Tuesday, October 9, 2012

В Больнице (In the Hospital)

This little guy doesn't look so good, does he?

This picture was taken on the way to the hospital on Saturday, September 22nd.  When we got Elliot up in the morning, he felt a little warm, and we thought he might have a fever from teething.  He didn't seem to be feeling too bad.  I proceeded to make waffles for breakfast, and he still seemed to be doing fine, shoving lots of little waffle pieces into his mouth.

When I started wiping his hands off after breakfast, it seemed like there was purple berry juice that was staining his hands from the berries in the waffles.  After looking closer though, I realized it wasn't juice, it was little purplish spots.  Then we found the tiny pin-prick-sized dots all over his body.  We started doing some research online, and decided that this type of rash could be something very serious.  And Elliot was obviously not feeling well anymore.  We called around to the private clinics, to try to get an appointment that day, and finally we were able to get in at the American Medical Clinic.

After an examination, the doctor determined that we better head to the City Children's Hospital #1, in the southern part of the city.  So we rode the clinic's ambulance down there, and were admitted after being checked by the main hematologist at the hospital.

Needless to say, this was a stressful situation!  Thankfully there was an intern who could speak English, and she was sometimes there to translate for the doctor.  Other times, I muddled my way through with the doctors and nurses.  Besides being concerned for Elliot (they were telling me his situation was very serious), it was stressful culturally, just trying to figure out how things work in a Russian hospital.  For instance, when you get there, you pick your bed (one of 4 or more) in the room, and you put the sheets on it yourself.  Also, I eventually figured out that usually you bring your own plates, cup and silverware, and you wash them yourself and keep them in your room.  You also need your own toilet paper, since there is none in the bathroom.  No soap either.  (Really, in a childrens' hospital?).  There was one girls'  and one boys' toilet room and for the whole floor.  There was also a shower room with one shower, and a huge window with no curtain.  ??  They showed me where to throw away trash in the one room down the hall, and that there was a big bucket in there for any leftover food scraps.  I also soon realized that I was out of place wearing my jeans.  Everyone else was wearing pajama-type clothes.  I made notes of what Aaron should bring for me.

Here's Elliot getting used to his new home for a while!

So at first I was shocked by the differences between this hospital and American hospitals, but I do have to say that I feel we got good care there.  And although things were different, and the furniture was older, they did keep it clean.  (Except maybe on weekends when the cleaning lady didn't work.)  I was also assured that this hospital was THE center for hematology in the city.

I eventually learned that Elliot had "ideopathic thrombocytopenic purpura," and that he definitely did not have meningitis, which is what we were worried about.  They did treatments of immunoglobulins by IV, and also gave him some antibiotics for a strep infection that was found.  They also decided to give him a course of prednisone to prevent a recurrence.  Today is the last day of prednisone for him!  :)  The prednisone lowers immunity, so we have been keeping the girls home from detsky sad (preschool/kindergarten), while he is taking it.  We didn't want them bringing home all the germs that get passed around there.

I could write a lot more about my experience at the hospital, but I'll spare you all the details.  Overall, it wasn't terrible, and I enjoyed my two roommates with their babies, who joined me in my room.  It seems that in "hospital culture," your roommates become like your family, and you look out for each other and help each other out.  After one scary night and day near the beginning, when Elliot's fever came back and he was vomiting, Elliot bounced back and started looking more like this:

We were released after a week, and Elliot seems to be doing well now.  I took him back to the hospital last Thursday for a checkup, and his platelet count was even higher than when we were released from the hospital.  When we were first admitted, it was very, very low.  From what I understood, the main danger is that the low amount of platelets would allow bleeding to occur in the brain.

Here's Elliot getting his first immunoglobulin IV at night.

This was his IV treatment after the rough night of fever/vomiting.

Our view from the window of our room:

Probably my biggest source of stress was that Elliot had a hard time sleeping in a room with other people around.  He never has been a very sound sleeper, and with so many distractions, he could hardly fall asleep or stay asleep very long.  Here was one of the precious moments of rest!:

Thankfully these days Elliot is looking more like this:

And the girls (happy to have Mommy and Elliot home) like this:

I can't end this post without bragging on Aaron a bit.  He did a great job taking care of the house and the girls while Elliot and I were in the hospital.  He had to be nurse for Lydia, who came down with "hand, foot, and mouth disease" during that week, and he even did some real cooking- making shrimp stir fry one night.  He also had the house clean and all of Elliot's toys sanitized when we got home.  He's a wonderful hubby and Daddy!

One more thing I need to mention... Elliot turns one year old TOMORROW!  Happy birthday, sweet boy!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Summer is over!

So... I'm a poor excuse for a blogger.  Summer is already over and I've hardly posted anything about it.  I'll just give a few highlights.  I guess that's just the way this blog usually goes!

At the end of July we left for a trip to Austria and Germany, for a little vacation time and a conference.  I don't have that many great pictures, since right before we left, we realized our camera was broken, and all we had to take pictures was my iPod.

First:  Heiterwang, Austria:
These first pictures are on our walk to our guest house from the train station.

 Pretty nice, huh?!  And this is the play area in the backyard of the guest house!
 Breakfast at the guesthouse!  I love breakfast.  And those big crusty rolls.

 An outdoor concert at a neighboring village.
 Next stop on our trip was Ulm, Germany.  We only had planned to be there one night, but we found out there was a problem with Elliot's visa to return to Russia.  We had sent all the documents to the Russian consulate in New York, so that the visa could be processed and mailed to us in Belgium (the last stop on our trip), before we returned to Russia.  Now the processing agency was saying we had to show up in person in New York!  Then they said maybe if we send some other documents they could get it done.  So Aaron had to fly back to St. Petersburg to get these documents (which we should have had saved on our memory stick, but somehow didn't).  Ugh!  This all meant that the 3 kids and I had to stay two more nights in the youth hostel in Ulm, while Aaron flew to St. Pete and back.  Not really what I wanted to do, but it gave us a chance to explore a bit and see these sights in Ulm.

The tallest church in the world!
 Birdie... how cute!

Next stop was our group conference in Rehe, Germany.  One of the highlights was Mimi & Poppi meeting us there and spending the first week of the conference with us!  We were so glad to be able to spend some time with them.  Here's Mimi handing out all the special surprises they brought in their suitcases.
 Lil' Razorback.
 On a hike near the conference center.

 The girls in front of the conference center

After the conference, we spent a couple of nights visiting some of Aaron's family friends in Belgium.  We stayed with the parents of a guy who was an exchange student with his family when Aaron was in high school.
 They had a beautiful yard.  They also had four chickens, and Lydia loved checking their nest box to see if there were any eggs!  Somehow we didn't get a picture of that!
 Unfortunately, Elliot's visa arrived about three hours AFTER we had to leave to catch our flight back to Russia.  So Elliot and I stayed an extra night, while Aaron and the girls flew back as planned.  Not too bad of a situation, but it got more stressful when one of my train connections to the Frankfurt airport was late, and I missed my flight!  I was able to get another flight on a different airline, and finally got back to St. Petersburg at about 1:30am.  Yeah, that was a stressful day.  I was sure glad to get home!

This was one of the happy moments though, feeding Elliot on the train:

Wanna see a few more highlights of the summer, after our trip?  We got a new camera so the pics are better quality (yay)!
A water taxi ride to Yelagin Island- one of our favorite places in St. Pete:
 Unfortunately we didn't realize we had that annoying date stamp on!


Horse/pony rides that had been promised to the girls for their birthdays:

 And dinner in the outdoor cafe at the park near our place:

An excursion to Peterhof.  That place is amazing!

The girls loved having a friend spend a few nights with us:
 First day of preschool/kindergarten (detskiy sad in Russian):

 Lydia was excited to be back with her classmates.  Birdie... well, she's still adjusting, but it's getting better.  We still have a few tears each day, but she did admit that she likes it "a LITTLE."  It is hard for her especially because she still doesn't know much Russian.
Elliot's second haircut, done by Mommy:

 And can you believe that this little guy is already 11 months old?!!  Birthday coming up in less than a month.  Wow!