Escapades at the Children’s Hospital

Okay, so this one starts way back.  In a nutshell, my 7-year-old’s got high cholesterol.  Seems weird but it’s true.  We discovered that Boy Genius’ lousy cholesterol (that’s LDL for you science types) was higher than the average bear’s back when he was about 2.  A few years before, Pepa, who I thought was perfectly healthy, had been abruptly hospitalized with several blocked arteries (if I remember correctly, he practically collapsed in the parking lot at a Bama game).  Turned out that it’s genetic. Granddaddy HB (that’s Pepa’s dad) had the same problem and I’m pretty sure Uncle Ronnie and Uncle Mike (Pepa’s brothers, the latter of whom has also been affectionately known as “ba-bike”) do too.

So when Pepa gave us all a fright, Bryan’s GP (who happened to also be Pepa’s GP) suggested doing a lipid panel on Bryan.  Sure enough, his LDL was “through the roof.”  He’s always been a healthy eater for the most part and pretty active too, but, still, the doc said let’s try to control it with diet.  Doc used the words “zero fat.”  Now, for those of you who know Bryan, you probably know where I’m going with this one.  He comes home and throws away anything that doesn’t say “0g” of fat.  Mind you, I’m pregnant at the time!  And my nightly cravings included multiple glasses of milk and a box (yes, a whole box) of powdered donuts; this is probably why I dreamt I’d be birthing a milk-jug baby — a baby’s head atop a milk jug … can’t remember whether it was full or empty, not that it matters … you know, it really wasn’t that disturbing at the time. Hmph … ah, but I digress.

Aneeywaaay, the 0g trick didn’t work and Bryan’s been on cholesterol-lowering medicine ever since.  We mentioned this once to our pediatrician in Birmingham (who was awesome by the way, can’t replace her!) and she decided to go ahead and test Boy Genius.  At 2, his LDL was something like 182.  Really.  The prognosis was “check it regularly.”  Easier said than done, though, when you move (states!) 3 times in as many years and you’ve got to “get established” with a pediatrician and then “get referred” to a specialist who then “runs tests” … yada, yada, yada.  We were in the process of getting an appointment with the lipid clinic at Vanderbilt when the latest move arose.  Once we got here and did all the “gettin’ established” gobleygook, we got an appointment at Childrens’ endocrinology clinic (’cause they don’t have a lipid clinic) — an appointment scheduled 6 months in advance!! So we waited. And we waited. And we waited some more.

In the meantime, in a completely unrelated burst of excitement, Boy Genius spiked a high fever rather quickly one afternoon right when the swine flu had just become all the rage on the nightly news.  We were worried.  He wasn’t himself.  I mean, he was calm.  It happened so abruptly.  He’d been acting normal, bouncing off the walls, tearing the house down, reeking havoc on the nerves of many — you know, typical Boy Genius, all boy.

Then, suddenly, he was tired, sluggish even.  He got in the bathtub, without telling anyone.  Then, after we checked on him (I think he dozed off), he got out and went straight to bed — it was maybe 5 o’clock!  But it was 5 o’clock on a Saturday, so our only option was an ER visit.  Several Looney-Tunes’ designed facemask clad (ER flu season policy, well not the Looney Tunes, that was bonus) hours later, it was nearly midnight, we were waiting to be discharged and Boy Genius was starting to emerge once again. …

So the endocrinology appointment is finally upon us and lo and behold wouldn’t you know I forgot to have him fast! Duh!  Can’t get an accurate cholesterol reading from bloodwork unless you’ve been fasting.  Ugh! At this long awaited and essentially wasted appointment, we learned where sci-fi writers got the idea of alien probing.

After they run the EKG, the doc comes in and says something like, “Ok, so you know he’s got a heart murmur, right?” Um, no.  Next stop, cardiology.  We’re still waiting for that appointment.

Once we finally got back in on an empty stomach and they ran a lipid panel on him, the diagnosis was as expected, start on a low-dose cholesterol-lowering medication and re-check regularly.  So every so often, Boy Genius and I trek to Childrens’, him not having eaten since the night before … (he’s grumpy when he’s hungry and I swear breakfast is his favorite meal!) and me invariably skidding toward a deadline, and we wait patiently for another poke and prod.  ‘Course I can’t complain: He’s the one getting stuck with the needle.  But he takes it all in stride, barely flinching when the needle breaks the skin.  He’s either one tough boy … or he’s just plotting his revenge.

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