Christmas Cheer Is Recovering Child

Kansas Viewpoint

For more than a month, baby has been fighting mysterious infection

Published on: December 20, 2011
It looks like my tiny granddaughter, Geneva, is on the mend.

At 3 years old, Geneva finally hit 25 pounds a couple of months ago. She was premature and has gained size slowly, but steadily, since she came into the world. What she lacks in size, she makes up in energy and spirit. She is a really, really busy, active little girl.

Even after a lymph node began swelling on her neck around Thanksgiving, she has been undaunted. But the lump got bigger and bigger and then became inflamed and tender. An effort to drain it two weeks ago produced little result, and it continued to get worse.

Today, she had surgery to remove the node, which her doctor said had become necrotic.

Those in the OR said it was "horrible" when they got all the node out and found the huge pus pocket that had been growing behind it.

The pathogen responsible hasn't been identified. Top candidates are MRSA and an atypical mycobacteria that maybe came from bird poop.

We gathered at the hospital to support her mom -- predictably pretty stressed -- and be there for our little doll. She came through the general anesthetic with flying colors, sitting up and drinking juice and eating jello (while demanding ice cream) in just a couple of hours.

I was struck by how complex it is to change what we establish as routine. Geneva had to be at the hospital at 9 a.m. for check-in, the exact time that her two sisters and little brother had to be at school. Then her brother had to be picked up at 11:30 -- except today was pictures with Santa (bring your own camera) from 11 to 11:30 a.m. -- and then her sisters had to be picked up at 4:10 p.m. and her brother needed to be back at school for his Christmas program at 6:15 p.m.

At 7 a.m. Daddy came off a 24-hour shift as a Mobile Intensive Care Technician during the season's first major winter storm (read that 17 calls and two jaws-of-life extractions). Both Grandmas and Grandpas have full-time jobs. Uncle and Aunt have four kids and both work full-time.

The message is, everybody is fully committed even BEFORE the crisis hits.

Yet, somehow, everybody shifted.

Both Grandmothers adjusted schedules. I took a computer to the hospital -- after all most of the time is spent waiting and you might as well work as worry. Grammy (who works in education) talked to her principal and got a extra half-day off, with a couple extra minutes to race by home and grab and a camera for photos with Santa. Daddy, amazingly stayed on his feet as the end of a 36-hour shift drew near. Uncle and Aunt charged the video camera and recorded the pre-school program.

Tonight, we have great photos and videos of the pre-school performance, which everyone was really scared would be just wiped out by the hospital worry.

Which makes we wonder: How many of you have dealt with the struggle of trying to balance competing child attention demands: an acutely sick child versus a chronic health child problem?

Or just an acutely sick child who wipes out the attention normally devoted to another perfectly healthy child or the activities he is engaged in?

It will be 3 weeks before we get all the pathology reports from the exam of the removed node. In the meantime, we hope the infection has been conquered and everything will be healed up soon.