This blog has been inspired by another blog called "Doctor Mom": http://specialneedsparenting.net/doctor-mom/. I am so grateful for how this author words the process of being a special needs mom and how us moms and dads (but mostly moms) grow in our efficiency and knowledge in our child's medical world and needs. When I read this article about how we become "The Student", "The Intern", "The Resident" and finally "Doctor Mom", I inmediately thought back on the day I graduated and obtained the title of Dr. Mom. I want to tell you about that day.
June 2, 2011 started out as any normal day. This was the only day out of the week that I had to be at the office. I worked out of the home as a lactation peer counselor, but had to meet with new moms and babies once a week at the office. That morning my husband got Jorgie ready for the school bus pick up. Once the bus picked Jorgie up, my husband took our daughter to school, all while caring for our 3 year little girl....I agree: SUPER DAD!
I was at the office with a sweet young couple and their newborn giving breastfeeding tips when my supervisor informs me that my cell phone (in my purse, on my desk) was ringing. I excuse myself from my meeting to check the phone. I noticed it was a missed call from Jorgie's school. I called back and one of the class assistants answers, I knew her very well, she had been working with my son for about 6 years. Her voice seemed calm as she told me Jorgie had fallen from his stander and hurt his arm. She said he was crying and we needed to pick him up. I inmediately hung up the phone and called my husband. We lived 2 blocks away from the school so it made more sense for husband to get there first while I drove to the school. While on the freeway about 6 miles away, my husband calls me but I couldn't understand what he was saying because I could hear Jorgie in the background screaming his lungs out. After trying to dicipher what my husband was saying, I realized he was asking me if the school should call 911. I was confused, I thought his arm was hurt, I was thinking a trip to urgent care would be enough. This wasn't the first time I received a call regarding a school injury. I told my husband to do what he felt what was best since he was there with our son and I was not.
I happen to arrive at the same time the fire fighters arrived. We both rushed into the classroom. At this point Jorgie was crying, but not screaming as he was earlier and what I found odd was that he was yawning in between the crying. The firefighter cut off his t-shirt and I stepped back in shock as I saw his shoulder completely deformed. The responder said it looked like a broken collar bone. I was growing more and more concerned because between what his shoulder looked like and the fact that my son was falling asleep just didn't make sense. He should be screaming with excruciating pain, but he was falling asleep. I was repeatedly asked if my son's behavior was normal and I repeatedly answered no it was not. Since I had worked for the Red Cross for quite a few years, I took many first aid classes. First impressions I got was that either my son had a concussion or was going into shock. I kept on desperately asking the classroom assistant if he hit his head when he fell, she kept on answering like a broken record, "I didn't see him fall, I came running when I heard the crash". That brings up the question, what was my son doing by himself? The firefighter checked his head and re-assured me he was fine, but I wasn't buying it, I knew something was up, something worse than a broken clavicle bone. I just couldn't figure out what it was, but it involved his head.
The paramedicas finally got there. According to records, it was 4 min after firefighters got there, but as a mom it felt like 4 hours. They asked me the same questions, I gave the same answers. They checked his head and told me they didn't see signs of head injury. At this point, I'm not even listening to them. There was something wrong with my boy and I felt so helpless that no one else noticed. They are supposed to know these things, they train for this, what is happening!
During ride in ambulance they made me ride in passenger seat so the emt's had room to work on and supervise Jorgie. At one point they told me not to worry, "Jorgie is taking a nap". First thing I asked was "is he breathing?" I was serious, he should not be sleeping! I guess they thought I was joking, they laughed and told me to relax. I have never felt so helpless as a mom in my whole entire mom life, than I did that moment. I desperately whispered prayers "please Lord, save my son".
We arrive at the hospital, I answer the long list of routine questions. Try to explain what the assistant said happened at school. Once in a bed, a nurse checks Jorgie's vitals, he is falling in and out of sleep. Every single medical professional that walk in asks me the same question: "is his behavior, baseline behavior? No! At one point I was about to lose it. Finally the main doctor for the ER walks in. She listed the orders for my son, xray for shoulder being first one. I begged her to order a scan for his head because I truly believed something was wrong. She gave me a look and said "ok, I'm sure nothing is wrong, but to be sure, let's order a ct scan". She was going to have it done after arm xray, I was not happy. I insisted ct scan be done first. She reversed orders. Finally the techs arrive to take Jorgie to radiology. This wasn't his first scan, not uncommon for kids with cerebral palsy, but what was uncommon was that he did not put up a fight once on the uncomfortable hard table. I knew something was wrong! I had to wait in separate room while they scanned him. I don't think it was more than 5 minutes before I saw both techs turn every thing off, inmediately transfer him back into his bed and wheel him out of radiology. I think, somehow, I became invisible because they didn't even look at me and I had to almost run to keep up with them while they rushed Jorgie back to the ER. All of the sudden I hear over the speakers "trauma team to trauma room 1" repeated 3 times.
I turned the corner to the right where our room was, but they turned left and rolled Jorgie into trauma room 1. All of the sudden I couldn't breathe. As I stood next to him, no one said a word to me, but alot of excuse me's because I was in the way. I was waiting for some eye contact so I could ask what was wrong. One of the nurses finally came up to me and escorted me to the corner of the room, she said they needed complete access to my son because he was very sick. She told me to wait there and surgeon would come talk to me. SURGEON???? In that moment a guy with a white collar introduces himself to me and asks me how I was doing. He was the hospital chaplain, I knew this wasn't good! Finally I see a white coat, the surgeon! He guides me to back of room where my son's scan was, he turns on the light and I inmediately noticed something off. It looked like he had two brains, one side the size of a small mango. The surgeon went on to explain that he had an epidural hematoma and it was pushing against his brain, which was very dangerous and that they needed to operate inmediately. I was speechless, the only thing I could think of was ask what the surgery risks were. He said he didn't have time to talk risks, every surgery has its risks, but at this point if they didn't operate he would die. I stepped back, the surgeon returned to Jorgie to prep him for surgery. I sat in corner crying and trying to catch my breath, as a social worker and the chaplain were talking to me, I don't know what they said.
The surgery was a couple of hours long, felt like 30 hours. It was successful thank the Lord. Recovery included alot of respiratory distress, swelling, pain and seizures. He was in and out of the ICU for about 3 weeks. It was a terrifying, eye-opening, something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy-experience. The after-surgery, hospital stay of 8 weeks, rehab, taking care of my girls, is a whole new blog.
This day, I graduated and became Dr. Mom. Just recently my son met with a new neurologist, I had to tell him the story. He was awestuck, he said "do you know that people easily die from epidural hematomas", usually not knowing there was a problem". "How did you know Mrs. Alvarado?" I know how I knew, God was good and told me there was something wrong with his head. I will be forever grateful to God for giving my son a third chance, his second chance was his birth. Jorgie has a purpose in this life, God isnt through with him or with us, his parents, that's a fact!
Until next time! God bless you and your family! Please share.
-Laura (Dr. Mom)