Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flashbacks, and walking in someone else's shoes

Tyler randomly popped up with a fever yesterday.  No other symptoms... just a fever that's stuck with him for 24 hours and counting now.  It's kind of odd around here for a kid to have a fever and for us to be doing... well, pretty much nothing about it.  We got so conditioned to acting fast and understanding fevers to mean serious sickness.  But, so far, it looks like it's just a kid thing, and we are praying it stays that way.

Getting out thermometers and tylenol always makes me think of Alan anyway, but last night I got off on another trail down memory lane...

In our Children's hospital, vitals are checked every 4 hours.  This meant 3 times in a 12 hour shift a smiling 'tech' would knock on our door, pulling a blood pressure machine with her.  She would un-velcro a blood pressure cuff from the bed and wrap it around Alan's arm.  Then she'd take a thermometer from the end of his bed and stick it under the same arm and start the bp machine.

Blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature would all finish reading about the same time and she would write them down on her notepad to enter into the computer later.  

Of course, all this time, she'd be chatting with us or, more likely, playing with Alan.  He was just a baby then, you know.  The long days got pretty monotonous, so having a tech come in for vitals was very much like having a visitor and we were usually glad for the diversion.


Because you see.... vitals were checked every. 4. hours.  And that included throughout the night.  

The first check usually came around 9:00.  Knowing it was coming, we tried our hardest to keep Alan awake for it.  Most of the time that wasn't too hard.

But by 1:00am, we were usually enjoying some well-earned, hard-fought SLEEP, and I didn't care how sick my baby had been 3 days ago, he hasn't had a temp in 48 hours and is FINE now thankyouverymuch and can you just take his vitals later? Mkay, bye.

But no.  Most of the time I would wake up the instant the door opened and the hall light would seep in, even though it was dimmed for the night.

This would be a good place to point out that, not surprisingly, some techs were quieter than others.  And some were more efficient than others.  But even for the best it was a challenge to keep Alan asleep for all that measuring and maneuvering.

If it was a tech I liked, and that had a chance of keeping Alan asleep, I'd usually get up and stand by his bedside to assist.

If I knew it was someone likely to wake him up anyway, I'd just lay there 'possuming, waiting and watching for it all to go bad.  If I was particularly short on sleep and grumpy I'd lay there fuming.  Other times I was more kindly and patiently waiting for her to do her thing and get gone so I could nurse him back to sleep.

It was a sad sight really.  It was usually the younger ones, those closer to girl than woman that woke him up.  And granted, they'd try.  They'd pat and shush but I knew it was all in vain.  Once he was awake, he was awake.  And ... if I wasn't particularly short on sleep and grumpy, I'd feel sorry for them.  But a few times I just let them squirm.

There was one woman, my very favorite, who could almost always get in and out without waking him up.  Usually she worked days, but sometimes, ah, every once in a while, she worked nights.  I always knew we were more likely to get a better night's sleep when Maria was on.  Deborah was my second favorite.  She was pretty good, too.

All this to say, last night I woke up at 3:30am.  The last I had known anything about Tyler and his fever was when I put him to bed at 9:00.  I really wanted to leave him sleeping, but the thought of him possibly laying in there burning up with fever was too much to bear, so I quietly opened his door and took a look at him.  My hands were useless.  They had been bundled up under the covers with me... I don't know... maybe I'd even been laying on them.  So, thermometer it was.

He stirred some as I held his arm against his side, but then the thing started beeping it was done.  LOUDLY.  I couldn't shut it off or the reading would go away, so I ran into the next room to read it in there.  With it beeping the whole time.  And, of course, Tyler was awake and crying from the first beep.

So I scooped him up and rocked and nursed him, thinking back to all those nights of vitals, and admiring those techs and nurses for all of their skills and tenderness taking care of my other baby.

And wishing I had a name badge with a mini-mag-light hanging from it. 


Kara said...

I remember those post with little Alan having a fever and you all having to rush off to the hospital! I had to chuckle at your attempt at not waking Tyler and taking his temp. Why do those things have to beep so loud anyways??

Kristin said...

He is so so precious! I need to get my hands on him soon!

Tracey said...

I'm sure those were some tough times. I hope Tyler is all better now!

Kristin said...

I'm back in your old posts again. This one reads so much differently for me now. I may or may not have a tear on my cheek.