December 20, 2010

The Worst Time in My Life to Date - Part Deux

The first part of this story is here.

I was still not absorbing the seriousness of the situation.

Until the ambulance ride. Where they used the lights and the sirens. And swerved in and out of early rush hour traffic.

We arrived at the children's hospital a short time later. She was admitted to the ICU.

The ICU was pleasant. Which is such a strange thing to say. This hospital is designed for children who are deathly ill and it is a warm place, not a frightening hospital.

By now, it was approximately 7 A.M. Just before the ambulance ride, I spoke with my husband who was scared and wanted to fix the situation, but was states away, unable to do anything. I told him, after being told it was not a life and death situation, that he should stay put. He was at a new job and if things took a turn for the worse, I would let him know.

It is quite difficult to coherently discuss what all happened this day. She was admitted, tests were run, she was cared for and monitored. I received a breast pump and helplessly, pumped milk for my sweet baby girl. She had a breathing tube, a feeding tube, an IV and a femoral line put in her.

The nurse caring for my babe only had 2 children to care for, so she was constantly in the room. Checking, changing, monitoring. She changed all diapers, adjusted all machines. Once my girl was allowed to have some milk, the nurse administered the milk via the feeding tube. I was utterly useless, in the way, while someone else, while perfectly skilled and very kind, but not her mother, took care of my little girl's every need.

My girl was responding to everything well, they continued to lower the amount of oxygen she was given, weaning her off of it. She remained sedated so that she would not fight any of the treatments they were trying to administer.

Tests were run. Lots of tests. The initial test at the first hospital for RSV came back negative. The children's hospital didn't know what had affected my girl.

I hadn't slept but 2 hours, if that. The Ronald McDonald charities were connected with this hospital and, in fact, had sleeping rooms right on the hospital floor. These rooms are available to the families of the children in the ICU unit. I obtained the key for the room I was provided in order to take a nap. Little did I know that my father-in-law had also claimed the room we had been assigned. We ended up napping together on a queen sized mattress as we were absolutely exhausted. Awkward? Absolutely.

As this first day progressed, the doctors and nurses all stated how well she was doing. Looking back, I was still in shock. My girl had gone from normal to the ICU in less than 24 hours. How could this happen? What did I miss?

At the end of the day, I was told that if things continued well overnight that she might be released the next day. Again, how did my girl go from healthy to ICU to home in 48 hours????

I retired to the Ronald McDonald room for the night. My father-in-law went home – thank goodness!

The next morning, I was advised that my girl had done wonderfully overnight. A short time after getting to her room, the nurse and the respiratory therapist removed the breathing tube.

A short time later, with her feeding tube, IV and femoral line still in place, I was allowed to breastfeed her.

Again, just a short time later, I was advised that all of her lines would be removed and that we would be moved to the regular floor.

After a few hours, it happened. We were moved to the regular floor.

When they were preparing to move my daughter from the ICU to the regular floor, the ICU nurse called the regular floor nurse to advise of the status of the transferring patient. I overheard the ICU nurse advise the other nurse that the first hospital had probably jumped the gun on intubating my babe.

On the regular floor, it was cold and sterile. So different from the ICU unit. Such a weird contrast. I would have thought the exact opposite would be true.

I rarely saw the nurse on the regular floor. A nursing assistant came in every couple hours to check temperature and blood pressure, but otherwise, I was left alone to change and feed my child. The nurse came in only a few times during our stay! Such a stark contrast from the constant care of the ICU. I was frightened to even touch my child at first.

After an overnight stay on the regular floor, we were released to home.

No explanation. No diagnosis. Nothing.

My child's first illness resulted in an ICU stay. And I have no explanation whatsoever as to what caused it.

I am angry. And frightened. Yet I have no one to be angry at. What if the first hospital had not placed the breathing tube in and something tragic happened. How am I to know what to watch for when my child gets ill again? If she has the sniffles, how do I respond? What is a normal illness? In the midst of this crazy move, this was horrible timing (if there is ever a “good” time for your child to be admitted to the ICU!), however, I am so busy trying to move our lives to another state that perhaps it was good timing. I don't have time to dwell on the what happeneds, what ifs or what could have beens.

In the end, my sweet baby girl is fine. She doesn't care about the scariest time in her short life. She isn't affected. I wish I wasn't.

December 19, 2010

The Worst Time in My Life to Date - Part Uno

This is gonna be a long post. I am splitting it into two posts, not to be a pain and make you come back, but because I am tired... Worn from trying to move to another state in the longest, most complicated move ever known to man. I want to get this out for hell, who knows, prosperity sake. IDK... It just seems right to hit post...

When we woke up on a Monday a few weeks ago, my 4 month old kid made a weird sound when crying, inhaling sharply at the end of each cry. She wasn't coughing, not congested any more than she normally is in the mornings, didn't feel hot, overall, the sound was it.

She is watched by her grandfather in our home while we work. We told him to watch it and to keep us posted. Throughout the day, he didn't notice anything odd except that the noise didn't go away. Overall, she acted normal during the day. When I got home from work, she seemed a bit more clingy but she had no other symptoms besides the lingering cough. As the night progressed, she started to sound more and more congested and when she breathed, it was more hoarse than normal.

I was getting more concerned and at midnight, called my insurance company's nurse line. They listened to the sounds over the phone and recommended placing her in a bathroom with the shower running for the steam. I did so for about 20 minutes and it seemed to do just a bit of good. I slept upstairs in a spare bedroom with her because the small bathroom with the shower is there and the bedroom is smaller than the master and less drafty. I ran a humidifier for her and fell asleep.

At 2:00 A.M., I woke up. She was awake in her bed next to me and sounded bad. I again took her into the bathroom and ran the shower, hoping the steam would help her. After a short time, I called the nurse line again. I spoke with a different person. I explained that I didn't want to be a paranoid first time mom, but I was thinking of going to the E.R. The nurse agreed, we needed to go to the E.R.

When you are driving your child to the E.R., at 2:30 in the morning, do you stop at red lights? I didn't call an ambulance so I didn't think it was an extreme emergency. However, each time I slowed for a red light, I panicked thinking these moments could be important, are they so important that should I pull over right now and just call 911? I never did, but each red light my mind went to the worst place possible, yet reeled back by my initial hesitation to even go the E.R.

Finally, we made it to the E.R. We were quickly brought to the back and received immediate attention. She was initially given breathing treatments. I laid down on the stretcher or gurney? Holding her on my lap while they administered the treatments. The E.R. was pretty empty, there were a lot of nurses in the room. Wires were quickly connected, monitoring her heart rate and her respirations. Time is a funny thing, so hard to gauge. I would guess 20 minutes later, the nurses indicated that the breathing treatments weren't helping. They needed to intubate my baby.

Panic, fear, loneliness.

My father-in-law came to the hospital with us. My husband, who had accepted a position with a new company out of state hadn't been contacted yet due to the ridiculously early hour. On the drive to the hospital, I sent him a text advising him that we were going to the E.R., but I hadn't called him. He had to work and from 8 hours away, there was nothing he could do.

My father-in-law and I get along. However, we are both completely awkward with each other. So in the E.R., in the middle of the night, panicking because my poor baby is about to have a breathing tube inserted, I felt alone. Miserably, horribly alone.

Once the decision was made to intubate my babe, it was required that we be transferred out of the hospital. They didn't have a pediatrics unit in this hospital and now they had a very young child with a breathing tube inserted.

An ambulance arrived.

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