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And then…

For the story up to here, read this.

Luckily, when we got to the emergency room, there were only two people in front of us, so the wait wasn’t too long (though it must have seemed like forever to Jack, who was barely holding it together in a wheelchair). Jack was hooked up to an IV, and given fluids for dehydration along with much-needed pain meds. I was told to have him drink two huge cups of contrast liquid — a sickly sweet-tasting red liquid — so they could give him a CT scan.

In a nutshell, he eventually puked it all up and they had to put a tube down his nose and into his stomach (called an NG tube). The amount of fluid that was pumped out would have been almost comical, if it hadn’t been so alarming. Jack was a dutiful patient when they inserted the tube, and his sigh of relief once the pressure of all that liquid was reduced was a sure indication of just how much pain he had been in.

He was admitted in the wee hours of the night. I got home at four in the morning, exhausted, yet unable to sleep.

The next day was a was a wait-and-see day. It had been determined he had a small bowel obstruction, but they couldn’t be sure from what, so they were trying a last resort of pushing fluids into the body to see if it can have sort of a Drano effect on the bowels (so much more complicated than that, obviously, but that is the analogy the doctor used, so I’m going with it).We were told sometimes these these things have a way of working themselves out, and that is the first, conservative, course of action. The NG tube kept the pressure off his belly, and his pain was somewhat controlled by the meds.

A GI specialist came by his room for a consult and explained that Jack’s was a very strange case because he’d never had abdominal surgery before and he wasn’t a narcotic user. The surgeon came by and said there was a 90% chance of surgery happening.

I spent half the day in the hospital with Jack. The other half day was spent gathering up some files for him so I could pass them on to his co-workers, because it was made clear to us that he would be in the hospital for at least two or three days, more if a more invasive procedure had to be done. At some point my sister instant messaged me: I can use my miles to get Dad a flight down there tonight. Do you want him to come?

I did want him to come. As much as he had to juggle his schedule around, I wanted to be selfish. Yes! Please! Thank you! Arrangements were made.

I talked with Ethan when I picked him up from camp. Later that night I wrote down the conversation we had had:

“So you know how Daddy has been throwing up a lot?”
Head nod.
“The reason is because there is something blocking his intestines. Do you remember what intestines are?”
Head nod. I wanted to make sure he really did know before I moved on.
“Show me where?”
He points to his belly-area.
“Yes! Well something is stuck in there, and guess what? Poor Daddy cannot go poop. He cannot even toot.”
A little giggling that Mommy is talking about Daddy pooping, and we move on.
“So the something that is stuck has been blocking all of his food and drink and what happened is all that stuff had nowhere to go but back into his stomach and his stomach got bigger and bigger until it just could take the pressure anymore and what do you think happened next?”
He says, “He threw up a LOT!”
“YES!” I answer, “So they had to find a way to get all that yukky stuff out of his tummy so want to know how they did it? They are very clever.”
He nods. He wants to know.
“They put a special tube down one of his nostrils, aaaalllll the way down his throat.”
Eyes are wide with amazement at this point.
“And all the way into his stomach.”
“Yep. Whoa. It does not hurt Daddy, though, as you can imagine, it is not very comfortable having something stuck in your nose going down to your stomach. What it DOES do, is pump all that yukky stuff out of his stomach and what do you think that does for Daddy?”
“It makes him not throw up anymore!”
Before I had left Jack, prior to getting Ethan, I had taken a picture of Jack, smiling as best he could, with the NG tube. I asked Ethan if he wanted to see what the tube looked like as I wanted to gauge his reaction and he said he did. I showed it to him and he said, “Cool!” So I asked him if he wanted to see Daddy in the hospital, and he gave an enthusiastic “YES.” On the way, he said he thought he knew how they could remove the blockage.
“What Daddy needs to do — very gently so it doesn’t hurt him — is he needs to slowly shake back and forth like he’s in a conga line, and that will shake the thing that’s stuck loose, and it will kind of just fall all the way down to his tushie.” (Word for word, I swear. There was a conga line at the Mother-Son dance at his school and the kid retains EVERYTHING.)

So he got to see Jack. And Jack got to see Ethan. And that was a really good thing.

My Dad arrived that evening.

The next day, June 21st, was a day full of failed tests. Jack could not keep down the contrast liquid long enough for them to do full scans — despite the anti-nausea medication he was given. They finally gave up on testing..

Jack went into surgery at about 3:40pm, and came out at about 6pm. The surgeon came to the waiting room and told me that he had to re-sect a portion of the bowel. He found a mass in there that he at first was convinced was a tumor but when the pathologist looked at it it most definitely wasn’t a tumor. It was something he’d ingested over time. We’d know more when the pathology tests were completed.

The surgeon also told me that Jack was pretty intensely dehydrated and in a lot of pain, so they were moving him to the ICU overnight. Because of the 2:1 patient to nurse ratio, his pain would be well-managed. One night in the ICU, and then back to a regular room. Then an anticipated 4-5 day post-surgery recovery stay.

That prediction was all wrong.

(To be continued later — too many other things to talk about in the meantime.)

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