We rushed Charlie (my 9 year old son) to the emergency room last night, where he was admitted, examined and given an ultrasound so quickly I was truly surprised. The only time something similar to this happened (such a quick reaction by ER staff) was when Avi had viral meningitis as a baby (I should write that up in another blog post!)
With all the issues my collection of boys have had over the years I know very well that usually if you go to the ER and you are not gushing blood (or you don’t have a bone sticking out or a noticeably otherwise twisted limb) they generally take a long time to get you in, but the minute I told the admission clerk “swollen testicle” on a 9 year old boy they rushed us back lickity split!
In nearly 22 years of parenting sons (21 years and 10 months to be exact, July will mark 22 years) I had never had what happened last night happen, so I wanted to write this down for others to know about as well, since it was kind of scary!
We’ve been traveling for my work (we’re in Pennsylvania) and I usually have to bring Charlie with me when I travel these days as (apparently) I am the only adult who can manage him full time with his cluster of disabilities (which are primarily behavioral issues). Yesterday evening, after taking a day off of what has otherwise been a fairly busy work schedule (we spent the day running around Princeton and then Philadelphia and checking out the sights), on the drive to our destination Charlie complained that his “balls really hurt” and one was “red and swollen”.
When we arrived we went to the bathroom and I checked out the situation and was surprised to see one side the size of an almond (normal size) and the other side was red and swollen and bigger than a golf ball. I called his pediatrician and waited for a call back from the advice nurse and when she called back she basically said to get his little butt into the emergency room in the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.
Luckily we are staying with friends just a mile from the nearest hospital in Bryn Mawr, PA and got him in there right away (and as I said above, he was admitted and seen within 5 or 10 minutes of us arriving, and rushed up to ultrasound in about 20 minutes!)
We got lucky. He didn’t need the emergency surgery he could have needed, but since I had never heard about the particular condition they were concerned about I wanted to share what I learned last night (from the docs in the E.R. and from “Dr. Google”.)
The reason they rushed him in so quickly is because they were concerned it might be testicular torsion. If it had been testicular torsion it would likely have needed an immediate surgical intervention. Apparently (based on a few sources from Dr. Google), testicular torsion happens in either 1 in 4,000 boys or 1 in 25,000 boys – depending on what stats you look at. If it is operated within the first 6 hours of the swelling starting there is still a possible 40% chance of losing a testicle, and in the second six hours that chance goes up significantly. Other complications also include losing the ability to have children altogether.
This is some scary stuff! Why doesn’t anyone tell you this in that lovely parenting handbook they give you in the hospital when you give birth (along with all the information they give you about lead poisoning at that time too!) #WhatHandbook! #INeedToWriteAHandbook!
So we got lucky. It turned out that Charlie doesn’t have testicular torsion, but instead has something called Epididymitis, which is equally bizarre and fairly rare in a 9 year old boy and also scary! This condition (in Charlie’s case, they posited) is from a virus (maybe from a head cold or similar) migrating to the tubes that attach his testicles to his body. Charlie doesn’t have a UTI (he didn’t have any signs of infection in his urine), and his ultrasound looked good (no twisting), so they sent us home with some Advil and instructions to wear snug fitting (but not tight) underwear (or a jockstrap), saying the swelling should go away in about a week.
The good outcome of this… Charlie is interested in wearing underwear because he wants to follow the doctor’s advice! Because of Charlie’s sensory issues over the past 6 years or so, he does not wear underwear at all – so this is a pretty good outcome/side-beneift! Now for the quest to find some good underwear for kiddos with sensory issues!
I wanted to write this up for my friends (and others who read my blog) because I wouldn’t have known in a million years how potentially serious this condition could be. My first inclination was to give him some Advil and send him to bed to see how he was doing in the morning, but (as always) I called my pediatrician’s advice nurse and then followed their advice.
Thanks for reading! I would appreciate underwear brand recommendations!
P.S. As I was writing this (10:02 a.m.) I got a call from the hospital saying there might be a secondary complication. They are getting me the imaging they did last night (on disk) and want us to have follow up imaging done with our pediatrician as soon as we get home… #Sigh… it’s always something!