My Children’s Hospital Experience & Extra Life Decision

I’m going to take a break from game/industry posting today and get a little serious and personal. I’ve recently signed up to participate in the Extra Life charity drive for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and though I don’t know what I’ll be doing for “the marathon”, I do know that I will be playing for St. Louis Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. I had a brief, if scary brush with this hospital a few years ago and the experience has been with me ever since.

This experience was a few years ago, and the time was extremely hectic so I’m going to do my best to get the details right. First of all, parents of small children will tell you that it’s really not that uncommon for toddlers to get sick – a lot. Even fevers, as scary as they can be, can come and go at a moment’s notice when certain daycare-lurking viruses are involved. So, when our (at the time) two year old son (Braxclan fans know him as Brodkil) started coming down with a sporadic fever, we didn’t really think much of it. In fact, after some treatment and seemed improvement, we felt good enough to send our kids (4 and 2) off with the grandparents for a rare weekend alone. It wasn’t very long into this weekend, however, that my parents called us in a panic. No matter what they tried (including standing in a cold shower with him), they could not bring my son’s fever down. In the end, they ended up taking him down to a smaller local hospital in order to get it under control. It was diagnosed as the ever mysterious and untreatable “virus”.

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One of the bad things about viruses us that you never really know how long they’re going to last, and this one hung on. After some more time had passed, we brought him to our local doctor, who advised us to rotate different fever reducing medications. The fevers would spike very high very quickly. My son was not sleeping well, and would cry in his sleep as if he was in pain. He started breaking out in a rash that covered his entire body. Tests were showing inflamed tissues and an enlarged spleen. Our pediatrician was at a loss as far as a diagnosis was concerned, but had started to reach out to other doctors both locally and at the nearby university. After about three weeks of symptom treatment and feeling like we had no idea what was going on, our pediatrician started to fight with our HMO to get a referral to the St Louis Children’s Hospital. I can’t explain how it feels when your child is sick and you don’t know how to help. For all we knew, it could have been an extremely rare disease for which there is no cure. I had thoughts running through my mind that I wouldn’t wish on any parent. Thoughts like “if he dies, how am I going to explain it to his brother?”.

Most of that time period is a bit of a blur, but I do remember driving to St Louis, and praying most of the way. My son sat in his car seat in the back in a restless sleep. When we arrived at the hospital, we sat in a brightly colored waiting room, and that’s when the full gravity of where we were actually struck me. There were kids in that same waiting room with us who had been at the hospital time and time again for treatments, some who would be back for a seemingly endless number of future visits, and some who would die there. I can’t begin to tell you how insignificant any other problem I’d ever had in my entire life became at that moment. We were called back.

This visit was incredible. We were seen by an entire battery of specialists, one after another. At one point I remember my son was told to stand up and “walk to daddy”. He stood up, but then he just looked at me and started whining, as if it hurt to even move. Not all of the specialists agreed, but most were willing to concede that the rash (hives) looked distinctly like an allergic reaction. A cross-section sample of his skin was taken (I had to hold him down) to be examined, just in case. Before we even left the hospital, he was given a dose of antihistamine that was supposed to stop any allergic reactions, and it started working very quickly. In fact, he was actually hungry for pizza by the time we got to the hospital cafeteria. It took several days for the hives to disappear. To this day, we’re not completely sure what the allergic reaction was from, but one thought is that he started with a virus, and his body actually had a reaction to that virus that just continued to perpetuate itself until we finally gave him the antihistamine. It was a very strange case, and even more ironic to learn that we’d had the “cure” in our cabinet the whole time. A few doses of Benedryl may have been enough to take care of it.

We drove away from the hospital after a very long day. My son, in his car seat, enjoyed a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep for the first time in weeks. And yet, my thoughts returned to that waiting room. Why was my son allowed to go home while so many other kids were not? How scary would it be for a child, and exhausting for a parent, if the day I’d just experienced was part of everyday life instead of a one-time thing?

This is why I’ve chosen to participate in the Extra Life fund raiser this year, for the kids I left behind in that waiting room. If you don’t know what Extra Life is, please visit their webpage to learn more about them, and click on this link to my page if you feel led to donate to an incredible cause.

When I first created my Twitter account for Braxwolf Stormchaser, I had no idea that it would lead to blogging, podcasting, a YouTube channel and basically full-blown alternate gaming persona. Through these endeavors, I’ve grown my circle of friends and circle of influence. If there was ever a better way to use this influence, I haven’t yet found it. I won’t ask you to pour a bucket of water over your head, but I will ask that if you’ve ever enjoyed anything I’ve written or put out in the form of a podcast or YouTube video, please consider a donation. It’s for the kids!

scr.ee tags:

#Extralife #Charity #Kids

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