Then, unexpectedly, the next day(thirteen days ago) I took my little girl to the emergency room and didn't come back till Saturday. It was an experience that changed me and my relationship with her. And with all my children.
Princess, 6, has had a handful of limited episodes of minor wheezing previously labeled 'Reactive Airway Disease'. She got a breathing treatment once when she was three and we left with a prescription for an inhaler that she rarely needed. It expired last year and I never thought to have another one on hand.
Mon/Tues she got a cold and was pretty wiped out. She played with friends Tuesday afternoon but sounded a bit wheezy to me. She napped - not terribly unusual if she was a little sick. I wondered if it was time for the Dr.
I got home super late after watching Potter in a dress rehearsal Tuesday night. I went into her room and watched her sleep. Her wheezing was loud and her ribs were showing as she inhaled. I knew it was time for a breathing treatment. My mind raced - my kids so rarely go to the Dr for anything. When does instacare close?, I wondered. I jumped online and saw they were all 10pm. It was 11:00.
Emergency room, then? Geez, that sounded severe. I have been a parent for a long time and have only used the ER once before (strangely enough, also for Princess - when she fell through the stair railing as an infant).
11:30 pm: So to the ER we went. Silly me, I went to the one closest to me instead of to our children's hospital. We were taken into triage immediately. I told them I was ambivalent about even bringing her in and the doc assured me she needed to be there. Her O2 sats were 86 and soon she was on 2, and then 5 litres of oxygen. She was given a super-nebulizer (a high dose triple combo breathing treatment) and heavy steroids to calm down the inflammation in her lungs that wasn't letting her receive much oxygen.
2:00 am: It helped slightly. Saturations were coming up a bit, but we had a long way to go.
No only was she being admitted, but we needed a transport to the children's hospital. I was so not prepared for this. All I grabbed when I left the house was a pair of undies for her, and a water bottle and book for myself. Little did I know how long I would be gone. I didn't even do the supper dishes.
3:30 am: Ambulance ride - another parenting first.
Paramedics were very kind to her. She was doing great. Sats were 93 en route. I continued to think this was much ado about little. I still thought we'd be home later that day. All I came for was a breathing treatment, I said to myself.
4:00 am: The ER drs at Primary Children's seemed pretty optimistic about her condition. She was in good spirits and excited to be in charge of the tv remote. They were frank, though. She would be moved to the RTU - Rapid Treatment Unit and it would be at least another day.
We got settled in our room around 5am.
7am: Strider making arrangements for a substitute teacher and getting my sister to care for the kids at home. My mom (a nurse) arrives by 9. Princess isn't doing so well. She is baffling the drs because she has dipped way back down and is now worse than when we arrived at the first hospital.
I don't know if you can tell by her intense face here, but she had stopped speaking and was in a sort of trance-like state. The doc said she was literally just using all her energy to breathe. She was on hourly albuterol treatments at this point and her O2 requirement went from 10 liters up to 15 litres (that's 100% oxygen)! I could barely hold it together, expecially without my husband there yet.
This was one sick little girl.
More consults from Respiratory Therapists and PICU. They thankfully said we could manage by continuing the albuterol treatments and could avoid intensive care. Our goal was to wean her from needing it every hour to every four hours and obviously, to get off the O2.
My dad and Strider arrive and give her a priesthood blessing. She asks her daddy to lie down with her for a while. (Daddy didn't sleep much either due to my constant text updates from the ER).
She slept for about two hours and woke up with some energy and looking so much better. Treatments were lengthened out to every 2 hours. Drs still cautious because of her rough night.
She was able to eat breakfast and had a decent day. I posted on Facebook about what was happening and we literally fielded texts and calls for hours. The outpouring of love was tremendous. I definitely thought we'd be home Thurs morning.
They brought her crafts and she loved passing the time that way. I was completely exhausted and was praying for her to finally sleep. All the constant albuterol was like pumping her full of adrenaline and she was so jumpy and high strung. I was beyond grateful when she drifted off.
The next day was similar. Horrible night. Ups and downs and enigmas during the day. One lung would sound improved and the other had decreased breath sounds. Then they'd listen an hour later and it would be reversed.
I was missing my baby Rosebud so badly and so confused as to Princess' condition and I was getting antsy. We never knew how many subs Strider would need for his classes. I was begging Strider for clean underwear every day and I was bathing with a sample size baby wash. I brought no toothbrush, glasses, contact solution, deodorant, camera or phone charger. I couldn't call home and talk to the kids hardly at all - I was too emotional and I didn't want to scare them with my crying. And Princess was not in a unit where visitors were welcome.
Thurs night Princess cried and cried to go home. She begged for her brothers. I held her till she drifted off. Heart. was. breaking. I know, baby. I want to be home, too. Please, Heavenly Father - let her get well. But she was still so dependent on the albuterol, steroids and oxygen.
Friday things seemed much, much better. She was able to do short periods of time without O2. Grandma brought a game. Her aunt brought donuts and coloring books.
They hooked her up to a portable tank so we could get out and walk. We needed the change of scenery and she needed the exercise to her lungs.
We found a playroom with toys and - you guessed it - more crafts.
She talked me into playing barbies and dinosaurs with her :) It was great to do normal things and pretend for a moment that your world was not turned upside down. She was happy with the distraction.
Doctors came in again - nope, not going home today. She (me, too) was devastated.
Night time again. I dread it. Same routine. She cries for home. I tell her it will be over soon. Maybe tomorrow is the day? I can't make promises.
Friday night and I'm worried because she only made it less than half the night without oxygen. I am so afraid that she's still not ready to go home. That darn O2 alarm would go off every time she dipped. The nurses and I would reposition her and it would help for all of 30 seconds. Then she would flail and flop around to get comfortable and her numbers would be much better. Go figure.
Down to less than 1 litre O2 by breakfast time. Nice progress.
One more quick craft before getting the official word on discharge Saturday at lunch time.
Here are the two places we spent all our time.
Barely left each other's side for four days and four nights. We are closer for it and the little things just don't matter so much. I love her more than words.
Gathering up her mountain of crafts and packing up.
Tell me, is this a happy girl to be going home or what?!
I feel like this was seriously our home all week.
Cute welcome home message in the driveway.
Long-awaited hug from a big brother.
So glad to be back home where we wanted to be. We are blessed that she is back to 100%. We are blessed that she didn't have to come home with a daily asthma regimen like they originally said we would. We are blessed to learn that viruses are her trigger and as long as she stays healthy she will be fine. When she does get sick, we have a rescue inhaler and step by step management to help navigate us through it.
I'm thankful for the perspective that comes with trial. I looked forward to laundry and even changing diapers. I wanted my routine, my endless boring routine. I wanted all my kids around me.
I never, ever want to experience that again. I'm so happy to catch my breath once again. My heart aches for all the parents who do it all the time and whose kids are so very very sick.
My world stopped for the better part of a week and yet time moved forward. I left daffodils and came home to tulips.