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How I coped with my son's hospital visit

The worst case for my son was meningitis.

The worst case for my son was meningitis. Credit: istock

I wasn’t sure how I would go on as I stood over my son’s bed in the emergency room. These are the mad thoughts that can consume a parent when forced to imagine the unimaginable, think the unthinkable.

Harrison lay in a weakened state – a life-threatening state? -- in the darkness created by the hospital track curtains. He had been sent to Huntington Hospital earlier in the day by his pediatrician. He was so listless before my husband brought him to the doctor that he fell asleep in the bathtub. He had been vomiting and had a low-grade fever. But the symptom that caused concern was the rash that developed instantly the night before on his chest.

The worst case could be meningitis.

Staff members kept an eye on him, waking him up from time to time to see if he was alert as they awaited the results of blood work. They began to administer antibiotics as a precaution. It was decided that he stay overnight. He cried, saying he was frightened. I was frightened, too, although grateful. I reassured him that I would be there with him.

He threw a fever once again, and the staff watched to see if his body would fight it. I sent my husband home to rest after spending 12 hours there, and retired in the bed next to Harrison's and stayed awake as he slept. I listened to his breathing.

When a nurse came after midnight to take his vitals, he sat up in the dark and said, “Mom?”

“I’m here, sweetheart.”

He went back down and patiently allowed his temperature and blood pressure to be taken.

Being able to reassure him that I was there calmed me down, knowing that if something did happen, that he wouldn’t be alone. As it turned out, his condition began to improve. He fought off the fever and started to feel better. We would discover that he had a virus that caused the unusual rash to develop.

The next few days he slept a lot and ate well, and we laughed and smiled and hugged and read books in his bed. We lived. We both lived.

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