In sickness and in … more sickness, part 1

The McKee/Grekin household had a tough weekend, beginning last Thursday evening.

Joe and I had arranged for Lily to stay with her grandparents while we went to the Michigan Theater to see its Sundance USA program, featuring the John C. Reilly/Marissa Tomei movie “Cyrus”; the film’s two directors and co-star  Jonah Hill were scheduled to answer questions after the screening. (I would have been covering this for AnnArbor.com, but as my Hanukkah gift, Joe had arranged for us to go together as a date night – thank God, as it turns out.)

By coincidence, Joe’s brother’s wife – a doctoral candidate at IU in Bloomington – had a visit scheduled at U-M at around this time, so she, Joe’s brother, and their two daughters (8 years old and 20 months) had arrived at Joe’s parents’ place earlier that evening, too. We thought this was great – even more people to play with Lily and make her forget her parents had gone out.

But when we returned, the eight year old, Maya, said, “Finally, you’re back!” Why the “finally”? because since about 45 minutes after we left, Lily had started throwing up, and she had done so about six times.

The guilt and dread was instant as I crouched down to take a look at my awake, quiet child as she lay on her grandmother’s lap. Poor little thing. Suddenly, things that should have been warning signs came back to me. When I’d met Joe and Lily at her grandparents’ house, Joe had shown me that she’d thrown up some of the fruit snacks she’d eaten on the car ride over, but at the time, we just thought a piece had gotten caught in her throat, or that she’d gotten a little motion sick; and when we left, she didn’t cry, which has almost never happens (we just optimistically thought that she’s become so comfortable with her grandparents that she wasn’t distressed.) Plus, Joe’s mother had tried to call our cell phones, but we’d turned them off, of course. Guilt, guilt, guilty guilt guilt.

My dread came from something far more personal, which is: nothing, and I mean nothing, does me in like the sound and sight of someone puking. I lose all sense and reason when confronted by this, in part, I’m sure, because to me, pretty much nothing I’ve experienced on earth is worse than that experience. Just – ugh.

Joe’s father is a doctor, thankfully, so we talked about whether or not to take Lily to the ER, even though she was exhausted and it was hours past her bedtime. She wasn’t showing signs of dehydration, but Joe and I decided to take her in just to make sure, and to see if they might offer her any relief.

After calling U-M’s Emergency Room and learning there was little to no waiting, we packed her into the car – I sat with her in the back, hoping against hope she wouldn’t puke again – and drove there. As I held Lily at reception, she started gagging again, and of course, she turned away from the towel I held up to her face. I started crying, so panicked and worried was I, and Joe instructed me where I was supposed to take her to wait. “WHERE?!” I said, too loudly, and he repeated his instructions and pointed. One unfortunate thing I’ve learned from parenting: I am absolutely terrible in a crisis. I so don’t want to be that person’s who’s like, “OH MY GOD! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!” but apparently, I am.

Anyway, the guilt piles up as med students ask questions for patient history, and we don’t know some of the answers about what she’d eaten that day because we hadn’t had the chance to look at her daily report from daycare before we’d brought her to her grandparents’. This is really unusual, of course, but it nonetheless felt awful and neglectful in the moment.

When we see the actual doctor, she says that Lily might be vomiting the next day, too, and that we’d probably get what Lily has. I hoped against hope she was wrong, and that Lily had just eaten something bad. But regardless, the doctor ordered an anti-nausea pill for Lily, which works for 12 hours. After that, they let Lily have some apple juice – and she nearly bit my arm off trying to get to it, so anxious and thirsty was she (she’d asked for water repeatedly at her grandparents’, but she kept throwing it up). We struggled to keep her from chugging it, and she burned through it, and then a small bottle of Pedialyte. And while they made us stay a little while longer, we left the ER at 2:30 a.m., exhausted but satisfied that Lily had some fluids in her and would likely be able to finally sleep.

Lily slept on the way home, and Joe and I exhaustedly talked about how we’d juggle the work we needed to do the next day with taking care of Lily. Then we got home and all crawled into our beds.

Lily was a new little girl the next day, happy and healthy as could be. And we felt fine, so the juggling was easier than we expected it to be, and we quietly hoped that we’d seen the last of whatever had plagued Lily.

Oh, how profoundly wrong we were.

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