Despite everything that my darling little baby Lachlan had been through in the first 9 months of his life; nearly loosing his mum, having surgery on his fingers, his first cold and his first two teeth cutting he was a very healthy little boy growing and developing at a rapid rate! He was not a grizzly baby, he was a happy little cheeky boy. He was not a sick baby either – he had not vomited at all since he was about 5 weeks old and both him and I had got this feeding/burping thing worked out.
His first real sickness came at 9 months old. One day he just started projectile vomiting after any solids, water or milk. I knew that 2 of the babies in my mum’s group had been struck down with a gastro bug so I just assuming that this was the same thing. After enduring a day of vomiting everything up I decided to take him to the doctor – better to be safe than sorry, our GP gave the same diagnosis as I suspected. And I was to keep him off dairy products as much as possible to give his little tummy time to digest those tummy bugs that were upsetting him. No yoghurt, no custard and very diluted formula for 3-4 days. She said after this period it was still continuing that I would need to take him to the hospital for further assessment.
Nothing improved and if anything Lachlan got worse over the next few days. On the 4th day I decided that enough was enough – this tummy bug wasn’t doing anywhere so I bundled up a nappy bag and headed off to the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) emergency room to see a paediatrician. After a 40 minute wait and some very large nasty vomit patches in the waiting room we were seen by a paediatrician. We were told to stay for at least 2 hours under observations, he was to have either 20ml of hydralite or milk every 10 minutes and I have to monitor if there were any vomits. Needless to say the vomiting continued – whether he had food, water or milk of any volume. After an hour of the constant vomiting they gave him a gastro vomiting tablet that they expected to settle the vomiting and then send us on our merry little way home. The most difficult thing throughout this whole emergency experience is that Lachlan, to those who didn’t know his normal demeanour, saw a happy cheeky playful little baby, and no matter how many times I said the same thing that THIS is Lachlan’s grumpy they would only go on what they saw and didn’t listen to me regarding his mood.
Anyway, back on track 30 minutes after the tablet (which I’m not actually sure how much stayed down considered he had vomited about 4 times after he had it) the doctor came back in to check on him. Well at this point Lachlan decided to projectile vomit all down not only the front but somehow managed to get it all down the back of her beautiful suit that she actually started to listen to what I was saying – that he was NOT a well little boy. She organised for us to be admitted to the Paediatrics ward for observations. A rang Jamie to tell him he would need to pack a bag for both Lachlan and I just in case for a couple of days and bring it in for us.
So off we went to Paeds ward, breaking my heart seeing my little man getting put in a baby jail (as that is what the hospital cots look like) wheeled away to the unknown. Because he was considered a “gastro” case we were lucky to be allocated a solo room. The nursing staff were lovely there very welcoming and assuring me that Lachlan and I would be taken excellent care of and as a part of his monitoring I had to ring the buzzer so that the nurse could record every vomit.
So after settling in (which wasn’t difficult given I didn’t have anything with me), it was food time and guess what came after food – you guessed it VOMIT!!! So I rang the buzzer for the nurse to come. She came in and cleaned up the massive mess, recorded and went on her merry way – within 5 minutes I was ringing the buzzer again and we repeat the whole clean up process. Well this continued for about and hour when she decided she wasn’t going be able to look after any of her other patience and clearly I was an intelligent attentive mother that she brought me a stack of towels, a bottle of spray disinfectant, a progress notes sheet and a pen so that I could just record all the vomits myself. I was recording the time, the estimated volume and if it was a vomit or a “spill” – oh yes I had instantly become a vomit assessment expert! By 6pm that night we had already used up half of the progress notes.
The doctors did the afternoon ward rounds in which they were still saying he had a tummy bug that was causing the vomiting and that they were worried about Lachlan’s hydration given the amount of volume coming out as opposed to what was going in. They did a set of blood test and set him up on an IV drip to rehydrate him and advise that they were going to monitor his weight daily as it was the best way to show signs of improvement. As it was a different doctor to the emergency department doctor, I once again underwent the same situation trying to explain that this is the unhappy and grumpy version of Lachlan and that in fact the active happy little baby they were seeing is no where near as active and happy as his normal personality. I was getting fobbed off and treated like an over-reacting first time drama queen mum.
First night in and it broke my heart to see my little cherub in his baby jail with this massive drip coming out of his arm. Having said that given that he was so very unwell hospital was the best place for us to be. It also broke my heart that once again the destination of hospital was separating my gorgeous little family.
The next morning came about and prior to any milk, water or breakfast it was time to get butt naked (just to clarify Lachlan not me) to have all his measurements done. Much to my complete shock, he had lost over 300g since his last weight was recorded, which was only a fortnight prior. This immediately was of concern to the nursing staff. The ward rounds were done by the doctors in the morning – nothing new, I was still an over-reacting mum to a happy boy who had a tummy buy causing him to vomit….the day consisted of my continually recording all his vomits (and to put this into perspective, this was anywhere between 50-80 vomits per day.
The next 2 days continued with a blur and the same daily activity. Morning strip down and weigh in with another loss and then a day covering in vomit, cleaning up vomit and recording the many many vomits for the staff.
At day 4, the morning weight we hit an all time low! Lachlan weighed in at 960g less than his highest recorded weight and a loss of over 800g since we had been admitted to hospital. At this stage I showed the senior consult the below comparison photo of his dramatic weight loss, and they then actually realised that perhaps something was going on more serious than a tummy bug and that perhaps I wasn’t an over reaction twit mother and perhaps I was right all along!! It still breaks my heart to see how sick, gaunt and skinny he looks in the photo on the right L
The doctor numbers that came to see Lachlan from this point went from one junior doctor to the senior consultant with a piped piper flock of other doctors coming in with him. He stated that he now, like me all along, did not believe that it was a tummy bug/infection after all and that something else was wrong which they to investigate and in the process monitor his daily vomit sheet against his intake, his wee/poo output (by weighing his nappies) and most importantly his daily weight changes.
The testing was an awry of allergy testing, hormonal testing, blood infection testing all of which came back negative for what they were looking for. After 10 LONG days in FMC with me doing my head in with worry and constantly being covering and smelling like vomit, Lachlan’s weight had stabilised and he had managed to put some of the weight he lost back on again, we were discharged.
We were discharged with a baby that was still vomiting 50+ times a day, who was still very grizzly and grumpy by his normal standards and with the suspected diagnosis of Coeliac Syndrome (because of his age it was explained that he was too young for the tests to come back positive for his). The Senior Consultant was writing a referral us through to the WCH hospital gastroenterology team for follow up on their diagnosis. They were unable to assist us any further as they did not have a paediatrics gastroenterologist on staff at FMC. So off we went home, playing the waiting game for our call up to WCH and until then I was to monitor and record; daily weight changes, food/fluid intake, wet/dirty nappies and continue to record his daily vomits/spills – which were still around the 50 a day mark….it was going to be a stressful long and SMELLY wait until we could see the paeds gastro, but I was happy to be back home with Jamie and in a real beds as opposed to the baby jail that Lachlan was in and the flip out couch that I was on.