When Chris called Sunday night, I knew. “Soooo…Riley threw up, didn’t want dinner and went to sleep at 5.” Riley has 5 distinct “tells” and in that one sentence we’d already checked off two of them. Tell #1: Not wanting food…honestly hearing her say “I’m not hungry” almost sounds like a foreign language leaving her lips. Tell #2: Sleep…when she doesn’t feel good she just sleeps…or pretends too…always has, hence the whole “Possum” nickname, it’s been her go to move since birth. His call had woken me up and it was only 8pm…I moved from the couch to bed because well…sleep…I was going to need more of it. I thought I was getting to play catch up from Friday’s ER stint but turns out I now needed to prep for round number…oh who’s even counting anymore. I kept my ringer on high, anticipating a call. It didn’t come. That should have brought relief but I knew it just meant she hadn’t spiked a fever, that Chris was taking on whatever was going on knowing I needed the sleep more than he. Teamwork…we’ve got it down.
Sun came up, still no call. Coffee time. I didn’t want to call them, no news at an hour they’re usually awake didn’t mean “good news” it meant sleep, it meant a long night was had, it meant I should take my step-mom up on going out to breakfast because chewing wasn’t going to sound good much longer. The call came right as my food did. My suspicions confirmed…long night. She’d basically been either asleep or erupting like a vomit volcano since we’d last spoken. When I got to her she was listless…Tell #3. Her body limp as I carried her to the car, her eyes glossed over as she used my jacket as a barf bucket once again on the 5 minute drive to our apartment. Call time…to the team, “Alright guys…Riley strikes again”…”Bring her in”. It took 2 hours, the attempts of 4 or 5 nurses and I’m not sure how many sticks to get her IV placed. No lack of skill on their part or cooperation on Rileys. They’re the best and so is she. She was so dry. So dehydrated. Squeezing her eyes tight, her cracked lips quivered as they poked and fished around beneath her skin, all of us holding our breath silently begging for access. Ultimately an ultrasound was brought in to guide and we could exhale as bright red came dripping down her arm. Her head just dropped to the side and her eyes blinked to a close once again when she realized it was in, my patient little pin cushion.
Labs drawn, fluids going…finally. She wanted me to stay next to her, a gurney jigsaw puzzle…two pieces…her and I. She weakly played with my fingers…running her own up, down and through mine, her eyes following every pinch and invisible line she traced. Tell #4…Playing with her hands. Her body may be unpredictable but her…her sweet little soul approaches each illness the same, one tell at a time. With that she slept. We were admitted to the BMT floor just a few minutes before the year became new…we laid together quietly, listening to fireworks we couldn’t see. “Happy New Year baby, you ok?” Tell #5…The final tell. ”I just can’t get comfortable.”
Send some good juju our way…for hydration and clean cultures and energy bursts and returned appetites and smiles, all the smiles.