Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spinal Tap Is More Than Just A Funny Movie

Last week was a rough one around here. My daughter Ashlenne was running a temperature of around 104.5 and had a heart rate of 155. If those just seem like random numbers to you, trust me, they are high. The scariest part though, was not how high they were, but that after hours in the emergency room the doctors couldn't get them to drop. Her blood pressure was spiking above 190. They ordered every test they could think of and quickly because she was in danger of going into cardiac arrest or having a stroke. I sat there, in that cold hospital room (why are hospitals so cold?), watching my daughters heart rate on the monitor. It seemed to be going impossibly fast. I took my own pulse and her heart was beating four times the rate my own was. As doctors came in and out of her room, a cold fear began settling in my stomach. Real fear. Not the kind where someone jumps out at you or you forget to pay the water bill so you have to rush down before they turn it off. But the kind of fear where you realize your whole life may be changing right before your eyes. Where you realize this child who you have nurtured and protected for eleven and a half years may be in the most dangerous situation of her life right in front of you and you can't do a thing to stop it.

I didn't cry though. Not because I'm an emotional rock. But because part of my brain kept saying, 'This isn't really happening.' Everything happened so fast that I barely had a chance to keep up physically, let alone emotionally.

One of the most difficult tests they did on her was the spinal tap. To do the spinal tap they sedated her enough so that she couldn't move but was fully conscious so she could listen to their instructions. Halfway through the insertion of a needle through the lumbar vertebrae of her back she began sobbing uncontrollably, begging for her Dad. Watching that just about broke me inside.

After hours of tests they finally diagnosed her with bacterial pneumonia. Scary words. But not as scary as bacterial meningitis.

All said and done, at the end of the experience we had been through -

Eight pounds lost (Ashlenne's).
Seven days in bed.
Six doctors visits.
Five missed days of school.
Four shots of rocefin.
Three IV's of antibiotics.
Three blood cultures.
Three chest x-rays.
Two emergency room visits.
Two strep cultures.
Two antibiotic prescriptions.
Two cardiac monitors.
And one spinal tap.

Oh, and countless tablets of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

She is now back at school and the color has returned to her cheeks. She ran across the lawn last night without coughing. Still out of breath, but she could do it. Here's to doctors. Here's to nurses. Let's hear it for hospitals. Let's hear it for modern medicine. And let's hear it for still having my daughter around to hug and kiss because if this had happened in different time, I would probably be telling a different story. And you wouldn't be reading it on a blog either.


  1. How scary! I'm so glad that she is doing better and there was a happy ending to this story. It's the absolute worst thing ever to watch children suffer- hugs Ashlenne!

  2. So glad Ashlenne is doing better. I agree with you on our timeframe..So thankful for modern medicine. I know it has its ups and downs but there are more ups than downs. I know you guys can't wait for the globetrotter to come home.


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