Sunday, April 22, 2007

Stomach in knots, literally

Been a while since I've posted, but I've got a good excuse. Honest. But I'm way too exhausted to write it out prose-style, so here's a bulletpointed timeline from the past few days:

  • I go to work early and kick butt, big time. Lots of items completed. Jamie calls me at 9am to tell me that Jack is complaining of stomach pain. Specifically, he cried for a minute and kept saying, 'belly hurt!". Hmm.
  • Jamie calls again at 11am, this time from the doctor's office. They've referred Jack to the ER at Texas Children's Hospital, a place we know well. I leave the office to join them.
  • We get the diagnosis -- intussusception. His bowel has collapsed in on itself, just like a telescope that retracts. The pinching is extremely painful, blocks the pipes, and cuts off circulation to the pinched tissue. If we're lucky, an enema will fix it. If not, he'll need surgery to correct the collapse, and maybe cut out any dead tissue.
  • 4:30 pm, Jack is taken to the X-ray room, where the enema will be done (with barium fluid). He already had an IV in his hand (which he hates), and now it's time for the tube up his hoonanny to force fluids into this pipes and push out the collapsed section. You don't need to be a prophet to guess how much he appreciated that. He even vomited during the procedure, which added to the chaos. Jamie has the same response to extreme physical pain, but we'd never seen it in Jack before.
  • By 6pm, Jack is smiling, joking and playing in the hospital. Still, he needs to stay overnight for observation, as there is a 10% chance of intussesception recurrence in the next 24 hours. Jamie stays at the hospital with Jack all night, and I come home to Samantha, who had been with her grandparents since the afternoon.


  • By 8am, Jack has progressed so quickly that the hospital releases him. He and Jamie arrive at home just as I was leaving to take Samantha to school. I take Samantha, then come home to spend the day with Jack and Jamie. It ends up being a laundry and dishes day, since we'd never caught up from our weekend trip.
  • Jack runs a slight fever, but nothing major.


  • I go back to work in the morning. Another productive day. Jamie calls at 3:30 pm to say that Jack just had another pain attack in his belly. And his fever is over 102. We get a doctor's appointment for 4:45.
  • I join them at the doctor (we're all late, but you try getting to any Houston location on time on a Friday rush hour... not possible). Jack checks out okay, with no belly pain, minimal fever and no signs that anything's wrong. He even asks for food and drink. We had plans to go to the outdoor theater (Berenstein Bears show) for a picnic dinner, but we canceled that. I picked up frozen pizza and we ate at home.
  • Jack ate pizza like a champ. Maybe his afternoon pain attack was just gas, or side effects from passing all that barium (that was pure joy for 48 hours and about 30 diapers).
  • At 6:40, Jack had another bout of extreme belly pain. Again at 7:00. And 7:15. Fever's going up, too. We call the doctor, but already made the decision to go back to the ER. Jamie takes him alone this time, and I just stay home with Samantha. We have a business card from the Surgical Director at Texas Children's, and he told us he would get Jack right through the system if we came back.
  • Jamie and Jack arrive at the hospital, and the Director comes through. Jack skips the queue, skips the ultrasound and goes straight to the X-ray room, this time for an air enema (thank you for no more barium). Again, it seems to work, and the post-procedure ultrasound confirms that there's no more intussesception.
  • They get home around 11pm. No IV, no overnight observation. Thank you, doc.


  • We all go out to breakfast at the Kolache Factory. If you don't know what a kolache is, you're missing out.
  • Jamie takes Samantha to a make-up swimming lesson, and then to a birthday party. I stay home with Jack during the day, and am concerned by Jack's fever. It was 103.4 at noon, so I gave him Motrin (we consider it our fever "big gun" fighter). An hour later his fever was still 103.2. It gradually drops from there.
  • We have a good afternoon, with the kids and Jamie all getting long naps. I also have a great talk with my Dad, getting some advice on a business issue I'm facing. He's been where I am and has some great tips.
  • Jack wakes up from his afternoon nap with a fever of 105. Medicine takes it down around 102.
  • Dinner, bath... the usual. Then Jacks wakes up again at 10:30 pm, this time with a fever of 106. Scary. We call the doc and she recommends putting Tylenol on top of the Motrin we've already given him. We do it and it slowly works, although none of us get much sleep.


  • Jack and Jamie stay home from church (duh). They go the hospital mid-morning for some blood tests, which show that Jack does not have a bacterial infection. This is just some major virus, and there's no way to know if it's related to the intussesception.
  • We are exhausted.

So that's it. Hopefully the belly pain won't come back, and from now on we can just deal with a good old-fashioned virus. God knows we have plenty of experience with that.

To go back to a previous post about the violinist playing in a public place, I've been thinking about appreciating beauty in every moment. Here are some moments from the past few days:

  • Samantha's hair color in the sunshine while we're feeding ducks on a pond (today at lunch). "Red" doesn't cover it -- it's a thousand colors and highlights.
  • Jack's sweet, drained voice saying "daddy" as he looks at me in bed last night at midnight. He was in our bed for a while when his fever was 106. He would wake up every few minutes, crack his eyes open to find me, and just say "daddy' in a matter-of-fact way, kinda like "there he is." The fact that my presence soothes him... well, it's a pretty good feeling.
  • Jamie and I steal a moment in the bedroom Saturday night. It's two tired people coming together for comfort, for fun, just for the simple fact that we could say we did it, in the midst of family sacrifice. A moment just for us.


MamaRose said...

If ya'll 'worked in' a 'stolen moment', YOU DID GOOD!!!!!!! We so WISH & HOPE & PRAY that Jack's bowel is THROUGH 'kinking'!!!!! We're sending you HUGS & KISSES 'throught the air/net'!!!!!

MamaRose said...

That should be 'through', not 'throught', of course & we wanted to THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting ALL of your activities with Jack, especially, these last few days--to know & also make sure we emailed everyone in the family the correct events!!!!! LOVE YA!

hard.rox said...

WOW! Just plain "wow". You guys have been thru a bundle of misery this past week. I truly hope Master Jack gets over his fever and the stomach pain. Talk about feeling absolutely helpless.

On a lighter note, it was a pleasure to see you, Jamie and kids in LR. Too bad you guys couldn't stay the entire weekend, but I know how that goes. It was great to see and talk with Samantha & Jack. I had to stop myself from picking up Samantha at one point. Feels like I've known her for a long time, but she has no clue who the heck I am. LOL

Take care and hope this week is better than the last.

~aj~ said...

It just kills us to think of Jack being in so much pain. We are certainly praying that the worst is behind him and that he won't have this problem again. How's his fever doing today?

On a separate note, we received your pictures in the mail today and oh my goodness, they are ADORABLE! They seriously look like pictures out of The Children's Place catalog. They are so stinkin cute!!!

Redlefty said...

Thanks, Mom and Sis. We're pretty amazed by our thermonuclear son lately.

And Greg, great to see you too! I know what you mean about Samantha -- you definitely know her better than she knows you. Maybe next year...

FishrCutB8 said...

Hang tough, RedFamily....

Hal Johnson said...

Oh sheesh, it was a killer just reading this, since I'm a big wimp when it comes to dealing with kids hurting. I hope Jack is all done with this affair and can go back to just being a kid.

Roland said...

I have no words, guys. My heart goes out to you all.

Redlefty said...

Thanks, gang -- we're much, much better now!