Finn recently spent 80+ hours in the hospital. For a child who has been incredibly healthy his entire 5 1/2 years, this was a miserable experience for him.
After waking up Monday morning with a swollen knee which he would put no weight on, a low fever, and looking like he hadn’t slept in days, we knew we needed to do something. Our family doctor couldn’t see him until the following day so we shipped off to the walk-in clinic, a first for our kids.
After 5 hours at the walk-in clinic, we were sent to the OR/ER at a local hospital for further evaluation. What we thought was a twisted knee or some type of viral inflammation wasn’t.
Long story short, Finn had a bacterial infection in his knee. He was put through a lot. This was not his jam. At one point he even screamed, with clenched fists and neck veins popping, “you already took my bloooooood! No more blood until heaven!” Heart crushing.
After an x-ray, numerous blood draws (lots of screaming), conscious sedation to test the fluid causing the inflammation (terrible reaction to that medicine), full anesthesia to go in and drain/flush the knee which included stitches and a wrap, Finn was mad. He didn’t understand what was happening (nor did we fully), and simply wanted to go home.
Every bit of natural healing desire in me struggled with what was happening, but I understood this was one example of a situation when western medicine was very important. We wanted our happy Finn back and trusted the doctors had his best interests at heart. I have to say, the doctors and nurses we encountered (and there were lots) were really fantastic at answering questions and explaining what was happening. I am grateful to them as I had lots of questions!
When the orthopedic surgeon who did the flush came for Justin and I in the waiting room to tell us Finn did great and they were able to flush out all of the infection, I couldn’t speak. I just hugged him and then lost it… again.
One of the things that most bothered me in the hospital was the food. What was offered was abysmal, at best.
The first night, Finn was sent chicken broth and this drink. The order didn’t come from us, so I’m not sure who sent this.
I instantly thought this looked like a strange drink. Artificial flavor? What else was in this? It looks like a weird apple juice, right? Turn the box…
Oh yes, sugar, more processed sugar, and dairy followed by “natural” and artificial flavors and a long list of other ingredients I can’t pronounce. My eyes bugged out of my head! Not only was this not appropriate for my dairy-allergic son, the list of ingredients would not be helpful to a single person, regardless of allergy concerns. A sugary, chemical-filled drink to help make a sick person well?
It was almost 48 hours before Finn was able to eat. He was hungry and he wanted food. I opened the hospital menu and again, my eyes bugged out of my head. (Hospital logo covered with images below.)
Not only were less than a handful of items safe for him to eat, nearly zero items were healthy. When I asked the nurses what other options there were, they shrugged their shoulders with that look of, “sorry, this is all there is.”
Essentially, we were then responsible for bringing food in that would be OK for Finn.
We did order a sliced apple for Finn. He pushed almost half of it aside and said, “ewe,” as there were chunks of brown, bruised apple.
I couldn’t help but think of some of the families I met on the floor. Some had been there weeks and would be staying weeks longer. What if those kids had special diets? What if those families came from hours away for treatment and were staying at the hospital with their child? In addition to the day-to-day stress of being in the hospital, the stress of what lies ahead for your child, and the stress of the forthcoming bill, you are having to navigate food options. Perhaps that means running to the grocery store on a regular basis or finding a location to make real food, because as any allergy or real food parent knows, you can’t eat out of boxes and cans long-term for health.
Food. A simple piece of daily life that all the sudden becomes a major concern in a hospital, of all places. We can’t get healthy, and we certainly can’t heal quickly, when we don’t have quality nutrients pouring into our bodies.
My heart sank as I thought of all the friends and family (and YOU, as readers) who would be in such a terrible position if something like this came up. I felt sick thinking about the reality of it for people like my goddaughter who cannot eat dairy, soy, gluten, dyes, and so on. What would they do if they were 2 or 3 hours away from home for anything more than a day or 2?
I asked all of you about it on Facebook (Feb. 19) and read so many stories of things you’d already experienced. What is happening is not ok.
Thankfully, we are home and on the mend. Getting into our own house quickly changed Finn’s demeanor and the healing could officially begin.
But for all those other families, ugh.
Have you dealt with food allergies in the hospital? Real food issues? What have you done about this? What can we do about this?