This past summer I received a letter from The Children’s Hospital in Seattle. The letter informed me that due to cleaning routines not being followed properly any child seen between 2011 and 2015 were at risk for contracting HIV and/or Hepatitis. They said the risk was low but they were informing all patients and their families and paying for blood tests. I was scared!
At the time my son, Salvatore, was 4 years old and had been seen at The Children’s Hospital on two separate occasions. The first time being when he was 1 year old. He had developed a crossed eye all of a sudden. It was weird and worrysome so I took him in to our doctor to have him checked out. He seemed healthy but she made some calls and we decided to have him seen at Children’s to rule out any brain damage. That was a scary time! They ended up putting my little guy to sleep to do a cat scan and spinal tap. All the results came back that he was normal and healthy. They concluded that a nerve in his eye had been affected from a virus and stopped working properly. After a couple weeks his eye function went completely back to normal, as they predicted. That day was full of worry! It was also extremely hectic running around from doctor to doctor and finding care for my other three children while I focused on my baby.
Our second procedure came about when Salvatore was 3 years old. It was soon after his 3rd birthday that we had scheduled a routine surgery to bring his undescended testicle down in to his scrotum. The doctor assured us it would be a quick and easy procedure as his testicle was down, it had just missed the correct position so it was sort of floating just outside the scrotal sack. 🙂 poor guy, telling all his secrets! The operation day came and I had care arranged for his 3 older siblings. Our baby came with us but dad came along to help out. I wanted to be able to be there just for Sal as he went asleep and woke up after his operation. Every thing went extremely well and Sal got to wake up to some presents. He was trying to get up out of the bed to walk around almost immediately. He was still a bit wobbly but after a bit I let him up and just helped him so he wouldn’t fall. I imagined he might be in pain but as soon as we were home he wanted to be up playing. I could hardly keep him down over the next couple of days. He was back to bouncing off the furniture and walls! Sally is a very energetic boy!
When that letter came about possible HIV infection if felt like my heart stopped. I knew the risk was low but it made me sick to my stomach still to think there was any sort of possibility. Hepetitis we could live with. Yes, it would be terrible but at least it wasn’t a death sentence. I didn’t want to imagine my little guy only getting a life up to his teenage years and those years be filled with disease, medication and an abnormal childhood. It broke my heart. I always hoped and wished for him, and all my children, a long, happy, and healthy life! Now this was possibly being taken away from him, from our family. I cried. A lot! I was so worried. I immediately called my mom. She calmed me down a bit. I started to think rationally and got online to look in to where I could take him to get his blood drawn.
At this time I was around 5 months or so pregnant with Valentino and Alex had been moved out of the house those 5 months as well. So I was going through this all alone. Just me and the kids and all my pregnant hormones.
We got into the blood draw clinic within a few days and Sally was very brave when he got his blood drawn. He whimpered a bit but didn’t cry when they took the 2 or 3 vials of blood from his arm. He sat so still in the chair. I was very impressed. Before we went in I talked to him about what would happen so he would be prepared. I also talked to him and the rest of my children about why we had to do this. As my oldest daughter was 14 she was able to understand quite a bit more than the younger children. They all got the information, just worded differently for different ages. I wanted them to be aware of what was going on and to understand why I was so upset or emotional. We had to wait for over a week for the test results. To make the situation more intense I was the one who had to keep calling different doctors offices to see who got the information first. Was it our primary care physician, or the blood clinic, or Children’s Hospital. No one seemed to know! Finally our primary care doctor called me back with the news. Sally was hepatitis free…. but unfortunately when we were drawing blood they didn’t get enough to test for HIV. No one thought about calling us to let us know as soon as they realized this. To make it worse my primary care doctor had even called the blood clinic a couple days after the blood was drawn to find out how long it would take to get the results and they told her they would have to send his blood work away for the HIV test as it was a special kind of HIV test and it would take additional time to process.
So, I explained to Sal and all the other children what had happened. Salvatore started to cry. He didn’t want to go get blood drawn again. I hugged him and loved him and told him I knew and I was so sorry but we had to. It was too important and we needed to get the results back to make sure he was healthy. He understood but was still upset, and rightly so!
I made another appointment and we waited yet again! They told me since it was their mistake I should be able to get the results sooner than 1 week. We did not. They actually took longer than the 1st time. During this second wait time I got a call from a doctor at Seattle Children’s hospital informing me that my sons hep test was negative but we didn’t have enough blood to run the HIV test.. better late than never I guess! I told the doctor I already knew and we had already gone in for the second blood draw. He was surprised I was so on it. He was very nice and helpful with all my questions and very understanding of my worry and anger about the whole situation.
The week passed with lots of emotion and we finally got the call from our primary care doctor that Salvatore was HIV free as well. It came back negative. So much relief and happiness! I let my boy know and hugged him tight! A few days later I got another call from the children’s hospital doctor. We talked a bit and he told me up to that point no one who had been tested had a positive result. That made me very thankful that no child had been impacted negatively because of the hospitals negligence. I couldn’t imagine having to go through our lives had the outcome been different. I am so thankful for the health of my children, my family and all those other little children and their families out there that had to go through this ordeal.
I asked the doctor if I had vaccinated my son for hepatitis if this would have even been a concern for us. He told me no. If I had Sal vaccinated he would have had no chance of contracting hepatitis. Of course there is no vaccine (that we know of) for HIV so there still would have been a risk factor there. I have always vaccinated my children though I do it on a delayed time scale. I don’t want them getting a plethora of shots at one time as an infant so I spread them out. The hepatitis shots I have been waiting until my kids reach middle school years. As I also do with chicken pox. After this scare I have decided to get all my children caught up much quicker than previously planned. I have gone in to our doctor and started the kids on their heps series. I do not ever want to take that risk again. The Children’s hospital doctor told me that kids can catch hepatitis from being bitten by other children. This isn’t something that happens regularly at home but I know can happen quite often in daycare and preschool settings. So far my younger kiddos haven’t attended preschool or daycare but Salamander might be enrolling in preschool for a couple months before kindergarten starts next year. So his hepatitis vaccine is one less thing I have to worry about!
Now if we could just get rid of all the sick wackos who go shoot up schools 😦 How someone could do that to small, innocent children is beyond me. I can not fathom it.