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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Asthma

It's been one week since one of my scarier moments as a mom (ok, the scariest), and I figured I might as well write it all down before I forget.

It started probably Friday night if I had to really pinpoint a time. We decided in an effort to help the boys go to bed without distracting each other, that we would bunk their beds. So we moved their furniture, vacuumed every inch of the floor that had been covered by beds, and then bunked them.

The next morning while at the farmer's market, we noticed that Nathan had a little bit of a cough. Chalked it up to allergies, and made a mental note to start giving him his Claritin again in the morning.

The day went on completely normal, just that little cough that got a little worse as the day went on.

He woke me up at 6am crying because he was coughing so hard that he couldn't sleep. He seemed slightly out of breath, but mostly it just seemed like he was worked up and tired because he hadn't been able to get back to sleep. I got him some hot water with a bit of peppermint and had him breathe the steam for a while. It seemed to relax him enough that he was able to sleep the rest of the night. I decided that I would take him to urgent care in the morning since his cough seemed pretty bad, and after a small wheezing incident earlier in the summer, we were concerned he may have developed asthma.

By the time he woke up at 9, you could tell he just didn't feel well, he was tired, wheezy, and still coughing. Without eating breakfast, we headed straight to urgent care. When we got there, he was so tired he cried about having to open the door, but once inside, chatted with me as we watch Nickelodeon in the waiting room.

They called us back, took his pulse ox, and then we went back with a nurse. The Dr didn't seem interested in seeing him. But after just a few seconds with the nurse, she called the Dr in. He hardly had to look at his at this point labored breathing and told someone to call 911 and they put on a mask with a breathing treatment and oxygen. The Dr quickly explained to me without going into too much detail in front of Nathan, that kids that young have a hard time breathing, then get less and less oxygen and more carbon dioxide in their lungs, and then they just fall asleep. At which point, I realized just how serious this was and felt instantly guilty that I got him back to sleep at 6.

The EMT's came, and Nathan had his first ambulance ride to the Medina hospital just down the street. He had a second breathing treatment in the ambulance. We were at the hospital no more than a few minutes when they asked if we would like to be transferred to Akron Children's or Cleveland Clinic main campus, because his condition was too serious (for a child) to be treated there. He was on continuous breathing treatments and oxygen during the 2 hours that we waited for the ambulance from Akron Children's. It was just near the end of that time that he started to perk up a little bit and show interest again in watching tv or answering questions. He was scared, and wanted to hold my hand. Right around this time I went to the bathroom and dropped my phone in the toilet. I can't think of a worst time to completely cut off my communication with Anthony and anyone else. Thankfully, I was still able to text (but not make or receive phone calls) until shortly after we arrived at Children's, so I could at least share where we were going.

When Akron Children's EMT's got there, they checked out the bloodwork, x-rays and his stats since arriving at Medina, and determined that he would be automatically admitted to the PICU. So he then took his second ambulance ride to Akron Children's.

We got there, the EMT's were fantastic at explaining a bit to me as we walked through the hospital to get to the PICU. Telling me who would be in the room, where I would be able to sit, and what they would be doing before talking to me. It really helped me mentally prepare for the rush of people who came in when we got there.

Once things settled down after the initial rush, I was able to talk to the Dr about exactly what his condition looked like. Severe enough that he needed to be on constant oxygen, and albuterol and a steroid for at least the next several hours. Not severe enough that he needed a breathing tube placed unless he started to get worse, but they didn't think that would be happening. Best case scenario, he would be moved out of the PICU the next morning and would get to go home the next evening. Worst case scenario, we could be there for the good part of a week. And when I woke up that morning, I thought we were just headed to urgent care for a breathing treatment and a follow up with our Dr during the week. It's crazy how fast things went from bad to BAD.

Anthony had to wait for some help with the other kids before he could come up, siblings were allowed to visit, but no one under 2, plus it wasn't exactly a great environment for a bunch of kids. I stayed with Nathan throughout the day, Nina came to keep us company for a little bit. Nathan loved having the remote to himself, and became more and more demanding the better he felt. We could also tell he started feeling better when he started complaining more about his IV and the mask he had to wear for the oxygen and albuterol. He took a few short naps and got some much needed rest.

Anthony arrived around dinner time, and I headed back to be with the other kids for the night (and to eat since I hadn't had the time to eat anything all day!). Shortly after I left, they were able to lower his dosage slightly, and then throughout the night were finally able to slowly wean him off of needing to wear the mask 100% of the time and he could tolerate room air for an hour at a time. He started getting hungry, and was making jokes that Anthony was made of bacon and hot dogs among other foods.

Monday morning, he got to eat for the first time since Saturday night! He was starving, and ordered what sounded like half the menu :)

Anthony stayed with him at the hospital for most of the day, while I was home with the kids and getting updates. He was completely off of the mask by lunch, and moved to the regular floor around 2. Anthony had class that night, so I was able to come up and spend several hours with him. There was a game room on this floor, so we got to play air hockey, Candyland and Lego Star Wars on the playstation. He was still wheezing, but looked SO much better than when I had left him 24 hours before. Lots of energy, wanting to talk to me and tell me all about what he had done that day (apparently I am much better at air hockey than Anthony). I got to eat dinner with Nathan and Anthony when Anthony came back from class, and then again, headed home to be with the little kids.

Tuesday was fairly uneventful (in a good way!), he continued to wean off of the albutrol until he only needed it every 4 hours. Anthony and Nathan went to a class offered at the hospital on asthma and learned about his at home plan, and then he got to come home!

It was a long and exhausting 3 days (that felt more like a week), and I admit that I asked him probably 100 time a day the first day he was home if he was okay, and if he could breathe alright. I woke up several times throughout the night to check on him too. Sort of like that first night a baby sleeps through the night and you just can't believe they are actually okay.

Since he's been home he's run around the house like a crazy person, played at the park, went on a hike, and he's still using the albuterol 4 times a day, but hasn't had any wheezing or difficulty breathing.

The rest of the kids developed coughs a few days after he came home, and mine showed up yesterday, so my best guess at this point is that it was a combination of the dust, allergies and getting sick all at the same time that triggered the attack. We meet with his allergist next weekend, and hopefully with some more knowledge, can avoid something quite so severe in the future.

I only took one picture while he was in the hospital, the night before he came home. While I wish I had one to compare it to so that you could see how much BETTER he was by the time he was getting ready to come home, it just never crossed my mind when he was still feeling so sick and all hooked up to everything.