Week Twenty-four

Since moving here I have wanted to visit Leuven. Leuven is the capital of Flanders, the Flemish region of Belgium. It also is the home of Anheiser-Busch, the makers of Stella Artois.
Sadly, the World Wars devastated Leuven, like a lot of Europe. “Upon German entry in World War I, the town was heavily damaged due to German Schrecklichkeit policy. The Germans shot the burgomaster, university rector and all the city’s police officers. The university library was deliberately destroyed by the German army on August 25, 1914, using petrol and incendiary pastilles. Hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable volumes and Gothic and Renaissance manuscripts were lost. The world was outraged over this and the library was completely rebuilt after World War I with American charity funds and German war indemnities. After World War II, the burnt down building had to be restored again. It still stands as a symbol of the wars and of Allied solidarity.” (Thanks Wikipedia)

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BUT, I did not plan on visiting Leuven this way. Wednesday, I brought Zane to the pediatrician because his fever spontaneously returned following the end of his antibiotics for Strep. His tonsils were so swollen I feared his ability to breathe, eat and drink properly. When you looked in his mouth, no hole could be seen at the back of his throat. I shall refrain from stepping up on my soapbox entitled “antibiotic resistance thanks to the 1980s”. The pediatrician took one look in there and sent us directly to the ER at UZ Leuven, the best pediatric hospital Belgium.

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This is ER in Flemish, thank you to the kind folks who physically walked me there because for the life of me I could not understand the translation of where I was supposed to go.

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The ER called for a few consults, we waited and waited, and they decided to admit us to the hospital.

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They put in his central line…with no gloves. This is the absolute last time this occurred. From this moment on I became UZ Leuven’s worst nightmare.

Before I go on, I would like to say, the people of UZ Leuven were kind, warm and helpful. I had a wonderful experience with them, what I had a problem with was techniques and protocol.

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After waiting a full nine hours, some of which was on the floor in a hallway due to a full hospital, we were finally admitted to our room which had no patient bed. There were no beds available so we had to wait for a patient to leave to get one. Cough..Waiting. Ah hem not enough available resources…Cough Cough…National Healthcare, cough, waiting.

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Zane was exhausted as was I.

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The next morning we received breakfast, some pieces of bread and nutella. Zane ate the bread I ate the nutella with a spoon.

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Our air conditioning; I had a fly swatter and swatting the flies became a hilarious game for Zane to watch. It was like camping…camping…in a Hos-pit-al.

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Our lunch, nothing like a child friendly meal of egg yolk pudding and canned tuna fish.

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These joyous clowns came to visit Zane, they were so sweet, and he was scared out of his damn mind. He quickly gave his hospital issued toys back to them in fear he was in trouble. Poor kid. We share a (lack of) love of clowns.

Now, back to these protocols. For his first antibiotic injection an ungloved nurse walked into the room, grabbed Zane’s central line and started fumbling to attach the syringe. This is when Dr. Mom Hawthorne flips out and my yelling STOP! could be heard throughout the ward. Beginning at that moment I established my own protocol that all nurses had to follow.
The syringes now had to be labelled, gloves had to be worn, I had to examine the original bottle of which the antibiotic was drawn from, the port had to be cleaned with alcohol before attaching the verified syringe, the concentrations had to be consistent and they were to show me ALL of this before proceeding. Once these directives were followed, we all got along wonderfully and they cheerfully showed me each step during each round of injection. Maybe I started a trend.

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The nurses really were kind and had a tough job with so many patients to take care of. By my estimation each nurse was in charge of at least 10-15 patients. This must be why there is a bottle opener attached to the cart!

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Zane remained in good spirits throughout the ordeal. But, after round the clock IV antibiotics for 3 days, we were both ready to get home.

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Seeing him in that bed brought back post traumatic stress from this collapsed lung episode when he was 4 months old.

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BUT as children do, he bounced right back and is doing fantastic. Leave it to a four year old to go to an amusement park on a Monday, stay the week in the hospital, and by Saturday play putt-putt on a kids’ mini golf course…

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…which also serves beer.

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One Response to Week Twenty-four

  1. Nan LaFrance says:

    Ah honey…time to get him to the States to get those danged tonsil’s out. I’m so sorry you all are going through this. My prayers are with you for strength.. THANK GOD you know what you’re doing in that hospital. Love you all very much. Aunt Nana

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