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Infection After G-Tube Closure {Complications}

Complications after a g-tube removal. Apollo got a surgical infection after his g-tube removal.

Infection After G-Tube Closure

This weekend ended up being a complete nightmare because Apollo developed an infection at his surgical site.

Was I surprised? No. Was Chuck surprised? No. Were you, friends, surprised? Of course not. It would stand to reason that a person with that much pain after a minor procedure and a persistent fever, with redness at the site, would have an infection.

The Doctors Wouldn’t Listen to Me

I was told the amount of pain to expect after the g-tube removal to be “tender like a bruise”. In the next four days, Apollo had approximately two hours where he sat up and played with LEGO and colored.

I called the nurse at Children’s on Thursday (day 2) that I was concerned about the amount of pain and persistent fever. I was told it was probably normal.

I called and spoke to an on-call doctor Saturday morning about persistent fever, pain, redness, and swelling. I was told “it could be an infection, but it’s a bit early. These are rarely urgent, so you could probably wait and try to get into the clinic next week”.

Um, no.

From Walk-In Clinic To Seattle Children’s Hospital

Chuck and I decided to take  Apollo to a walk-in clinic (since it was Saturday) up here in Bellingham, before driving all the way to Seattle. The doctor at the clinic recommended we take him to Seattle to have it looked at.

We went directly from the clinic to head to Seattle. It was four o’clock in the afternoon and we had nothing packed. No cell phone charger, kindle or entertainment for Apollo. Both of us were unshowered. I am not sure I had showered since Apollo’s surgery. Oh, and the night before Jubilee had a sleepover (yes, I hate them) with 9 junior high girls for her birthday. In other words, we were completely prepared and well-rested.

Complications after a g-tube removal. Apollo got a surgical infection after his g-tube removal.

Seattle Children’s Hospital Emergency Room

We sat in the Seattle Children’s Hospital Emergency waiting room for an hour and a half. While Apollo was bored (and tired) emergency rooms are fascinating places. And, since this is Seattle we are talking about, they have Starbucks in the waiting room. While we didn’t choose to imbibe, it is always nice to know that comfort is just a few steps away.

By the time we were called back Apollo had missed a dose of Tylenol and was running a temperature of 38.8 (or 101.8). The ER was slammed, so everything took forever. As luck would have it, the doctor who did the surgery was on call in the ER. The first doctor who examined Apollo agreed that the pain, fevers, and swelling were unusual but kept saying the redness was  “unimpressive”.

While I know she meant this in a medical sense, it was upsetting to me. I had watched my six-year-old son suffering for four days straight. I watched him develop fevers, swelling and redness. I saw him moving with the same slow, planned movements I used after my c-section. I saw what should have “felt like a bruise” make it difficult for him to sit up, roll over and walk.

I resented the word “unimpressive”.

Give the Kids Some Pain Medicine Already, and Double Check the Dose

The doctors wanted to give Tylenol right away to see if that would bring down his fever. I requested the Tylenol in pill form since this is easier for Apollo to take. “Sure!” said the nurse…a different showed up twenty minutes later with liquid Tylenol in a cup. I reminded her Apollo needed a pill to take. Twenty minutes later, I was brought a Tylenol tablet. The nurse handed it to me so I could give it to Apollo. The pill was oblong shaped, exactly like the 500 mg tablets we have at home. I turned it over, curiously, wondering if they had lesser doses since I was still trying to find medicine Apollo could take. When the nurse saw me do that she exclaimed, “Oh, let me check something!” and took the pill back.

“Oh, he only needs half of that”. 

Yup, she had almost dosed him with 500 mg of Tylenol. While I realize it wouldn’t have killed him, you would hope the nurse would give him the right dose to start with.

It Looks Like an Infection, But it’s Too Early…

It was repeatedly explained to us that while this certainly looked like an infection it was really too early for a surgical infection which wouldn’t normally show up until after 5-7 days. The doctors all agreed something was wrong and agreed that the amount of pain he was experiencing was “out of proportion” to his surgery. What exactly was wrong was the question of the day. 

Apollo is a bright kid. He learned very quickly (over the last four days) that saying he was in pain would result in having to take medicine. Orally.

In order to avoid this unpleasantness, he assured the nurses and doctors he wasn’t in any pain. Thankfully these well-trained medical professionals know what a kid in pain looks like, even as he stoically denied it. Denied it when it wasn’t being touched, that is.

Morphine…for an Ultrasound?

Just brushing the skin near his stomach caused him to grimace and cry out in pain. Options were tossed around: an ultrasound, taking him to the OR to open the wound, checking his white blood count, x-rays, and urine samples. In the end, they decided on an ultrasound of the area (along with other tests). I decided that Apollo had experienced enough pain and trauma in the past four days and insisted he gets pain meds first. Of course, an ultrasound isn’t a painful procedure in itself, but just brushing the skin of his abdomen was so painful, I knew running an ultrasound over the top of the area would be excruciating. Luckily, the doctor agreed and ordered pain meds.

Less than five minutes later, in a miraculous bit of hospital efficiency, someone showed up ready to take him for his ultrasound. I let the tech know the doctor agreed to pain meds first.

Eventually, they gave him a dose of morphine and then took him off for his ultrasound. Chuck went with him while I stayed back in the ER room. Chuck informed me it was still painful (but endurable) with morphine. Yeah, a little more painful than a bruise, I’d say.

Complications after a g-tube removal. Apollo got a surgical infection after his g-tube removal.

Morphine and Movies. This is how we party with our six-year-old on the weekends.

The ultrasound revealed two pockets of fluid in two different layers of his abdomen. The one in the top layer was significant and the doctors said it needed to be drained. We were told that there was no way to know what the fluid was. I could be pus or just a layer of blood. Either way, they felt it was likely the source of his pain.

Options were discussed for sedation. I told the doctors that after safety, my next priority as comfort. Whatever they did, they needed to make him comfortable. They decided on Ketamine.

I will continue this in the next post because it is getting ridiculously long.






  1. Kathy Barber

    Too soon for infection? Donkey dust! My daughter had her gallbladder removed late Friday afternoon, came home Saturday and was back in ER with cellulitis Saturday night.

  2. Klara

    Arrghhh…didn’t we just know it WAS an infection? It’s so frustrating to be right about expecting complications. I so wish Apollo had had it easy this time around :(

    • Tanya

      I HATE it when doctors act like parents don’t know anything….too early for infection my a**. Sorry but that is just terrible. I had to fight to get my third son’s bilirubin checked a few days after we went home from the hospital. He was lethargic and my other boys had late onset jaundice, so I knew what it was. I was told if he was jaundice it would have already happened and he was just a sleepy newborn. Finally I said I wasn’t leaving until he was tested. Dr. reluctantly ordered the draw and said they would call me. I wasn’t gone more than 20 minutes when I got the call to bring my son to the hospital to be admitted….his level was over 26. 2 nurses applauded me when I walked into the nursery with him…they had heard how I stood up to the doctor. To his credit, a couple of years later we were seeing the same doctor, and he had an intern there, and he told the intern how I had stood up to him and how he had been wrong, and told the intern to always listen to a mother’s intuition. So the point of my long story is that perhaps at least you are training these doctors so they won’t miss something later with another child…. but sorry you are the guinea pigs. That sucks.

    • Renee

      Yes…I had a sinking feeling since day two and the fevers…It was like foreshadowing in a movie…the worst part is feeling like no one listens to me.

  3. Julie

    It’s just not enough to say THIS REALLY SUCKS, is it? Why does everything have to be SO DIFFICULT? Apollo has been through enough – he needs a “get our of jail free” card, if anyone does! GRRRRRR.

    • Renee

      *sigh* I know. I don’t care if it is “unusual” to develop an infection that early. EVERYTHING about Apollo is unusual….

  4. Jess Guest

    Ugh, Renee. We kind of knew it was going that way but I am disappointed and frustrated for you that it wasn’t dealt with quickly. It is easier for me to convince medical staff that my kid is a freak (in the nicest, most loving way I say this you understand) because at 5 she is smaller than her 3 year old sister, doesn’t talk, walk or eat anything orally. But I still have to push and throw the odd tantrum in emergency. This idea that a post surgical infection will take that long to develop is complete horse dust. An infection can develop in hours. It’s unusual that there wasn’t more of an external indicator (redness, puss) but the fact that there wasn’t explains how much pain Apollo was in if nothing was draining away :(

    • Renee

      When we were desperately seeking a diagnosis for his double aortic arch, we were continually told my healthcare providers, “But he’s meeting all of his developmental milestones”…Okay, but that does NOT mean he doesn’t have a serious health issue!!! No pus could drain out because the incision was covered in glue.

  5. Kristina

    I am so sorry about the infection, and the medical professionals not listening. Hope he heals quickly.

    I also have to say that you are a fantastic writer and have a good sense of humor.

  6. the Toddler Wrangler

    ARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH is not a strong enough sentiment for my mama-bear empathy. So sorry you’re having to go through this. Doncha just want to slap some “professionals” sometimes??? Praying for healing and comfort for Apollo and peace and rest for EVERYBODY!

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