I can hear her crying from the lounge room and when I go to her
she tells me she feels ‘funny’.
If it’s one thing I’ve learnt in the history of Ivy,
it’s that you should always listen when she says that
and also that ‘funny’ often means sick.
She has been quiet tonight, I think as I grab the ice cream container
that I reserve for emergencies and late night stomach bug presentations.
Why is that, I wonder -
that vomiting often starts late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.
I’m thankful for that bucket though because the girl needs it minutes later.
She vomits so violently that her nasogastric tube comes up
through her mouth
but still attached via her nose,
like a long yellow tape worm it sits in the centre of her open mouth,
pulsing along with the beat of her heart .
She screams, her eyes wide with fright
and she frantically grabs the end and tries to pull the tube out.
All that does is make her vomit and freak out more
and it freaks me out too.
Noah is suddenly awake
and all of the kids who were watching tv are suddenly in the room
along with David
like sentinels keeping watch.
I take a deep breath and ask Ivy to do the same
but she is shaky at best and asking her to calm down is like asking her
to jump out of an airplane with no parachute.
We go into action then, my little unit of helpers
and while David rings the hospital the others bring face washers
and clean buckets and water.
The doctor on the other end of the phone is calming and kind
but tells us that the tube will need to come out,
which, after reassuring Ivy several times that she is okay,
The doctor tells us to phone back in an hour
to let her know how the girl is doing.
Ivy is very shaken and clambers into my lap
and I sit in the dark room and rock her for minutes
and then more minutes
while my sentinels stand in their protective semi circle
and Noah cracks inappropriate jokes about vomit above me in his bunk bed.
It’s not over though, not by a long shot
because Ivy’s temperature begins to rise at a mind boggling rate
and I can feel her heart pounding.
A high temperature I can handle
but it’s that heart rate that frightens me to my very core
and so before the hour is up I ask Dave to call the doctor
to tell her we will need to bring Ivy in.
On the way, I apprehend myself
for thinking that we all needed an adventure.
Next time, I think,
be more specific.
This is not really what I had in mind.
Accident and Emergency is busy
but when the girl clocks her heart rate in at 200 bpm
and a temp of 40.3 we are ushered through quickly.
Cannulated, monitored and tested, she is still too unstable for the ward
and so she is given fluid boluses in between hydrocortisone doses
and antibiotics are started again.
She never wakes.
The doctors are efficient, the nurses incredibly kind
even though they tired and all overworked
on this busy mid winter night shift.
When I move her to X-ray she throws up again
and then lies limply in my arms.
Her oxygen saturations start to fall.
She doesn’t even fight the mask.
She is so done with this illness,
her body is done.
Finally her heart slows to 170 and then into the 160′s -
everything else is stable too
and we are moved to the ward.
It’s 5:30 am -
6 am when I push the girl over in her bed and climb in next to her.
She is like a hot water bottle, with her temperature still cooking
at 39 degrees, despite our best efforts to reduce it.
We sleep and I do not wake until the nurse comes in at nine something
to tell me the team are doing rounds.
I’ve no idea how this will go
because Ivy’s paed has seemingly given up on the girl
but the on call doctor is good and his team are amazing.
They tell me that on top of everything else Ivy has a urinary tract infection -
and that she will need some time with big gun antibiotics.
The first day goes in a blur,
the second too
and even though she has burned through three cannulas
and many more attempts in these 48 hours,
cried until I thought her heart would break
the girl is definitely getting better and her heart rate is sitting in the 90′s
for the first time in months.
Maybe this time we just might catch that break.