By the time Trip was out of surgery, out of the recovery room, and in a room of his own, it was around 5:00 in the evening. There lay my drowsy, sick baby, still basically strapped to the bed with his IV and NG tube (the tube going from his nose to his stomach, which would suck out the contents of his stomach for more than a week). He looked so small and fragile in his hospital bed.
Ed and I were both exhausted. Ed had spent the night before at home with Logan. I had spent a vomit filled night with Trip before riding in the ambulance with him. Ed looked at me and told me to go home and get some rest. I drove an hour home and picked up Logan from Ed’s parents. I know we ate, but I can’t remember what we ate.
Ed and I spent the next week trading off between watching Trip at the hospital and having Logan at home and taking care of the house. Ed did work some that week. I didn’t. It wasn’t practical for our parents to watch Logan all night while I worked at the hospital.
Trip’s days and nights were spent in his hospital bed, watching kiddie movies on our respective laptops, usually sitting in my lap or Ed’s. He was still wearing diapers, so every diaper would have to be weighed and the rate of his IV fluids changed by his nurses accordingly. (Yes, my 3 year old was still in diapers. It’s one of the things I chose not to worry about.) The incision on his stomach was covered with a small dressing. He wore a hospital gown that draped over his small form. On his feet were bright red slipper socks that went almost up to his knees. The nurse aide would come by every 4 hours to check his blood pressure. The blood pressure cuff was disposable and hooked up to the aide’s blood pressure machine. The aide would put the blood pressure cuff on Trip’s calf. Trip would not allow the blood pressure cuff to be taken off of his little leg. Instead, he’d twirl it around his leg until he was ready to take it off himself and then he’d put it onto the bottom bedrail.
The doctor would come in to take to us everyday, usually around noon. His plan for Trip’s care always seemed so vague. But really, each patient is different, so how could he really be more specific? We were waiting for some magic event to take place before Trip could eat and we could go home. Ok, not magic. We were waiting for Trip’s bowel sounds to start again and for him to pass gas. Trip’s little body took forever to cooperate. So for days, we heard “Give it a couple more days” and “We’ll see tomorrow.”
Over the course of that week, Trip was semi-nourished with only IV fluids. He lost 10% of his body weight. I think that ended up being 3 pounds. He lost so much muscle mass that when he was finally allowed out of bed, he couldn’t walk in a straight line.
Trip ate lunch at the hospital on the day that he got to go home. I arrived at the hospital after the doctor had been there and forgot everything that I had learned in nursing school and in the 7 years that I’d been a nurse and didn’t question Ed when he let Trip order a pizza for lunch that day. Both of my boys have always been good eaters, but I thought that Trip’s stomach might have shrunk in that week without food or that maybe his stomach just wouldn’t allow him to eat something really spicy. I was wrong. He ate the entire pizza.
The nurse gave us the discharge instructions and we drove Trip home.
The boys had barely seen each other in the last week. When they were finally reunited, Logan wanted Trip to be able run and play like nothing was wrong and Trip wanted Logan to sit quietly on the couch and watch cartoons with him. They finally reached some kind of happy medium.
I started cooking dinner. Ed and I were happy to have our little family back together at home. Then Trip vomited all of the pizza he had eaten. Every last bit of it.
I freaked out. My mother came to watch Logan and we drove Trip back to the ER in Dallas. We eventually saw a doctor and Trip got another x-ray of his abdomen. Basically, Trip shouldn’t have been allowed to eat pizza, especially not a whole personal pizza. We went back home, exhausted.
Trip went back to school 10 days after he’d first gotten sick. He still hadn’t let me take the dressing off of his little belly, even though the wound had healed. He came home exhausted, but better. When the dressing finally got wet enough in the bath that it came off, Trip saw his new scar for the first time.
What do you say to a tiny (3’9″ at 3 years old, tiny), tiny little boy who looks up at you with questioning eyes, wondering about the new scar on his previously smooth belly? You tell him that “SCARS ARE COOL!!!” And then you pray that his stocky brother doesn’t try his hardest to get a scar of his own. (He hasn’t yet, try though he might.)