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A Harrowing Grandma Experience by Chris’s mom, Lynne, guest blogger

With our children grown and living in Kansas City and Kentucky, we can seldom be all together. But this Thanksgiving was going to be different! We were going to take all our grown kids: our son Chris, his wife Michelle, their six-month old daughter Lydia,  and our son Brian, to Kentucky for Thanksgiving to visit daughter Liz and husband Dan. We had all kinds of fun plans; Churchill Downs for Thanksgiving Dinner, the Husker game on TV, the Louisville Slugger museum, seeing the tree lighting downtown, dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, pickup basketball at the YMCA and swimming. We were driving to Kansas City Tuesday. On Wednesday, I was going to fly to Louisville with Lydia and arrive around 2:30 p.m. Don, Chris, Michelle and Brian were going to drive and get in around 5:00 p.m.

We were all a little concerned that Lydia had had a fever starting on Saturday, of a little over 101 most of the time. Michelle took her in to the doctor on Monday; they did some blood work and gave her an antibiotic shot. I went Tuesday and took her in for a recheck, since Michelle had to work. Lydia’s doctor was out of town for the holiday. The stand-in doctor said Lydia’s white blood count was down. She also said “Since we gave her the shot and her temp is still high, it’s not bacterial.” Which sounded kind of odd to me. Also, when we asked about her eyes being so red and bloodshot, the doctor seemed unconcerned and said she was sure it was just a virus. She cleared her for the trip, which was happy news for all of us. Liz was so excited to have her happy, active little niece come for a visit. As it turned out, Liz and Dan didn’t get to see Happy, Active Lydia at all….none of us did….

On Wednesday morning, Michelle gave Lydia a little Tylenol, which she promptly urped up. The vomit was strangely green, but otherwise not too dramatic. Lydia nursed, and we got to the airport in plenty of time. Lydia and I went through security just fine. We were to fly Continental and connect in Houston.

At the gate, the troubles began!

The plane didn’t have an oxygen tank for the cockpit. We only had about 45 minutes between flights, so it soon became clear we were toast on that count. The lady at the desk took pity on me, came and beckoned me over. She said, “We found a United flight via Chicago that can get you in at 3:30.” So, we took a little bus, went through security again, and arrived at the United gate with over an hour to spare. While we sat at the gate, I decided to try more Tylenol. Lydia did not seem to want her bottle, and she seemed to have a sore throat. Upon swallowing the Tylenol, more green, slimy urp came up. All over me. All over her. Off to the bathroom to clean ourselves up. Ugh. Then, an uneventful flight to Chicago.

I still did not want to call Michelle, as she was several hundred miles away and I didn’t know what she could do, anyway. Maybe Lydia would feel better when we got to Kentucky and settled in to the hotel room?

Lydia and I made it to the gate in plenty of time in Chicago, so I decided to try more Tylenol and some more milk. Bad idea. She did take a few ounces, but then…..Much more green slimy projectile vomit now. Back to the bathroom to clean us both up. Now I was really concerned. I called Michelle and told her to call her doctor, fully expecting to be sent straight to urgent care upon landing in Kentucky.

Which landing was, of course, not going to happen anywhere near 3:30. Apparently, our plane had been in Canada, and someone didn’t know it was cold in Canada. So, he or she failed to clean out the toilet drainpipe in Canada and the plan sat overnight, causing the pipe to – surprise – freeze. On the way to Chicago, everything backed up into the plane. (It was clearly a day for disgusting bodily fluids.) However, the nice United people continued to assure us that everything would be fixed “soon.” 2 1/2 hours later, they put us all on another plane and we had an uneventful flight to Louisville. We got in around 6:00 p.m. Which equalled 8 hours in airports; 2 hours in flight. No wonder Don says driving is better!

The doctor hadn’t called back, and when Michelle called the office again, the nurse who she got a hold of didn’t seem overly concerned about the new developments.

Thursday, we had an great time at Churchill Downs, although none of us could stop checking on Lydia, who was mostly sleeping in her stroller. We had a wonderful family time and they served a delicious buffet. (I also won $52, and I only bet on one race – guess I should quit my law practice and move down there!) Lydia was still droopy, but no vomiting. She was eating a little better and seemed a bit happier. However, she was still pretty miserable and very tired. We were all really starting to miss Lydia’s smiles, and none of us, other than her parents, had even seen her crawl, except on Googlecam! Once again, this was not going to happen; not on this trip.

Thursday night, Lydia slept and slept and slept. 14 hours in all. “Maybe she’ll wake up and feel great,” we hoped. She stirred around a bit in the late morning, and we got her up, but she did not want to eat. At all. Finally, the doctor called back and suggested Pedialite. We went to the hotel room and watched the Husker game; everyone was glad it was on TV in Kentucky. We spent the day fighting with Lydia to get a few drops of Pedialite down her throat. After dinner, Michelle said she thought she better take her in to urgent care. Chris’s response was, “I’m tired when I’m sick, too.” I told him that Lydia needed to go to a pediatric urgent care just to make sure – Michelle was right – Lydia was not getting better. Chris wasn’t going to go with them. Dan looked at him and said, “Chris. You should go.” Which maybe clued Chris in that his usual laid back approach was not cutting it this time. At any rate, he agreed to go.

On the internet, we found Louisville, KY Kids’ Express Urgent Care, and off they went:  Chris, Michelle, Lydia and Liz. (The rest of this paragraph is hearsay; just wanting to be transparent here.) They tried to get an IV into little Sweet Pea’s arm, and they were having a tough time. Finally, Dr. Laney (bless his heart!) looked at her and said, “This poor little thing has been through enough. Take her to Kosair Children’s Hospital.” Chris was still convinced this was a bit of overkill. After all, Lydia’s doctors in Kansas City didn’t seem that concerned. Thankfully, Liz was there to run interference for Michelle. She told Chris, “Doctors see lots and lots of horses. Sometimes, they see a zebra, but they still think it’s a horse. Lydia might be a zebra; let them run all the tests and see so we can all sleep better tonight.” Chris’s response? “My daughter is not a zebra; she’s a horse.” But he was wrong; at that point, our granddaughter was, indeed, and unhappily, a zebra.

About this time, we started texting, calling and e-mailing people. I think Lydia was on approximately 7 church prayer chains.

They ran a test to see if this was a virus with similar symptoms: negative.

They ran a test to measure inflammation in her system. Normal: 3. Lydia’s: 250. Dr. Smith, the pediatric infectious disease doctor, said a result like that screams “Kawasaki Syndrome” if you see it on a med school test. (I will now apologize in advance for my lack of medical expertise to explain this all correctly; you can always Google it for a better explanation.)This is a disease where a virus or something causes a child’s immune system to screw up, causing inflammation in all the blood vessels. (Hence, the dry red eyes.) If untreated, this disease can cause aneurisms in the arteries by the heart. The good news is, 15 years ago, they came up with a treatment. They give a 10-hour immunoglobulin IV to help her little body fight off infection that is causing the inflammation. The really, really good news, and the part that shows God is Good and In Control, is, it HAS to be administered within 10 days of the onset of the symptoms. We were at day 8.

We all prayed over Lydia together in the hospital room. I wish I had Chris’s prayer taped. By now, his heart was broken for his little girl and he poured it out to Our Lord who, it turns out, was listening. Praise Him!

There were a few rough starts (she had a bad reaction and they had to get the doctor back in and slow the IV down; the nurses misunderstood the doctor’s orders and Michelle & Chris had to tell them to call the doctor back and get it straight, etc.) but she got through it. Dr. Smith was terrific; he came back to the hospital at midnight on a Saturday night to make sure everything was okay. Still, when we came to see Lydia Sunday at noon, she was still looking pretty “peaked,” as my dad used to say. It was possible she would need additional “IG-IV’s.” However, either Dr. Smith knew how to time it, or that little girl wanted to go home. For when he walked in, she sat up, looked straight at him with those beautiful blue eyes, and started grabbing for her books and toys!!  Hurray!!  Hurray!! What an amazing miracle from God!! Dr. Smith cleared her to go home to Kansas City and her own home, room and crib.

I flew back alone – which turned out to be very restful – and very deliciously uneventful. Lydia rode back in the car with her mommy, her daddy, her grandpa and her Uncle Brian.

And while we were in the waiting room to see the KC doctor on Monday, she nursed, looked up at her mommy – and SMILED. So, half of our short vacation totally blown. Two days and two nights crowded in to a hospital room. But that smile was worth it all. When I broke out with a little shriek of joy, Lydia arched over backward to see me better, and gave me a big upside-down smile, too. That’s when we knew she’d be okay.