A week ago Friday, Q started coughing a little dry cough. On Saturday, he was getting a little whiny and wanting to veg on the couch. That night he started running a fever. By Sunday his fever was up to almost 104 degrees and Dr. GanGan said we should take him to the doctor. Funny thing about Wester, none of the doctors' offices are open on the weekend. Not ever the doc-in-a-box clinics. (In Small Town, our pediatrician's office was open seven day a week. I just assumed it would be that way here, too.) Our only option was the emergency room. Um, no. Through the magic of Motrin, his fever was contained and we made it through the night.
On Monday morning, I called the new ped's office. I was a little nervous about calling because the last time Q was sick they said they couldn't see him for three weeks. (There was an insurance mix-up, but that is another post!) Luckily, they were able to get me in to the doctor. Not our doctor, but beggars can't be choosers! After an eternity, we were seen my a competent but difficult to understand doctor. He is Chinese and kept referring to Z & Q as 'Girl' and 'Boy.' He pronounced Q to have a double ear infection and allergy induced pre-asthma. He prescribed what seemed like an impossible regimen of pills and potions and sprays.
I am a medicinally moderate person. Four prescriptions with one lasting for a year struck me as beyond excessive. So I was tacky and called my old pediatrician from Small Town. He agreed with me that it was all quite necessary in the short term, but recommended a different duration. Hmm. I was glad to be validated by someone who had actually been to medical school.
The next morning, Q's fever had disappeared and he was acting completely normal: running, playing, fighting with Z. Whew! I thought. I was glad that I hadn't started the antibiotics since he seemed miraculously healed. I didn't do the nebulizer meds (nebs), either. All he had was a little cough that sounded like post-nasal drip.
Imagine my surprise on Thursday when he was all droopy and clingy again. His fever jumped from 100 to 103 in less than half an hour. He seemed to be coughing a lot, so I did a breathing treatment with a dilator and a steroid. When he still couldn't seem to catch his breath, I called the doctor's office. Get thee to the emergency room! said the doctor, so after another quick neb off we went.
Honestly, I felt like this was a major over reaction. I figured they would give him some oxygen and maybe some hardcore nebs and send us home. WRONG. As soon as the triage nurse listened to his lungs, her eyes went wide and she ordered another breathing treatment. We went back to our room to be seen and the parade of torment began.
The physical exam wasn't too bad except for the whole tongue depressor thing. He was all smiles when the nurse tilted him back for the RSV culture. Have you ever seen an RSV culture? Basically, they shove a coat hanger with a tiny piece of cotton on it through your nose and into your brain. Q was not smiley when that was over. Next was x-rays. He perked up after that. He loved his glow-in-the-dark stickers.
As a matter of fact, we were playing under the blanket with the ER doc came in to tell us he had a 'pretty good pneumonia going' and that we would be checking into the Wester Hospital Hotel. Blah. He would send someone over to get the blood work started. It turned out to be not just blood work, but an IV port that they put in. Q was completely freaked out and cried and cried for us to take it out. So sad, but I managed to hold it together.
I had just gotten him calmed down from the IV when the nurse came in looking very distraught. The doc we saw at the clinic had taken over the case and requested a flu culture in addition to the RSV. Out came the coat hanger again. Only this time, Q knew what was coming and begged the nurse not to hurt him again. I had to help hold him down. We cried together after it was done. So much suckage.
We ended our eight hours in the emergency room with a trip to the peds ward at 10:00 at night. (Thank goodness Bun was here! She took care of Z for that entire afternoon and evening. She is the most amazing friend!) At 10:30 Q finally got some dinner. After all the paperwork and the parade of caregivers, it was midnight before Q fell asleep. I went to sleep, too. For about a minute. An alarm was going off. Q's oxygen levels had tanked. The RT came to give him some oxygen and give him some nebs, but Q fought her hammer and tongs. He absolutely REFUSED to put on his mask for either the oxygen or the dilator. He was hysterical, kicking, screaming, hitting. It was like he was possessed. I was stunned. He had never acted that way before. He was just SO done with it all. It was a crappy day to be Q.
He continued to fight the oxygen and his levels kept dropping. Alarms went off about every 15 minutes all. night. long. Finally, when his oxygen level rivaled a sack of hammers, I suggested they get an oxygen tent for him since he was so opposed to the mask. (Your job? Let me do it for you!) He finally settled down to sleep around 3:00 in the morning. He was so exhausted that he slept through the continual alarms and the near hourly poking and prodding.
Friday was miserable. There were more blood draws (damn vampires!), x-rays, and breathing treatments - now with more beatings! (They used this thing to pound on his rib cage to loosen up the junk that was keeping him from breathing.) He alternated between docile and Tasmanian devil tantrums. The poor RTs never knew what they were going to get. The IV had him swamping his diapers and the steroids made his parts hard. He could barely keep his hands off the thing. Poor thing. He was so bored and that was the only thing he had to play with!
I did finally get to meet out actual physician. She is awesome! She is the chair of the peds department and was highly recommended by a friend of mine. She broke the news that Q didn't have pneumonia. He has asthma. Asthma that will require aggressive treatment when he is little to keep him from crappy lungs as an adult. Oh, joy. The day was salvaged by the arrival of Grandma and GanGan. I went home for a shower and to play with Z a little. I was sure she thought of Q's illness as an attention sucking vortex and wanted to give her a little one on one time.
When I got back to the hospital, Q cried and cried when GanGan and Daddy left. I tried to be cuddly and offer comfort, but all I got was an elbow to the eye for my troubles. Luckily, once his tantrum abated, he fell sound asleep. He slept all the way through the night. And so did I. In fact, I didn't wake up until T and GanGan arrived the next morning! Exhaustion makes even lumpy hospital recliners feel like sleeping on clouds.
Saturday was better, except poor Q was SO bored. His oxygen levels were up, but not up enough to go home. I suggested that T bring him some Batman cartoons to pass the time. Between that and Grandma, he was content. Or as content as you can be when you have to lie in a cold, wet oxygen tent with a needle in your arm and your arm taped to a board. In yet another heroic act of friendship, Bun came and spent the afternoon with us. A good break for all of us, I think.
Saturday night was quiet, too. Well, except for my prank caller. Some drunken bimbo kept calling the direct line to our room and hanging up. Finally, after five calls, she demanded to know who I was. Her husband had been calling this number! It was on his bill! When I told her she had gotten the pediatric wing of Wester Hospital and woken up my sick baby, she hung up on me. Did I mention is was three a.m.? Yeah.
This morning, we got the news that we could go home. We will have to be hyper-vigilant about Q's breathing. Until his coughing is completely gone, we have to do dilator treatments four times per day. After that, we will continue with inhaled steroids for another six months. For someone who has to think long and hard about taking an aspirin, the road ahead is daunting.
Q is SO glad to be home. He missed his Z. Z missed him, too. It is hard to be Queen with out a minion. Grandma is staying for the next week to help get him settled in to his new life with a nebulizer for his significant other. She is a saint.
All in all? Three very scary days. I am glad they are over.