely something more at play than a cold or flu, our good doctor could see how miserable Yaya was and sent us to the American Fork emergency room just to be safe.  

Prior to entering the emergency room, Yaya told me that she felt all better.  This was because she knew her siblings were at an amusement park and she wanted to join them.  After being admitted the doctor's began with an ultrasound.  They ruled out appendicitis among other ailments besides that the first ultrasound produced no results, the second one they located what looked like a gall stone, which the third ultrasound ruled out.  

After the 3rd ultrasound, Yaya went in for a CT scan.  She was brave and held still for the imaging to complete.  For being in so many new situations, she rarely even expressed concern, she was just so tough.  I was so proud of her.  In the CT scan images, they found what looked like an abscess on her liver approximately 2 cm long.  They sent her for a 4th ultrasound to pinpoint the spot on her, but because it was under her ribs, they had a difficult time trying to find the spot.  
Yaya's CT scan

Up until this point, I figured we would be home by the evening even as the hours crept on from 5 to 6 to 7 and on, so I was blown away when the doctor came by our room to tell us he had consulted with some doctors up at Primary Children's who wanted her to be sent to their emergency room.  You could have knocked me over with a stiff wind.  I think I lost my breath for a minute, but was soon preparing to call Nellie.  

In all the waiting, my phone had died and was charging.  Just after receiving the news, I had enough juice to call Nellie.  When I reached her, she reacted about the same as I expected.  She immediately began to cry and told me she wanted to come home right away.  It was horrible to think about her being all those miles away unable to comfort her beautiful daughter who was having to settle for having her dad around instead of mom.  I told Nellie that I didn't think coming home made sense at this point, until we knew more--but I don't think she was listening.  She was already figuring out how to get home to her little girl.  

I got permission for Yaya to forgo the ambulance and for me to transfer her by private vehicle.  Since she was stable, that wasn't a big issue.  I started to post some Facebook messages to inform those we love about the situation.  I was blown away by how many texts and messages I got.  It was truly humbling how many people were willing to drop anything to help us.  
Yaya after first arriving at PCMC

When we arrived at PCMC, we were ushered back to a small room in the back of the ER.  After a little wait another doctor came to see us.  He was wonderful and was very understanding about the stress of the day.  At this point it was around 11:00 pm and we had spent the better part of the day in different hospital settings.  I had answered the same questions and told the same story a dozen times.  Fever, headache, abdominal pain, throw-up, more pain, doctor, doctor, doctor, test, test, test.  He was so comforting as he explained the buck stopped at Primary Children's, that we were not going anywhere else and they would find the problem.  

My mom and dad came up to support me, and my father and I administered to Yaya with a priesthood blessing.  After an x-ray that ruled out pneumonia, they admitted us to the Surgical Unit.  The next doctor that we spoke with explained a lot of what they knew it wasn't, but said we could do more on Saturday morning.  

We got on the phone with Delta airlines to see if we could change Nellie's flight.  They were fantastic when they understood the circumstances.  Nellie got moved to a flight that arrived home before 9 am Saturday and we didn't have to pay anything additional to make the changes.  

Poor Yaya.  She seemed to be in more pain with every hour that went on.  Occasionally the medicine she was getting intravenously would help her to relax, but she dealt with more than her fair share of misery.  After being admitted and settling in to our room, my parents left having agreed to pick Nellie up from the airport the next day.  Becca was a trooper and took Tutt and Lulu home to sleep in their own beds and stayed the night with them.  

As I lay on the couch in Yaya's room, I finally felt the emotions of the day catch up with me.  I was exhausted and worried.  I wanted to cry, to sob deeply, but couldn't let anything out.  Yaya was there behind me.  She had been so brave through what she called "the worstest day ever," and the least I could do was be stoic for her.  I was relieved that Nellie was coming the next day.  I was so grateful for the love that had been manifest by so many in so short a time frame.  Instead, I fell asleep.  

We woke up during the night once in a while.  Around 7:30 we had another doctor come by.  His words were a relief as he told me the spot on her liver didn't manifest in the way that liver cancer typically manifests.  He gave me a lot of reasons why things were probably going to be okay.  I wasn't sure what all of it meant, but I could read from his body language that he was confident she would be alright and that was good enough for me.  

Nellie showed up around 9:15 and Yaya was instantly more at ease.  She cuddled with her mom and they fell asleep together.  It touched my heart seeing these two beautiful ladies who meant so much to me taking comfort being together.  
I Love This Picture

Most of the day seemed to be consumed by waiting and dealing with Yaya's pain.  She didn't want to walk anywhere, it hurt to walk.  She didn't get to eat anything the first half of the day and she was so frustrated by that.  Again, I was shocked when the doctor came by to tell us they were going to put her on antibiotics and reassess on Monday.  I was hoping we'd be home by Saturday night, but that was not going to happen.  Who knows when we get to have her home with us again?  

I'm at home right now on Saturday night writing up this summary of what has been a long 36 hours.  I am exhausted and drained emotionally.  I am optimistic that all will be well with Yaya.  I am grateful for the good that is in the world.  I am humbled by all the calls, texts, Facebook and Twitter messages we have received.  If you read this far into the entry, I am sorry for such a boring blow-by-blow.  I actually did leave some things out, believe it or not.  My testimony of the family has grown through this experience.  We could not do this on our own.  Thanks to all of you who have helped us.  Thanks to all of you who have been praying for Yaya.  You are amazing.  

We'll keep you posted.  
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