Vacationing has a way of making you pay careful attention to some things, while completely ignoring others. As the mother of four, I have weathered a number of ear infections along with my boys and have a pretty good grasp on how to comfort the little ears while helping them to get better fast. So, while I was prepared for Morgan’s ear infection, I was caught unaware by the sickness that was exacerbated by our travels. Dehydration is always a minor concern for travelers, and dehydration in higher altitudes is always a factor. Altitude can be especially difficult for flatlanders from Texas. However, when you add ear infection + travel+ altitude change, you can very quickly end up with a very sick baby.
Here’s how it all unfolded. Morgan was recovering from his ear infection, had no more fever, and seemed to be feeling better. For several nights, he had been sleeping fitfully with the pain and fever. It was obvious that he was very, very tired. After touring the Gold Mine, he finally fell asleep and took a long and much needed nap. He woke up just long enough to eat some dinner, and then fell back into a deep sleep. At first, I was grateful that he was catching up on his sleep, but when he didn’t wake up during a diaper change, I started to worry. As I was changing his diaper, it occurred to me that I hadn’t changed his diaper all day, and this diaper wasn’t even wet. That’s when I knew that my worry was not unfounded. He was dehydrated.
I put in a cursory call to my doctor at home, but I knew before she answered the phone what she was going to say. I hustled out to the front desk to ask where to find the nearest hospital, bundled up the baby boy, and we were out the door. The nearest hospital was not too far away, but driving in a strange area at night always makes things seem farther. We arrived and were relieved to see that it seemed to be a nice hospital in a decent neighborhood. When traveling, we have encountered a variety of nice and not nice medical establishments, so there is always a fair amount of breath holding until we arrive. Valet parking happily parked the car, and I entered what seemed to be a recently renovated and beautifully decorated hospital atrium.
I wound my way around the hallways, following the arrows that pointed towards the ER, where I found the double doors that led into the triage center. That is where the landscape changed. The first thing I saw as I entered the double doors was a metal detector and armed guards.
The armed guard looked at me and at the stroller and then back at me and said “Do you have any pepper spray or knives?” I assured him I did not, so he ushered me through the metal detectors. Then, it went from bad to worse. Every single seat in the waiting room was full with sick and injured patients, most of which seemed they had been waiting for many hours. I could feel the germs sinking into my skin, as I made my way to the triage center. The triage nurse was very helpful, said that Morgan most likely had mild dehydration, and suggested I find a seat, as the estimated wait would be 12 hours. 12 hours!
I looked around for a seat. A police officer who was escorting some prisoner patients stood and offered me his seat. That was the straw that sent me scrambling for the door. I know that I should probably be easier going or PC enough to take the seat next to the very nice man in the orange jumpsuit, but I am not. Sitting next to prisoners with my baby in my lap is where I draw the line. I smiled politely at the police officer and his charge, then headed straight for the door. At that point, I figured that if the triage nurse felt comfortable letting us wait 12 hours in the waiting room, then I could go back to the hotel, do my best to get some liquids in the poor baby and come back in the morning if needed.
On my way back to the hotel, I stopped at the drugstore and picked up some popsicles and pedialyte. In the backseat, Morgan was talking and wiggling. He seemed to be more awake and happy than he had been all day, so the trip to the hospital hadn’t been a total waste. Back in our room, Gary and I took turns offering him bites of popsicle. “More,” he would say pleadingly after each bite, and we gladly obliged. Two popsicles later, he was a brand new baby and rewarded our night of worry with big blue lipped grins as he drifted off to sleep.
What do you do when you are sick and traveling?