Urgent Care

Remember little sad face from last night? Yeah, well, she woke up sadder still.

I had already made up my mind that if Annie still wasn't doing better this morning, I was taking advantage of our pediatrician's Saturday morning hours. And as it turns out, Annie woke up worse than I'd feared. Snot-crusted, red-cheeked, miserable, lethargic... it was pretty pathetic. I didn't even bother to shower, just booked it over and were at the doctor's office by 9:30.

Our usual doctor wasn't on call, but our second favorite doctor was. She is by far the most laid-back of the practice. In fact, I was expecting to hear "Oh, she has a virus, no biggie." So when Dr. F immediately expressed concern, even threw out "pneumonia"  within the first two minutes, I thought she was jumping the gun a bit.

The first blood test came back wonky, really low numbers. They came back for more blood. This time Annie's white blood cells were way up - infection. But flu was negative, RSV was negative. Her temperature spiked from 100.9 to 101.7 just in the short time we were there. But most concerning of all was her rapid, wheezy breathing.

Dr. F called our local Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Urgent Care center, just 10 minutes away. After speaking to the doctor there, she came back with a request that we head over for a chest x-ray. She printed our Annie's current vitals to show the next doctor, then gave her medicine to get the fever down. "You're going to get over there, the meds will kick in, and they're going to think we're crazy," she told me. "But otherwise I'm going to worry all weekend long about this one." She took down my cell phone number so she could check up on us, and we headed to urgent care.

By now it was 11 a.m. and true to prediction, Annie perked up in the waiting room, polishing off the cheerios I had stashed in the diaper bag. While the waiting room was packed already, calling ahead and clearly done the trick. I heard whispers of "the doctor is expecting her," and "bump her to the front" from the staff as they took my info. Although there was still plenty of waiting. Annie's energy ran out quickly and she spent most of the time snuggled on my shoulder. This kid is going to drive me to chiropractic care! I really can't say enough wonderful things about our CHOA urgent care center. It's the same place we went after Violet broke her collar bone, and both times we've had excellent care from a wonderful staff.

The doctor we saw was so sweet. She had already gotten the run-down from our pediatrician and after a brief chat, we were off to get a chest x-ray. Annie hated it. In fact, Annie started crying the minute anyone in scrubs came near her. Poor thing was on to us.

The x-ray showed... something. Something was brewing in the lungs. Something, plus the elevated white blood count, plus the rapid breathing... she wouldn't definitively call it pneumonia, but that was the suspect. She called our pediatrician (which I thought was so sweet - Dr. F asked to be kept in the loop) to discuss and they both agreed. A powerful antibiotic was ordered, but first a blood culture was needed.

There was no little finger prick this time. This was drawing blood with a needle, tubing, everything. Poor Annie was so dehydrated, the technician had trouble finding a vein. All while Annie screamed, of course. In the end, it took four of us. I laid on top of her, one nurse held her arm, another had to shine a high-powered flashlight from underneath her hand to illuminate the veins, and the last guy had to go in with the needle. And Annie, sweet Annie, just cried. I don't know how parents of chronically ill kids do it. Do the kids eventually get used to it? Or is it drama every time?

Blood work done, we still had to wait for the actual antibiotic, which was delivered via two shots, one in each plump thigh. There was more crying. And then there was more waiting to make sure there wasn't a negative reaction. At that point, close to 3 p.m., all I wanted was food (none all day save the English muffin I had for breakfast) and a chance to pee. Oh, and a neck massage.

The doctor predicted the fever would return, asked us to come back in 24 hours for a follow up with a potential second dose of antibiotics, and relayed a message from Dr. F that she wanted to see us Monday at the pediatrician's office. Once home, the fever did return, but slowly and surely, Annie has improved. She started playing with Violet around 6 p.m. tonight, snacked a bit on crackers and grapes, and we managed to force some liquid into her. I'm hoping we've turned a corner. What a day. Here's hoping my girls understand Daylight Savings and give us an hour to sleep in tomorrow!

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