Merrick? Can you please stop frightening your mother?
When Merrick was born -- all 10 pounds of him -- a nurse got very interested in him right before discharge. She turned him over and inspected; she stared and got down next to him for twenty minutes. The Matron was pleased that a professional was so interested in her beautiful baby! She assumed the nurse was just adoring the offspring.
Nurse: "Mary? I'm sorry to tell you this, but I need to take Merrick to the nursery so a neurologist can look at him."
Turns out that he was having little tiny seizures -- seizures that the Matron thought were just baby twitches. They do that, babies. They twitch.
Perhaps the most surreal moment of this whole ordeal was when the Matron and her husband were standing near the nurses' station during a tour for pregnant women and their partners. The tour was puttering about the nurses' station when they got the news from the neurologist: seizures. Their baby was head toward intensive care.
Everybody watched the poor baby get wheeled off and the Matron fall apart. Welcome to motherhood! The pregnant tourists were visibly scared: everyone's worst nightmare.
Now, the nature of the seizures remain a bit of a mystery, as it turns out that they just went away and there was really nothing wrong with him. But for four days he lived in the little tiny intensive care bubble, with the Matron standing by his side. She lived there too.
That was hospitalization number one.
Eight months later, the Matron noticed that Merrick's perfectly precious left eye looked swollen. The swelling continued --joined by its pal, redness --- so rapidly that she became alarmed -- alarmed enough to take him to the emergency room, which isn't something one might normally consider for a red eye. But this eye was popping into something circus-like, rapidly.
She walked into the ER with her little guy just as their family pediatrician was walking out. Conicidence or Universe intervening? She likes the latter.
Anyway, the doctor greeted the Matron and then gasped in horror. She grabbed Merrick out of his mother's arms and sprinted back in, yelling for a nurse. This was actually rather alarming to the Matron, who followed behind as a mini-team started work on her child. Within FIVE MINUTES he had an antibiotic drip in his arm.
It turns out that he had periorbital cellulitis --an infection of the optic nerve. This can kill you, relatively efficiently. By this time his eye was ready for Pixar and this all transpired in the span of an hour, which was the reason the medical folk believed the infection, deadly.
Then the antibiotics didn't work.
Merrick was in the hospital fighting that infection for eight days.
By day six, it was clear the medicine kicked in and the eye stopped threatening to spread to Asia. But those were six days of horror. Once again, guess who lived at the hospital?
Day six she was able to take her guy around in a little red wagon, followed by the massive IV drip. They strolled up and down the hospital halls as a little diversion because it is hard to sit still and be institutionalized when you're eight months old and recently learned to crawl.
As they were paused at a corner - -the pathetic eight month old baby wired to machines and an exhausted mama -- a man walking by dropped a $20 bill into the wagon!! She briefly considered putting out a hat to see what else would happen, but instead (after realizing the money had been dropped and trying to flag down the guy to return it, to no avail) she bought herself a strong cup of coffee and cried for about an hour.
He's better now. But even after He Who Cannot Be Named needed crutches for an entire summer (torn ACL at nine!), these two hospital stints retain much of their horror.
Merrick is currently not allowed to have a cold. He's used up that karma -- at least for the mama.