I knew from the first time that Gus threw up that something was seriously wrong with him. I knew it because I felt it in every part of my being. It wasn’t because I hate puking and go into a panic attack whenever someone near me pukes or that I was being dramatic. I felt it in my core that something was wrong.
It didn’t matter that everyone around me was telling me he was okay. That the flu is just really bad this year. The flu affects all kids differently. My pediatrician looked at me when I took him in the afternoon before he was hospitalized and said, “You seem really concerned about the flu.”
I explained to him that my child had barely been awake for the last 20 hours. And when I say barely, I mean barely. He had been lethargic and completely out of it from the moment he threw up. I explained to him that I knew my kid. I know what my kid acts like when he’s well and I know what he acts like when he’s sick. And this wasn’t Gus’s first go around with being really sick. I tried to let the doctor know that my son never quits moving. He is always on the go. And even when he’s sitting still, he’s singing to himself or carrying on a dialogue with the superheros that he’s coloring. It doesn’t matter how sick he is. There was a weekend where he had multiple seizures throughout the weekend and was still bringing his shoes to me and motioning for the door. My kid was and always has been the anti-sleeper so the fact that he couldn’t stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time was alarming and disturbing.
Our pediatrician took blood and sent us home. I found myself in the middle of the night having a heated discussion with Yancy about how I knew something was seriously wrong with Gus and that we should take him to the emergency room. I was on the verge of hysteria. Yancy calmly explained to me that Dr. K was a pediatrician and he was a doctor who had worked with kids for over 30 years. He said- “There’s no way he would send us home with Gus if he thought there was something seriously wrong with him.”
Except that he did. Except that there was.
Dr. K called in the morning and said- “I’m looking at Gus’s lab results now. Hang up the phone and take him directly to Cedars. You’ll get there faster than the ambulance.”
I share this because I learned something very valuable from this. I knew something was seriously wrong with Gus and I let myself get talked out of it. Numerous times. I tried to tell myself that they were right and I was just being paranoid. Just being scared. But deep down. I knew. And I couldn’t shake it. I will never make that mistake again. It could have been a fatal one.
I was talking with one of my dear friends the other day and she reminded me about a family we used to know who lost their toddler last year. We used to see them at the park all the time. We don’t see them anymore because their little boy is no longer with us. Last year, he got really sick. He got so sick that he died from the flu. This was after repeated trips to the pediatrician and repeated assurances that it was only the flu and he would be fine. They found him in his crib barely breathing and the rest ends in tragedy. Fact: The leading cause of death among kids under the age of 5 is the flu.
I share all of this to say: Trust your gut.
I mean it. I don’t tell people what to do very often. It just isn’t my style, but this is important. If you think something is wrong, don’t stop until you’re satisfied something isn’t. Who cares if the doctor thinks you’re being paranoid or overreacting? There’s nobody that knows your kid like you know your kid.
That mama bear instinct is loud. And if she roars- listen.