I was shocked to see that this month’s cell phone bill was almost $500. I thought that Verizon must not have received my damaged phone back and they were charging me for it. Until I went to look at the bill. I forget that phone bills are billed off-cycle. The billing period actually began May 10, the day Hudson went into the hospital. Over the course of the next 30 days, Ed and I talked on our cell phones for a combined 2947 minutes.
But it’s not the numbers in the bill that stopped me in my tracks. It’s the story that it tells. The story of those horrifying 4 days.
6:29AM: I call the pediatrician’s office, hoping someone will already be there and will tell me I can come in right at 7AM. I get the answering service.
7:01AM: I call the pediatrician’s office again and talk to the doctor, who tells me I can come in at 8:00.
9:28AM: I call St. Ann’s to tell them Hudson won’t be in because she is sick. We are waiting to get a blood culture and chest x-ray to see if we can figure out what is wrong with her.
10:53AM: I call my office to tell them I won’t be in because Hudson is sick. We have dropped Ed off at work and are headed home. Hudson is very sleepy in the car seat. She spends the next few hours asleep on my shoulder in our glider at home. I try to offer her something to drink and she says no.
1:10PM: I call the pediatrician’s office, worried that Hudson is getting dehydrated. She sends us to the ER, “just to get some fluids.”
1:40PM: I call Ed to tell him we’re at the ER.
1:59PM: I call my dad to tell him we’re at the ER.
3:50PM: Ed calls me to tell me he’s in a cab on his way to the ER.
5:39PM: I call my dad to tell him the docs think Hudson has meningitis and that they’re doing a spinal tap. Dad gets in the car and heads to DC.
5:59PM: I call Jessica to tell her the docs think Hudson has meningitis and that they’re doing a spinal tap.
8:24PM: I call Jessica to tell her that Hudson definitely has meningitis and that we’re getting admitted to the PICU.
8:42AM: The pediatrician calls me wanting to know what the hell has happened because she got a call from the PICU docs the night before.
8:48AM: I call St. Ann’s, where the staff is panicked that Hudson has a contagious form of meningitis. I can’t tell them anything because we don’t know yet whether or not it’s contagious.
9:08AM: Jessica calls to check in. I remember this call so clearly that it hurts. A few hours earlier, Hudson’s pupils have begun responding unevenly to light, which is a really bad sign. We are terrified that the worst has happened. We wait for what seems like agonizing hours for a CT scan. It shows some swelling in her brain, so they put her on a ventilator and into a medically induced coma to try to bring the swelling down. The docs tell us that a good sign would be some kind of voluntary movements on Hudson’s part as the sedation wears off and around 8AM, we see some—they try to put a catheter in her and she rouses, eyes still closed, and tries to pull her breathing tube out. The neurologists do some tests and her pupils are responding normally again and she passes some other reflex tests as well. We are hopeful that she is turning a corner. Jessica calls right after that, and I tell her that I am glad she didn’t call a few hours earlier because I would have been freaking out, but now Hudson is responding, at least some, and we think she is going to pull through. How stupid we are.
9:38AM: I call my office to tell them that Hudson has meningitis and that I will not be back in for an indefinite amount of time, regardless of what happens. Even if Hudson survives, she will be in the hospital for several weeks of IV antibiotics and monitoring. If only that could have been our fate.
2:10PM: Jessica calls. The worst has happened. Hudson has blown both her pupils this time. This time we wait forever for the results of the CT. We aren’t sure if she has even survived it. When the social worker comes to get us out of the family waiting room to tell us that the doctors will meet with us in a private consultation room, we know the news will be bad. When we go into the consult room, and two doctors, two nurses and the social worker all file in, we know the news will be very bad. The CT scan shows massive swelling in Hudson’s brain. The doctor says that many children do not survive this kind of brain injury, and that even if Hudson does survive, she will likely not be the same child she was before. She might never walk again. She might never talk again. We scream. We sob. We shout, “NO!” I tell Jessica this, in a nutshell. Jessica tells me that a plane is leaving Helena in 45 minutes and that she will be on it.
2:38PM: My sister Diane calls. She and my brother Jason make plans to come to DC that afternoon.
6:51: My sister Laura calls. We make plans for her to fly up in the morning.
1:48AM: Jessica calls to tell me she’s arrived at the hospital. She gets upstairs and I collapse in her arms.
The rest is a big blur of calls (and one day, I may write about these terrible hours) with the exception of two calls that stand out.
6:46PM: I call my Aunt Sandra, who I haven’t spoken to since this nightmare began. I am lying beside Hudson on the hospital bed, spending quiet time with her. We know that in about 2 hours, the doctors will repeat the brain death test from the night before and Hudson will be declared dead. My aunt and I cry together.
6:55PM: I call my cousin Tate, who I also haven’t spoken to yet. She can’t believe I am calling her right now. It just seemed like the right thing in that quiet moment. We cry together, too.
There are no more calls until the next morning, when all our loved ones begin calling to see when they can come by and what they can do.
Who knew a phone bill could tell such a terrible story? I remember all those moments like they happened yesterday, but sometimes it is hard to believe they happened at all. This is proof that they did.