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Abdominal migraine on our way to Legoland

On our latest vacation, Ellis ended up getting hospitalized for abdominal migraine again. This happened the first day of our long-awaited trekk to Legoland, San Diego.

Fortunately our plan involved an overnight stay at my parent’s house, because at 1 a.m. I was frantically googling to find a new children’s hospital that had extensive experience working with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome kids. Throughout the day, we tried multiple home remedies but nothing worked: Motrin, prescribed anti-nausea medication, Pedialyte, tummy massage, and many piggy back rides to distract from the pain. It was time to go to the hospital when her breathing sped up and she couldn’t be consoled.

Car rides to the emergency room is especially horrendous in the middle of the night, and this night was no different. I couldn’t believe we were in this situation again, and all kinds of scary thoughts passed through my mind. Well-meaning friends and family tell me not to think of death, but it’s a constant worry for us.

Almost every night I dream of hospital corridors, waiting for doctors, feeding tubes, shots, patients in gurneys, operation rooms, me in her place; my fears project through these nightmares. Doctors told me it’s common for parents with heart children to struggle emotionally and have symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In these situations, you brace yourself for the worst and you stil continue to pray and pray for the best outcome.

At 2 a.m. we arrived at CHOC, the Children’s Hospital in Orange County. Before the car even stopped, my car door was already half open and my body ready to jump out. I walked up to the registration window with Ellis, holding a green barf bag, in my arms. I explained how she has a single ventricle, been vomiting continuously, and that she is breathing rapidly. Thankfully, the admitting nurses checked Ellis’ vitals right away and took her into the examination room. If we had to wait, I would’ve had a fit and made a scene although you could tell immediately looking at her that this was urgent. I’ve learned that making a lot of fuss speeds up the process…most of the time.

Our family tries to take these life interruptions in stride, but it’s difficult to accept when they happen. Guilt consumes me: maybe I could’ve done something to prevent her from getting sick; how is Elliot going to deal with this again?; and I feel the weight of Chris’ responsibility in carrying us through these emergencies.

After an initial check up and hours of waiting for test results in the examination room, the attending doctor said she’ll get admitted to treat dehydration and monitor her condition.

Moved up to patient floor from emergency room. Knocked out from pain medication.

With lots of desperate prayer and encouragement from close friends who reminded me to avoid the “what if’s,” I reluctantly let go and decided to let God. He doesn’t take the situation away but He pulls us through. I have to remember that He has good plans for me, even though I don’t understand. I wish I could say that I trusted God from the beginning without all the kicking and screaming, but sadly it wasn’t so.

What I’m going to write next is bizarre. But some of my happiest memories include these hospital stays. It’s a different kind of existence where outside worries stay outside and it brings life’s priorities into perspective. Isolation rooms really make you think and bring you in closer relationship with your child. The bonding is special and I realize that God has given me an important job to take care of this little person.

I can only attribute it to God’s peace, the only kind of peace that passeth understanding (like the lyrics I used to sing in Sunday school).

The second day in the hospital fell on Mother’s Day. I forgot all about it until the nurses reminded me. That wasn’t the reason why I cried. My heart was breaking for Elliot who tries to act happy when he is scared or sad. He knows that we are stressed so he overcompensates with good behavior and kindness. Then, I look over and see Ellis slumped over in bed and I cry for her too. Ugh, so many emotions.

Elliot and I spent some quality time together when he visited with Chris the next morning. We took walks outside holding hands, talking about how he slept little because of daddy’s snoring, enjoying the fresh air together, searching for Starbucks, and of course, making a quick stop at the gift shop.

Midday our wonderful nurse Andrea informed us that we will be discharged the next day. We were in much better spirit with family who visited us, family waiting for us to come home, watching “Raven’s Home” on marathon, and freely taking Ellis on wagon rides around the hospital.

CHOC lobby

In the middle of washing her up before bed, she looks up and says, “Mommy, thank you. I know you’re trying your best to take care of me.” Her comment was unexpected and it took me aback. My goodness, she has matured so much. That’s an affirmation I will never forget.

Ellis was discharged the next afternoon. Diagnosis was abdominal migraine again. It’s hard to define it and it’s a cause that resulted after other possible causes were eliminated. She went through days of testing last December to find out what causes these bouts of cyclical vomiting and intense abdominal pain.

There’s not much you can do to control it except to avoid triggers. I asked the doctor what to do if this happens again, and the answer was a bit disheartening: bring her to the e.r. This means that we need to be in driving distance of a hospital wherever we go and our hope of camping outdoors for the first time this summer is definitely a bad idea. Oh well.

We adjust and make the best of our situation. It means we can’t easily do what others do and much more thought goes into making simple decisions, like deciding if we can go somewhere or do something out of our routine.

Although our vacation plans got off to a rocky start, we still got to do lots of fun activities. We also spent more time with family than expected and shared some wonderful conversations and meals together. We still made it to Legoland for the first time and revisited our favorite San Diego Zoo.

Lucked out and saw a baby giraffe

What a trekk! What memories! I assume our next vacation will be a staycation.

Categories: Faith journey Raising kids

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Welcome to my blog! My name is Esther and I'm so happy you are here. I'm an avid nature photographer and a daydreaming thinker. My posts revolve around photos of nature's beauty, homeschooling adventures with my 2 kids, sporadic reflections on my child's heart condition, Bible reading reflections, gardening feats, and other mish mash things. Hopefully you'll leave encouraged, pensive, or smiling at the simple things of life. Thank you for stopping by and hope you'll find some interesting posts to read!

11 replies

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! Always praying along with you~ our faith only grows when we encounter God and when He stretches us. Lov ya sis.


    1. Thanks friend!! It’s so amazing to have you journey with me in the highs and the lows. God does stretch us in many ways, and it’s so uncomfortable and downright painful. But the assurance that He loves me more than I love myself and has good plans for me is hopeful. It’s like what C.S. Lewis calls the “intolerable compliment.” He loves us too much and won’t let us stay the way we are. We wish He didn’t love us so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, your family looks so happy in the pics! Rally together and make it through. That is what it is all about.


    1. Thank you! I think the smiles are from relief that we made it to Legoland finally. Kids were looking forward to it for the longest time and when I suggested we just go home after the hospital, both of them started crying. It became a mission for us to get them there and all of us in one piece.
      You’re right…must rally together and keep each other going!! Thank you for your encouragement. Always so good to hear from you.


    1. I totally appreciate your sweet comment and affirmation. Thank you!!
      I get some reprieve and then suddenly it’s another bout of sickness. Thankfully, Chris and I are staying healthy to take care of our little ones. God is good and boy do these experiences make us cling tighter to Him!


  3. I do know what you mean when God pours on us the peace that passes understanding!
    And whew – sorry your daughter has to go through this – sending prayers for strength and continued courage to all

    Liked by 1 person

    1. God’s peace is something indescribable. These tough situations make God more palpable and I begin to realize that it’s He who gives this peace. I couldn’t do it myself. But that doesn’t mean I don’t freak out, because I do plenty of that too. Very humbling to see my limitations and my wavering faith.
      Thank you for the prayers and encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah – I know what you mean with the freak out or times of meltdown – ha- and then he quiets and restores and calms and comforts
        – and years ago when i learned a lesson the hard way – maybe panicked a bit – I felt god remind me that if he wanted robots he would go and get them – but he loves us humans with flaws and he knows the number of hairs on our head and so he knows how we will respond and when we need that extra grace- gosh – love him so much!
        And a while ago when I was feeling all heavy about not doing something – felt the Lord
        Remind me that “he knows how to get my attention – he knows when I need a ya knby the ear – and to just let him lead and feed”
        And wishing you a wonderful week ahead


  4. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been to deal with. SO glad you made it to legoland after all. That is my son and my favorite place! God Bless


    1. It was scary and unsettling. I just wanted to come back home after the hospital but the kids weren’t having it.
      Our favorite place too now!! We went off season so the ride lines were minimal. I don’t know how they will be during vacation season. And have you tried the food at Urban Kitchen? Very yummy.
      Thank you for commenting and for the follow! Have a great night. 🙂


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