Almost three weeks ago, I arrived home from work to a happy, active three year old who was excitedly planning what kind of cookies we’d bake for our family movie night that evening. Literally one hour later, my poor little guy was on the floor sobbing that his tummy hurt. Trying to not be “that mom” who rushes to the ER with every tiny thing, I headed to my local urgent care clinic, figuring they’d send me home with maybe a virus diagnosis. I had no idea what lay ahead.

For me, the night took a scary turn when the urgent care doctor advised that I start driving to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center right away, or if I’d rather, he’d call us an ambulance. Um, what? I was waiting for the “bland diet and keep him hydrated” speech! I opted to drive, and texted my husband to meet us there. At this point, I was thinking maybe the urgent care doctor was just being cautious, or at worst, maybe my son had appendicitis.

We arrived at CT Children’s within 40 minutes, and I started feeling better and more calm. We’d already had a fantastic experience with them a year and a half earlier when this same child broke his arm…and removed his cast within 24 hours…so I knew we were in good hands. We were seen immediately, and our doctor decided to order an ultrasound to check for an intussusception. I consider myself a pretty well-informed mama, but I’d never even heard of this before! I very much appreciated that he took the time to calmly explain what it was (basically when part of the intestine slides into itself like a telescope) and how it was typically treated.

We were whisked in for an ultrasound with a very friendly ultrasound technician who even took the time to explain to my three-year-old what she was doing. My husband arrived to take my 6 year old home, and my parents called to say they were on the way to keep me company. While I was waiting alone with my son, the doctor delivered the news I’d hoped we wouldn’t hear: it was an intussusception, and it needed immediate treatment, first with an uncomfortable air enema, and if that failed, emergency surgery. I was floored! What I thought was no big deal was actually a potentially life-threatening diagnosis. I was shocked and scared. Someone must have seen the look on my face (and my poor son’s pained expression) because in came a wonderful, calm child-life specialist who offered to answer any questions I had, asked if she could help in any way, and gave my son a beautiful, soft, handmade blanket to keep. If we had to face emergency surgery, I was happy it would at least happen here.

The next three days were a whirlwind. My son ended up needing the emergency surgery, then spending two days in the hospital recovering. During that time, I was constantly impressed by the child-centered care we received. From amazing nurses who managed to take my son’s vitals in the middle of the night without waking him to menus including ice slushies and grilled cheese to a gorgeous playroom on our floor which really brightened my son’s morning when he was up and walking again, CT Children’s made what was one of the scariest things I’ve gone through as a parent much less scary. When we left, he was excited to gather up all his “prizes”, the hoard of fun toys the nurses had given him for being brave during any painful procedures.

From my point of view as a mother, the worst part of my entire experience was seeing my poor, sobbing son be wheeled away from me into the operating room in the middle of the night. However, knowing that every doctor, nurse, and health technician there was trained specifically to care for children made it much easier. Knowing our anesthesiologist worked with children day in and day out, knowing that everything was child-specific, made me at ease as is possible when faced with emergency surgery on one’s own child. So a huge thank you to everyone at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for all you do. We truly thank you for being there, and for your excellent care of my little guy!

Happy guy recovering!

Happy guy recovering!

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