On Monday I got a call that my son was in the ER.
Well, it wasn’t a call, actually. So let me try that again.
On Monday I got a text that my son was in the ER.
Hmm…not entirely accurate.
On Monday I got a text asking if my son is still covered by my insurance. I said yes, and then his mom told me he was in the ER. I thought, way to bury the lead, but politely asked why. She said that he was vomiting and that his O2 level was way down.
She didn’t seem concerned about that last part.
His O2 level was way down. I’m sure that there are several things that can cause this problem, and while I’m sure there’s a spectrum, I’m betting none of the causes are good.
A car-ride, a chest x-ray and a CAT scan later, the doc told us that they could see a sliver of air moving behind his trachea when he inhaled. This meant he had somehow developed a hole in his esophagus(1), and the leaking air was exerting pressure that made him feel as though he couldn’t breathe.
He would need surgery to fix the hole.
Aside from the boy, the ER was full of people I didn’t want to talk to: his mom, her sister, my mom and my dad. In fact, aside from the boy and his doctors, Ashley was the only person in the room I cared to deal with(2). But I dealt with them, despite that this was the first time in two years that I talked to The Moms or dad.
We were told he would be life-flighted to Toledo. Then we were told that Toledo wouldn’t take him, and he would be life-flighted to Columbus.
Plans were made for getting everyone down there. Ashley and I had to drive back home first to grab her bag o’ meds since we would likely be gone for a day or two, and, as such, were the last two to arrive. Visiting hours had ended, and only parents and grandparents were allowed in ICU.
So, once again, I had to sit there with three of my least-favorite people on the planet. Waiting to hear news about my son. Who had a hole in his esophagus. And was in the ICU.
We were eventually allowed into his room. He was laid out on a bed with all kinds of tubes running out of him to machines that made esoteric noises and displayed graphically the internal machinations of his young man’s body. My mom and his mom started crying. My dad left the room, and I totally judged him for it.(3) I listened to everything the nurses had to say, asked which meds were being given to him, and made sure I knew how to read the display from the respirator.
Move over, Dr. McDreamy.
A few hours later, we got the call that they were taking him to surgery. The surgeon was the first person to suggest that perhaps he didn’t have a hole in his throat, that maybe something was just stuck in there. His mom signed papers, and they rolled my unconscious son through a huge set of double-doors. I wouldn’t see him again for hours.
Finally, at roughly 2:30 AM, the surgeon found us all in the waiting room and told us that something had in fact been caught in his throat. The offending object? A glove. Like the type of glove an EMT wears. He showed it to us, in a bag with BIO-HAZARD magisculed in orange across the front. The glove was now brown and black, though I could see where it once was white. The surgeon said it was stained from being in his throat, though I wonder if he actually swallowed it and it stayed in his stomach for a while before he vomited and it got caught.(4)
After that, we waited to see him. Ashley and I slept on the floor for an hour. It was so quiet – a quiet like I’ve never experienced. There’s a peace, I think, in finding someone who’ll sleep on the hospital floor with you.
We saw the boy briefly, post-op, and then left for my brother’s house, where we slept from about 5:30 AM until roughly 11 AM. Then back to hospital…
As of now, the boy is just fine. They took him off the respirator on Tuesday, and they’re hoping to get him off the feeding tube today or tomorrow and then get him back to eating solid foods if his throat has healed enough. I’ve talked to him by phone a few times, and this last time his humor was quite good. I’m not sure when he’ll be discharged, but I can wait until they’re sure he’s well.
- The doc said this could happen as a result of severe vomiting. More on that later.
- I actually asked Ashley to leave the ER at first because I was unsure of what was going on with the boy and I couldn’t handle being worried about him and being worried about having an immunocompromised double-lung-transplant(a) patient in an emergency room in which another patient was coughing uncontrollably and no one could say why, yet.
- a. Because these three words are, collectively, modifying the word ‘patient,’ the string of hyphens is necessary. Otherwise, I’m still unclear where to place them in the phrase ‘double lung transplant.’
- While The Moms doesn’t know how to control her emotions, dad does his best not to show any. It’s like being the son of Sybil and Spock.
- Still no word on why he swallowed a glove.