Saturday morning Chris, Aiden and I spent some quality family time together. When the clouds started to fill the sky we took advantage of the cooler temperatures and sat on the deck to enjoy the outdoors. The showers stayed away which gave us the opportunity to just relax; relaxation has not been standard practice for quite a while now so we understand the importance of relishing these special moments. Much like the unpredictability of summer showers, though, our tranquil afternoon took a drastic turn.
Suddenly, without warning, Aiden began to get sick. That solitary episode in-and-of-itself did not alarm Chris and I as this is our new “normal.” Chris cleaned up the area while I took Aiden upstairs for a bath. Aiden smiled at me and I felt reassured that he was on the mend. As I carried him to his room, though, he began to get sick again. This time, he was inconsolable and could not seem to control his stomach muscles. I called the on-call physician for Children’s National Medical Center and was told to drive Aiden to the Emergency Room at Fairfax Hospital. Chris and I knew this would not be an easy drive as Aiden was very uncomfortable and continuing to get sick. We packed what we could and rushed out the door.
During the trip down route 50, Aiden started to lose all of the color in his face. Saturday was day ten since his Irinotecan treatment, which means that his blood counts may be low. Though paleness does follow severe vomiting and is linked to dehydration, it is also a symptom of anemia (a condition in which the body does not have enough oxygen-providing red blood cells), which I have now been trained to recognize. I tried to keep Aiden’s focus, though he was desperately trying to sleep. Suddenly, I was not able to provoke a response. Chris was driving like a mad-man but we were not getting through the Saturday afternoon traffic fast enough. I picked up my cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. I am not really sure of the conversation I had with the dispatcher, but within minutes paramedics were at our car door.
As soon as Aiden was lifted from his car seat, his big brown eyes burst open. He was in awe of all the people, flashing lights and sirens. Chris and I exuded worry while my innocent little man emanated pure, unadulterated amazement. I accompanied Aiden in the ambulance, while Chris followed in the car. He was instructed to obey all traffic laws, which, if you know my husband, was not an easy thing to do given the situation.
Aiden was stable; he was actually quite comfortable. His stats were excellent and the vomiting ceased, at least for the moment. One of the paramedics defined Aiden’s episode as a “brief, altered state of consciousness.” He may have been extremely exhausted from all of the aforementioned vomiting or the severe muscle contractions may have elicited a nerve reaction which caused him to quickly snap in and out of consciousness. Regardless of the cause, I was reassured by all of the paramedics that I did the right thing by calling for an ambulance. Given Aiden’s medical situation we cannot take any chances and it is always better to err on the side of caution.
When we arrived at Fairfax Hospital we were greeted by a familiar face, Dr. Mary Camarca, pediatric emergency medicine physician. Dr. Camarca treated Aiden earlier in the week. She commented that he did look worse that their previous encounter. He was still getting sick so his port was promptly accessed to administer IV anti-nausea medication and fluids. Since this was our second ER visit in one week and the incident was a little more severe, we were admitted to the oncology floor so that Aiden could be closely monitored. Almost in harmony, as the fluids entered Aiden’s body, the color began to return to his face. Aiden’s happy disposition promptly followed suit.
Chris, Aiden and I made it to the oncology floor late Saturday night, though it may have actually been early Sunday morning. All three of us were exhausted. Aiden drifted off to sleep without hesitation. Chris and I, on the other hand, squeezed into the pull out chair (definitely meant for one very small person) in an attempt to grab a few hours of shuteye before sunup. When morning arrived, Aiden woke with a smile and reached for Chris and me to pick him up from the crib. He was doing remarkably well and just wanted to be close to us. It is believed that Aiden may have contracted a stomach virus even though he was not febrile at all during the past week or weekend. We are not actually sure as to the cause which is only further muddled by the fact that Aiden cannot tell us what he is feeling. We also introduced solids to his diet last week. Though solids are not believed to be the source of his vomiting spells, it may have served as a contributing factor. We have decided to stave off new foods for a little while longer.
Aiden received his scheduled Vincristine treatment on Monday in the clinic. He actually got the IV push while sitting in the entertainer chair. He really enjoyed himself and was coined “naked baby” as he preferred being shirtless while his port was accessed at the clinic. As expected his hemoglobin count was low. Dr. Chang, Aiden’s oncologist, said that he would like Aiden to return to the clinic on Thursday for a blood transfusion. This is normal during chemotherapy and will be the third time Aiden has received blood since being diagnosed. I will be extra-vigilant during the next few days though to ensure Aiden does not exhibit any outward signs of anemia before our return. His platelet and neutrophil counts were okay, but I will – of course – be monitoring him for signs of those low counts as well.
Aiden is doing very well today and has been talking a lot! His new favorite expression no longer serves as the basis for an indiscernible string of coos. Check out the video below to hear Aiden’s first word!!
Please keep praying! We love you all and thank God for blessing us with such an amazing network of support and strength.