Posted on January 18th, 2019
Maria Zinser, Mother
HANNAH “Forever 13”
September 27, 2002 ~ November 29, 2015
Hannah arrived home from school the Friday of Thanksgiving break complaining of a slight sore throat and fatigue. I did the usual “mom thing” by taking her temperature and it read 100.1, so I gave her Tylenol and told her to rest. Once the Tylenol kicked in, her fever went down and she felt much better. This went on through the weekend and I really didn’t feel an alarm to take her to the doctor. In the past, I have taken my children to see a doctor with these symptoms only to be sent home with the advice to take Tylenol, drink fluids and rest. Over the next few days, Hannah seemed to be doing better, but by Wednesday evening, she began to complain of pain in her left shoulder. Since Hannah hadn’t really been out of the house for several days, I figured she had most likely slept wrong on it so we used the heating pad and Motrin. The following day was Thanksgiving, Hannah’s ALL TIME favorite meal! Let me tell ya, this kid could eat! She really could put down good food! But, not this Thanksgiving, she hardly touched her plate and later that evening she began to really complain about the pain in her shoulder. We decided to go to the ER early in the morning and have it looked at.
Once we arrived to the ER, the nurse asked questions, took her temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, she then stepped out and we waited. About an hour and a half later another nurse came in, took Hannah’s BP again and said an x-ray tech would be coming to x-ray her shoulder. We still had not seen a doctor yet. Since I do not have BP issues, the numbers on the monitor meant nothing to me and I assumed the staff was doing their job. Apparently, Hannah’s BP read 87/51, then an hour and half later it read 87/55 with 116 heart rate. I only found out this was an issue AFTER Hannah died by going through her medical record trying to make sense of what happened. Also, thinking back on the visit, the doctor ordered the x-ray prior to examining and manipulating Hannah’s shoulder. About an hour after the x-ray was taken, the doctor came in and was holding the x-ray up with his hand. He diagnosed her with a dislocated AC joint. Both Hannah and I looked at each other puzzled and I explained that that was odd since she had been home resting all week because she wasn’t feeling well. He shrugged his shoulders, ordered a sling and prescribed Motrin. I then asked if he could check her throat, he quickly took the wooden stick and touched her tongue and ordered a strep test that came back negative.
After arriving home, Hannah slept most of the day and around 3am (now Sunday) she woke me to tell me that she was feeling really sick and asked if she could take a bath. While she was in the bath, I told her that I was going to stay in the bed next to her in case she needed anything. A few hours later I woke before Hannah and started my day. Hannah woke around 8:30am. Her feet were scuffing the floor as she walked from her room to the couch, her eyes were yellow, she had a rash on her stomach and after a few minutes horrible diarrhea started. While I helped clean her up quickly, I knew something was very wrong and I rushed her back to the ER. My husband stayed home with our youngest daughter. By time we arrived to the ER, Hannah was too weak to walk and asked me to get her a wheelchair. Once inside the ER, she was taken back to a bed immediately. The nurse hooked her up to the BP machine took some notes and disappeared. The ER was very busy that day. After 15-20 minutes, Hannah was acting horribly strange and I started to get scared. I grabbed the first nurse walking by and asked her to help. She took one look at the BP monitor, now reading 74/49. She quickly asked another nurse to get the doctor (a different doctor from the morning prior). He diagnosed Hannah within a minutes, quickly stepped away and then returned to tell me that a team from Loma Linda Children’s Hospital was arriving soon and that Hannah was going to be Medi Flown to Children’s Hospital. He then began to explain to me how sick my daughter was and that she had toxic shock, AKA sepsis. (Sepsis and Toxic Shock Syndrome) I didn’t realize that death was only hours away. I thought that she was going to be a sick kid for a few weeks and I’d be living at a hospital for a little while. I knew nothing about SEPSIS or toxic shock syndrome.
Once the Medi Flight team arrived, Hannah was at the point of needing to be highly sedated and placed on a breathing machine. The team worked on Hannah for about 2 hours while I waited in the hallway freaking out, making calls and waiting for my husband to arrive. The doctor from the team finally came out and told us that they were “just trying to keep her alive,” that they can’t stabilize her and going to chance the 8-minute flight to Children’s. She wanted us to quickly see Hannah in the event Hannah died on the flight.
It was then that the real fear had hit me and it was a 45-minute drive down the mountain to the hospital. It was only a few minutes after arriving to Children’s that I was desperately signing papers for Hannah to be placed on a heart lung bypass and dialysis machines. In the midst of all the confusion and panic, Hannah coded twice. During the second code, the doctor ran into the private room we were waiting and said that they can’t save her and to come say our goodbyes. We rushed to her room to see the staff rushing around and a male nurse giving CPR while another male nurse waited behind him to switch out and continue CPR. My last memory of my sweet daughter was her chest being crushed, her legs and arms jerking with every thrust to her chest and then finally the lead doctor turning to me and saying, “Mama, it’s time to let her go”. That was it! Done! And why?
If only the doctor and nurses from the ER the morning prior had known or paid attention to the obvious and clear signs of sepsis, I’m convinced that my Angel would be here today.