Our Hospital Stay with Max

Kids

How to survive a hospital stay with your child.

As you may know if you follow along with me on Instagram, Max was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday night with a bad case of pneumonia.   As any parent can attest to, there is nothing worse than seeing your child get sick.  Four days later we were still sitting in an isolation room on the paediatric ward praying for a discharge so that we could celebrate the Easter weekend together at home.  Like many parents I’m sure, I came in totally unprepared not thinking we would be admitted! So, here are some tips from the trenches with you in case you ever have a child that needs to stay at the hospital.

First thing’s first, I want to talk about Mommy intuition. Max has had a cough that has been punctuated by many fevers and runny noses for FOUR MONTHS.  I have been to the doctor four separate times with concerns over his health and each time it was chalked up to a regular virus and to just let it run it’s course which was valid, he is in daycare and has a sibling and has likely contracted a number of different viruses back to back. They discovered an ear infection during our second-to-last visit and started him on a course of antibiotics. It seemed to help, but as soon as it was done it came back with a vengeance, I’m not sure if it was a new infection or just the old one that hadn’t been kicked.  Poor little Max was coughing even worse than before, had a fever (39.6 C), was lethargic and his eyes and nose were caked with bright green gunk (sorry for the gory details but some of you asked about his symptoms as you were worried about your own kids, so here they are).  The doctor at the walk in clinic said it was probably a good idea to go to the hospital so off he and I went at 6pm.  Five hours and a long-overdue chest x-ray later they diagnosed him with bilateral (both sides) pneumonia and admitted him.

How to survive a hospital stay with your child.

How to survive a hospital stay with your child.

We are so fortunate to have caught it and are grateful that we received the care we did.  I had no idea that pneumonia is so prevalent and can be fatal.  My only wish is that I had asked for a chest x-ray sooner as I feel that this could have been caught and addressed much earlier if we had (they never did hear chest sounds with the stethoscope in the doctor office even when he did have pneumonia), though I know it’s hard to say when the pneumonia developed? Regardless, if you really feel that something isn’t right with your child (or yourself) please push a little!  I wish I had in the off-chance that it would have been caught sooner. I can’t say enough how much respect I have for doctors so this is in no way a question of their ability or clinical judgement (they were all wonderful), but when you spend all of your time with your little human sometimes you see things that may go unnoticed at a doctor appointment.

Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of childhood death worldwide (more in developing countries vs developed countries) so it isn’t to be taken lightly.  Here is a link to some signs and symptoms of pneumonia in case you’re worried about your little one and OF COURSE see a doctor if you’re concerned, this is in no way meant to serve as a diagnosis but rather some signs and symptoms to watch for can be found here.

Of course being locked up in a dark small hospital room with a 19 month old comes with its challenges. For the first couple of days all that Max did was sleep (on me…I’ll admit I loved the cuddles), but the last couple of days were nearly impossible, all the poor little guy wanted to do was go outside!  Max is such an energetic kid. I can’t imagine what it is like being a parent of a child who is chronically ill and in the hospital for a long time, my heart literally breaks for you if that describes any of your situtations.  It’s so tough on the kids but also a serious grind for the parents!

Here are my suggestions if you ever find yourself in this position to help make the best out of the situation:

  1. Ask for help.  I’m TERRIBLE at this.  So do as I say, not as I do lol.   People will offer to bring things like coffee and food and say YES every time!  They don’t feed the parents in the hospital, just the kids, and when you are alone with your child you can’t just walk down to the cafeteria and grab something to eat whenever you feel like it.  I was literally eating Jiffy peanut butter out of the packets at one point I was so hungry: sad and pathetic but true!  I was also so drained and emotional I wasn’t up for visitors so that’s my excuse.  While you’re at it, get people to bring some healthy favourite foods for your child as there is a good chance that they won’t eat what is on the hospital tray.
  2. Be detailed with your wish list.  I asked Charles (my better half) to bring me a few things and he did…except it wasn’t what I was after.  He managed to find THE most uncomfortable pair of underwear in my drawer (he scolded me for even having them in there, point taken), missed half of my toiletries, and neither of us thought of things like moisturizer or shampoo and conditioner.  I’ll add it to Wunderlist next time (best list app ever by the way).  Below is the wish list I ‘wish’ I had made for him!
  3. Get your visitors to text before they come.  There’s nothing worse than FINALLY getting your baby to sleep and someone comes barreling in and wakes them up.  Which brings me to my next point.
  4. Ask the medical team to consolidate tests, exams and visits whenever possible to minimize the screaming fits (no child likes to be poked and prodded) and ask if medication times and other interventions can be worked around your little one’s nap schedule where possible.  It’s not always doable but it’s worth asking, the team at Kelowna General Hospital were really great about this and I so appreciated it!
  5. Figure out the sleeping conditions early.  I knew that Max would likely sleep with me in the room which was confirmed when he wouldn’t sleep in the crib even after I crawled in there with him (A for effort)!  It’s a lot easier setting a game plan before bedtime than trying to deal with it when your child is over-tired and having a tantrum.  The team at Kelowna General Hospital was SO nice to provide a regular hospital bed vs the fold down chair that I would have otherwise used for a bed (we just had to sign a waiver), it really helped us both get a better sleep.
  6. Ask for a stack of towels and wash cloths when you get there, you will go through a lot of them and they aren’t always easy to track down!

 

How to survive a hospital stay with your child.

 

Here is my recommended list for things to take to the hospital if you ever have to go with your little one(s):

  • slippers and socks for both you and your child
  • a warm sweater or sweatshirt for you and your child (it gets cold)
  • sound machine (a MUST): this is the one we use and it is amazing…and blocked out the crazy hospital noises that would have otherwise stopped Max from getting a good sleep.
  • a couple almost-favourite stuffies that can be thrown in the wash (Max through one in the toilet so it was nice to have a spare…ok not everyone’s kid will be as sneaky!)
  • travel mug and sippy cup (better for the environment and much nicer to drink out of (I wish they didn’t use styrofoam at the hospital)
  • nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, fruit and plenty of other healthy snacks for mom along with any favourite snacks for your child.
  • a few changes of clothes including comfy pants and extra PJ’s: you never know when they will get dirty with a little one around. Don’t forget a sweater it gets cold in there.
  • phone, laptop or iPad and chargers: you may even want to bring an extension cord if there isn’t a plug in near the bed.  I’m not a fan of screen time but when a kid is sick and there’s nothing else to do they are rather helpful!
  • toiletries including a brush, shampoo, conditioner, hair tie, moisturizer, makeup and a face spritzer (I won’t lie I would have loved my tweezers too lol)
  • a few games and toys for the little ones. We were in isolation so brought a few things from home to help entertain Max as he couldn’t use the ones in the play room. This way you know that the germs on the toys are your own too!
  • stroller if you are not in isolation so that you can get outside for fresh air (the hospital may let you have a pass to get outside, of course you need to ask your doctor)

SHOP THE POST

 

Thank you again to the wonderful staff at Kelowna General Hospital including Dr. Ranshod, Dr. Duncan and the sweet hard-working nurses for helping our little man get better!  Max is on the mend and a million times better than he was!  Do you have any tips to share?  If so please comment in the section below!

How to survive a hospital stay with your child.

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23 Comments on “Our Hospital Stay with Max”

  1. Sarah

    So sorry that you had to spend some time in the hospital with your little one💕
    I’ve always appreciated having a battery bank to recharge our devices in the hospital. It’s good because you never know where you’ll end up in the hospital, if there will even be a spare outlet, or how much juice you have when you arrive! Plus, they are useful while traveling too!

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Thank you Sarah and such a good idea about the battery bank! It is a great suggestion: I was stuck in emergency with no battery charge left on my phone and it didn’t feel good! So smart!

  2. Holly

    Hey Tori!
    I love watching your stories with little Max. I am so sorry he was sick. I am an xray tech. Xray’s should be a last resort and not the first option for little ones. The effects of xray’s are still unknown and therefore caution should be used. I know seeing a little one with pneumonia is tough. But, xray’s can still cause cancer. The risk is less with new digital technology. But, the risk is still there.
    Coping with a sick child for a few months before getting an xray is appropriate.

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Hi Holly! Thank you for the note and I totally appreciate what you are saying. I think I should have worded things more carefully…I kind of tweaked the verbiage a bit reflecting on what you said. I hear you about the x-rays and I would never want to expose my kids to an ounce more than they need. I think the doctors were on point with not ordering the x-ray earlier based on what they found upon assessment, but I suspect that it was worse than how it presented which is why I feel that mom guilt for not trying to push a little as he was really sick for so many months and pneumonia can be so dangerous. Regardless the medical team were rock stars and got him diagnosed and the care he needed which I am very grateful for! Thanks again for taking the time to write I appreciate it! Tori

  3. Christine

    Go over the home-care plan in detail before being discharged. When I was with my infant I remember being so exhausted and not “listening” to what the Doctors said then felt so over-whelmed when I got home! Good to ask questions and write things down on your way out!

  4. Deb

    You are such a wonderful mom Tori! Good for you and all that you did when and how you did it. Max and Charlie are so lucky to have you!
    Thanks for all the advice and inspiration!
    Xox

  5. Andrea

    Poor little guy and good for you for being so intuitive. I’ve done the same with Grayson mostly out of first-time-mother-worries but also because of peace of mine. We did so this past weekend when he was week 1 into another head cold and noticed yesterday he had broken out in hives along his legs so Nate and I packed up and went to the ER because I didn’t care and nothing was open. All was good but I felt better knowing he didn’t have another double ear infection and that its quite normal.

    Hope max is 100% better!!! xo

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Hi Andrea! So true, when your little guy is sick nothing else matters! I hope Grayson has recovered, that sounds stressful! Take care and hope to connect one day again soon! xo Tori

  6. Tammy

    Thank you for sharing your story Tori! This is such invaluable information, especially for a fellow mama of a 2 year old. Happy to hear your son is on the mend and were able to enjoy Easter with your family.

  7. Amy

    My daughter was diagnosed with Crohns Disease last year after multiple stays at KGH and after being admitted to BC Childrens for 12 days. Dr Duncan is our Ped, and we love him!
    My biggest tip is never be afraid to ask questions, all of them, even if they seem silly.
    Also have a running list of things you want to ask the doctors because when things are busy and stressful and tests are happening etc. it’s easy to forget.
    Also an ipad 😉 if your lucky enough to have one or borrow one, life saver!
    My daughter has had pneumonia also and it was incredibly scary. So glad your littly guys is doing better!

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Hi Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m sorry to hear of your daughter’s diagnosis:(. Dr. Duncan IS amazing and I agree with the comment about asking questions, they are so gracious in answering them. Love the idea of keeping a list because yes, the mind can go blank when they are at bedside! Thank you for taking the time to write and wishing you and your daughter all the best! Tori

  8. Melanie

    My husband was ill with cancer last year and coughing non stop. Even though a chest X-ray was taken, the oncologist missed the pneumonia that another ER doctor caught a week later when I becamy pushy and insisted something was wrong. You really do have to be forceful with the doctors when you know your loved one isn’t well. We celebrated 31 years married just before my dearest love and best friend lost his battle. Caring for him was a privilege. He is missed terribly. So glad your babe is recovering. ❤️

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Hi Melanie,
      I’m so so sad to hear that you lost your husband, that is devastating beyond words. Take care of yourself and my sincere condolences. xo Tori

  9. Lori

    I’m so happy Max is feeling better and you are both home. You are a amazing mother Tori. Thank you for the insight and wisdom! 💕

  10. Heather

    Hey Tori!!

    I am so glad your little max is getting better. How scary. Especially since you did go to the doctor numerous times. Next time go with what your mommy instinct tells you and ask for that chest X-ray. You have the right to be listened to. Far to often we parents know when a loved on is not doing well. We are the ones who see them daily and healthcare providers only come into the picture when it’s serious. So why not listen to you. Our health care facilities need to practice more patient centred care and incorporate this patient and family voice. You did all the things right! You are helping so many with your blog post. Thank you for sharing this scary event. Glad he is on the mend and you got home in time for Easter!!!

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Thanks so much Heather that’s really kind of you to write. We are so fortunate to have had a team that was so on it when we got to the hospital I’m really grateful! I hope you had a lovely Easter! Tori

  11. Barb

    Hi Tori,

    I am glad Max is on the mend. Your boys are so sweet. It’s so hard to see your little one’s sick and not themselves. My youngest got really sick when she was 5 weeks old and had RSV and ended in the ICU for 10 days. I felt like the worst mother when we walked through those ER doors and they called for ICU stat. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. We were insulation too.
    For anyone, with a sick child or baby you are right on point with your tips. A couple of things I did, because I was a breast feeding was to bring a breast pump. She was kept NPO for 5 days but I pumped every three hours as if I was feeding her to keep up my milk supply.
    Another piece of advice is to ask lots of questions and get the medical staff to explain things in detail if you don’t understand. In the ICU at BCCH they rounded 3 times/day and encouraged the parents to participate which was extremely reassuring and helpful.
    Glad you guys got to enjoy aster together as a family,
    Barb

    1. Tori Wesszer

      Hi Barb I’m so sorry to hear that your little one was so sick at such a young age! That must have been so stressful! Great advice thank you so much for sharing!

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