Alex has a habit of having hospital worthy crises on major holidays, but when Christmas, new year and my birthday came and went with no stresses we though he’d broken the habit.
Enter the first day of school.
The morning ran smoothly but as I was collecting Jenny from her first day of school I received a phone call from Alex’s teacher. Alex had tried to climb up on a swivelling stool and had fallen off in the attempt, banging his head on the floor. What warranted the phone call was that when he stopped yelling his speech was slurring. Usually slurred speech means a shunt malfunction – given he’d just hit his head there was a real possibility he’d damaged his shunt. When he got home at 4.15 his speech was still slurred so, given he had a scheduled MRI the next day, I called the hospital since I wasn’t sure if this would mean he couldn’t have the anaesthesia. I spoke the the neurosurgery registrar Alyssa who said to monitor him, if the speech hadn’t improved or he had any nausea or vomiting then to bring him into ED, otherwise they would check him in DOSA the next morning.
His speech if anything worsened by dinnertime and he refused any food, saying he felt sick. So pausing briefly to pack a bag – a pro tip for you here, always pack for an overnight visit when heading into the emergency department and remember a phone charger! – Alex and I headed to the WCH. The wonderful wonderful folks at the little heroes foundation had a carpark set aside for us, which was one less stress, and we presented at ED at around 8pm
Alex, as is his wont, completely charmed all the nurses in ED, and Dr Sarah and Nurse Alice who were looking after us were no exception 🙂 After checking him out x-rays of his shut were ordered and we went to imaging just on 10pm. Radiologist Helen was lovely and despite being really tired Alex had his ‘special pictures’ taken. Back in ED blood tests were required and a canula inserted – terrific fun when Alex was tired and grumpy. He didn’t want to have a bar of it, got himself so worked up he was a little bit sick, so I channelled my inner Skye (Alex’s school teacher who is awesome and doesn’t take any mucking around from him!) gave him a little pep talk and the nurses got the job done.
We were then settled in the temporary ward just off ED. Alex went to sleep and I waited for the x-ray results. The neurosurgery registrar Dr Gareth came in around 11.30 and told me the shunt looked fine, so what Alex probably had was a concussion. Given his history it was likely that the symptoms were more obvious, and the symptoms of concussion were pretty much the same as a shunt misfire.
He gave us the option of either going home or being admitted, given it was 11.30, if we went home Alex would have to be woken up (never a good thing!) have the canula removed, then we’d have to walk back to the car, drive home, get in and unpack then be up again at 5.30 to drive back in for the MRI. So I elected to stay! The only downside for me was that there wasn’t any room on the ward for us until 1am, so I couldn’t settle down and go to sleep. We got the call a spot was ready but unfortunately we had to wake Alex to transport him since he had to change beds. It took a while to settle him back down, then I made my bed and fell into it, until 3am when the nurse woke me to wake Alex calmly so we could do obs without waking the rest of the ward, then again at 5am and then at 7.30.
On the plus side though, it’s much easier to wait for an MRI on the ward than it is in DOSA and we got to sleep until 7.30 instead of 5.30!
We smelt the colours, sang the song and 90 minutes later Alex was back on the ward feeling grumpy. It wasn’t the worst wake up ever, he was quite grumpy and cross but only for 10 minutes, then asked for a cuddle and all was well.
Alex is usually a bit emotionally fragile after anaesthesia so the reset of his shunt was tricky since it took Dr Chris 4 tries to get it to work – the machine has to be in the *exact* right spot and Alex wasn’t a fan of the gel that had to go on his head to make the connection.
THEN we had to get the canula and the tape holding it in place removed, and THEN I had to take Alex downstairs to get his two last immunisation shots!
Alex didn’t like the numbing spray Dr Ian used and he let everyone know it! LOUDLY! and <spoiler alert> he didn’t like the needles either!
These shots, however, have brought Alex up to date with his immunisations for the first time since he started chemo at age 3.
Finally we were all done and headed home – we arrived just as Phil and Jenny were arriving home from her second day of school.
Jenny had a ball on her first day btw 🙂