On August 7, 2005, I was getting our ten month old son, Ethan, ready for his nightly routine. He had been experiencing an unusual amount of gas and was pretty fussy; he even pooped in the bathtub. When I got him out of the tub, I noticed what looked like 3 red blotches, about the size of a toonie. Very alarmed, I called Telehealth and the operator advised me to quickly get him to our local emergency department in Sault Ste. Marie. As my husband worked nights at the time my mom came with me to the hospital. Within 17 minutes of walking through the emergency room doors, we were told our son probably had an intussusception – a fold in his bowels, and would need surgery to repair it.
Since there was an on-call strike at the time, there was no one to perform Ethan’s surgery. So, Ethan needed to be airlifted out for surgery, especially since he had begun vomiting and was now considered an extreme emergency case. After finally securing the Air Ambulance, we were told we were going to CHEO in Ottawa. Everything happened so quickly after that.
We were taken to the airport by ambulance. Our local ER had attempted 19 times to get an IV into Ethan, but either they couldn't find a vein or the vein would blow. At the airport, we were told only one parent could accompany our son. I went in the airplane and my husband and mom followed in our van.
In Ottawa, we were met by an ambulance and taken to CHEO. Once there, an entire team of doctors and nurses descended on Ethan. I was able to stay with him throughout it all. A wonderful nurse took me out of the room and calmed me down, explained to me that a special IV team was looking over Ethan and if an IV line could not be established, they would have to re-hydrate him orally, and then try again.
By this time, I was a complete wreck, alone and afraid. The wonderful nurse sat with me, talked to me and basically ensured I was okay. Finally, the special IV team got the IV in. After that, everything was a complete blur as they quickly did X-rays, an MRI, and a sitting CT scan. After all the tests, he was immediately whisked off to surgery and I was left waiting.
Thankfully, the surgical team found the fold, but unfortunately had to remove a small section of Ethan's bowels. Ethan was moved to recovery and although I could finally see him I couldn’t hold him, as he was covered in tubes and monitors.
A few hours after Ethan was moved to his room, my husband and mother arrived after an approximately 9 hour drive. Thankfully our son's life was saved by the amazing team at CHEO! We truly cannot express our gratitude for everything the CHEO team did for our son and our entire family during this very difficult time. Thank you to every nurse, doctor, staff member, janitor, food service worker and every single person who works at CHEO.
Today, Ethan is a happy and relatively healthy 12 year old. He plays football, curls and is on his school’s volleyball and basketball teams. Although he still requires medicine to help with his bowels, looking at him now, you'd never know we almost lost him. Thank you CHEO!
Tanya, Scotty & Ethan Gray