2019-01-09 / Community

Malachi – Emergency Room

Meandering Melodies
by Susan Holsinger

Have you ever noticed how the stories and testimonies of people who have been through a tragedy or trial begin? I’ve read many accounts and they begin with statements like “It was a day like every other day,” and “It was an ordinary day,” and “Everything was normal.” In other words there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Somehow the writer wants to convey how normal everything was until the unexpected happened.

It was the same way for us, too. Everything was okay until it wasn’t!

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, I had no idea I would be going with our daughter Helen to the Emergency Room with Malachi. The week before he had complained of a headache and a slight earache. Helen had been treating him for that. The symptoms had dissipated and they decided to go ahead with their plans of going to Ohio for a family Christmas.

On Monday Malachi came home from school and said his head hurt again. He had no other symptoms. After napping most of the evening he woke up and ate supper. About bedtime he started crying and saying his head hurt and held it with his hand. He cried for 20 minutes straight. Helen called and asked us to come over. She was concerned. Something wasn’t quite right but she couldn’t put her finger on it. He was having unusual pain but couldn’t really tell us what hurt. It was puzzling.

When we got there Malachi was in the shower. He seemed better but complained of his neck hurting and his right ear was a little sensitive. He didn’t have much fever and we were puzzled about the symptoms and how he was acting. We decided to continue treating him for an ear infection. He threw up his supper.

Tuesday he stayed home and couldn’t keep anything down except water. His symptoms were consistent with the flu yet his neck still hurt. Hot showers gave him some relief. I could tell Helen was worried but I reassured her that he was going to be fine. Isn’t that what mothers do?

Wednesday began the same way Tuesday had. He still couldn’t keep anything down and just laid on the couch moaning off and on.

After talking to Helen that morning I decided to do some research to see what I could find out about what we were seeing. It’s amazing what you can find when you dig online! There were some things I was a little concerned about so I called Helen back to tell her what I had learned.

I have learned to trust a mother’s intuition. Helen knew something was wrong. She wondered about meningitis and was fearful that was what we were dealing with.

Meningitis usually brings high fever. Malachi had 99.8. Then she told me that Malachi wasn’t responding to her. She was crying. I asked her what she meant that he wasn’t responding to her. She said he wouldn’t talk and when she asked him his name he just looked at her. When she asked him who she was he just looked at her. Inside I was thinking, “What? This is SERIOUS STUFF! I haven’t ever dealt with something like this before!”

That’s when I knew we were dealing with something other than the flu. It is not normal for a child to not respond! We raised five children and I had never seen anything like this. I told her Malachi needed to go to the doctor. She agreed. She wasn’t sure she could talk without crying so we called the doctor together. I understood later why she was crying!

By this time it was 3 p.m. Malena would be out of school at 3:05. We told the doctor we could be there at 4. I picked Malena up from school and told her Malachi wasn’t responding or talking and we were taking him to the doctor.

Malachi was on the couch when we got there. He wasn’t responding. He couldn’t put his shoes and socks on. I put them on for him. I put his coat on. Helen put her arms around him and helped him walk to the van.

I was pretty alarmed. I could tell he was in considerable pain and he held his head funny. I wasn’t sure what it meant but he tilted his head backwards if he moved it at all. On the way to the doctor’s office Malena kept talking to Malachi trying to get him to respond. He didn’t. She cried. I did, too! It was very hard to see him this way!

We had to help Malachi get out of the van when we got to the doctor’s office. By this time he wasn’t responding very well to commands, either. If you asked him to open his mouth, or blink his eyes, or lift his legs, he didn’t. He still wasn’t talking.

At the doctor’s office they ushered us in quickly and listened carefully as Helen explained what was happening. The doctor checked his reflexes, looked in his ears, and throat. He said his right ear was a little inflamed but he was more concerned with him not responding and the decline we were seeing.

The doctor told us we had two choices: leave and go directly to the E.R. or he would call us an ambulance to take us from there. He suspected meningitis or appendicitis.

I wasn’t surprised we were told to go to the Emergency Room. I told Helen that Malachi needed help and reassured her as best I could that everything was going to be fine. I was confident they would figure out what was wrong and truly believed he was going to be fine. We left and headed to the E.R. in Lafayette.

Helen called Naaman after we left the doctor’s office. Naaman was delivering mini barns and wasn’t home yet. Since he drives for the ambulance he told us we should meet it somewhere and let them take him in to the hospital. We met the ambulance at the end of our road. Helen went with Malachi and I took Malena and Benson with me.

When we got to the hospital things were pretty much the same. They were doing all kinds of tests. It wasn’t long before they told us he had Influenza B and that his sodium levels were critically low. Because his sodium levels were low they were transferring us to IU North; Riley was full.

One thing we really appreciated was a Child Care Specialist who spent considerable time with us in the Emergency Room that first night. She explained to Malachi what was happening even though he didn’t respond and we weren’t sure he understood. This was helpful to Malena since she didn’t understand everything that was happening. She had never seen things like this before, especially not to her brother! I was impressed by her kindness and the way she interacted with the children. She answered some of our questions, too!

Helen and Naaman weren’t allowed to go with Malachi in the ambulance when he was transferred. That was hard for them since Malachi was so sick! They had started an IV by this time and I was really hoping that he would start acting better by the time they got to IU North. Malena came home with Philip and I. Naaman, Helen and Benson headed to IU North. We could go down later if they needed us.

There was no sleep for Naaman and Helen that night and not much for Benson, either!

To be continued next week… Affirmation for today:

Thoughtful words and deeds never go unnoticed by those who are the recipients of them!

FYI: Call Susan to order Meandering Melodies books at (765) 427-6296. Email: susan.holsinger@gmail.co m or write to her at 7690 W. 700 S., Rossville, IN 46065.

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