The Babysitting Adventure

Babysitting the most adorable nephew in all the world for ten days – can’t be that hard right?

A week that began fairly easily and continued uneventfully for the most part has turned into a sort of nightmare. I’m writing this sitting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

My nephew is fine. Cranky, but fine.

We’re here with my sister Irene who has very volatile diabetes. She was doing fine yesterday until we found her collapsed on the bathroom floor, unresponsive. We got her to the hospital and we knew she wasn’t doing well, but we didn’t realize how bad it was. Somehow her blood sugar had surpassed what normal meters could read, and they found that it was up to 718. If you’re unfamiliar with glucose levels, she should have been in the low 100s. 200s are bad and 400s are grounds for hospitalization. 700s are nearly unheard of. Additionally her blood pH was lower than is safe and they were very worried about brain swelling, permanent cell damage, and cardiac arrest.

Having four doctors tell you your kid sister might not make it through the night is never okay.

But she did make it, through the first night at least. We’ll be here for a few days, maybe more. Glucose is down to the 500s and her pH is creeping back up. A CT scan showed no swelling, but she’s very tachycardic. She screams, or the closest to screaming you can get with your tongue so swollen it more than fills your mouth. It’s heartbreaking.

My younger brother is here, and our dad. That means it’s up to me to both keep tabs on Irene and cajole an unhappy 6 month old. This isn’t what I signed up for.

Only time will tell if Irene will be okay. I’m holding on to hope. She’s far from being out of danger, but she’s better than she was a matter of hours ago. Doctors keep stressing how volatile her situation is, as if I am too dense to understand words like “intensive care” and” and “life threatening.” I know I don’t look a day past 16 and I don’t have a medical degree but it just adds insult to injury to talk to me like I’m a child. But as long as they fix her up, they can talk to me like I’m an infant.

I guess I’m only writing because it’s the only way for me to calm down. The baby is taking a nap finally, though barely asleep, lying across my chest. My dad isn’t handling this well, and I don’t think my brother is functioning at all anymore. He’s more or less asleep.

I’ve come to the end of what I know. Now it’s back to being a waiting game. Or in my case a praying game. I feel like I’m trying to bribe God, as if there was something I could trade him for my sister’s life. “I’ll pray every single day.” “I’ll stop doing all the things I know I shouldn’t and just ignore.” “I’ll take care of her and never let her out of my sight.” “God, I’ll do anything. Anything.” I’ve already prayed so much. I don’t know what to say anymore.

I cannot wait until my other sister and her husband get home. We haven’t been able to contact them in Jamaica and they don’t even know. At least once I no longer have to babysit, I can begin to take this all one thing at a time.

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