I needed a place to type about my recent experiences (Warning: Long Post, Painful experience involving my son)


I just needed a place to get this all off of my chest and out somewhere, or I'm going to burst.

Saturday, my son, Alexander, bonked his knee on a stroller tray whilst being taken out of it, no blood, no broken skin. Nothing to give any indication of what was coming. Throughout Saturday and Sunday, he would stiffen his right leg and refuse to bend it, sobbing if it did bend. When we gave him Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen (children's versions, no more than 1 1/4 tablespoon every 4-6 hours), he would be find, bending, running like normal, and playing. Since he has recently begun to milk wounds (being 2 and 11 months) for more sympathy, we kept a close eye but were thinking he was getting more attention.

Now comes the hard part.

At 0130 Mountain time, he woke up screaming and crying, with a fever. We don't have anything to get a quick, easy temp, and he was not cool with anything in his mouth, so we got dressed and rushed to the local ER. There's the shell of a hospital there, but only the ER is functional. They start taking temps, noting he's hitting the 101 deg. F temp, and start doing tests. IV went in fine, so they started him on Phentonyol for pain. Seeing Alexander like that hurt. The doctor attending thankfully had the strength to say "We know there's something wrong with his hip, and we can't do anything here. So, we're going to transfer you to Presybetirian Saint Lukes and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. The Childrens Hospital has a better trauma team, but the Rocky Mt. Hospital for Children has a lot better pediatric specialists, especially orthopedic." My wife and I nodded and signed paperwork. She went with the Ambulance, I ran home for electronics (cell chargers mainly, her laptop, my ipad) some extra bottles (just in case). Because of the possibility of surgery, his last actual food/water was 0330. We were transferred at 0530. Ambulance ride went without incident. Apparently Phentonyol is mildly narcotic, so Alexander was waving at empty benches and saying "Hi".

At St. Lukes, the ER pediatric docs were amazing. They had a good idea from the start that an operation was needed, so they moved into Morphine for a longer lasting pain blocker. We met the Physicians Assistant to the orthopedic surgeon at 0800, and he had a battery of questions. In the end, he said, it could be one of 2 things:

1.) The lining of the hip joint is, for lack of a better work, crumpled up and causing the joint to not rotate smoothly.
2.) There is a bacterial infection of the hip joint capsule.

After all the questions, he was 85% sure it was the second scenario. I keep a very close track of what Alexander is given in terms of medication, and in the first scenario, ibuprofen would have given him more motion than what he had. So, he then starts explaining that Alexander will be going into surgery, and what they do.

First, they tap the joint (stick a long needle in) and pull some fluid for cultures. If it's cloudy, white blood cells are in there going after the infection, which means they will know 100% right there that the first scenario is the right one. The second thing that needed to be done was a picc line needed to be put in from his left arm, through deep veins into the vas deferens because no antibiotic can really penetrate that far into the hip joint without some help. A picc line, as he explained is a much longer, more robust IV line. He was hoping they could get the picc line specialist in by 1030, if not he knew for a fact he would have the specialist in by 1230. The anesthesiologist was apparently the best in the state (and I looked him up, so yes, no lie there) and only worked one day a week at this hospital. A Dr. Lewis.

At 1000 Alexander got hot, so I called in the nurse. His fever had spiked up to 103.3F. We were rushed to Pre-op, and bumped a child with a broken leg who needed pins. Doctor ordered 6ml of Ibuprofen to bring the fever down, morphine for pain. Alexander, at this point, started having involuntary muscle spasms. Every time, it sounded like the worst pain he's ever been in. I asked what could be done, and they consulted with Dr. Lewis who said give him .5ml of Valium. That worked like a champ. It worked so well, in fact, Alexander's O2 levels dripped under 80% saturation due to him not taking deep breaths. O2 was brought out and aimed at his face, bringing it back up.

The specialist was not available until 1230, so I sent my wife home for a change of clothes, shower etc. Unfortunately, we're about an hour away from the hospital, so as she's heading back, all of the doc's, surgeon, PA's, and nurses choose that time to descend on the room. They explain everything (which is why this is now the hospital i'm taking Alexander to from now on) answer each of my questions like they're the most important thing in the world, and above all, they tell me that no matter what they're here to take care of my boy, and they know how important he is to me.

I'm hanging on by a thread, having to sign my name to 14 literal pages.

They hand me the cheap coveralls and a hair net, and say I can go back with him, but only until the general anesthetic is administered. and he passes out. Thread starting to break. I've managed to hold it together up to this point. Stoic, resolved, determined. Now, I'm starting to tear up. Having 3 nurses in my extended family, 2 nurses in the family, I'm pretty aware of the risks in the OR, even when everything is done perfectly.

So, I'm holding it together, I call my wife and put her on speaker and let her talk to Alexander, I tell her what's going on, she pulls over the the side of I-25 and holds it together long enough to say"I love you! We'll see you soon!" and hangs up. Later, she told me she couldn't see enough to drive. We get back to the OR, I pound knuckles with the Surgeon, Dr. Laura Benson, Dr. Lewis and the PA, Dr Dennis (I don't know his last name). They all do the reassurance thing. I nod, and hold Alexander's hand. Dr. Lewis says, due to the valium, Alexander won't remember this at all. 2 female nurses come in at that point, and Alexander, God bless him, does the chin up and a small wave to them as if to say "How you doin'?" They come over, and Dr. Lewis administers the anesthetic. Apparently it stings, as Alexander lets out a little cry. I leaned in close and told him I loved him, and I would see him as soon as he was done. I got it in as his eyes closed.

One of the female nurses walked me out, and I broke down in the hall. Never in my life have I felt this way. I work in IT, I can fix most things in my house, and I'm powerless to help and fix one of the cornerstones in my life. The nurse was kind enough to give me a couple of minutes to pull it back together before completing her part and giving me to the charge nurse. She looked me in the eye and said "We know you're good parents, and we know how much your little guy means. We will do everything we can humanly do to get him healthy."

Hell, I'm crying now. Thank God I chose to work the 4 hours I need to from home.

About an hour later, my wife comes in and we sit and discuss it. I explain everything they told me, she smiles through tears, and we walk down to a cafe to get food, water since neither of us had eaten much at all up to this point.

At 1430, the charge nurse called back to the OR to get a small status update, and gave it to us. "Picc line is in, they're flushing the joint. It was a bacterial infection. Another hour and you'll see Alexander. He's doing very, very well." My wife broke down. I teared up but caught most of it, and held her.

1530, Dr. Benson comes out to the waiting room and explains the procedure, and in general, what happened in the OR. Good was: everything was as she expected. Bacterial infection of the hip joint, it was flushed and cleaned, picc line went in smoothly. Things that did not go so well: Alexanders fever jumped to 104F - in a 65F room, that's a problem, and the hip joint capsule was dry at first. So, we got him in at a good early stage, any longer, and there might have been bone damage.

1545 - a PACU nurse comes out to get us, and we go back to see him. He's in leg braces for comfort. 4 inch incision on his leg. the picc line looks like an IV. He's still sound asleep. Again, all of my resolve shatters like plate glass on concrete and I sit in a chair, crying, knowing now he's ok, and we're through the (hopefully) hardest part of this whole thing. The PACU Nurse, April, is freaking awesome. Calms my wife down, talks to both of us (and, as my wife tells me in a text message this morning, came up to the room to check up on her and Alexander - simply amazing) and explains the next steps. When he wakes up, we can do water, and we need to keep close so he knows we're there. They, at this point, moved to an oral pain med, Z...something something with a morphine buffer to keep him pain free until it kicks in. Valium is still being administered for the spasms, to help him sleep. 30 minutes at least until he's moved into a normal room, after his eyes open and they do a check to make sure he feels hands on his feet, legs arms, tummy, chest and head. Each and every one of the nurses, surgeons, PA's, and Dr. Lewis come by to check up on him. Answer my wife's questions like they answered mine. Explained the outline of the recovery plan (for flexibility, it's only an outline) and generally act like human beings. They explain their part in the whole thing, what they did, and my wife and I thank each of them in turn...profusely.

We were moved into a room at 1630. The nurses in my family were clamoring to come to the room, so I started filtering them in. The nurse for the floor said "They can all come in. You're so tired, you're going to fall down the stairs if you keep it up!" so all 5 of them cam into the room and generally talked to Alexander, each held his hand in turn (so as not to overwhelm him) and asked some pointed questions of the nurse. (seriously, I don't know the terms, but it sounded like they were sharp questions. 2 of the 5 were NICU nurses (one for 35 years), 1 a pediatric nurse, 2 ER nurses - one of those my mom) so, I felt bad for the nurse, but I knew why. I apologized after and she said "No! I learned a lot from that conversation, so don't be sorry. They gave me their numbers, so if I have questions, I can ask them if I can't get answers here."

So, at this point, my job gave me a free 8 hours for the day, giving me 4 hours today, and said "When they're discharged, you're done for that day here to." I have a customer delivery tomorrow, so I have to go into the office for at least 6 hours (I don't expect it to take much longer than that).

As of this posting, he's eating french toast and scrambled eggs, hitting on the nurse (in his way) and is doing pretty well. Temp is fluctuating between 99 and 100F (105F is very very bad, 98.6F is normal human temp, for those who use C) which is normal for post operation and this type of infection. I'm working through tickets, doing laundry, will be getting a list of what my wife needs and wants.

Survived 19 hours of hell. Unlocked that achievement, and I don't want anymore from that list.

Thank you for reading. If you're in Denver, and need a good hospital, St. Lukes is a really great hospital. If people actually want pictures, I have them. If you have questions, I'll do my level best to answer them.


Glad to hear your son is okay! We've managed to survive anything that dramatic with ours so far (save the eldest's birth), but I'm sure it will happen eventually. Get some sleep and take some deep breaths.

Do they think the bacterial infection was caused by anything in particular? Or that him hitting his knee somehow "awakened" an infection that had already started in the hip?

Sheesh, glad the kids is doing better!

What a scary experience, hang in there! It's the most difficult thing in the world to see your child hurting and in pain and not being able to make them better.

Hope he has a speedy recovery!

Wow, that's rough. So glad to hear he's feeling better.

Chin up to the nurses, eh? Be sure to tell him that chicks dig scars.

Daaamn. Hang in there. I have been on the other end of this myself and have seen how hard the experience was on my parents. They went through this many years ago when I had my first serious peanut reaction. It affected just about every inch of me except my throat otherwise I would have almost certainly died on the spot. To say that I was inches from death would be overly dramatic but I could definitely see her from where I was sitting. Those were a frightening couple of hours.

That was at Vancouver Childrens Hospital and the staff were amazing.

Minarchist wrote:

Do they think the bacterial infection was caused by anything in particular? Or that him hitting his knee somehow "awakened" an infection that had already started in the hip?

Every doctor and surgeon I've talked to know what it is, but don't know the how or why. Dr. Laura Benson has a theory, and she stressed theory, that the child gets a nasty viral infection, and the body flips into full on virus destruction mode. Once that happens, she believes that some of the bacteria slips through the white blood cell dragnet and settles in the joint.

Awakening the infection is pretty close to how the PA, Dr. Dennis explained it. He has the same theory, but he's also been working with Dr. Benson for the better part of 2 decades, 17 to 18 years now, so that doesn't surprise me so much

There is no more helpless feeling in the world than being a parent when your child is in a desperate medical situation. Thank God everything turned out all right for you.

Praying for you guys.

Could be do to the fact that I have my own personal-hell-story buried deep in my brain from the birth of my daughter, but literally just had to close my office door so passers by wouldn't see me all teared up.

I am so glad your son is doing well. Thanks for sharing.

I'm so glad to hear that Alexander is doing better; well enough to be a little bit of a flirt even!

I hope his recovery - and yours and your wife's from the shock and sleeplessness of it all - goes smoothly. I'm sure your little guy will be back to get getting into everything soon enough.

Keep us posted on his recovery, and if there's anything we can do to help, just say the word.

Hugs to you and your family!

So glad to hear your son is doing well after all of this. (I had to skip down to the end first before I could read it. As the father of two, I can't take child injury horror stories without positive outcomes.) Best for the future.

So, an update. Dr. Dennis called me directly (seriously, the customer service has blown me away!) after talking to my wife in the hospital. All of his markers are down in the single digits, from 60. So, really good progress. He said, that means the flush went very well, and it was absolutely the right procedure. We're waiting on blood tests to be sure the bacteria was confined to the joint, otherwise, they might have to take out the picc line and put in a fresh one tomorrow just to be sure the bacteria didn't latch onto it. All depends on the tests.

Also, they managed to identify the bacteria with 100% certainty roughly 6 hours ahead of the best time estimates yesterday. So, Alexander is now on a narrow spectrum antibiotic, which should eradicate the infection.

Glad he's doing ok, sounds like a great team taking care of your son. He's in good hands.

Holy sh*t dude. I have tears streaming down my face. I didn't know if I had it in me to keep reading, I can only imagine what it was like living it.

I am so happy this had the ending it has. Best wishes to you and your family.

Whoa. I'm so happy that he appears to be on the mend. What a harrowing experience, which is thankfully over. Stay strong, and good work Dad.

Jeez .. they didn't include that in the brochure when you signed up to be a dad. Glad you are through the worse part of it and that he's doing well. Hang in there and know that we're all pulling for you.

My wife and I had a similar experience with our son when he caught roto virus and started having breathing fits. Her family has a history of seizure disorder so we were fearing the worse only to see through it. He's now 12 playing club baseball and soccer, doing well in school and one of the best kids in his click of friends at Black Ops. (Damn, console kids .. get off my lawn)

Heavy stuff. I am happy that your family has come through hell intact. Stay strong.

The good wishes help me so much, I can't put it into words. You all are amazing!

m0nk3yboy: Painfully Helpless in Hell is what I was calling it yesterday. I'm pretty emotional, keeping it all in check so I'm not setting my wife or Alexander off was one of the biggest tests I never wanted to take. This doesn't mean I wasn't in the bathrooms crying, splashing my face with cold water (I can't keep up the strong front forever), I just avoided it in front of the both of them until the PACU. The doctor and PA knew that's what was going on when I was going to the bathroom.

You're a good dad. I'm just happy to hear that it turned out so remarkably well for Alexander.

I'm really glad that things turned out well. I had one of those hospital experiences last Thursday with my 2 year old; nothing nearly as serious as it turned out, but even that was enough to scare the bejeezus out of me. It is always so hard to hold things together, but as long as you can manage to do so in front of the child, the achievement unlocks!

Having never really been on either end of a harrowing hospital tale like that, I can't really say it's hit me like the others, but dayumn that's a powerful story there. I'm so glad that your son is OK and that you and your wife handled it so well. Best wishes and hope for a speedy recover with no surprises.

Dammit, that was hard to read at work. As a father of 2, I am very thankful that everything turned out fine for you guys. I hope recovery goes well for you all.

Here's to a speedy recovery. Sounds like you have a stellar team on your side at the hospital.

So glad everything worked out and you landed in such capable hands. When my son was still in utero the Doctor's noticed that one of his kidney's wasn't emptying well. This led to surgery to reconstruct a twisted ureter when he was 3 months old. The hardest moment was watching his confused reaction as they administered the anesthetic via a gas mask. What got us through was knowing we had one of the most skilled doctors in the country performing the operation.
Much love to you and your family.

Glad to hear that you're totally surrounded with expertise.

I read the whole time thinking; please let him be in Canada.

Strength to you guys for the recovery, and coaxing a toddler to do physio. Glad the worst of it is over. Keep on pushing ahead.

I am happy to hear how things are going. It is hell but Children's hospital staff are angels working in it.

Ok folks, I'm going to post some pics. This would be the first time I've ever posted pics...anywhere.

WARNING: There is BLOOD in a couple of these pics! I'd go for spoiler tags , but they only work for text apparently. If you have problems with blood, be safe!

Picture right after surgery. This is the picc line. It goes into a deep vein, all the way into his heart. There is some blood.



This is right after I got to the hospital. He's eating Mac and Cheese, awake and aware. You can see the picc line in his arm. Very little blood



This is a top down shot of the leg braces. Surprisingly, they're there for his comfort, gives him support. There is blood in this one, from the drain in his hip. That's the thin line on the left.



This is a closer shot of the drain. The little, semi deflated ball is what stores it. They empty that out every morning. Because it' deflated, it creates suction that pulls the blood. This is probably the most blood in a picture.



Glad to hear things are settling down & your hospital experience was as pleasant as possible.

Beautiful kid. I hope the road for recovery is without any bumps.