By Robin Towle-Fecso
It is hard to deal with the words “your son isn’t thriving” as a mom. The pediatrician said this after she glanced at Nathanael’s growth chart during a wellness visit, years ago. The growth chart and I, at this point, hadn’t been really getting along. Every time the doctor’s clipboard came out (I swear sometimes it would just magically float in the room) my eyes would go up to the heavens and I would say a little prayer for a positive reading. But it never came. Then, during one visit, the pediatrician said something I had never heard before, something that was a little hard to wrap my mommy brain around. “We should get him checked out at the hospital.” I blinked several times trying to process the sentence; my ten-month-old baby has to go to the hospital?
As a child, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I remembered the many countless hours of going to a children’s hospital for testing and treatment. Even though it had “children’s hospital” in its name, I can still recall the stark white walls, the drab rooms and atmosphere, and the hospital’s inability to help me cope with being there in the first place. Would my son now go through the same experience I had?
After two years of an elimination diet and several endoscopies, we found the cause of his stunted growth was mainly due to gluten. Immediately after we pinpointed the allergy source, Nathanael’s growth started to hit positive results (take that, growth chart!). After a year of positive height to weight readings, the doctor wanted to see if my son still needed his medication to eradicate the disease. Sadly, we recently found out diet alone can’t fix Nathanael’s esophagitis, but the GI doctor did recognize the possibility of another culprit. Last Wednesday, we had another procedure scheduled at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Even though we have traveled down this path many times before, my mama worry couldn’t help but surface the night before we were due to go into the hospital. I normally walk into CT Children’s as a ball full of nerves, but I walk out relieved that my son has an amazing children’s hospital just a half an hour away from our home.
To show you what I mean, I want to take you through this recent CT Children’s visit…
Wednesday morning, November 12th, 8:30 am:
We arrived at the hospital to check in for the procedure. The Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s cheery disposition of colorful rooms and children’s art everywhere (very different from what I remembered in the children’s hospital I had gone to as a kid) gave me a little more comfort as we waited to be processed.
Of course, my son’s comfort came in the form of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which was being shown on TV as we waited.
The Registration staff member placed Nathanael’s bracelets on is arm as she mentioned she really liked the color choice of the cast on my son’s other arm. He thanked the friendly lady and away we went to the Surgery Prep room.
Nathanael is dressed in his kid scrubs and got a personal visit (and tickle session) from his Pediatric Gastroenteritis and Surgeon, Dr. Bella Zeisler.
We have now known Dr. Zeisler for four years. We don’t just talk about esophageal levels and allergy updates, we also chat about our kids sleeping patterns and bribing techniques to get our children to eat their peas. We couldn’t ask for better doctors to care for these kids!
My son then got a talk from a Child Life Specialist to help prep him further for the procedure. I brought up this “hospital teacher” in my last guest CT Children’s spot via my Runitlikeamom blog post about Nathanael’s broken arm. During that visit we learned it’s the role of the Child Life Specialist to help the child patient better grasp what to expect during their hospital visit. Last time, it was Jennifer Sweitzer giving Nathanael a lesson about the IV line. This time, Coleen Brown was the Child Life Specialist for the O.R. unit talking to Nathanael about the endoscopy.
Coleen showed my son his gas mask and tasked him with picking out a lip balm flavor to apply on his mask (mmm, smells like oranges!).
She then explained to Nathanael about the different medical devises that would be found on him when he woke up in Recovery and the medical staff (including Dr. Zeisler) he will see in the O.R. These people really do an amazing job making seemingly scary things much more understandable.
Lastly, (and my son’s favorite) was the picture of Connecticut Children’s very own super-fun kid vehicle lot! Nathanael picked out his ride (along with a solid high-five from Coleen) that he would drive into the O.R.
My son chose the police motorcycle (which lives up to his reputation as Flash Gordon) and proudly revved it down the hall to his procedure. See you soon, buddy!
My husband and I were sitting in the family waiting room when my mama worry came to visit me one last time. I quickly took out my phone and read the comments my Runitlikeamom sisters were sending to help get me through the day. All of their words of encouragement and virtual hand holding really helped me settle down and gave me the reassurance I needed to know that Nathanael would be taken care of at CT Children’s and thought of, back home. It also helped speed up the wait time and before I knew it, Nathanael was in Recovery…
If you have a child going through this same process, please know that you are not alone. I hope this post and the Ct Children’s blog, give you peace of mind that the collection of top-notch medical staff along with the support from your friends and loved ones will help you get through the procedures your children have to face. For me, being a part of supportive communities, like CT Children’s and Runitlikeamom (check them out at www.runitlikeamom.com), has made a huge difference. These resources have helped me balance a healthy lifestyle for myself, my son, and my family; the essential ingredients to an amazing life!
About Robin Towle-Fecso
A small business owner to a design and branding company, Jumpstart: Design, Development & Brand, a Runitlikeamom blogger, soccer coach and a mom to a little boy superhero!