Whoa Doctor


Chillin in the incubator

When your daughters start the first 5 weeks of their lives in the hospital being fed through tubes, you’re going to assume that maybe they’ve used up their quota of hospital/doctor visits. To think that would be wrong. Plus, they spent 9+ weeks in the hospital with their mommy on bed rest before they even entered this world. With premature babies, comes lots of visits to the Dr. To say the girls have spent a good portion of their lives visiting the hospital or pediatrician would be a bit of an understatement. Some of it by no fault of their own and some of it self inflicted, but all equally terrifying, frustrating and crazy!

After a recent bout with strep throat, several people have said to me, “man, they are always sick,” to which I replied, “No…wait…yes they are.” Around the same time Tracey asked me to do a post about how many different illnesses, injuries, hospital visits, surgeries, etc. the girls have had in their short little lives. Together, we compiled this list which is one part amazing and one part awful because it brought back all the memories to both of us as we went through all of this.

Here’s a list of some of the viruses, surgeries, tests, scans, breaks and other things that had us sweating out some seriously long days and nights.

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) – Required weeks of breathing treatments

3 Cases Pneumonia – Several Trips to the ER

Mono – Trip to dr, then hospital for blood tests (two times)

Strep Throat – Multiple trips to the dr, treated with antibiotics

Double ear infections – Lots of antibiotics

Single ear infection – Antibiotics

Scarlet fever – In addition to another round of strep throat.  High fever, rash and  all the other symptoms that come with strep.

H1N1 – House quarantine (self induced)

Roto virus – Took out the whole family…extended family included during baptism.

Roseola (twice) -Rash and high fever treated with tylenol and ibuprofen

Bronchial Infection – Breathing Treatments that are very difficult to give to a toddler. Had to be given multiple times a day for several weeks.
Elle Swine Flu Visit
Huds with Stwep Froat

The Biggies:

Torticollis – Elle – Twisting in the neck, required physical therapy exercises to strengthen neck for 6 months at Children’s hospital when she was a baby. (age 6 months)

Syringomyelia – Elle –  The torticollis lead to the discovery of damage to the spinal cord due to the formation of a fluid-filled sac within her spinal cord. This is a very rare and terrifying disease and Elle was diagnosed with it at 7 months old. Thanks to Tracey’s keen eye and persistence in pressing the issue with the Doctor Elle was quickly diagnosed and treated with surgery that had her on a waiting list for over a year. If Tracey didn’t persistently hound the nurses and call the surgery center daily, Elle would have had surgery 6 months later which could have resulted in  permanent bladder damage.  Over the past 4 years she has been sedated for MRI testing at least 8 times as a result of this disorder.  (Age 6 months to current).  Subsequently we had Hudson tested for the disorder as well which required additional hospital visits and MRI testing.

Tethered spinal cord (Chiari Malformation)– Elle  – Her spinal chord was attached to her spinal column at the base of her tailbone/spinal chord area creating the syringomyelia in both her upper and lower spine. It required surgery and a week-long stay in the pediatric intensive care unit (age 15 months).  Because of the delicacy of the spinal cord, Elle had to be heavily sedated for over 4 days to avoid moving and creating permanent spinal cord trauma.  This was our longest visit at Children’s and involved a week of around the clock and overnights at  the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.  This was by far the toughest and scariest moment as a parent for us both.  As a result of this Elle also had to go through very invasive testing with a Urologist at Childrens’ to ensure she had no permanent damange to her bladder making her incontenent.  Tracey rarely speaks of this testing as it seemed to be the most traumatic for them both as a mother/daughter team.  At one point, Tracey had to step in and halted the testing midstream after two hours of invasive procedures on her baby girl, demanding they find another way that was less traumatic for her daughter.  (age 6 months to 4)

ASD/VSD (heart murmur) – Elle  – These are two small holes in her heart that allow blood to flow between the chambers. Luckily hers are non surgical and are closing on their own over time.  Being under 6 months old when they started this testing, they had to sedate her to keep her still. (age 6 months to current)

Herniated belly button – Hudson – That cute little (huge) outie belly button was dangerous and didn’t heal on it’s own so she required surgery to get it fixed (age 3)

Monteggia fracture – Hudson – One  fall out of the golf cart and you’ve got a broken arm with a dislocation. Broken bones are to be expected at some point with kids, but this one was special. Our trip to Children’s to have the arm set in a cast resulted in a trip back the next day to have a dislocated bone put back into place as well as having the fracture set. Sedation, setting and casting. Thank God for waterproof casts.(Age 3) This is apparently a very rare break and required 6 orthopedic specialists to ooh and awe at our little Hudson. This required regular X-rays to ensure healing was happening to remove the need of surgery.

Fibral seizure – Elle – One of the more frightening moments of our life. While sitting with Nana, her fever spiked and she just started convulsing. None of us knew what to do, and needless to say, we all freaked out and made some poor decisions in this case. A frantic trip to the ER in an ambulace resulted. (age 16 months).  Additionally while at the ER it was even more stressful as they were determining how to do invasive testing while only weeks out of surgery on her spine.  Neurology and Urology were brought in for this ER trip.

Tonsil Surgery (x2) – Both – In order to stem regular trips to the dr. for strep, the girls had their tonsils taken out. It was no bowl of ice cream, but they managed their pain pretty well and enjoyed every second of the pampering.

Double Compound Fracture – Elle – Taking the cake for the most gruesome injury is Elle’s cartwheel gone wrong in after school care. A planting and twisting cause a spiral fracture in the radius, which broke the ulna and slightly punctured the skin of her forearm.  Another trip to the ER, followed immediately by a trip to spend the night, followed by surgery the next morning. Let it be noted, that Elle was not a pleasant patient and only wanted her sister to cheer her up. At one point, she needed to use the restroom and exclaimed, “I need a medical professional, not YOU!”

Compression Fracture of the Spine (T9) – Elle – Not to be outdone by herself, Elle fell from the high bars at a gymnastics sleepover and what was thought to be a bruised back turned into a compression fracture of her spine. That’s right, she broke her back. I feel gymnastics might not be her thing…if she wants to live past 9. Six weeks of healing and she should be back to her normal falling down and hurting herself routine.


Elle after spinal surgery
Hudson’s X-Ray…this is super painful to look at
Huds complicated fracture/dislocation
Huds post herniated bellybutton surgery
Elle getting her princess heart checked out


Elle after a cartwheel


All of these trips means they’ve seen:

5+ trips to ER – Maybe more.

13+ sedations – Over the span of 4 years, between the two of them.

Xray  – Numerous testing for Penuomonia and broken arm

MRI – Lost count

Blood Tests – At least 15 times between the two of them, Elle taking the brunt of it

Pediatricians – We should seriously get some kind of discount here.

Nurses – Lots of patient, talented people.

ER physicians – Always nice, but the girls always charm them too.

Cardiologists – Annual check ups for Elle that include Echo’s and Ultrasounds (Children’s Hospital)

Neurology – Fixed Elle’s Tethered Chord (Neurosurgeon) (Children’s Hospital)

Urologist – Sedated Elle to test her kidneys and ensure no permanent incontinence (Children’s Hospital)

Optlimology – Preemies can have eye issues so we had several trips to optimilogy early on (Children’s Hospital)

Physical Therapy –  6 months of treatment (Children’s Hospital)

Some people say that women forget the pain of child birth as a natural way of allowing themselves to do it again. There has to be some of that coming into play with us as parents for all of the things these girls have gone through. Simply writing all this out has brought back all of the fears that came along with each illness, surgery or sedation. It is quite possibly the worst feeling in the world and when a parent is at their absolute, most helpless point.

We have no doubt that through all of these things, our girls have become two of the strongest, most beautiful children we’ve ever known (super partial). There are lots of people out there that have had to deal with much worse situations, but let me be the first to say that we can completely empathize with anyone who’s had to deal with any dramatic illnesses with their children. There’s no worse feeling in the world than when your child is sick, going into surgery or injures themselves. It only helps us feel even more truly blessed that we have these amazing little angels in our lives to look after.

Breathing treatments
Elle’s incision on her spine
Hudson pre surgery
Hudson sedated to relocate bones
Elle at the Dr. for Mono
Hudson at the Dr. for strep

5 thoughts on “Whoa Doctor

  1. Holy cow! I never knew about all of those things. I can only say that it was tough enough to go through multiple surgeries and treatments with my husband, who is big and strong–to see children endure such things must have been terrible! You are strong parents!

  2. It’s amazing the strength we have when it comes to our kids, and also amazing the fear we endure while they go through difficult stuff. Hats ff to both you and Tracey!

  3. I just have to say, what strong parents you both are! I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional roller coaster. Reading about the girl’s medical struggles just left me in tears! You have every reason in the world to believe they are special, because they are!

  4. Wow Nathan. My oldest daughter was born at 26 weeks and only weighed 1lb. 15 oz ,but after she got to come home (her hospital stay was 10 weeks) the only major illness she has had was a bout of RSV with a 4 day stay in the hospital when she was just shy of her 2 year old birthday. I can’t even imagine the stress and pain you and your wife have gone through, and from your posts, they sound like two of the most remarkable 4 year olds ever! I admire both of your strength and courage through such tough times. This excerpt definitely makes me think twice about complaining over the most mundane things. Thank you for that. 🙂

    1. I’ve always thought “someone has it worse than us” which has always helped me to keep it all in perspective. It’s pretty overwhelming all typed out like that, but at the time i always thought “this is just what we do as parents right? everyone goes through this.” might be a bit of an overstatement, but someone always did have it worse than us. But thanks for the note and glad your little one is doing good. i saw the 1lb babies in the NICU and it scared the hell out of me. amazing what drs do now.

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