Have A Box Of Tissues Ready When You Read This

Last year around New Year’s Eve time, my daughter got sick and ended up in the hospital. I posted about how that happened on Sunday and Monday; here’s the finale.
The next morning, Michele stays with Savvy and I head home to get some fresh clothes for everybody and a nap. I grab a bunch of toys and stuff for the kid, too, and a few snacks (they don’t care what she will be eating). The oxygen level…ls getting better and we move to a non-intensive care until room (no gloves or gowns or masks – hooray!).
The tests come back positive for rhinovirus, which is basically a big head cold. Nothing fatal or life threatening, usually, but with kids it can cause so much congestion that it begins to block their little airways, and this is the result.
All day Sunday, the kid is playing like wild. Very energetic and VERY happy. She still has the EKG sensors on, but somewhere overnight Saturday she rebelled against the oxygen nose hose, and since her levels were pretty good, they decided to let her leave it off. Every few hours they check her O2 and she’s fine, and so a release is scheduled after one more treatment, and then we can leave.
We depart with a prescription for twice a day medicine, designed to keep her airways open. She gets one before bed and one in the morning, basically to help her until the virus runs its course. Other than that, and a slight nagging cough that they told us isn’t contagious, she’s fine.
We spend that evening, New Year’s Eve, at home resting. I woke up from some fireworks and saw the ball drop in Times Square, then I rolled over and went back to sleep. The activities of the prior few days were very regimented in my head, as far as what happened and when, but as far as actual time, I had no idea what day it was. As I have said before: sleep first, details later.
Rhinovirus, not RSV or anything worse. Not the flu, not some supervirus. It just overloaded her system and she was so congested that she started having trouble breathing – as in, very labored, whimpering with every breath – and as much as I didn’t want to go to the Emergency Room on a Friday night, it may have been for the best that the After Hours place was closed because the ER folks were VERY concerned about a 2 year old that can’t breathe and they went to work on her FAST. A little Hand Of God action there? Who knows how things would have gone if the After Hours place HAD seen us just minutes before closing time. Maybe it would have been a diagnosis that sent us home and we’d have had a worse ordeal to handle then. I’m happy to think of it that way, that maybe God was steering things a little for me at that moment.
I remember my wife asking me in the ER if maybe we were overreacting. “What if this is just a mistake?” she asked. I said, “I look forward to being embarrassed over this. I hope it IS a mistake. That would absolutely be the best outcome to me, instead of our little daughter needing to be here.” No need to second guess now, but in the heat of battle, you think these things. And worse. You wonder what if she’d have slept a little better on the couch and we put her to bed and she didn’t have the energy to cause all the commotion… well, those things are better off not being thought of.
In the end, I think it was kind of a fluke and I doubt we’ll have any of those issues again.
I took a picture of my daughter while she was in the hospital. She was well on the way to recovery and was feeling much, much better, and she had been playing with some of the toys I brought her.
She looked beautiful.
I’m sure it was more the feeling of seeing her feeling healthy again as opposed to actually looking the best she’d ever looked, but I can’t be positive.
When we were in the original emergency room, the nurses gave my daughter some stickers to play with, to distract her from all the needles and sensors. She picked a few Disney characters: Donald Duck, Goofy, and the third sticker was Mickey Mouse and Minnie. Somehow, during all the melee, she stuck them on the front of my t-shirt, and so the whole time we were doing everything in the hospital, I had these Mickey Mouse stickers on my chest. She got more stickers later, mermaids and princesses, so I never noticed that she’d lost the Goofy and Donald.
Turns out, she didn’t. When I went home the next day to grab a nap, there they were on my shirt.
Her gift to me.
The nurses gave them to her to calm her down; she gave them to me.
Don’t worry dad.
I carefully stuck them on my nightstand and took my nap. On the nightstand are two framed pictures, one of my wife and my daughter the day she was born, and the other is about 6 months later, a picture I took of my daughter playing on the floor of our master bedroom, smiling from ear to ear as only a 6 month old can.
In a few days I’m going to put that picture of her in the hospital bed into a frame, and stick those three stickers on it. I don’t know where I’ll put it; it’s probably not a proper way to remember things, and it may be a long moment in time that I’d rather forget, but I really like the way she looks in the picture, even if it does show her IV arm bandages and hospital pajamas.
The stickers will go on it to remind me of those rare, special moments between just me and her.
When everybody was worried about taking care of her, she was worried about taking care of me.
How do you not frame that?
– from “Savvy Stories 2: The TERRIBLE Two’s” available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/TERRIBLE-Twos-Learned-Toddler-Daughter-ebook/dp/B00F245L0I/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Around last New Year’s eve, my daughter caught a cold that turned into something much worse: difficulty breathing. Yesterday I explained how the cold evolved, and we ultimately headed out to the after hours pediatric care place – right before closing time.
Sure enough, we pull up at 11:01 despite my best efforts to race there, and I unstrap the kid and bolt to the door and – it is locked.
The pl…ace is full of staff members and they see my dilemma but they are not budging. I am standing there in shorts and a t-shirt on a cold night with a 2 year old wrapped in a pink Pooh bear blanket. My cell phone rings. My wife says the staff at the After Hours pediatric told her to take the kid to the emergency room.
An emergency room on a Friday night at 11pm. Imagine every drunk and fistfight and college kid (we are by USF) who got a bloody nose is packing the ER and we watch my daughter suffocate while we wait in line. Horrors. But, we are out of options and it’s 5 minutes away, so off we go.
As luck would have it, they are working on the parking lot of the hospital, so there are 50 cardboard “Detour” signs all over the place. We navigate that and get a spot right up front, which surprises me until I realize that school is out for the holidays.
The place is almost empty. Lucky us.
I head over to admitting and one of the nurses immediately comes over before I can even get there. While they have seen it all and know when not to get excited, she is expressing some concern. They are doing three things at once – admitting, examining, asking what happened – and we are seeing a doctor in minutes.
“I don’t like her color.” Somebody says. “Is she always gray like this?” Heck, we’d been keeping the lights off to let her rest. It’s the first time I’m looking at her color, and under the fluorescent hospital lights, she looks like hell. So do I.
Commands fly: get a blow by oxygen going and start an IV for fluids, plus draw blood for tests.
We’re trying to diplomatically explain to – well, to everybody in hospital scrubs – that my kid has condition called Long QT which means certain drugs like epinephrine can cause a negative reaction, so we’re supposed to be careful…
You get that stare. She was nice about it, but the doctor basically said we can watch your kid suffocate to death RIGHT NOW, or we can give her drugs that MIGHT cause a heart attack LATER.
Okay, I’m in. Drug her up.
Calls go out to my daughter’s EP, the guy who would advise on which drugs she can or can’t have; even though she’s asymptomatic, we want to be cautious, but he signs off and says give her the meds. It’s an albuterol aerosol, administered with oxygen through a mask. Simple but effective.
If you can convince a 2 year old to let you put a mask over her face.
By now she’s got an IV in her arm(that was fun; the guy practically had to lay on her to hold her down after I bragged about how good she was with needles), she has EKG sensor stickers all over her chest (they don’t stick because of the Vapo Rub. Oops.), an oxygen monitor wrapped around her big toe, and they’re trying to strap a mask onto her face. She’s had enough and is flailing.
Personally, I was impressed with her tenacity. Kid’s a fighter. But her mom and I eventually convince her that she has to wear this mask to help her breath, and so she hold the mask in place herself, which helps. The oxygen readings get close to around 95%, but when the albuterol treatment stops, she starts labored breathing again and it drops to 85% or lower. A second albuterol treatment is done, and eventually a third. Over the course of a few hours, I think, she stabilizes enough for a transport to St Joseph’s hospital, about 15 minutes away, where her specialist works and where they have better facilities for pediatric respiratory illness. Right now, everybody is thinking she has a virus, but they also agree that it’s the heavy congestion blocking her airway. X rays are done to look for pneumonia.
A transport will be an ambulance, non emergency. Since she can breathe, Savvy is excited about riding in the ambulance but disappointed that there won’t be sirens. I’m pretty elated that there won’t. We flip a coin to see who’s riding along with her; I win. The EMTs have given Savvy an iPad with several kids movies, so she’s oblivious as to whether one or both of us even come along. They strap her into a gurney with a baby seat attachment and haul her away. She’s loving it.
The ride goes smoothly and I start to realize that I’m tired. It’s about 1AM, maybe later. The driver and I chat on the way to St Joe’s, and when we get there we are whisked into a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, or PICU.
Everybody there is wearing masks and gowns and rubber gloves to meet us, and we have to dress up, too, every time we come into my daughter’s room and take it all off every time we come out. They are afraid of some new super virus and these are precautions, but it means if you need to use the bathroom, you take all the gear off, throw it away, and re-dress back up to re enter the room. For however long she’s there.
And while the paper gown looks silly and the latex gloves can make your hands sweat, the mask over your nose and face have several perks. First, they make your kid even less likely to relax since everybody looks like we’re heading into a contamination zone, and second, you get to deal with whatever breath freshness you arranged; as in, French onion soup and garlicky escargots.
Don’t worry; I bought mints at the vending machine.
Okay, then what? We get some diagnoses: no pneumonia, lungs are clear, it’s massive congestion that is/was cutting off her air supply. The doctor says that an adult can get this and shrug it off, just get some extra sleep and it runs its course, but since kids are smaller, they have smaller airways, and this can be the result. The albuterol is doing its thing, and together with the oxygen mask she is getting enough O2. Problem is, when they take it off, her O2 level drops like a rock to mid 80 percent or lower. Daddy ain’t happy about that.
The doctor agrees and says that we really just need to help her while the virus runs its course. She stays in PICU over night and we reassess tomorrow.
So, mom crawls into bed next to Savvy, and dad takes the chair. Somewhere in there, the grandparents came by (Michele’s mom and dad).
Come back tomorrow to see how the story ends!
– from Savvy Stories 2: The TERRIBLE Two’s, available on Amazon and also at Smashwords at  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355616