Monday night was the scariest night we've had as parents so far. I'm sure this will be a long one to read, so I will start with the most important part first - everything worked out okay, and Ella is going to be completely, 100% fine. BUT, oh my goodness, what a night we had with her.
Ella had intermittent leg pain starting last Wednesday, where she could complain that either her knee or her thigh hurt for a little bit, but then she would be fine. On Friday afternoon it was really bothering her and she didn't want to walk on Friday night, so we decided that we'd take her to the doctor on Saturday morning.
The night before this started, Ella threw a legitimate, crazed-toddler tantrum after dinner. Steve gave her the color vitamin that she didn't want, and then when he went to give her the color she wanted instead, she popped the first one in her mouth so then we said she couldn't have the second one. Well, this was the wrong answer and she went berserk. She threw herself on the couch and kicked her legs crazily for about 2-3 minutes. I've never seen anything like it. Because this happened the night before she first complained about her leg, we thought she must have strained a muscle during that crazy outburst.
On Saturday morning, she woke up completely pain-free and was back to normal, so we were convinced that our theory was right and her muscle must have healed itself, and we did not take her to the doctor. She was fine all weekend and we had a great weekend. Monday morning, still fine, but then on Monday afternoon her teacher called to tell me that her leg was really hurting her, and that she had been limping since lunchtime. She didn't sleep at nap time, I'm guessing because she was in so much pain, and after nap time was over, she said she couldn't stand up because her leg hurt so badly. I went and picked her up, and she wasn't crying, but seemed miserable and just wanted to be held. As soon as I got home we decided she couldn't wait until the morning to take her to the doctor, so we headed to the urgent care nearby. The doctor there told us just to take her to the ER because she was in so much pain.
By that point she was in so much pain that just getting her in and out of her car seat was causing her to cry. We got to the ER and while we were in the waiting room, she wanted to be held by one of us while we were standing, not sitting, and would cry out anytime she shifted at all, it seemed that she was in pain in both legs and her torso or ribs. We couldn't even imagine what could be wrong with her, but knew we had never seen her in so much pain, including when she broke her leg and sprained her foot, this was much worse. It took a few hours to get checked into a room and she got worse very quickly during that time. Her legs went completely rigid and she wasn't able to bend her knees at all, even with the doctor trying to force them to bend. She laid in one spot in the bed and couldn't move her legs at all, and was in so much pain.
The doctor told us they were concerned was a septic infection in one or both of her hip joints, but could also have been a necrosis of her bone due to the prednisone she had been on for croup a few weeks ago (she got hives for several days following the prednisone so we know she had an allergic reaction to it), very low potassium levels causing muscle problems, or another problem with the joint, but they really weren't sure. From the outside, everything looked fine, no swelling, redness, or bruising, so it was clearly something internal vs. an injury.
They x-rayed both of her hips and took tons of blood, and after that gave her morphine for her pain. She'd been awake from 7am until 1am without sleep, so in addition to being in the worst pain of her life, she was exhausted, hungry because we hadn't eaten dinner and they wouldn't let her eat the snacks I had brought for her because they weren't sure if she'd need surgery. She finally fell asleep about an hour after the morphine, and was really out. She fell asleep holding some stickers one of the nurses had given her, like they were her little treasures. I cannot even explain how it felt to see her in so much pain like that, it was the worst feeling ever.
The X-rays ruled out bone necrosis and blood work ruled out low potassium, so they were more convinced it had to be her hip joint, because it was not the bone itself. They decided we needed to be transferred to the bigger hospital that has a more specialized pediatric department. Around 1:30 am the transfer team came to get her and I drove with her in the back of the ambulance. She looked so tiny and sad strapped in the stretcher and I was so glad she slept through the whole transfer and ride. While we were in the ambulance, her blood pressure dropped to 70/40 and because it dipped so low they had to quickly give her some fluid in her IV. Fortunately it quickly came back up, but that was one of the scariest parts of the whole of the whole night.
Once we got to the other hospital, they did ultrasounds of both hips, which she stayed asleep for. After that the orthopedist came to talk to us and said there was fluid found in the ultrasound, which indicated either septic joint or transient toxic synnovitis, but they couldn't be sure which one. Then they did x-rays on both knees, she woke up at that point because it was so painful to bend her knees, but she fell back asleep after. It was about 4am by then and Steve and tried to take sleep as much as we could until about 5am.
Throughout the whole night, there was tons of waiting. We'd have one thing done, then wait for several hours until the next time we saw a doctor. Plenty of nurse visits in between, but they were really just to check on Ella and keep track of all her vitals than to give us any news.
Sometime a little later in the morning the orthopedic surgeon came by and said he thought that from her blood work and ultrasounds, that it was very highly unlikely he would need to do surgery on her, that there was a less than 2% she would need surgery and he seemed really confident she would not. That was really good news and was the first time we started to feel a little better about things.
They took some more blood to check again on her counts and make sure everything looked good, and her blood work was very good again. A few hours after that, they told us we were going to be discharged because she definitely did not have a septic infection. What a relief! Though they were not 100% positive, they were pretty confident it was the transient toxic synnovitis, that is where the joint has fluid and inflammation around it due to a virus, and in many cases patients that have it will have had an upper respiratory infection a few weeks ago, which was exactly the case with Ella since she had croup a few weeks ago. He told us we need to follow up with a specialist but were officially free to leave, and that it should heal on its own with rest and Motrin for pain / inflammation.
We got home, totally exhausted and worn out from lack of sleep, worry, adrenaline, but so very relieved that we were home and grateful that Ella was okay, etc. We've been home the past few days with her and she is doing so much better - she is up and walking around, having fun, and in no pain at all. She has a very different idea of 'resting up' than we do!
This was without question the scariest thing we've been through with Ella - she was in so much pain, we knew something was wrong but had no idea what it was, and we were just so helpless to do anything. I prayed non-stop throughout the night and knew that when we aren't able to do anything, when even the doctors do not know what is wrong, that God was holding Ella in His hand the entire time, and I knew that He would take care of her.
We are so grateful to have been blessed with Ella as our daughter, and I absolutely know what a precious gift health is; this experience certainly confirmed those thoughts. I am one lucky Mommy.