Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Because It Wouldn't Be a Vacation Without an Odd Sort of Adventure

Thomas had a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a couple of weeks ago and the girls and I decided to tag along.

We arrived at the Jackson Lodge in Grand Tetons National Park on Thursday evening, after a day spent exploring Yellowstone.

Evening at the Lodge

The admonishment of the day, "Drink more water. I don't care--drink more anyway." The admonishment of the evening, "Give me another glass of wine! Er, please."

Friday morning, Charlotte slept way late, even factoring in the one hour time difference.

At 10:30, she sat up and immediately threw up. Once it was cleaned up, she announced in a perfectly normal, happy voice that she felt better. Unfortunately we took her at her word. On a short walk to the stables to see the horses, she ate a bit of banana, promptly throwing it up.

Hannah on Smokey the next day.

Back to the cottage, where she once again, she announced, "Me feel better!" Forty minutes passed with no vomiting, no fever, no real change in her usual behavior. So we again took her at her word and hopped in the car to explore Jackson. Fortunately I grabbed a towel from the bathroom first.

Charlotte and I spent the rest of the day at the cottage, where she alternated sleeping with vomiting. After awhile, she couldn't even swallow the water before throwing up. I sent Thomas to the conference's opening night reception with Hannah and waited for Charlotte to wake up from a three hour nap.

At 7:30, after Thomas dropped Hannah off at the cottage and went back for the opening session, Charlotte said she had to go potty and went to the bathroom.

"Yay," I thought. "Still peeing = not dehydrated!"

But why is she vomiting blood?

The on-site clinic had already closed for the day, so the front desk sent over one of the rangers, who, upon hearing the words "child vomiting blood," immediately called the EMT, who took her vitals, noticed that she was moving between very alert and very sleepy, and immediately called for an ambulance.

After taking her vitals for the second time, Gary (the ranger/paramedic) recommended that Charlotte go to the hospital. Right away. In the ambulance. Hannah was excited that she got to ride in the jump seat and look out the window and talk the ears off the driver and Lou, the EMT, who decided to come along. (He may have regretted that after the 52nd question of Hannah's version of Twenty Questions.) She also got to see a bull elk and a herd of buffalo along the way.

(This was taken a couple of days later--not from the ambulance.)

As for Charlotte, she was sitting on my lap, glucose level dropping, still alternating between sleepy and chatty. Until she vomited blood once more. I apologize--again--to the lodge for taking another of their towels. I didn't think you'd want it back, but it did help the doctor with the diagnosis: altitude sickness and a small esophageal tear caused by throwing up all day. The nurse brought in one tiny pill for the nausea, because, as the doctor put it, sometimes vomiting begets vomiting.

And sometimes putting a pill under the tongue of a four-year-old begets vomiting, as well.

The nurse brought a second pill. I had to pry Charlotte's jaws open, stuff the pill in and hold her mouth shut until the pill dissolved, all the while trying to explain that I was doing it to help her.

Half an hour and two grape popsicles later, good as new.

Conducting the choir as they sing an original composition, "Me Feel Better!"

You'd never know Charlotte was the one there to see the doctor--Hannah passed out in Charlotte's bed well before we were released.

Poor Hannah, sound asleep in her new cowboy boots.

Many thanks to the National Park Service, St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, WY, Lou the EMT, the driver whose name I didn't get, and especially to Gary. Charlotte thinks of you every time she hugs the teddy bear you gave her.

I'm sorry to say she also adds, "Me throw up."


Lorraine Akemann said...

Oh my! I'm glad it all ended OK for you guys, and I'm certain this must have been stressful. We've been through travel sickness with the kids before and I can recall how unsettling it felt to have it happen away from home (it's hard enough when you're AT home!) Cool shot of the Buffalo though!

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