**Sorry for the long blog post! I just wanted to document our week, for our sake but also for anyone who happens to be googling intussusception, intussusceptum, etc.
We spent the majority of last week in the hospital with Liam. He had a very painful intestinal problem called "intussusception." Basically, part of his intestines "telescoped" over another part. Here's the story of how we ended up in the hospital:
Sunday night, we were finishing up our trip to Orlando. We were in the hotel, putting the babies to bed and heading that way ourselves, when Liam started complaining of pain. Since he is not really talking yet, he couldn't tell us what was going on. He was grabbing his tummy/lower abdomen, wincing in pain, but then he would be fine and playing again. We just thought he was cranky or tired, maybe having constipation issues or something like that. We gave him a little juice and put him in bed. He woke up every few hours, pretty fussy. Not normal for him, but then again, we were in a hotel room, out of his normal surroundings, tired from being gone all week, etc. We weren't too concerned at that point.
Monday morning came around and we rushed to get to the airport. He was still in pain, and one of our next thoughts was that it might be a urinary tract infection. I told Andrew that if it wasn't better by the time we got to Fort Collins, then I'd call the pediatrician. The four hour flight was challenging, to say the least, and he was still pretty miserable when we got back to town, so I made the call and we went in. The pediatrician saw us by 4:30 that afternoon, and ruled out all the normal things that might be wrong: ear infection, UTI (from other symptoms, not a urine test), constipation, diarrea, strep, etc. He looked very healthy, and didn't have a "pain episode" while we were in her office. She said if his pain didn't go away tomorrow, then call back.
Tuesday was our first day back to normal routine, and Liam's pain episodes were getting worse. Every hour or less, he was doubled over on the floor, saying "ow," strained look on his face. This lasted less than a minute at a time, and once it was over, he was running around and playing like normal. I put a call into the pediatrician's office, and once we were able to talk to the doctor, he recommended that we head to the ER.
Arrived at the ER at 9:30pm. Liam had another 3 or 4 pain episodes while we were there. They did xrays, ultrasound, bloodwork, urine culture, and put in an IV line. The ultrasound, along with the xray, confirmed the diagnosis of Intussusception. The first treatment was a barium enema. Since he had an IV already, the were going to try to sedate him for the procedure, but the IV didn't work, so he did the whole thing un-sedated. I wish they had sedated me! They did the enema three times, and finally the third one worked to fix the intussusception. We stayed another two hours at the ER so they could make sure he was ok, then they sent us home at 3:45am.
Wednesday, we just spent the day recovering from our ER visit. I took Liam back to the doctor for a quick follow-up around 3:00pm, and she and I both agreed that he looked great and seemed back to his normal self. He was playful, in good spirits, and running around the doctors office. After the appointment, we went to a friend's house, where he continued to act like his normal self, playing, laughing, etc. Then, Wednesday night he complained of pain again. He had a little diaper rash, so I gave him a bath. He would say "ow" and complain again, but then he would have a big diaper, so mostly I just thought it was gas from the enema.
Thursday, same as Wednesday night. More crankiness, pain, and lots of diapers. It was so tough to tell what was going on because he couldn't just say, "Mom, this pain is exactly like Tuesday!" There were enough other things going on Thursday, that it was difficult to tell. I decided to call the pediatrician again, mostly because I just wasn't sure, and I was feeling paranoid about every little fuss he was making. The pediatrician said we needed to have him checked out just to rule out another intussusception, so I dropped Corinne off with our dear friends, and Liam and I went back to the hospital. They admitted us before any tests were run. By 4:30pm, he had another ultrasound, 5:00pm confirmed that he indeed had another intussusception, and by 6:00pm headed for another barium enema. This time, though, the enema didn't work to open things back up, so by 8:15pm he was in pre-op for surgery and we were being prepped for what the operation would be like. His nurses throughout the whole surgery process were seriously wonderful. Before surgery, they were playing with him and keeping him genuinely entertained. One was a former NICU nurse, and the other had been through the same thing with her kid, so they were just so comforting to us. Around 10pm, he was out of surgery and beginning to wake up. We were with him when he woke up from surgery, I was holding him in a rocking chair as the drugs started to wear off. He was a little cranky, but all-in-all he was doing pretty well.
Friday was a day of pain medication and making sure clear fluids stayed down. He didn't eat anything solid on Friday. All the doctors that checked on him (surgeon and pediatrician) agreed that he looked great and was clearly feeling better from the intussusception. Saturday morning he ate a little breakfast, then lunch, took a good afternoon nap, then we headed home after his nap on Saturday.
Intussusception can happen at any time, and there is no real known cause for it. He will eventually outgrow his risk of having one again, but he could very easily get the same thing again any time, the surgery didn't permanently take away his risk. If he does get it again, they will first treat it with another barium enema before resorting to another operation. The pediatrician said, though, that he has only seen about four or five intussusception cases in his 20 year career (as opposed to four or five appendicitis cases a year). He said they sometimes seem to come in waves like what we experienced, but then never happen again. We're praying that is what happens in Liam's case! He is 22 months old, and most intussusception cases happen between 6 months and 3 years.
Here are some of my observations this week:
- Having a sick kid is miserable. All in all, I felt like Liam's illness was pretty minor compared to what a lot of sick kids go through. I felt like we had a lot to be thankful for, but still, it is really miserable, no matter how sick your kids are.
- I HATED seeing my baby in pain. Especially knowing that the pain had to get worse before it got better, and there wasn't anything I could do to take that away. Such a helpless, awful feeling.
- We had a lot of firsts this week. Liam's first hospital visit and first surgery (and hopefully LAST!), Corinne's first night away from Mommy (she's three months old. Liam's first night away from me was when he was seven months old).
- There are some things I know about now, that I would have been ok with not ever knowing. Such as how the hospital has all kinds of tiny things geared for kids (small blood pressure cuff, etc), how to operate a hospital bed, what an intussusception is, what its like for parents in the hospital, what its like for kids in the hospital, etc. Ignorance is bliss!
- Now that I know some of these things, I pray that I never forget! Every little comment and call and hug meant SO much during this week. Praying I become more in-tune to the needs of the people around me.
- I keep saying, "I can't believe my baby just had surgery this week."
- Its hard to not want to ask "why". Why is my baby so sick? Why is it happening AGAIN? Why can't we get a permanent fix to this? Every time I was tempted to ask "why," I really felt God's Spirit comforting my heart. I felt Him reassuring me that He still loves Liam so much. I felt HIS heart for me as I held Liam and did everything I could to comfort him. I read things like Psalm 139, and those passages felt like personal letters as HE reminded me that Liam is fearfully and wonderfully made. I felt carried by the prayers of our friends and family, peace knowing that even if this does happen again (or something even worse), we are not alone, not forgotten, and in good hands.
- I have a lot of appreciation for families that do this for an extended time. I can understand how something like this would take a toll on a family, marriage, etc. Switching back and forth between who spends the night, worrying about the care of your other kids and feeling guilty for neglecting one to take care of another. I am so thankful for Andrew and the ways he pursued me even though I was a crabby, high-strung, worried Mommy.
We are home now, and Liam is doing really well considering all he has been through this week. He is still a little emotionally fragile (as am I!), but is in good spirits and doesn't seem to be in much pain. I have had friends say that their first memory was a hospital situation before they were two, so I know that this could definitely be one of Liam's first memories. I know all of the sweet comments from friends, and some fun pictures will add to him having positive memories of this whole experience. He is such a brave, strong boy! Now, he has a little scar to prove how tough he really is. I'm so proud of him, and so thankful God put him in my life.