“Mommy I swallowed money. A big money. With a bird.”
This was something that you never want to hear especially from your almost 4 year old. We were on day 4 of a move. We were stressed out and barely tolerating each other. Half of our stuff was in boxes in our old house. The other quarter was in boxes in our new house and the rest was packed in the van. We had truck parts and engines in a shoddy storage unit 30 minutes from the new house. We were in a state of disarray. The last thing we needed was an ER visit, so when I heard this come from the back seat of the van I cringed. Of course it had to happen. I called the pediatrician to find out what I should do, and they said to go to the ER for an X-ray to make sure it was in the stomach and not trapped somewhere.
Off to the Hospital We Go
An X-ray and lots of laughter and teasing from doctors later showed a metal object the size of a quarter in his stomach. They reassured us it would come out on its own, and we had nothing to worry about. They sent me home with a bunch of rubber gloves and orders to make sure it comes out. Spoiler alert: it never moved. 3 weeks and countless X-rays later, it was determined that the quarter was not coming out on its own, and it had been in there too long so removal via endoscopy was required. The endoscopy was scheduled the in the next few days at Texas Children’s Hospital.
First of Many Endoscopies
I will never forget the day of the endoscopy. I had my youngest, Caleb, with me, and my mother in law met me up there to help me with him. Before going back, the gastroenterologist had me sign consent for biopsy “just in case there was something that looked off but it wasn’t expected to be necessary.” The procedure took longer than they were expecting and when the doctor came out he said “I had to take biopsy of his esophagus. It was red and inflamed and didn’t look healthy. It’s not cancer, and it could just be food allergies, but it’s not normal.” My stomach dropped. I don’t remember anything else he said after that. He reassured me that C would be fine, but he was sending samples off to pathology.
The Appointment that Changed it all
A week later I received a phone call from Texas Children’s GI department. They had a follow up appointment scheduled the next week because the biopsy results were back. The morning of the appointment, I naively rushed out of the house forgetting to eat breakfast because it was going to be a quick follow up appointment. There couldn’t be anything wrong with my baby. I was flustered and frustrated because it was a waste of time for us to be there. I just wanted the all clear and to be done.
Then the GI doctor walked in along with an allergist and dietician. He said “Your son has Eosinophilic Esophagitis. He has food allergies and will have to have endoscopies for the rest of his life. We can treat this with diet or steroids but he has to be treated.” Then he walked out and I was left with an allergist and a dietician. I was shell shocked.
My head was spinning. I was so confused. I remember the doctor’s words just sounding like Charlie Brown. “Wait what? What was going on? My son, what is this disease of which you speak? How? Why? WAIT STOP SOMEONE TALK TO ME! See ME as a mom. See HIM as a child! Don’t just view us as a diagnosis! ” This is what I kept thinking as they rushed us from allergist to testing to dietician. I got handouts of what I can’t feed my kid and a small list of what I could feed him. There were talks of GI tubes. He was getting skin prick testing done. I got handed Epi-Pens and quick lesson on how to administer one and strict orders to avoid peanuts. They scheduled patch testing. They were going to do what with raw food on my baby’s back?!? All of this was spinning around me, and I was still stuck trying to process. I feel like I am still trying to process to be honest. This was 2 years ago and we are still trying to grasp life with this.