We sent our main computer monitor out for repairs shortly before we left for vacation. We have been anxiously awaiting the gift card promised from the vendor to replace that monitor and it arrived in the mail today. Simeon was delighted and I promised to take him with me to purchase a new monitor after dinner.
During dinner Alexander complained that his stomach hurt, but this didn't keep him from eating all his pizza and even vying for seconds... and then thirds. He did seem a bit out of sorts, however, as Simeon and I were cleaning up the kitchen in an anxious flurry trying to get out the door.
"My stomach hurts, " Alex complained as he crawled up the stairs and put himself to bed early. The other boys sat down to watch some Pink Panther as Simeon and I slipped out the door.
Once at the store, Simeon surveyed all the monitors on display. He got right to work on the lap top that controlled the display monitors and started surfing his favorite places on the web. As I compared the many options and tried to find one that matched the qualifications my husband would have wanted, Simeon pulled the lap top out a bit too far, setting off the store's alarm system. As the sirens wailed and I frantically tried to set things right, my cell phone rang.
"Alex is really in very serious pain and I don't know how to help him," my husband sounded very concerned. "We're coming home," I responded. I hung up the phone, explained the situation to Simeon, and apologized to the store personnel that were now gathered around us-- keys in hand-- trying to disable the alarm.
When I arrived home, I found Alex doubled over, walking from bathroom to bed. "Where does it hurt?" I asked and he moaned. Curled up on his bed, he motioned to his abdomen. He seemed in extreme pain, unable to walk upright, and when he spoke it was only to say, "Help me."
I turned to jelly as I dialed the number to his pediatrician. The nurse on call asked a series of leading questions that concluded in what I already knew--we must take Alex to the emergency room. Jeremy dressed him carefully as I spoke with the doctor on call . She wondered that his pain seemed located centrally, but urged us to have him seen. I agreed. We carried him out to the car and I took him to the closest hospital.
As I carried him though the parking lot, many people offered help. One woman fetched a wheel chair for us while another gentleman insisted that we rest a bit and lean on his car. I felt a bit silly leaning there while all I wanted was to get my child in where he would could receive the attention he needed. I felt plenty strong and able, but it seemed rude to refuse the help of such kind people and so we leaned on the car and waited for the wheel chair to arrive. I wheeled him inside where we settled in and he began to feel a bit better.
"Can you stand?" I asked Alex in the waiting room and he thought he could. He stood upright and began to cry. "There's something in my throat," he said and then...he really had had a lot of pizza and it all came back with force in that hospital waiting room, down the hall, and into the corridor where I finally gave up searching for a bathroom.
We were bumped up the waiting line and admitted immediately. The nurses brought Alex a cute pair of pajamas to change into, clean socks, and a pink bucket. (Why are those kinds of buckets always pink?) He seemed to be feeling better.
We were directed to a bed in a hall where Alex settled down and he pulled a blanket over himself. He asked to go home and I could see he was no longer in pain. All thoughts of appendicitis floated away and I was now sure that Alex just had a nasty stomach bug.
An elderly lady watched us from the next bed over and explained to me that she had been waiting for four hours in that hall. She lived in a nursing home, she explained, and had had a bad fall. She looked gently at Alex and seemed pleased for the company. A man arrived on a high bed right off an ambulance. He seemed cheerful despite his circumstances and when they wheeled him up beside us, he winked at me and called Alex his "buddy." "You aren't feeling so well Buddy," he said," I'm sorry." Three women that looked like his wife and daughters came to his side and he asked, "Did you see my little Buddy over there?" he eyed Alex as the women gently tried to get him to rest.
A man from the waiting room passed by us then and recognized Alex. He stopped a moment to ask if we were feeling any better. A doctor came to see the woman who had fallen and we waited. Alex closed his eyes.
Moments later the doctor came and had Alex walk a short distance and jump up and down. When he could do those thing, we were given the papers to go home. As we were leaving, the woman who had fallen was wheeled past us. "I hope you are well soon," I said and she reached out to me with her hand. I took it firmly and she whispered well wishes and blessings as they wheeled her away.
Alex was all chatty on the way home and pleased to show off his new pajamas, wrist band, and pink bucket to Jeremy as he came bounding up the stairs to his bed.
All is well.
While stomach flu is nothing to celebrate, it sure beats surgery. And though I am not looking forward to the bill, I couldn't help but feel that our visit to the hospital was a positive experience. Tonight, I saw many people who were sick and suffering and who took the time and energy--despite their own ailments-- to reach out to me and my sick son. There was a certain solidarity, a shared feeling of vulnerability, and a definite sense of mutual encouragement and love within those hospital walls tonight. Thank you Lord, for that.