Guest Story: A Mother's Intuition

A mother’s intuition never fails.

A life can be turned upside down in a matter of one day. This was the case with Sidney Holland, a two-and-half-year old boy, usually overflowing with energy, laughter, curiosity, and pure joy. He was just not himself and his mother, Netaya McGrath, just knew something was wrong.  Her mother’s intuition was speaking to her. 

It all started when Sidney ran an abnormally high fever.  Netaya quickly took her son to the local hospital in rural northern California where Sidney’s body spiked to a 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  Doctors and nurses applied ice to draw down Sidney’s temperature to 102 degrees.  The medical professionals concluded that, “It’s just a virus” and Sidney was sent home shortly thereafter. But Netaya had an uneasy feeling.  She sensed that her son was not just stricken with a simple virus.

The next day, Sidney was more pale than ever, had no appetite, and consumed no liquids.  With her intuition telling her that they were dealing with much more than a virus, Netaya desperately looked for possible reasons for her son’s sickness through an online search of the internet. Based on what she read, she thought it could have been spinal meningitis.

With that fear in her heart, she took Sidney to a different regional hospital, demanding they perform a blood test and an x-ray scan of his chest.  Neither test show any abnormal results.  “Worse”, Netaya said, “the second hospital also told us that it was just a virus.”

With lingering frustration, on the fifth day, they went back to the first hospital.  This time, Netaya was in “Tiger Mom” mode and demanded the hospital run a spinal tap test and another blood test.  Maybe it was her desperation that made the difference but, this time, they returned a different result.  Though there was a moment of relief for getting one step closer to an answer, she quickly realized that her son was in need of urgent care.  Netaya and Sidney boarded a helicopter to life flight to UC Davis Medical Center.

While the team at UCDMC was running more tests to correctly treat Sidney, Sidney’s dad, Marty rushed home to pack some things and was assisted by his friend get to where his son was fighting the battle. He packed two outfits for each of them and forgot toothbrushes and other personal toiletries as his “mind was not there to grab the things.  I just wanted to get to Sidney as soon as I could”, he said.

After four days of countless tests, the doctors finally determined what was wrong with Sidney. The news was devastating. Sidney had a heart infection, septic arthritis, and a bone infection (which resulted in removal of the lower part of his shin bone).  This was all the result of having toxic shock syndrome.  The medical team has told the family that Sidney having toxic shock syndrome was a “one in a million case.”  By this time, Sidney’s organs were failing and starting to shut down.  This is why he was not eating or drinking.  While Netaya and Marty were upset that the other hospitals had failed to properly diagnose Sidney and he had almost died as a result, they knew that they were in the right place now for Sidney to get the help and treatment he needed.  

Sidney was in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for several weeks while Sidney’s one-and-a-half-year-old baby brother, Leaf, and his parents stayed at the Kiwanis Family House. Netaya says that staying at Kiwanis Family House has “alleviated lots of stress…making this place feel like home away from home to all of us.  Sidney can walk around and not be scared of doctors and nurses.  And I don’t know if I would be smiling or simply doing anything if weren’t for Kiwanis Family House.”  Marty added, “we are so thankful for the Kiwanis House.  We would love to support KFH for having a place like home.”