Monday, January 7, 2008

How We Got Here

Or: The Long Boring Backstory that I'd Never Dare Open With in Fiction

December 3: Jacob stays home from school with a headache. I don't think much of it. He always gets headaches when he doesn't feel well or hasn't slept well. It's his automatic physical response.

Week of December 10: Jacob begins complaining about intermittent tooth pain. I don't think much of this, either. I know he has a cavity that we haven't had filled yet. The pain isn't intense and it comes and goes, so I ask him if he can wait until after Christmas. He says yes.

December 15: I notice that his left cheek is getting swollen. I begin to think more about it.

December 17: Jacob stays home from school. I call the dentist first thing. They can squeeze him in the next day in the afternoon. Or I can call them back if he can't stand it and they'll bring in the dentist who's off that day. Jacob makes it through the day fine.

December 18: Jacob goes to school, then to a 4:30 dentist appointment. My mother-in-law, Frances, takes him. I am at my parents' new house, supervising the moving in of all their belongings from storage. They'll be home in less than a month from spending 3 years in Kenya. I am shocked when the dentist calls my cell phone and says Jacob has a huge infection and he'll need to pull 2 teeth. I hate that I'm not with him.

December 18-31: Jacob actually has 3 teeth pulled (including the wisdom tooth that was up above the two infected teeth). The dentist was concerned about the infection, since it's so unusual in a child that age. He has sent a tissue sample to the lab at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Jacob is taking amoxicillin for a week. Then we have the dentist extend it for three more days so I feel comfortable sending Jake to Las Vegas with his dad and Matt. They go for the 27 and 28 to see the Blue Man Group perform. On Saturday night, the 29th, he takes his last antibiotic. He has moments of being totally himself, but he's still tired, headachy, and the swelling has not gone down. On Monday, the 31st, I get a call that the UVRMC lab isn't comfortable diagnosing the tissue sample and the think it might be more than a simple infection. They send it to Primary Children's Medical Center.

January 1: Decision. I am growing increasingly concerned about the swelling in his cheek. Although he doesn't have a fever, I'm worried that he still has an infection. Chris and I debate the options. The prudent thing, against which I have no logical objections, is to wait until morning and take him to the pediatrician. But I don't feel good about it. So off Jake and I go to the emergency room at Timpanogos Regional Hospital. We arrive at 9:30 p.m.

We see the doctor just after 10:00 p.m. He is instantly concerned about the possibility of a major infection, a fact that I find curiously reassuring. I think because it means he's taking it seriously and we won't have to sit around waiting for something to be done. He also notices that Jake's left eye is slightly protuberant, which could mean the infection is behind the eye. Jacob is started on a broad-spectrum IV antibiotic and given a cat scan. We spend the time pleasantly enough, Jake with his iPod, me with a book. At one point, I overhear the nurse on the phone talking about a patient transfer. Somehow, I have a feeling it's for Jake. At this point, I'm assuming it's a major infection that will need to be treated with IV antibiotics for several days at least. Although I'm worried, I feel confident that all will be well.

At 11:30, the doctor returns. He tells us the the cat scan is very worrying, he believes it shows a massive infection in his left cheek and going up behind his eye socket. He's arranged a transfer to Primary Children's. I'm allowed to drive Jacob there myself, but we're to go straight to the emergency room where they'll be expecting us. I call Chris to let him know where we're headed and get Jacob's coat and shoes on. We're about to be in the hands of one of the best children's hospitals in the U.S.

But we don't have the slightest idea of how our world is about to unravel.

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