By: Sue Anganes
Last Wednesday morning I woke up my thirteen year old son Teddy. He really wasn’t feeling well and he had a fever so I let him stay in bed. I had to leave with his older brother Ray for a doctor’s appointment, so I left Teddy in the care of his brother Charlie, who was home and studying for finals.
When I returned home later in the morning, Teddy was complaining of abdominal pain. It was hurting both when he stood and when he sat. I called my daughter Cassie, who is a nurse, and came over to check Ted out.
“I think you ought to call his pediatrician,” Cassie told me.” If it’s his appendix you don’t want to wait.”
When I called his pediatrician, Dr. Newman got right on the phone and told us to head to the emergency department at Lowell General Hospital. We all headed out. Cassie insisted on coming with us. Not only is she a nurse at Lowell General Hospital (and knows a lot of the staff in the ED), she is also considered Teddy’s “second mom.” She was sixteen when he was born, and she has always loved and mothered him like he was her own baby.
We checked into the ED. It was the first time I had ever been in the ED since the new construction was completed at the hospital. I had been in the old ED many times with my six kids over the past twenty-nine years. The new facilities were beautiful and the private rooms were wonderful.
Ted’s nurse, Laurie, turned out to be someone we knew and it helped me to calm down a little knowing she was going to care for Ted. She got an IV started to draw some blood and start some fluids. Teddy is fearless when it comes to needles, and Laurie did her work quickly and effortlessly. The lab results came back with a high white count so the doctor knew some type of infection going on. Next, Ted had an ultrasound which was inconclusive because the radiologist couldn’t see his appendix.
They decided to admit Ted for observation. I was happy with that, knowing that the doctors would be keeping a close eye on him. If things worsened he would have a CT scan in the morning. He had a delicious chicken broth dinner and spent a long time looking at the pictures he has stored on his iPod. He didn’t want the television on or to watch a movie. He seemed to like the quiet in the room, and to be able to just talk with us quietly.
In contrast to the quiet room, my family at home was scrambling. My second daughter, Tessa, was watching Cassie’s two kids while Cassie was with us at the hospital. Tessa ended up toting them with her to church that evening because she had to teach the youth group that night. Not only that, it was “ice cream night” at youth group so Tessa had to set that up for all the kids with her niece and nephew in tow. Also, my husband had rented a big box truck for the day and was in the process, with my oldest son and my son-in-law, of moving a friend from her house to an apartment in the pouring rain. Around 9 pm Cassie left the hospital to return home, and my husband eventually arrived at the hospital at midnight. He slept in Ted’s room on the pull-out bed and I went home to sleep in my own bed.
Ted did well through the night without any worsening pain. I arrived back at the hospital in the morning so my husband could head off to work (poor husband). The doctors kept an eye on him throughout the day and when his symptoms did not worsen by the afternoon it was decided that Ted could try eating some solid food and see how he did.
A while after Ted had his light meal it was determined that he could go home. There still was the possibility that he was in the early stages of appendicitis, but chances were it was more likely to be a GI infection of some kind. We were sent home with instructions to see Dr. Newman in the morning.
Ted did see Dr. Newman in his office the next morning. His blood work looked better but he was still having abdominal pain. We were instructed to call any time over the weekend if his fever went up or his pain worsened. Thankfully, Ted did not worsen. He’s been feeling better every day and is almost back to his “normal” self. Because Ted has some other serious underlying medical issues, both his pediatrician and the doctors at Lowell General Hospital took his pain and symptoms very seriously. I am so grateful for their care and wisdom in dealing with Ted’s situation. We are very fortunate to have world class care in our own backyards.