Thursday, 23 February 2017

Our Hospital Trip

Well, I've been introduced to life in the hospital as the mother of a patient, and I didn't like it one bit. Our Little Woman got rather congested, which wasn't surprising considering both of her siblings had colds, and then the coughing started. Mr. Mitchell had to leave to California for work, so I took myself and the kids to my parents' in Boise so they could help me wrangle three sick kids. The first night we were there our sweet baby had a coughing fit that wouldn't end and began to terrify us as she struggled for breath. My mom and I hopped in the van and took the baby to the ER at about 8:30pm. (We were also worried about some unusual projectile spit-ups she'd been having.) We were admitted to a room pretty quickly, but everything else about the night was so slow. It was incredibly frustrating as I watched my little girl go through several coughing fits that seemed to never end. (The longest one I timed went a full 10 minutes.) I'm going to document this experience mostly using the texts I was sending to Mr. Mitchell to keep him in the loop. (I'm also going to be leaving out most of his texts since they're mostly questions and/or encouragement.)

Message sent at 9:01pm on Feb. 14
"No need to be alarmed, just an FYI, we're at the ER with Eve. She was having a big and extended coughing fit so we brought her in. Of course the fit subsided before we got here. Freaked me out while it was happening. She's now sleeping while we wait for the doctor."

"It's unbelievable. She's not even breathing with a stuffy nose right now. I'm worried they won't take me seriously and will view me as an alarmist mother."

Message sent at 10:40pm on Feb. 14
"It's very slow moving here tonight. They did chest x-rays and tested for RSV. We're waiting for those results. They're coming in to do a breathing treatment in a few minutes. "Few minutes" meaning who knows how long."

"They just did a suctioning and the breathing treatment. The suctioning was awful, but it cleared out a ton of gunk. The doctor says she sounds much better through the stethoscope and her O2 levels are up."

This is present-day me interjecting to explain the suctioning. The respirator specialist came in and took a tiny tube and shoved it way, way, way up the baby's nose and then started suctioning crud out with what sounded like an industrial strength vacuum. Our Little Woman writhed in panic and turned completely red from head to toe as she alternated screaming and holding her breath. Then they took the tube out and put it up the other nostril and did the process again. It was my job to try and hold her still. It was completely horrible and I never want to see my baby look like that ever again. I know it did a lot of good though as I watched how much they suctioned out of her that we just were not getting with the bulb syringe at home.

Snoring in my arms as we wait for the test results.
Using the nebulizer after the horrifying suctioning. 

Mr. Mitchell: "Were they low? How low? How do we keep the gunk from just coming back?"

"Not super low. They were high 80s low 90s. Now they're high 90s. I don't know the answer to your last question. Might not be possible until whatever this is has passed. We're still waiting on results."

"It's busy here so everything is taking forever. We've been here for three hours already."

"X-ray showed bronchial virus. Tested negative for RSV and flu. They're a little concerned about the amount of air they saw in the intestines in the X-rays so we are now waiting for an ultrasound."

"She's having another coughing fit. Haven't heard anything about ultrasound results. I'm trying not to freak out. They're going to give her another breathing treatment in a few minutes. Again, few minutes, whatever."

Present-day me interjecting again to say that the ultrasound results came back normal. The doctor came in to tell us all of these tests weren't giving any results to tell us what was happening and asked if I was comfortable taking her home. I told him no based on how much she was struggling to breathe with the coughing and congestion. He said we'd get her admitted for observation but that she'd have to be transferred to the pediatrics unit in the downtown hospital. We agreed and set to waiting again. As we waited the nurse happened to come in during a coughing fit - it was the first time anybody besides my mom and myself witnessed it - and she agreed that it sounded really bad and that she was certain it was RSV. They ran another test to double-check the results, but we wouldn't know the results until we were at the other hospital. The RSV test is unpleasant since they have to stick a swab way up the baby's nose, but at least it's quick, unlike suctioning.

"They're admitting her for observation. We'll eventually be switching to the downtown hospital to their pediatric ward. They had to suction her again. It made me cry. It's horrible."

"I'll let you know when we're settled in down there. Who knows how long it will take. Probably hours."

Present-day me again to let you know that we were required to go in an ambulance. My mom took my van and all the extra stuff back to her house while the baby and I rode down to the hospital. If the situation weren't so sad it would have been almost humorous to see such a tiny thing strapped down to the ambulance cot. The transport team was very nice and let me sit in back with her during the ride.
Strapped in and bundled from the bitter cold.
Getting wheeled out.

Blurry, but proof of the ambulance. This was my second ambulance ride.
 The first time I was only a few days old and choking.
Message sent at 4:44am on Feb. 15
"Had to take an ambulance here because of protocol. Heart rate high, oxygen low, put her on oxygen for the ride. They've taken another swab and are waiting for results. She has a fever so they're doing some screenings. Anything abnormal and they'll have to do a spinal tap."

Message sent at 6:35am on Feb. 15
"Urine catch with catheter done, IV start in place, blood drawn. Still wearing oxygen. Heart rate and fever down. Still waiting to hear back on results from most recent swab to test for viruses."

"Praying that everything from the blood draws and urine sample are normal so there is no spinal tap.  :("

Present-day me wrapping up the first part of the saga. It was after 7am before everything was settled and the baby and I were able to go to sleep. I'd been up for 24 hours at this point and was feeling very emotional. I cried when they did the catheter and IV since they made my baby cry. The nurses were very good at caring for both the baby and me during the process. The doctor came in and discussed possibilities and procedures, and a nurse got me a make-shift breakfast and water to tide me over until the kitchen opened. The baby and I were both able to take a very large nap once everyone was out of the room.
Showing off all the wires and cords for the aunts and uncles. 
Message sent at 9:30am on Feb. 15
"They've confirmed RSV. I don't get why it didn't show up on the first swab that tested directly for RSV, but, whatever I guess. What do I know? Blood draws all look normal for someone fighting a virus. They're still growing the urine cultures."

Message sent at 11:26am on Feb. 15
"The doctor just checked her and said she's breathing really well. They had been talking about a feeding tube in the nose, but she won't need it if she keeps it up. They tried taking her off of oxygen but her levels dropped too much so they're keeping the oxygen going."

Picture sent to Daddy.
We'll go ahead and skip the text messages now that they aren't informative to 'the case at hand.' The urine test ended up being fine and our sweet girl slowly improved. We did end up staying a day longer than the doctor had guessed when we were admitted due to the amount of junk they were still clearing out with suctioning. The suctioning at the pediatrics ward was much less invasive than the one at the ER. It still got the baby mad, but she wasn't panicking or holding her breath. By Saturday she was off of oxygen and didn't need to be suctioned all the time so we were able to leave on Saturday night. She was still coughing a bit, but a residual cough is to be expected. The large coughing spells were over, she was maintaining oxygen on her own, and she hadn't been suctioned in over 12 hours. It was a little scary to bring her home in case she had another large coughing spell, but the coughing appears to be completely done now as well as any congestion. She's smiling again and her fussing is down to normal baby fussiness. I know parents go through worse things with their children, but I've had my fill of hospitals as it is and hope to never do it again with a child. I was told multiple times that most of the pediatric patients during our stay were infants with RSV. It's exceptionally bad this year.

Off of oxygen. They left the stickers on in case she needed it again.
Everything off except the IV start and oxygen mask stickers.
Almost time to go home!

Post doctor check-up on Feb. 22 - she's in the 'all clear!' 
I want to give a big, big, big thank you to my mom for staying in the ER with me all night, and to both of my parents for taking time off of work to care for my older two while I stayed at the hospital with my baby. Another thanks especially to my Dad and our good family friend Cliff for giving her a blessing. And thank you to my siblings and in-laws who provided encouragement and love. I love you guys!

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