Thursday, January 20, 2011

Penny Predicament

Most of you know by now that Grace swallowed a penny last Thursday and had to be hospitalized. This is the first time I've been able to sit down and blog about it- and hopefully it'll fill in the holes of the story.

Last Thursday morning, 30 minutes before we were to leave for school, Grace was shaking a penny in a plastic toy tub, when the penny found a hole in her fingers and flew into her mouth. I think the surprise of it caused an automatic swallow reflex to happen (Grace can't explain very well WHY she swallowed it, just that she couldn't get it out of her mouth, so I guess the reflex is my theory). She ran in sobbing, told me the story, and I told her she would just have to poop it out. She was quite upset and told me between sobs that her chest hurt. Grace can be.... we'll say, sensitive to pain, so I wondered if the pain wasn't from the crying, but decided to look online for some idea of what to expect. All the sites recommended a call to the doctor, in case they want a x-ray, so I placed the call. They said that they'd get back to me when the doctor got in.

So, I'm thinking, she swallowed a penny- she'll poop it out in a few days- and so I take her to school. Literally 2 minutes after dropping her off the doctor's office calls wanting her to come in for an x-ray. So I pull a U-y, drag my two other kids into the school, and pick Grace back up. Luckily my good friend Michelle was willing to take the other two for what I figured would be an hour tops as we got confirmation that the penny was moving on and took Grace back to school. I didn't even have Grace bring her backpack with her.

Instead, the x-ray showed the penny to be stuck in her lower esophagus. They decided to repeat the test at the 3 hour swallowing mark to see if it wouldn't move before sending us to the ER. The repeat showed that it still hadn't moved. Off to the Fairfax Pediatric ER we went.

The ER was fantastic. They had books, toys, coloring pages and crayons, and TV to entertain/distract the kids. Plus they had people who's whole job was to act as a child liaison, answering the kids' questions and explaining procedures in kid language. They were amazing.

The doctors looked at the film and determined that the coin was a quarter, even after Grace confirmed multiple times that it was a penny. Knowing they had been playing with Liliana's pennies lately, I was pretty sure the coin was a penny as well, so I told them that I guessed we would see. After consulting all the experts, they decided to wait for the 24 hour mark to check again (if we didn't see the penny pass on its own). Statistics say that most coins (75%) will pass in 24 hours on their own. They wanted to avoid anesthesia if at all possible, since while safe, it carries risks that outweigh a 24 hour wait. But in order to wait, Grace couldn't eat, to avoid an complications in the esophagus. And since she couldn't eat, she needed an IV. And an IV means a hospital room.

Grace did fantastic. With the help of the child liaison's instructions and distractions, she didn't even cry when they put in the IV. The hunger made her uncomfortable, but having her own personal TV and a room full of toys, games, and puzzles helped her get through. Kaylon came in the evening to switch with me, and he stayed the night.

Early the next morning they did the x-ray right in her room. The penny was still there. An endoscopy was scheduled and the girls and I drove down to see her before she went into the procedure room. I have to say, one of the funniest things I've ever seen is my child undergoing anesthesia. She whimpered that the medicine hurt; I rubbed her arm to comfort her; her eyes fluttered; she yawned; and then she was asleep. It was amazing.

The procedure took less than 20 minutes. She woke up and guzzled her first apple juice in over 24 hours. They gave her cookies and she excitedly talked about ordering a cheeseburger when she got back to her room (which she got). She wanted to order 4 meals since that's how many she was missing, but she didn't even finish the one, so I'm glad I talked her out of it. We had to wait around for our discharge, but we got out of there around 1 in the afternoon with the penny (not quarter) in a bag and pictures from the endoscopy for proof. Grace complained on the way home that she missed "her hospital." Hopefully she won't swallow another penny in hopes of getting back.

1 comment:

Debbie's said...

I'm SO glad you guys got into such an amazing hospital! I look forward to seeing what you decide to do with the penny and pictures ;)